We don’t know what we appreciate more: the news coming out of Britain that Prime Minister David Cameron accidentally left his 8-year-old daughter at a pub, or the overwhelmingly sympathetic reaction from parents to this all-too-close-to-home oops.
There was the risk, of course, that the story of Cameron and his wife, Samantha, forgetting elementary school-aged Nancy (each one thought the girl was with the other), would result in a wave of tsk-tsking; a chance to revel again in how some other parents – even the PM and wife! – just don’t add up.
(As in: Sure, I might be looking at my iPhone too much during the day, but at least I haven’t left Baby M in a bar. Yet.)
But no, the news of what some UK publications have dubbed Cameron’s “Home Alone moment,” has unleashed a wave of stories from other parents who have left their kids at malls, at work, outside the grocery store, even at a fishmonger.
“I am worried about how I will explain my purchases to my wife,” Tim Dowling wrote in The Guardian, explaining this last scenario. “I am specifically wondering how to answer the question: ‘Why did you buy two-dozen goose barnacles?’ I can't say, ‘Because I wanted the man to think I knew what they were.’
To my surprise this is not the first question my wife asks me when I show up at the playground. The first question she asks is: ‘Where is the baby?’ For a brief second I have no idea what she's talking about. What baby? Then I drop my barnacles and run, as fast as I can, all the way back to the fish shop.”
We love these stories. Not because we’re advocating leaving the kids at the rest stop, mind you. But because the overwhelmingly non-snarky reaction reflects some of the loving truths of parenthood:
We love our kids. Truly, deeply, passionately, beyond what we ever imagined before we had them. We can also totally goof. Especially when the kids outnumber us. Even if we’re the Prime Minister of Britain. (Who has three.)
And when we mess up without causing much lasting damage – well, it could be a lot worse.
As Katie O’Donovan, from the website Mumsnet, told The Telegraph of London: “Whether you are Prime Minister, a teacher or stay at home mum, being a parent is really busy and can be really chaotic.
“We all have stressful times with our kids when we lose them or forget about them temporarily, it’s one of those things that happen to the best of us.”
As for 8-year-old Nancy: Reports say she was just fine, and was helping out the pub staff when the panicked Camerons returned looking for her.