As It Happens

How this 3-year-old got stuck inside a toy claw machine

Irish dad Damien Murphy only turned away for a few seconds at a children's play centre. Moments later, he found his three-year-old son, Jamie, inside a toy machine.
Three-year-old Jamie Murphy inside the claw prize machine with his brother, Shane, looking on. (Damien Murphy)

Full episode transcript

Damien Murphy is the first to admit that his youngest son Jamie is a "boundary pusher."

The Irish father knows to keep a close watch on his curious three-year-old. But even he was caught off-guard by his son's latest hijinks at a play centre called Jump 'n' Gyms. 
Damien Murphy and his son Jamie. (Damien Murphy)

"We were all having a snack together at a table in the play centre and Jamie just got up, as he always does, and made his way over to the amusements," Murphy tells As It Happens host Carol Off.

"Within about 10 seconds of him just leaving my sight to the left, I heard a muffled complaint. I looked up and he was behind the glass of the machine."

Somehow Jamie had managed to scurry away and climb into a toy claw game machine. 
(Damien Murphy)

"You operate a little claw. The claw goes over and you have to try to pick up the toy and drop it into the chute," Murphy explains. 

"Then you just reach your hand in through a flap and you can retrieve the toy that you've won — so he made his way in through that flap."

Despite the fact he was surrounded by plush toys, Murphy says at first his son looked a bit distressed inside the machine.

"He was calling to me because he realized he had got himself in a spot of bother," Murphy says. "When I got up from the table, I just said out loud, 'Of course, you're in there.'"

With the reassuring attention of his father and older brother Shane (an accomplice to most of his antics), Jamie quickly calmed down.
(Damien Murphy)

"He was able to peruse what was in the machine while I went off to notify staff and they were going to go get a key to open up the machine," Murphy says. "He chose two little dragons to take."

Eventually another father, who happened to be an off-duty fireman, came over to assist.

"He says 90 per cent of my job is getting kids out of tight places like this or getting cats out of trees," Murphy recalls.

He's kind of a walking Murphy's law. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong with Jamie — just because he's so inquisitive and such a little boundary pusher.- Damien Murphy

He found a space near the flap of the machine and together they instructed Jamie how to get out.

It's not the first time Jamie has made headlines.

"He's kind of a walking Murphy's law. Whatever can go wrong will go wrong with Jamie — just because he's so inquisitive and such a little boundary pusher," Murphy admits. 
Jamie Murphy was allowed to keep two toy dragons — one for him and one for his brother, Shane. (Damien Murphy)

Murphy says a few months ago Jamie was featured on an Irish radio station when he decided to give his aunt's dog a haircut in the middle of the night while the rest of the family slept.

"We all came down to a pile of hair and a very confused looking dog — and, of course, Jamie," Murphy recalls. "We're trying to steer the crazy — nurture and steer it in the right direction because that's just the way he is."

For more on this story, listen to our full interview with Damien Murphy.