Good Samaritan or Smug Busybody in a Parking Lot?

Readers rhdfaydrfn
— I am really sick of “Good Samaritans” who are actually smug, judgmental crazy cases who imagine terrible things happening to children ANY time the  parents are not looking straight at them every single second of every single day.

Those folks are WRONG but think they are RIGHT, and sometimes even get the authorities on their side. (Sometimes they even get commenters on their side. Horrrors!) – L

Dear Free-Range Kids:  I consider myself a happy medium between Free-Range and helicopter. Due to having a son with autism and a son with life-threatening food allergies I cannot always be as Free-Range as I want to be. That being said I still had a run in with a “concerned citizen” a few months ago.  I just thought I should write Lenore about this.

My 6-year-old twin boys and I were finishing up a trip to Walmart on a Sunday morning after church. My routine is I unlock the car doors and the boys get in the car themselves and buckle up and wait for me to finish loading the groceries into the trunk and then I go return the cart. It is very rude and dangerous to leave a cart sitting out so I always return it to the nearest cart corral when I am done. This was about one lane over but definitely not more than two lanes over if I remember correctly. I could still see my car.

The boys had shut the car doors after they got in and it was a hot day but again they were 6, so old enough to get out of the car if they  needed to and I was literally gone maybe 1 minute while I returned the cart a lane over. When I walked back to the car a lady was standing in the parking space facing our car and looking at my car.  She remarked as I started to get into the car, “Oh I am glad to see you.”  I just looked at her and she goes on to say, “I thought someone left those kids in the car.” I replied “Someone had to return the cart.” Then proceeded to get into my car and leave.

The thing was, she was still standing there staring at us as I pulled away. I wondered if that was because she had gone as far as to call the police or the store that quickly to report it.  I would be the type to be concerned if I saw a young baby or toddler in a car on a hot day but not 6-year-olds, and not when the mother was just walking a lane over to return a cart and in sight of the car. If she had even looked around she would have seen a woman returning a cart and could think, “Oh that must be the mother returning the cart.” Then waiting to make sure before she left. I also would not think to make a comment about it to the mother. I got the sense the woman was expecting me to thank her or something but I was a little irked by the assumption I was neglecting my children. I certainly did not think she needed to be thanked. — April S

Lenore here: Nor do I. I think she was standing there because she was waiting for a halo.

Is it okay to leave kids "alone" for as long as it takes to return a shopping cart? Debate amongst yourselves.

Is it okay to leave kids “alone” for the entire time it  takes to return a shopping cart?!

, , , , ,

47 Responses to Good Samaritan or Smug Busybody in a Parking Lot?

  1. Jon November 2, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    I leave the carts out and have explained to people giving me stink eye for doing it that I can’t leave the children unattended. My urge is to put the cart back, but I’m more afraid of people like this.

  2. SnarkyMomma November 2, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    I do this all the time. My kids are 1.5 and 3 and I will unload the cart and get them all situated and strapped into their car seats and then go return the cart. Depending on the weather, I will load the groceries or the kids first. Also depending on the weather I might start the car if they need the heat or AC on to be more comfortable for the 45 seconds I’m gone. I know it’s shocking, but so far, other than a dropped toy or spilled snack cup, nothing bad has happened to them.

  3. Nicole November 2, 2013 at 9:37 pm #

    I help moderate a fairly large car seat safety community (we basically walk people through properly installing the seats and choosing the right seat for their child’s age/size). Almost daily I am deleting threads where people are patting themselves on the back for calling 911 because someone left their kid in the car. People need to learn to mind their own business, as well as the difference between “heat stroke” and “toddler happily playing with his feet”.

  4. lihtox November 2, 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Not to be contrary, but do note that the woman doesn’t actually *say* anything rude or do anything wrong as far as we know. The police didn’t show up. Heck, the woman didn’t even scold the mother! She said, “Oh I am glad to see you” and “I thought someone left those kids in the car.”

