James is my firstborn so he will forever remain the "guinea pig" when it comes to my parental abilities. Or lack thereof.
Today, I dropped the husband off at school so he could do some massage labs (he gets credit for them) and the kids and I found some time to stop by our favorite thrift store. After we visited the park, of course. It was so nice to see Natalie bouncing around, with her fairy wings, feeling better. You could tell that it had the same effect on James. Poor kid spends a lot of time inside if his sister is feeling sick.
After letting them go crazy at the playground, we then headed to the thrift store.
Keep in mind, I usually keep the kids in my eyesight constantly if they're in my care. To the point of their annoyance. They're rarely babysat so yeah.. they are attached to me everyday. So today, I decided to try something new. I let them go to the toy area and play around. Thankfully they're pretty well-behaved in public and it's the only time they'll clean up anything without me asking. I told them.. "okay guys I'll be over here by the t-shirts past this shoe section okay?" I wanted to test and see if they could handle being on their own for 10 minutes (or less) and know where I was in case they needed me. Well, after about 8 minutes it all backfired. I hear Natalie screaming for me and James trying to calm her down. She got scared. I felt horrible.
After looking around together, both kids were antsy about heading back over to the toy section again. I said.. "okay, do you think we could try this again?" So I put James in charge of Natalie and told them where I would be in the store. They were excited and held hands, skipping back over their beloved toy section.
After 5-6 minutes, a store clerk, about 10 feet away from me says, "is this your mommy?" and the kids are all like "OH MOMMY WE THOUGHT YOU LEFT US HERE.. WE WERE SCARED OH MY GOD OH MY GOD WE WERE LOSSSST".
The clerk gave me a mean face and that was even more insult to injury.
I felt like shit.
Obviously, it was a bad idea but how do I know if it's a bad idea if I don't try? I thought that since they're 5 and 6 (almost 6 1/2) that they could handle it but I totally understand. I don't remember the days when I would browse sections of a store on my own, while my mom was away in a totally different part of the store. 7? 8? I don't remember.
So today was definitely a big lesson for all of us. And sadly, James will forever remain my guinea pig. Natalie is sort of my guinea pig too, but poor James.. he does catch the brunt of it.
As I was walking toward the checkout area, another clerk looks at the kids and says "you found your mom!!" and then gives me an eyeroll. Naturally, this was being said right as I'm on the phone trying to get ahold of their daddy to see if he needed me to pick him up. Didn't help that James' face was crusty from his lunch. Something I noticed too late. I even appeared to look like this careless, preoccupied, neglectful mom. "Yes children just get away from me so mommy can shop shop SHOP."
Little do these clerks know that I have never tried this experiment before. I think it's going to be a little while until I show my face in there again. I also should keep wipes in my car.