The Struggle is Real

Five times the kids won

My kids give me a run for my money, one of them does it like it’s his job. I never know what the day will hold, but this weekend I found myself looking for the hidden camera a few times. While I was at IKEA, I finally learned what a CODE 99 is.

Let me share that with you. Lost child. CODE 99 is a lost child.


Yes, that was me shouting my kid’s name as the managers helped search for a six-year-old in bright blue stripes that everyone had “just seen over there” a few minutes ago…

He wasn’t lost. He was playing a world class game of hide-n-seek. Turns out I’m just not a worthy seeker.

So I licked my wounds as we finished making our way through IKEA. A few people stopped me to tell me they were happy to see I’d found my son. A few of them even tried to make me feel better with stories of the craziness they survived as parents.

It totally worked, and I have to share these four other times the kids won:

1. My mom is lost

The first man was about 70. As he wagged his finger at my little guy, his huge grin made it clear he’d been there many times. His son used to take off every single time they went to the grocery store, a shopping mall – or really anywhere. The kid would find someone to announce over the system “It appears Mrs. Graham – who also goes by Mommy – is lost in this store. Her son is at the front of the store worried about her. Mrs. Graham, is wearing a dress. Associates, please help Mrs. Graham to the front of the store.”

His wife lived in fear of leaving the house with their little boy!

2. You’re not my mom

One woman stopped to tell me that, when her little boy didn’t get his way and she’d start pulling him away by the hand, he’s start screaming “Help! She’s not my mom! Get this lady off of me!”

I really don’t know how you recover from that.


3. Where’s my purse?

One woman laughed as she shook her purse at me. “Consider yourself lucky that your kid doesn’t toss your purse out of the cart while you’re not looking. Her little ones thought it was hilarious to put her purse on a shelf when they were shopping. They usually didn’t remember where they’d put it! She said it happened so much that she stopped carrying a purse for years – she switched to coats with big pockets after her purse with all of her ID, keys, gloves and wallet went missing once – never to be found again!

It’s all perspective. My son is an angel in comparison.

4. Mom, are you stealing?

I was in the checkout line when the woman in front of me said, “Don’t worry, your little runner has nothing on my girl.” Turns out they’d seen a man getting arrested for shoplifting. Her daughter thought it would be very fun for the police to come visit her and her mommy. Her child’s take-away from witnessing the shoplifting was to yell, “Mommy, why are you stealing?” every time they’d leave a store. While she never got arrested, she also never got used to having security and store management ask her to come back in the store and let them take a look in her bag.

Can you imagine crossing the border with that in the back seat?

Honourable mention: Please don’t beat me

My mother-in-law likes to tell me the story from my husband’s childhood. When he didn’t get his way and she’d be getting stern with him in public, he’d drop to the ground and start yelling “Sorry mommy, please don’t beat me again! I’m sorry! I promise I won’t do it again – just don’t beat me!”

He was apparently quite convincing and she never got over the looks people would shoot her.

It really does take a village, and I was grateful for all of their commiserations. I’m sure there were a few people who thought my panicked, frantic search was a bit funny – I’m a by hysterical when I’m hysterical – but it had been 15 minutes of searching and I was really having some scary thoughts. Their stories helped me laugh it off and feel that I wasn’t the worst parent in the world. And seriously – number 4 really was the icing on the cake (actually the Diem cake was the icing on the cake – a little stop at the restaurant helped us all).