    I don’t blame the writer for her(?) reaction; I’d probably feel the same way myself. But our fear of busybodies can make us a little overly defensive sometimes. Just as some parents read stories about kidnappers and think “that could be my kid!”, we come here to read stories about busybodies and police officers and CPS and expect that to happen to us. Most folks deserve the benefit of the doubt.

  5. cb November 2, 2013 at 11:07 pm #

    Wait, so the woman did absolutely nothing wrong, said nothing particularly rude, and you think she is a terrible person?

    I’m sorry, but the person being smug and judgmental here is you. Introducing the topic with a comment about “crazy cases” is atrocious. I can see calling out people who overreact, but there’s nothing in this story that calls for that sort of juvenile name calling

  6. marie November 2, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    Lihtox said, But our fear of busybodies can make us a little overly defensive sometimes. Just as some parents read stories about kidnappers and think “that could be my kid!”, we come here to read stories about busybodies and police officers and CPS and expect that to happen to us. Most folks deserve the benefit of the doubt.

    I like this comment a lot. Most folks DO deserve the benefit of the doubt. I wonder, though, which feared event–1. kidnapping or 2. busybody calling cops–happens more frequently.

    I blame everything on local tv news…but then, I blame everything on local tv news and their wide-eyed reporters demonstrating clearly which emotion their story is supposed to elicit.

    As for the cart, park next to a cart corral and there’s no worry about having to leave the kids.

  7. hineata November 2, 2013 at 11:23 pm #

    Leave my kids in the car all the time, always have done, for brief periods to do exactly this sort of thing, and for longer periods now that the older one is up to driving the car, and they’re quite old enough to decide whether to come shopping etc with me. Good on the mum here.

    That said, I agree with lihtox. It is easy to get rattled by busybodies these days, but the lady here did nothing particularly untoward. I hope it doesn’t put the mum off doing the same thing again – trolleys left lying around are a darn nuisance 🙂

  8. SKL November 2, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    If she was only watching to make sure the mom came back shortly, that is OK with me. We don’t know if she called the cops or not (hopefully not). The only thing that bugs me is “I thought someone left kids in the car” when she could have just said “cute kids” and walked away.

    I have done exactly as she did, minus the comment at the end. No, I don’t want a halo, I just don’t want to hear of another tragedy.

  9. Michelle November 2, 2013 at 11:39 pm #

    Yeah, I don’t think it’s such a big deal. I’d probably shake my head and think to myself that the lady was likely a busybody, but I’d also realize that I’m overly sensitive because I know I’m bucking the mainstream.

    That said, several years ago there was an incident in my city where a lady loaded her kids and groceries into the car, and was returning the cart when a crazy lady (who must have been watching and waiting for an opportunity) ran up and grabbed her baby, car seat and all. The baby was eventually returned unharmed, and it was big news here for a while. Well, right after that, I put my kids in the car and was about to return the cart when a couple of older ladies rushed over and made a big fuss about returning my cart for me so I wouldn’t have to leave my baby alone for even a second. I found it amusing and sweet, although completely unnecessary. 😛

  10. Asya November 3, 2013 at 12:26 am #

    I haven’t heard of this hysteria over kids in cars until I found Lenore’s site! Even during the bloom of this helicoptering shift in the 90s, I was left in the car whenever I wanted to be left in the car. How can Americans think this is dangerous? Aren’t cars, part of the family with those jumbo in-house garages, and a necessity for absolutely any transportation in the suburbs, the safest place for an American child, away from those evil predators and (eyeroll) “sick people who want to hurt children?” 16 year old “children” are allowed to drive these things by themselves before they can drink beer or light candles, does this count as leaving a “child” alone in the car? Don’t people in this country trust their cars more than their neighbors?

  11. Warren November 3, 2013 at 12:53 am #

    Her saying she thought someone left the kids in the car shows that she assumed the worst. So yes she is a busy body. The fact she continued to watch as they left, confirms it.

    Response to her concern, “I’ve tried selling them, I’ve tried giving them away and no luck. I figure my best chance is someone stealing my truck, and them with it. You know how much it costs to feed the little buggers?”

