Usually when a toddler runs hurtling away from their mother at full speed in a shopping centre, you can almost be assured that said mother will soon be soon hurtling after their runaway child.
Not the case for baby girl and I today. I just smiled, tears springing to my eyes.
I knew my parents were nearby. Baby girl jumped on one of those ride-on-cars while another boy sat in the adjoining seat to her, his Mother also unwilling to part with gold coin for his amusement.
“Just wait there baby girl,” I said to her. “Mummy’s just checking something.” I didn’t have to tell her to stay there. I wouldn’t be able to pry her away from the ride if I tried.
I knew the entrance they’d come in from. Surely they would be minutes away, if not walking through the doors right, about… now.
I walked a few steps from her to peer down the long shopping centre corridor. Sure enough, I caught glimpse of a familiar hat, and then soon saw a shorter woman besides the hat. All I had to do was turn to baby girl with a smile and beckon her closer to me with my curled finger.
She excitedly and willingly jumped off the ride. She came to me and I pointed to some faint figures ahead. I knew she wouldn’t see them just yet. But she would see them very soon.
“Go run!” said no Mother ever, except me at that moment. “Go straight ahead, run!”
She started this insane bolt. You would have thought she’d have found the chocolate-covered Wiggles at the end of this rainbow she was chasing, with the speed that propelled her little legs forward. But no. It was her grandparents.
It got the attention of a few passers by, as they sidestepped this running toddler and looked back to wait for the parent chasing them down, only to find me smiling proudly.
I almost laughed out loud when I heard my Mum’s exclamation as baby girl careened into them for a hug. I was beyond happy and grateful. Not only had my parents surprise visit made baby girl’s day, but I know without a doubt that baby girl’s loyal and loving greeting did the same for them.
And then I watched, smiling, as hand in hand they walked back over to me.