Dear Random Baby in the Bookstore

Photo by Dennis J Coughlin

Scroll this

Dear random baby in the bookstore,

I am sorry for stealing your doll.

I should explain.

It all started about 30 minutes before I stole your doll.

Again, I apologise and sorry for making you cry.

A half hour before I saw you, my family and I were heading home in our car. We had left the stores and had managed to navigate our way out of that ridiculously crowded parking lot. There were so many cars at those shops that you would think they were giving the stuff away for free.

Anyway, we had managed to get out of the car park in record time; only took about 15 minutes, which is pretty good. In the car, we had our 3 children, plus one other; my daughter’s 4-year-old friend.

We were driving down the road when my daughter’s friend said, “I want Jesse”.

A simple statement, yet it sent shivers down our spines. My wife and I looked at each other and mouthed the words in silent unison, “Jesse?”.

“I want Jesse,” she repeated.

“Where is Jesse?” my wife asked.

“I want Jesse”, she said.

That’s when I chimed in. “Where is Jesse?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

“When did you last see her?” I asked.

“I don’t know,” she said.

I should stop here and take a moment to explain this type of conversations to anyone who is not a parent.

Before you have children, you think there are 2 types of conversations in this world; normal conversations and the not-so-normal conversations. When you become a parent, you realise that there’s a 3rd category; conversations with children.

This 3rd type of conversation is unlike anything you have ever experienced. It’s the kind of conversation that would get you locked up if you have had it with another adult. Here’s an example.

Let’s say I walked in a shop and said, “I would like a glass of milk”.

And the lady behind the counter said, “Sure, what size?”

And I said, “Blue. I want a blue cup.”

And then she said, “Okay. But we don’t have any blue cups, sir. All of our cups are red. Do you want the small or large size?”

“Blue! I want a blue cup!” I said.

At that point the lady behind the counter, who was in a good mood and was feeling generous that day, said, “Okay, we do have blue mugs. I can put your milk into this blue mug. Forget about the size, I’ll just charge you for a small.”

Then she handed me the blue mug of milk.

Then I took the mug and looked inside. Then I said, “Is this milk? I hate milk!”.

The end.

That’s the type of conversation that would get you locked up as an adult. On the other hand, if you are having that same conversation with a child, that is normal and to be expected.

Back to the story.

In the car, we had established a couple things: 1) she wanted Jesse and b) she didn’t know where Jesse was.

At this point, my wife and I both guessed that she had left her favourite doll, Jesse, back at the stores. The stores surrounded by the most over-crowded parking lot on earth.

When faced with this realisation, we took a standard parent-approach and tried to pretend it wasn’t happening. We pulled the car over to conduct a full search.

I opened the boot and searched through my wife’s handbag. That took me about 10 minutes. I found an umbrella, an outdoor survival kit, our tax documents for the past 10 years and an apple. No Jesse.

I got back into the car and my wife and I looked at each other. It was one of those moments where you know you have to do the right thing.

“Jesse’s gone forever,” I said.

Just kidding!

We turned the car around and headed back to the most crowded parking lot in the world.

Returning to that parking lot was like returning to the scene of a crime.

“Why are we back here?” I asked in vain. “We had already escaped, made it out in one piece and now we are back!”

It was devastating.

My wife stopped the car in the middle of the traffic jam and I jumped out with a single mission on my mind; get Jesse back.

I went back into the book shop and walked straight past all the people I had thought I would never see again. Some of them looked at me in shock and I could hear the voices in their heads.

“Why is he back?” they wondered. “He was free and now he’s returned!”

I walked to the back of the shop and there, at the tiny wooden reading table, was a baby sitting on her grandmother’s lap. That baby was holding Jesse!

“Excuse me, can I have that, please?” I asked the baby.

The baby did not reply. Although she did hand over Jesse.

That was easy, I thought.

“Oh sorry,” said the grandmother. “Is that yours? We just saw it lying there.”

I don’t remember what I said to the grandmother. Something along the lines of, “No problem” or “Don’t let it happen again.” I’m pretty sure I said, “No problem”.

Then I turned around and walked back towards the car as fast as I had arrived.

Leaving the bookstore, I heard the baby scream.

Not a little “baby scream”, but a scream like sounded like, “Did anyone else just see that terrible man steal my doll! Grab him!”

I felt so bad.

I kept walking

I felt so bad.

I returned to the car and handed Jesse to its rightful owner.

So, again, I would like to apologise. I am sorry for taking Jesse off you.

Sometimes as parents, we have to do crazy things.

Some days you have to make a 1-year-old cry so you can make a 4-year-old smile.

My daughter’s little friend did smile.

In fact, she smiled all the way back home.

Well, she smiled for at least 40 minutes anyway. That’s how long it took us to get out of that parking lot.