  12. lihtox November 3, 2013 at 1:16 am #

    @Warren: So what if she was concerned? Worry’s not something you can turn off like a switch. Given the media reports and attitudes we’re surrounded by, it’s quite natural for a woman to see kids left in a car, and be reminded of stories about heat exhaustion and abandoned children and kidnapping and all that.

    Maybe the woman didn’t act perfectly in response to that worry, but it could have been SO much worse, starting with evil glares, or threats to call CPS or the police, up through the police actually showing up. I know busybodies; this woman isn’t in their league.

  13. baby-paramedic November 3, 2013 at 1:28 am #

    We are also unaware of the tone.
    I was once recounting a funny prank that was played on me at work to my husband. He laughed with me, but then pointed out if I ever wrote down the story (ie, the tone was lost) it sounded like a case of terrible bullying.
    Obviously I didn’t see it as bullying and haven’t been scarred for life!

  14. anonymous this time November 3, 2013 at 1:54 am #

    The clothes were awful, the hairdos unbearably tacky, but give me the 1970s any day just so people can go back to leaving their kids in the car sometimes while they go do something in a store without it being AT ALL A CAUSE FOR CONCERN.

    Babies die in cars when adults forget all about them on a hot day. It’s really rare, but it happens, and it’s not likely to stop. Kids don’t die in cars. They’re not abducted from cars, they can’t put the cars in gear like they used to IN THE 1970s before all the fancy child-proof gearshifts, etc.

    As the Who famously said, “The kids are alright.” Everybody move along, nothing to see here.

  15. Really Bad Mum November 3, 2013 at 2:14 am #

    I will only leave both kids in the car 60 seconds at the longest. Not because of strangers, heatstroke, etc, but because after 60 seconds 9 yr old “Satan Jr” can drive 15 yr old “Princess Bitchface” crazy enough for her to kill him…

  16. Ben November 3, 2013 at 4:06 am #

    If it was my kid, one of the kids would be returning the cart…. just like I have done as a kid ever since I can remember.

  17. Donna November 3, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    While I think the woman was overly worried about a completely safe situation, I think this letter writer is being WAY oversensitive. The woman did nothing except watch a car. She didn’t call CPS or the police. She didn’t even make a judgmental comment.

    Part of our willingness to send our kids (and ourselves) out into the world is based on the assumption that people are good and will help if needed. But god forbid they read your mind wrong because if someone fails to interpret a situation 100% to your liking, they are branded a judgmental busybody. It is no wonder that people don’t want unattended children around them if 100% perfection in reading strangers’ minds is the only acceptable level interaction.

    This lady likely did not see the mother push the cart away and just saw 2 kids sitting in a car. While that wouldn’t raise red flags to me, other people are more the worrying kind. It takes all kinds in the world. We constantly comment here in the situations where law enforcement is called “why didn’t the person just wait to see if someone came back before they called.” That is all this woman did!!!!! And she is still being slammed for it because it didn’t meet some standard of perfection in interpreting a situation exactly how you would interpret it. Sheesh.

  18. Linda Wightman November 3, 2013 at 8:01 am #

    I’ve personally been close to two situations where police were called for kids (not babies) left in the car, and to no kidnappings, so my anecdotal evidence indicates the former is a lot more likely.

    I’ll admit such behavior enrages me. (Calling the police, that is, not leaving responsible children in the car for a while.) But the proper response, if one is concerned, is just what this person did. Perhaps she should not have made a comment when the mother returned, but then again, she could have felt some explanation was necessary in order to avoid having the police called on her for the suspicious behavior of loitering around someone else’s children, possibly for malicious purposes. 🙁

    The Floridian in me requires me to comment on the statement, “Babies die in cars when adults forget all about them on a hot day. It’s really rare, but it happens, and it’s not likely to stop. Kids don’t die in cars.” Sadly, it’s not rare in hot places like Florida. What is extremely rare, however, is children who die in cars because their parents left them there. All the stories that I can remember involved children left in day care vans or buses. And yes, children who were not babies died, because while they could have easily gotten themselves out of the vehicle, they couldn’t unfasten their car seat restraints.

