This mum's 'road train' makes her stand out, but she's not the thief
OPINION: I have to admit, I am quite a sight coming towards you.
With a 2-year-old and 1-year-old, a double pram is an absolute necessity, so I invested in what I like to call my "road train".
Rather than a side-by-side annoying double buggy, my staggered stroller is often admired by passers-by who stop to talk to one cute kid and then exclaim, "Ooo look. There's another one in there", as they see the second cute kid.
It is the very best investment I made in this crazy parenting journey.
Another great part of the stroller is the huge undercarriage that I have been known to fit an entire week's worth of groceries in.
When I already have my hands full, having that extra space is amazing, but it does have its downsides, one of which is I always automatically look like a shoplifter.
It's no secret that there is a number of opportunistic mothers out there who use their prams to conceal items rather than pay for them.
When you think about it, it wouldn't take much to use a baby blanket or even the baby itself to hide various items under the false guise that all mothers are saints and would never commit such actions.
So I get it. I'm very aware when I go into stores that staff will probably look at me like I'm some thirty-fingered thief.
I was once in Farmers in The Plaza, absent-mindedly walking up and down the handbag aisles, dreaming of a day when I can purchase a half-decent handbag again to replace my vomit-filled, stained nappy bag.
Then a staff member's voice came over the sound system and asked for security to go to the accessories area, where I was wandering around.
At first I didn't think much of it, and continued on with my window-shopping while picking things up, admiring, balking at price tag and putting down again.
Then, like an apparition, a weedy, power-hungry looking security guard appeared at the end of the aisle, face stern, like he had snacked on lemon for lunch and washed it down with vinegar.
I stopped in my tracks. He's got me, I thought to myself.
I'm going to get frogmarched out of here, in front of the kids and all these shoppers, and become another Palmerston North court statistic.
I had, of course, done nothing wrong, but the fact I had been singled out as a potential security threat made me feel like I was the criminal they believed me to be.
Now, when I go back in there, I feel like I change my behaviour to appear less criminal-like, but in doing so draw more attention to myself through slightly bizarre behaviour.
So you can imagine my surprise when just this week I was out shopping with both kids in my road train and I realised a horrifying truth.
My 1-year-old daughter is a thief.
It was nearing 5pm and I was in a hurry to get out of the mall before my one-hour free parking ticked over.
I pretty much ran to the car and threw open all the doors and my various bags and what not.
I then went to get my girl out of her pram seat when I realised she was chewing on something I'd never seen before. It was a tag, attached to a top. A top that we had not paid for. A top that most certainly did not belong in my pram with my child, but there she was, having a feed on the (probably overpriced) price tag.
I didn't know what to do.
In a panic I ripped the top from her and threw it in the car. Did this now make me an accomplice?
How would I explain this to the police or at least the lemon-faced, hyped-up security guard who was most probably watching me at this very moment, ready to pounce with CCTV proof of our crime?
Conscious of the ridiculously short time you're given to exit the car park after swiping your ticket at the pay station, I put both the kids in their car seat and like a scene from The Blues Brothers, I zoomed away from the scene of the crime.
When I could, I called the store to explain, the shop assistant sounded confused as to why I was calling.
Turns out thieves – or their mothers - don't usually call to report their crime.