Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Oh, yuck!

I've just returned from a shopping errand that presented me with a contemporary dilemma.

As I stood waiting to check-out behind a young mom, I could see her toddler around the corner of the end aisle display. The mother was absorbed in paying for her purchase and had lost visual contact with the child.

The little girl, meanwhile, was gumming away on the wrapper of a Kit Kat bar she’d taken off the rack. Shortly, she stepped around into her mother’s line-of-sight and held the candy up with the ‘please, Mom’ look the little ones use.

Mom, however, said no and directed the child to return the candy to the rack. Which, interestingly enough, the child did with only minor objection.

And then she – the kid – started the entire procedure again, this time with a Milky Way.

Munch, munch, munch, stop munching; step around and make the appeal to mom.

Again, the mother said no. Again, the mother requested the child’s compliance from a distance that insulated the mother some of key facts. This time the child resisted somewhat more but the mother simply used more persuasive words, singing a little song about cleaning up which apparently the child is trained to respond to by – you got it – re-racking the item in her hand.

The mother never made physical contact with the child or the candy. In fact, the woman proceeded toward the store door, calling a ‘playful’ good-bye to the child.

Unbeknownst to the woman, her child had just slobbered all over the wrapper ends of two candy bars which she’d then had the child returned to the store rack. In the best case, the wrappers of the candy are now covered in the child’s saliva. Just as likely, the child breached one or both seals and the candy inside is contaminated with her spittle.

As I stood watching this entire episode, I was annoyed and conflicted. I know just how much young parents appreciate busy-body grandparent-y strangers telling them publicly what they are doing wrong. And, even if I’d tried, I could not have conveyed the information I had without conveying my judgment. And so I said nothing.

I should have said something. In fact, I regret my decision to ‘mind my own business.’ It was a wimp-out.

But, for goodness sakes, parents! If you take your youngsters out in public, keep your eyes on them. If you have to look elsewhere, keep your HANDS on them. Make sure you know where your kids are and what they are doing at all times.

A lot worse things can happen when a toddler wanders out of sight than a candy breach!