  19. Emily November 3, 2013 at 8:11 am #

    What I don’t understand is, if the letter writer just left for a minute to put the shopping cart away, and was only gone for a minute, wouldn’t the bystander have seen this happen?

    Anyway, busybody or not, it bothers me when people fall into the erroneous assumption that having an adult around automatically makes a situation safe. For example, the other day, at the YMCA pool, I was swimming, when a mother came in with two young boys. The younger one (who looked about six or seven) was made to wear a life jacket, and when he wanted to jump off the diving board, she made him wait until she was right in front of it. He almost landed on her head. In that case, the mother being right there didn’t make the situation safer; she made it more dangerous. I think that this was a misinterpretation of the massive poster on the wall of the pool area, that says, “If you’re not within arm’s reach, you’ve gone too far.” Anyway, I brought it up with a staff member at the YMCA, who told me that these things were a “parenting decision.” So, I’m going to see if the YMCA would be amenable to me making a more positive poster about teaching kids to swim/putting them in swimming lessons as the best safeguard against drowning, to replace the ominous “Within arm’s reach” poster. I’ve been going to this YMCA since I was little, and I started volunteering there when I was twelve, so this isn’t a presumptuous thing to offer–I’m already helping with Peace Week.

    So, about the situation at hand, of course it’s safe to leave school-aged kids in a locked car, in broad daylight, for a minute to put away a shopping cart. When my brother and I used to go shopping with my mom, she’d usually send one of us to return it, and my parents were on the bubble-wrappish end of the spectrum during most of my growing-up years. What scares me is, by today’s standards, they’d be seen as positively negligent.

  20. Donna November 3, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    “What I don’t understand is, if the letter writer just left for a minute to put the shopping cart away, and was only gone for a minute, wouldn’t the bystander have seen this happen?”

    Only in a world where you are the center of the universe and everyone’s eyes are always on you. In reality, the woman was likely taking care of her own things (gathering her stuff together, loading her own car – I don’t know if she was coming or going) while the writer was unloading the groceries and walked off to put away the cart and truly had no idea where the mother was.

  21. Cynthia812 November 3, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    Ben, if I had twins, I would probably put the cart away to avoid the inevitable argument over who did it last and whose turn it was. A friend of mine had a bad experience of this type recently. She was having her son do jumping jacks in the parking lot as punishment (apparently something recommended by his therapist), and some lady called the cops on her for abuse and parked behind her so she couldn’t leave. The happy ending was that the cops asked if she wanted to press charges for being unlawfully detained.

  22. Donna November 3, 2013 at 8:59 am #

    And to add onto my other comment – Not only are people far less interested in your actions than you think they are, people are also generally very far less observant than they think they are. It is very possible that this woman thought when she saw the kids “these kids must have been here alone for awhile or surely I would have seen the mother.”

    I think we need to remember that people are generally decent and not looking to cause trouble. It would certainly take the sting out of very minor affronts like this. We also need more confidence in our own decisions. Unless you are uncomfortable with leaving your kids alone in the car – whether because you think it is unsafe or you fear other’s reactions – you’re not going to be bothered by things like this. You really have to be looking for someone to disapprove to find disapproval here based on what was relayed in this letter (understanding that we don’t hear tone and see looks).

  23. lollipoplover November 3, 2013 at 9:18 am #

    Back in the 70’s when I grew up, my siblings and I had a game we played when we were left (all of us!) in the station wagon while mom shopped inside. It was the How Many Shopping Bags will she have? She always said she only needed a few things but returned with gobs of food. We often got hot in the wagon so we opened the doors and sat on the grass islands in the parking lot.

    Fast forward to “modern” times when police are called for children left in cars for minutes.

  24. Uly November 3, 2013 at 10:08 am #

    “Sadly, it’s not rare in hot places like Florida. ”

    Yes, it is. There are fewer than 50 cases a year of children dying of heat stroke after they were forgotten in cars, out of the entire US. Even if Florida can be reasonably be expected to have a higher share of these deaths than, say, Alaska, it still isn’t that many.

