I think we did it.
Traumatised Z for life.
Every parent’s nightmare: doing something that scars one’s child for life.
We were at a hypermart. A HUGE one. One might even say it was a GIANT of a hypermart. (I’m trying not to name the Hypermart because this wasn’t really their fault, so I wouldn’t want to draw undue attention to them).
Anyway, we were at Suntec City, at the Fountain Terrace level, and Z was fiddling with this huge 14 l water dispenser with a lever tap – you know the kind, where you pull a lever and the water (or beverage) comes out of the spigot.
Well, Z was fiddling with the lever and we wanted to move on. So what we usually do is we take a few steps away while at the same time saying “Ok, Z, we’re going now. Come on!” And then a few metres away, we look back to see if we lost Z. Or if she is following us.
And if she isn’t, we would call her again, “Zoe! Come on! Let’s go!”
And she would come running.
Sometimes though, if she is really engrossed with whatever she is doing, or she’s not done, she would complain with a whine or a simple “noooo!”
On some occasions, she has been known to cry in protest.
Which she did in this instance.
And then we would simply repeat, ” come on, Zoe. Let’s go!.”
But she remain stuck at the water dispenser she had been playing with. Wailing even more piteously.
“Oh shit!” I said, as I realised what had happened. “Her fingers are trapped!”
PL and I dashed to Z, and yep, somehow she had managed to get her fingers pinched and trapped by the lever of the tap.
It was easy enough to release her from the lever. It was probably somewhat painful (especially to a toddler) but there was no blood or bruising.
But she was wailing as we carried her.
We passed an older woman, who had seen everything, smirking at us.
“Whatcha looking at, you old bitch?” I did not say, as I tried to soothe the wailing child.
She calmed down quite quickly (the child, not the old bitch), though not before ensuring anyone within wailing distance knew that there was a child traumatised by her incompetent parents. (It’s amazing how communicative the wails of a toddler can be!)
We passed by another display with a different model of water dispenser (were they having a sale or what?).
“Look Zoe! You want to play with this?” I asked, sadistically.
She shook her head.
“I think she is traumatised for life,” said PL.
It is 20+ years later. Z has started work. And she is attending some business-related reception. It is a self-service buffet. As she turns to the beverage counter, she sees the dreaded lever-operated beverage dispenser and she shrieks in pathological fear.
She loses her job.
And it was all our fault.