Wednesday, July 20, 2005

Shopping Carts and Kids

By Christina VanGinkel

Standing in the checkout line at our local Wal-Mart the other day I became visibly upset as the mother in front of me let her child, who appeared to be about two years old, stand up in the seat area of the cart. She did see him, she was not busy watching other kids, and it was not her turn at the register. She watched him stand up; and in all fairness, she did tell him to sit down. She then turned her back to him, while he was still standing, and proceeded to read the covers on the magazine rack.

No, the child did not get hurt, but he almost did, because the mother could not take the time to reseat him or to at least put a hand on him and hold him. He continued to stand after the mother had told him to sit, and shortly after she turned her back to him, several of us in line watched helplessly as, thankfully, the elderly woman in front of her turned around at just the right time and caught him as he tumbled over the side of the cart. The mother then acted all self righteous, as if it was anybody's and everybody's fault that the cart was so high, and that he nearly landed on his head. Never mind that she failed to watch him herself or to buckle him in, as the cart did have a simple buckle built in.

Why the mother was so careless I have no idea. Why she continued to be rude to those around her who were just thankful that her son had not been hurt, I have no clue either. What I wanted to say to her was did she not realize that enough real accidents happen to children every day of the year, and accidents caused from carelessness were not needed, as the true accident numbers were high enough all on their own. Grocery carts are not made for children to crawl on, stand in, or hang over the side. They are made for the collection of groceries, and to allow a child, a supervised child, to sit strapped in while the adult shops.

This narrow escape brought back memories of when my two oldest were in early elementary. I was at the grocery store with not only them in tow, but a friend of my sons also. My daughter was sitting in the cart, in the back, amid the groceries. My son and his friend were walking alongside the cart. When I stopped to peruse an item on a shelf, both boys decided to stand on the same side of the cart. It took all of a second for that cart, heavy to one side, to tip over. Right onto the two boys came all my groceries, the cart, and my daughter. Other than a few bruises and a few smashed vegetables, all was fine, but it was an ardent reminder of how quickly accidents with a grocery cart can and do happen. Keep in mind the simple fact of what a grocery cart is technically for, the next time you head out shopping and your children are with you. Accident can and do happen, so do not up your ante by being careless.

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