Friday, August 21, 2009


Having moved here from Ecuador, a place where children are generally beloved and taken shopping regularly by their parents, I've been surprised at how seldom I see people grocery shopping here with young children. Occasionally, there might be one child with a shopper, but rarely more than that in some stores. It seems that one result of the relative rarity of children in stores is a greater degree of ignorance about what constitutes truly dangerous behavior by children. That ignorance, against a backdrop of liability and damage concerns, causes some people to behave in rather ridiculous busybody ways.

I admit, I'm still smarting over the blowsy, stained-shirt-wearing woman who accosted me today in the supermarket parking lot and railed at me for letting my younger daughter--a remarkably large and agile child for her age--climb on the grocery cart (I had actually been rather pleased with myself for having been able to keep her safely contained for more than half the shopping trip, energetic, willful toddler that she is) and threatened to call child protection services and the police on me for child endangerment. I'm the type of mother who avoids driving on the freeway, generally drives just below the speed limit, has plastic safety plugs and latches all over her house, and stands worriedly under the aforementioned child as she stretches her climbing abilities (which are advanced) on playground equipment! I really don't appreciate people who don't know my daughter's capabilities threatening to call down police power on me when she misbehaves. What am I supposed to do? Spank her? I strictly limit the use of that disciplinary measure since it's too easy to use counterproductively. Leave her in the car or at home alone? Not remotely an option. Or just not take her shopping...easier said than done if you've ever tried to buy a family's supply of groceries at those self-check stations which are often the only open lanes in the morning.... Now I understand why my older sister just had her groceries delivered for a while. :P

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