    Obviously, use your common sense before leaving a kid in the car, using such concepts as “is it actually warm out?” and “is my kid willing and able to leave the car if necessary if my trip takes longer than expected?” and if you genuinely think another child is in danger, take whatever steps you feel are necessary. (Hanging around a short time to see if the kid was left for a few minutes as opposed to actually forgotten is not in and of itself a bad step to take, I think.) But don’t assume the numbers are higher than they are, because it is still a fairly rare event.

  25. Emily November 3, 2013 at 10:33 am #

    @Donna–Okay, fair point about the bystanders not seeing what happened, but was it really necessary to imply that I think I’m the centre of the Universe, and everyone’s eyes are always on me? Maybe that wasn’t a great point, but even absent of that, the bystander SHOULD have thought, “school-aged kids, not MY kids, broad daylight,” and moved on with life as usual.

  26. Papilio November 3, 2013 at 10:58 am #

    Is there a reason this type of bystander never ever talks to the kids she’s concerned about? I mean, they were 6, surely they can talk?

    Anyway, she sounds guilty of being stupid rather than evil. But I’ll give Lenore that stupid people can be equally annoying…

  27. LRothman November 3, 2013 at 12:14 pm #

    While I do agree tht the woman’s comment wasn’t terrible at face value – we weren’t there and don’t know the tone of voice that was used. It would not be hard to make the comment come across as accusing and hostile.

  28. April November 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    Letter writer here

    To the commenter about parking next to the cart return. That is not always possible depending on the parking lot and how busy the store may be. Just saying.

    Now they are 6 I see no reason to have to park right next to a cart return. When they were babies I did park as close as possible. Now that they know how to get out of a car and can talk and can dial 911 and know not to go off with strangers and know to stay put, etc-I don’t see it being necessary at all.

    I judge the person who leaves the cart out in the middle of the parking lot way worse than I judge the parent for walking a few feet to return a cart within sight of their car.

  29. SKL November 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

    I posted a comment the other day that was somewhat similar yet, to me, very different. Similar: I also left two six-year-olds in the car for a few minutes to drop something off. Different: someone saw this and called the police immediately (and, it wasn’t hot or sunny out). That person of course made herself scarce when I came back to my car, so I don’t even get to find out who did this and why. And I got to be detained (only momentarily, thank goodness) and to worry about what the cop was going to do about it, and to explain to my kids why a cop car had come up and blocked us in.

    So yeah, I think it would be nice if there were some etiquette rules about imposing your parenting choices on others. I mean, yes, there are times when it isn’t clear that kids are safe. Yes, it’s good to watch out for any kid you see. To me, that’s just part of being human. But unless it’s patently clear that a child is being abused or neglected, give the parent the benefit of the doubt and be respectful of their position as parent. I’m sure the % of time when a stranger knew better than a parent on an important issue is pretty close to 0%.

  30. Linda Wightman November 3, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    @Uly — I guess it depends on your definition of “rare.” The statistic I was able to find was in that Florida has averaged about 4 such incidents per year over the last 15 years. My personal recollection is of about one per year, but I don’t watch the news much. I say either is common enough to warrant being concerned if a pet or a child in a car seat is left in a car under the summer sun here. It’s hard to believe if you haven’t measured it — which I have — but the inside of car gets incredibly hot, incredibly fast. It’s much worse than in the trunk. (Note: I am not advocating putting kids in the trunk. But if you happen to find yourself having to eradicate bedbugs from a suitcase after an unfortunate hotel stay, the inside of the car will do the job much faster and better than the trunk.)

  31. Warren November 3, 2013 at 4:22 pm #


    We do not know for sure, but my money is on her calling the cops, had the mom not been back when she was.

    As for her comment, if she had tone, or attitude, or pushed her point……… polite, no nothing other than a “F— O–“, and a dismissive wave. I do not have the time nor the desire to engage these morons, that think they have the right to interfere.

  32. April November 3, 2013 at 5:06 pm #

    I like the idea of letting the kids return the carts. As of right now, seeing how they drive them in the store, I don’t think they could do so without running it into a car. Not the most coordinated lads. But maybe when they are older that is a great idea. Make us quicker getting out of there.

