I’m currently in a state of shock. Something happened yesterday which left my laid back parenting style completely shaken. While relaxing away a Sunday morning with the family wandering around a local car boot I spotted a Dora The Explorer doll. Now, knowing how much my 10 and a half month old boy loves the ladies, particularly Dora (oh, and Barbie – don’t judge!) I bought the doll for the grand sum of 10p. Usually I take second hand toys home for a good scrub over with some Milton before I let the baby have them, but he’d spotted my purchase (the lady I bought it from looked clean!) and I couldn’t resist the little smile on his face so I gave him Dora and he beamed from ear to ear. The baby’s happy, job done.

So we wander on, Seth merrily giggling at Dora’s extraordinarily large eyes and myself and my companions chatting and pointing out other bargains to buy. Something must have taken our eye as we are all looking at one particular stall selling vintage furniture.

Imagine the scene. We’re all looking at one thing, my hand is on the buggy, but it’s facing away from where we’re looking, so baby is probably no longer than arms length away. We chatted for about 2 minutes, went to move away, looked at the baby…no Dora. Now, ordinarily I check the floor and fish to the bottom of his cosy toes and pull out whatever he’s dropped, but this time I carried out said search… still no Dora. I checked everywhere, like a crazy person, there was no sign of her. She’s a big enough doll and heavy enough that if he dropped her we would have heard it so we know she wasn’t dropped. Therefore, crazy as it sounds, someone took that Dora doll out of my child’s hands while I had my back turned.

Now the fact that it was a 10p Dora doll is neither here nor there. What made a lump come to my throat is that I had allowed someone to get that close to my baby without us even realising. I was literally horrified with myself. Admittedly it could have been a child which is much less sinister, but be that as it may, another person of whatever age was close enough to my baby to take something from him. The implications of this are huge. However unlikely they might seem. That same person could have taken something he really loved, could have given him something sharp or toxic or worse still, could have actually taken him!

Ok, so I know my imagination is running away with me (I descend from a long line of drama queens) and it’s a mothers duty to panic and worry and beat themselves up over mistakes and this was only a 10p Dora doll (an exact replica of which I found and bought to replace it so all is well!) But…it got me thinking. How many times have I stopped to talk to someone or look at something and felt like the baby was safe because my hand was on the pram? It made me realise I do it all the time and that I see everyone else doing it too. But, unless you can see your baby, you’re not watching your baby. It’s a lesson I’m so glad it only cost me 10p to learn and perhaps writing this will nudge others to think “hey I do that too!” and therefore prevent more Dora the Explorer dolls from going off and exploring!

I still want Seth to be a really social little boy, aware of danger but not scared of it, the kind of person who is happy to chat to all kinds of people, doesn’t judge others, has time for others and finds no fear in social interaction. But will I make sure that my eyes are opened a lot wider for dangers in the future and control who he interacts with more closely?

Damn right I will.

Because that’s what mums are for.