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Wild kids in every store aisle

By Tammy Keith

This article was published March 2, 2014 at 12:00 a.m.

OK, people, we need to talk.

It seems like every time I go shopping, I encounter wild children. I don’t want to sound like a grumpy old woman, but it seems like it’s gotten worse these days.

For example, early one Sunday afternoon, I was in a department store where not many people were shopping. I noticed — heard — a father and his kids. At first, I thought it was nice. He was teasing with them as they were walking. He was also repeating everything the younger kid said because he wanted the other shoppers to hear how adorable the kid was, I guess.

Then, one child went across the store and yelled, “DAD, COME LOOK AT THESE COOL TOYS!”

I expected him to shush the boy. There was no shushing. Instead, the dad just shouted back.

I looked around and saw a woman intently looking through the clothing racks, oblivious. I pegged her as the mom.

Later, I went to the back of the store and encountered the dad and his older child. The dad stood several feet away and threw a huge stuffed animal to her, which she didn’t catch, but wallowed with on the dirty floor.

I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open then. I’ve never been good at hiding my emotions.

The thought went through my mind that maybe it was a What Would You Do? episode, and I was almost ready to become part of the show. Or a police report.

I’ve seen dads have races with their kids down grocery-store aisles. Another day recently, I was in a thrift store, and a boy of 5 or 6 was pushing a cart carrying his little sister, who was probably 3. She was whining and yelling at her brother.

He pushed the cart too close to a shelf, and she hurt her hand and started crying. Nobody responded except me. I asked if she was OK and told the little boy to be careful.

If I had been a child abductor, I could have made off with an adorable little girl, and if she had screamed, I wonder if the mother would have noticed.

Yes, I’m thinking what you’re thinking. It’s not really the kids’ fault as much as the parents’ fault for not making their children act right.

My kids weren’t perfect, but I didn’t let them run around in stores, hide in clothing racks or play with the toys up and down the aisles. They knew they’d be in trouble if they did.

Maybe people just don’t get embarrassed like they used to when their kids act up in public.

I had the idea that I should film these situations and make a Parents Who Let Their Kids Go Wild video.

I used to watch the TV show Supernanny sometimes, just to feel better about my own parenting skills.

Once when my older son was crying in a grocery store as a toddler, I remember ripping open a bag of marshmallows, giving him some to stop the crying and enduring the judging looks of other parents.

My other son, when he was a toddler, made it to the car with a sucker as big as his head when I said no to buying it.

We went back in so he could return it and apologize.

And, yes, there was that one mooning incident in J.C. Penney’s (my son, not me). But those things happened only once.

What I started doing was just leaving my boys at home with my husband when I went shopping. I realize not everyone has that luxury, but it made my life and theirs easier.

Babies are an exception. I don’t blame parents when they have infants who start crying. In the same store as the abandoned brother and sister, I saw a young girl pushing a cart with an infant carrier. It was one of those dolls assigned to kids in school to try to teach abstinence.

The mother of the girl — grandmother of the doll — cautioned someone not to bump the cart because the baby might start crying, and they’d forgotten its bottle.

When I was visiting my parents recently, we were eating at a restaurant and saw a friend of my sister-in-law’s carrying her cute daughter out the front door as the kid kicked and screamed.

“I’m sorry — don’t have kids,” the woman said to everyone in line as she exited. Did I mention she’s pregnant and also has a 1-year-old?

Ah, kids in restaurants. That’s a column for another day.

Maybe I am a grumpy old woman.

Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or tkeith@arkansasonline.com.

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