    I actually find it safer to go ahead and have them in the car waiting than standing in the parking lot. Not going to get run over sitting buckled into your seat.

  33. Beth November 3, 2013 at 5:46 pm #

    Let us remind ourselves, again, that the vast majority of children dying in hot cars weren’t those who were in the car while Mom returned a cart or ran a quick errand. They were those who, due to a change in routine, were left in the car for hours because the parent/caregiver forgot they were there.

    So can we stop saying “I would never ever ever stop at the ATM/pay for gas/return a cart, etc. if it were hot out?”

  34. SKL November 3, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    No, no child ever died from being left in a car for a few minutes – especially not at that age.

    But there have been cases of kids being left in mall parking lots long enough for the car to heat up, killing the kids. It is extremely rare but it does happen. And one would assume that there are even more cases of kids who are injured that way though not to the point of death. Depending on the circumstances, it might or might not be reasonable to be concerned that a parent might be gone for too long. The OP did say that it was a hot day. On a really hot / sunny day, I would not be comfortable with leaving kids in a car more than 10 minutes (assuming the car was off, windows up). If I didn’t know how long the kids had been in there when I noticed them, I’d look in there to see how they seemed to be doing. And then I’d stick around and see if a parent returned. If it seemed to be getting dangerous I’d probably call the cops. But that is extremely unlikely to ever happen, especially to a couple of 6yos who could open a door or window if things got that bad.

  35. Uly November 3, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Most of those deaths occur to children under the age of, what, two?

    Florida averages just over 210,000 births a year. That means that every year in Florida you can expect to see about 420,000 children who haven’t yet reached their second birthday.

    4 of those children die yearly. For every 1 death by heatstroke in a car, over 105,000 children do NOT die of heatstroke in a car.

    For crying out loud, what other definition of “rare” can you possibly have, Linda?

    Yes, you should be aware of it, and again, if you genuinely think a kid’s life is in danger you should do whatever you feel is correct. But it just ain’t that common.

  36. Betsy November 3, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    Yeah, woman watching who made that comment was a busybody. I’m generally an observant mom, and have sometimes seen a little person with no immediately visible adult, and hung around until I made sure they hadn’t wandered too far off base. Ditto with making sure someone has a handicapped license plate or hangtag to use in that space. I don’t go around announcing it afterwards (and I’m a fair talker). I certainly returned carts a few car lengths away when my kids were babies; the only difference then is that I locked the door. People should not live in fear of irrational wackos (and they need to work to CHANGE the crazy law, in Penn., I think? that says you can’t leave your kids in the car to pay for your gas).

  37. Uly November 3, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

    Or maybe, Betsy, she worried after the fact that this woman might think she was a creepy perv who was staring at her kids for no reason and wanted to make clear that she had only the best of motives, but it came out sounding awkward because, let’s face it, there IS no graceful way to say that.

  38. April November 3, 2013 at 9:13 pm #

    Honestly I never would have noticed the woman if she had not said something. So there was no need for her to say a thing to me. She was far away enough for the car I thought nothing of it. So she spoke for a specific reason to let me know I was being neglectful in her opinion. That is the way I took it.

  39. Uly November 3, 2013 at 11:14 pm #

    Well, April, I wasn’t there, and I can’t read minds anyway.

    You were there, but you probably also can’t read minds. Most people, despite what they think, are not very good at understanding what other people really mean and intend to convey when they talk. You might be the exception. You probably aren’t.

    You might say “there is no way I would have noticed her if she hadn’t said something!”, and I’m sure that’s true. But did she know it is true? She might have thought “geez, here I am, standing here awkwardly, she has to see me. Maybe it’s better to just say something now!”

    Or maybe she really did think “that woman is an awful parent. I need to let her know other people care more about her kids than she does!” But neither you or I knows for sure.

    One time, I was waiting to go down the stairs into the subway and I saw this woman coming up with a stroller. I couldn’t get past her, so I moved to the side and waited, and when she got up the stairs she yelled at me for “judging” her for being a young mother. I said I hadn’t, and she retorted that she knew what I was thinking because she “saw how you looked at me”.

