The headlines read that the mother of the missing toddler found in the claw machine will not face charges. I am betting that moms of little Houdinis around the country are breathing a collective sigh of relief, because, wow, that claw machine fiasco is not a difficult scenario for many of us to envision.
Not at all difficult.
Now, I know that there are plenty of holier-than-thous who simply cannot comprehend how a toddler could possibly go missing, or how in the world they could ever end up across the street in a bowling alley, stuck in a claw machine, no less. They are the blessed mamas and daddies of perfect little cherub children who always stay exactly where they are supposed to, who have never figured out how to outwit even the most basic of child-safe gadgets.
It's ok. Shine your halo. I know that you have no frame of reference from which to relate to the claw-kid mom's plight.
But some of us do.
Some of us have
survived raised Houdinis. Some are trying to figure out how to defeat contain a baby MacGuyver. And others are praying that they never, ever, have a kid who knows how to out-maneuver every safety precaution yet developed by mankind. Or NASA.
I don't pretend to know this mother's precise situation, but the scenario really isn't hard for me to imagine at all. I am picturing something like this: Last week they met some other mom-toddler duos for a fun day at the bowling alley. Suzi teenager played with the kiddos in the play room, while a few toddler moms bowled for a little while.
Little Bobby noticed the claw machine - oooooh. Pretty toys. But Suzi wouldn't let him investigate. The wheels are turning. By the time they all go home, Bobby has a pretty good idea of what he might need to do. But drat! They are going home.
Toddler Bobby never forgets what he saw that day in the bowling alley. He's been trying to figure out how to get back there ever since. Mom disappears to the bathroom. Quick! Now's his chance. Better move fast, because she won't be gone long. Experience tells him that he actually can accomplish a whole lot in that three minutes mom is out of sight. He has already figured out how to get out of the door. He's kept that secret to himself.
And, just that fast, he is out the door and across the street. His thoughts are on just one thing. That toy he saw. All else is irrelevant. So he climbs up in the claw machine when no one is looking. He pretty much had it figured out the other day, and with a few minor adjustments to that plan, he is inside, and he's got his quarry. Claw machine conquered.
Sippy-cup Evel Knievel is utterly oblivious to the anguish he just caused that lady back home. She turned her back, and he was gone. And he would have done the same thing if he were guarded by the National Guard or by Storm Troopers. Because he is just that talented.
My heart goes out to the mom in Nebraska. Like tons of other moms, I feel her pain. She's not a bad mom. She's not neglectful. She just is mama to a very intelligent, creative little genius of a toddler who even figured out how to conquer the claw machine and could probably show the Mission: Impossible folks a thing or two. I bet he was breastfed.
[images via bing]