Today at Costco I parked the cart, with Caitlyn strapped in, by the bananas and I took Mackenzie into the “cold section” to score some berries. I came back triumphant a few minutes later with strawberries, stashed them in the cart and headed back for spinach.
Caitlyn was sitting in the cart, perfectly content, about 15 yards away from me and in my line of sight. Though admittedly, my attention was absorbed for a few minutes inspecting sell by dates and eyeballing the quality of the leafies.
I turned around to see a middle-aged woman wheel my cart, baby and all, right up next to me.
“Hi, MOM, ” She addressed me, “Look, I’m sure you didn’t want your baby in here because it’s cold and all, but I don’t know if you noticed but she’s causing quite a stir out there. Everyone is asking ‘Who leaves a baby alone like this?!’ Bottom line, you need to keep your child with YOU.” She punctuates this last sentence with a small shove on the cart to put it right under my nose.
I was so surprised that I just said, “Thanks” and grabbed Mackenzie’s hand and headed for the frozen foods.
I did notice as I left, a distinct absence of concerned hordes of people milling about the bananas.
I’ll admit, this bothered me all the way home. So much so that I called my mom when I was unloading groceries, to ask her if I was crazy or the lady at Costco was crazy. It seemed clear that at least one of us was out of line.
She assured me I was perfectly sane, but of course, she is my mother.
As I thought about this, I realized that a similar thing had happened at Costco twice before. Why Costco? Who knows! I blame the free samples. A steady stream of bagel bites and frozen tortellini might just break down some of those social barriers present at more stingy grocery stores.
Prior incident #1: I leave 2 month old Caitlyn who is strapped into her car seat, and snapped into the cart, at the end of an aisle and go grab a bag of nuts. On my way back, a lady heads me off and says, “Is that your baby down there? There are a lot of people walking by who keep getting in her face.” She gesticulates here to illustrate her point. I’m baffled by her concern, but not offended at all, and I thank her for letting me know.
Prior incident #2: Caitlyn is in the front of the cart, and I had put a bag of bananas next to her. A man catches my attention as I inspect a melon and says, “Uhhh… your KID is eating plastic,” in a tone of voice that clearly indicates that he thinks I’m crazy for having a kid in the first place, and completely clueless to boot. Well, he couldn’t have been more impolite, but he had a valid point. So I thanked him, relocated the bananas, and we went on our way.
Personally, I don’t consider myself a meddler.
But then again just last week at the farmer’s market, Scott and I both saw something that made us have a brief powwow about whether we should meddle or keep walking.
A new (2 month old?) baby was in a front wrap in a really awkward position. He was spread eagle and his head flopped forward at such an ominous angle that I did a double-take and instinctively looked to see if he was still breathing. His dad was wearing him and seemed oblivious, and was in fact jiggling and dancing back and forth a bit as he stood in line, presumably to help the baby stay asleep.
Should we have said something? We ultimately decided on “no” since he was standing in a group of three women who could clearly see the baby and appeared unconcerned. But I’ll admit to feeling uneasy as we walked by.
So here are my questions:
When is it ok meddle? Have YOU ever meddled?
Have you had strangers comment on your parenting? Intercede to “rescue” your children right in front of you?
For sure there are some awful parents out there, but I don’t consider myself one of them! I recognize my own fallibility though, and I’m grateful for people who speak up when they think my child’s safety is at risk… except (apparently) when I don’t think my child’s safety is at risk. Then I’m bothered.