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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

If there's one thing I've always said, it's that you haven't really lived until you've been named over the tannoy at Asda as an irresponsible parent. And the good news is that as of 6pm last night, Lisa and I have that honour. Well, Lisa has that honour. Personally, my name was kept well out of it. But only because Amelie didn't grass me up to the authorities.

With Lisa now officially able to smile and eat apples, we decided to embark on a family outing to Asda after work last night. It started just like any normal shopping trip - Amelie refusing to sit in the trolley, demanding to know where the rides are, saying she prefers Lidl, and knocking over everything from fresh fruit to underwear displays. But after ten minutes, the trip took an unexpected turn.

We'd just returned from the upstairs clothing department, and as I pushed the trolley towards the salad aisle (it's a shortcut to the pie section), Amelie made straight for the coloured pencils in the 'Back to School' display. I paused and watched as Lisa tried to drag her away, then, as they began to move on, I turned and proceeded to the first food aisle. Once there, Lisa and Am failed to appear, but I thought nothing of it, because they'd have had to pass the magazines to get there, and passing the magazines is something Lisa finds impossible.

So I began filling our trolley in the fruit and veg section, while I waited for my girls to finish reading 'Heat' and 'Charlie & Lola'. Five minutes later, and still shopping alone, my brain vaguely registered the end of a tannoy announcement asking for someone named Lisa to go to the customer service desk. I smiled at the coincidence, went back to my bananas, and thought nothing more of it.

Until thirty seconds later, when they asked for Lisa again, and this time added "We have your little girl, Amelie". It was like the ransom demand I've always dreaded. At the time, I was only ten yards from the customer service desk, so I turned, looked straight down the fruit aisle, and there, sitting on the four-foot high counter with her legs dangling over the side and her thumb in her mouth, was Amelie. Accompanied by a security guard.

Naturally I assumed she'd been caught shoplifting, so I was tempted to disown her, but my conscience soon got the better of me, and with no thought as to how I was going to afford bail, I put on some speed to the customer service desk. As I got there, Lisa arrived from the other direction.

It transpired that as I'd turned away from Lisa and Amelie at the 'Back to School' display, Amelie had begun to follow me, so whilst I'd assumed she was with her mother, Lisa had seen her trot after me around the corner, and assumed she was with her Dad. In reality, she was heading off on her own to look for the coin-operated toddler rides. A few minutes later, she was found wandering alone by a nice young couple with better parenting skills than us. They delivered her to Customer Services, and the absent parent alert had gone out.

We didn't know whether to be cross that Amelie had walked off, embarrassed that we hadn't realised, or proud that a month before her third birthday, she was able to tell her rescuers not only her own name, but that of her Mummy. She knows my name too, but they didn't think to ask her that. Which is handy when you're trying to evade social services.

As for Amelie herself, she couldn't have cared less. She wasn't the least bit upset, and barely reacted when we reclaimed her from lost property. Given her lack of excited recognition, Lisa was worried that they wouldn't believe we were her parents, and we'd go straight from child neglect to abduction, but fortunately we escaped without charges.

It was one of those situations where ignorance was bliss. Had we known she was missing, we'd have both been going frantic, but as it was, I was happily filling our trolley, and Lisa was browsing the birthday cards, each confident that the other was in charge of our child. The only one going bananas was me in the fruit aisle.

So we calmly collected our daughter from the lost & found, breathed a huge sigh of relief, and continued on with our shopping. Two minutes later, she was picking up grapes from the shelf, and eating a carrot we hadn't paid for. At which point we considered trying to lose her again. But still, it's nice to know that as well as a car parking refund, you can also get your child back from the Asda Customer Service Desk.


Phil's Mum said...

Having been to one or two supermarkets with Amelie recently, NOTHING surprises me about that story, except perhaps the fact that you chose to take her at all!  

Lisa said...

If there had been another child there, we could have done an exchange.

A Passer-by said...

Exchange??!! - You know the old saying, "Better the Amelie you know.....!"

Phil's Dad said...

Amelie was OK when she went to Asda with her Grandma & Grandad - apart from throwing a wobbly as we approached the door because there were no rides and demanding to go to the other shop!!  Grandma went food shopping, we went upstairs to look at the toys and came down with a puppy in box and assorted chocolate things in a bag.  She didn't run away because she was carrying her puppy very carefully; and we found Grandma at the bottom of the escalator.

Peter Chapman said...

I'd have that supermarket shut down Phil's Dad. You can't sell live animals and food on the same premises.

Phil's Mum said...

Note the 2 different points of view!  Grandma remembers the fuss she made when there were no rides to go on.  Grandad remembers how good she was when he spent money on her! 

'old' friend said...

Guess who's going to make life more difficult from now on when you go shopping?!  My son used to 'disappear' regularly. Always turned up the proverbial bad penny. Love him really. :)

Phil's Mum said...

Now he's got 3 problems of his own when he goes shopping, 'old' friend!