Monday, March 20, 2006

Talking to Other Adults about Children's Safety

Safety is always an issue where infants and toddlers are concerned. From the time, we wake up in the morning, until we put them to bed at night, and even when they are safely tucked into their cribs, there are safety concerns that we as the responsible adults need to be concerned with. In addition, other adults sometimes rightly, and sometimes wrongly, feel the need to strike a chord with others about these safety issues. I was reminded of this when shopping with my grandson recently. If you are expecting me to tell you, how to deal with people like this, stop reading here, as I do not have the answer you want to hear. I was left speechless and nearly walked out of the store without finishing my purchase. I am just sharing this story with you in hopes that if you are the sort to impart your 'wisdom' on others, that you at least take the time to do so more tactfully than this person did.

We were done shopping at a large department store that my daughter and I had been to, along with my two-year-old grandson, and were standing in the checkout line. I was holding my grandson and he was becoming heavy. I sat him on the counter, still holding him with one hand, and still standing in front of him. I never let him go, never walked away from him, I did not even turn away from him. I essentially was still holding him as I had been on my hip, except his little bottom was now on the counter and not on me. A store employee, one aisle over from the one we were in, somehow found this to be offensive, and she stormed over to our aisle, leaving the person she was checking out standing there waiting for her to come back. She came up behind the person checking us out, and very loudly proclaimed that I should not have my child (my grandson, though she did not know this) on the counter, that just the other day a child had fallen off! She then went on, to 'loudly' ask me if I did not have the sense to know this!

To say that I was taken aback would have been putting it mildly. I honestly did not have a response, though I thought of a million of them as soon as I left the store. Yes, he might have fallen, IF I had let him go, or walked away from him. Yes, you should not put a child on the counter, but when a store does not offer shopping carts with child safety restrains, and discourages strollers, then that leaves the adults in charge to either hold their hand or hold them as I had been doing with him. I found it preferable to set him on the counter, holding onto him, than to set him down on his feet at the crowded counter where they had a box of hangars with metal clips setting at his exact height were I to have set him down. As the store sold toddler sized clothes, a large section of it, then they must know that children would occasionally be in the store.

As I said, I thought of many replies once I had exited the premises. However, when the salesperson was in my face telling me what a bad person I was being, I had not a word to say to her. I simply picked my grandson back up, finished checking out, and exited the store. I am all for pointing out serious instances to other adults when a child might be in danger. I have done so myself. I always approach them quietly, with a smile on my face, and as politely as possible point out why the child might be hurt. For example, I recently saw a young mother with three small children hanging on one side of a shopping cart. I walked up to her and told her I had been in a similar situation years ago, with my own two children and my son's friend, when I let go of the cart and they tipped it over onto themselves. Nobody was hurt, but it was a lesson learned. I kept a smile on my face the whole time I was telling her the short story, and she actually started to let go of the cart for all of a second when it started to tip. She quickly grabbed it, and said she never thought of that happening. As quick as that, she had all three kids off the cart, and calmly told me thanks. If you feel the need to point something out, unless a child is in imminent, serious danger, do it with a bit of calmness, and kindness, and it will be taken much more to heart than any message relayed in anger and sharp tones.

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