    Except that I hadn’t. I was so preoccupied with the plot of the book I was going to continue reading on the train that I had barely even noticed her. I had registered enough to see that there was an obstacle on the stairs and I had to wait, and then I pretty much checked out. I don’t know why she thought I was judging her, but if I had to guess I would say it is because she was uncomfortable as a young mother and so tended to assume the worst.

    Another time I was sitting at a sandbox and I heard somebody behind me doing multiplication problems aloud. I don’t like hearing voices without being to identify the source, so I turned around long enough to see that it was a young boy – and his mother jumped on me for judging her, because he was autistic! Again, I had no issue with a kid being a kid (any sort of kid) at a sandbox, but she probably had her reasons for assuming the worst about my motives.

    I’ve done it too! Somebody says something or does something, I jump to the conclusion that they’re judging me, and then later, when I’ve calmed down, I realize that it is entirely possible that they didn’t mean anything like I thought at the time, that all the malice was in my interpretation rather than their actual actions. Because, you know, I’m human, and like most people I can be a little defensive when I’m acting differently from the perceived norm. (Admittedly, there are some people who really very obviously ARE judging me, but usually I can tell because they’re waaaaaay more obvious than that.)

  40. Karon November 4, 2013 at 1:01 am #

    Seriously, folks. The commentary on this article is the most disgusting I’ve seen in a while on this site. There’s no reason to get snippy with each other.

    Clearly, April felt judged by the person watching her car and kids. Whether that was because of the actions themselves, tone of voice, or body language, the feeling was still there.

    It’s entirely possible that the person watching didn’t know how to address April when she returned; she clearly didn’t recognize that April was leaving only to return the cart. That was an awkward moment for everyone; April returning to find someone watching her car and kids, the woman realizing that there was nothing wrong (and who probably had some adrenaline going if she really thought the kids were in trouble).

    The interaction between April and the watcher isn’t the problem; the idea that any child, left in any car, regardless of circumstance, is in imminent danger of death or kidnapping is the problem. My local Wal-Mart stores now have a sign on the door reminding everyone to LOOK for kids left in cars, and report them to store management.

    Those signs lead me not to leave my kids in the car at Wal-Mart, even though I’ll leave them in plenty of other places (they’re 9 and 12, for Pete’s sake!). Not because I think they’re more likely to get hurt at Wal-Mart than anywhere else, but because Wal-Mart actively encourages people to take unnecessary action.

  41. Pink Sneakers November 4, 2013 at 2:19 am #

    Hi April~Pink Sneakers~Balloon Animal!

    Maybe the lady wanted to make sure the old man greeter pulled the double car shopping cart for you. No?

    I’m very happy you put up the shopping carriage without endangering your precious twin boys, including the red haired one, soooo cute. Hopefully your daughter who is older could put up the cart next time as that was a really good suggestion!

    See you later!!

  42. Warren November 4, 2013 at 10:30 am #

    It is amazing how people in here are judging the OP, for over reacting, while giving the other lady the beneft of the doubt. The same way they give the benefit of the doubt to the police, CPS and schools when there is an issue.

    The OP was the only one there to interpret what happenend. She obiviously felt slighted and now she is being slighted by those she came to for support. Nice.

  43. TrubbleMakr November 4, 2013 at 12:16 pm #

    This post is now being discussed at:


  44. Papilio November 4, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    They’re not discussing this post, they’re just trying to figure out if April S is the same as ‘BalloonAnimal’ who already posted this same story over there last summer with (according to them; the story itself is long gone) the same details, or not, blah blah, yada yada.
    Looks like April failed to stay anonymous. Or whatever.

  45. Linda Wightman November 4, 2013 at 4:36 pm #

    @Uly — when assessing the risk of a behavior such as leaving a child in a car on a summer’s day, the statistic that is important is how many children died relative not to the total population of children, but rather to the population of children left in cars.

  46. Uly November 5, 2013 at 9:42 am #

    Actually, Linda, since children intentionally left in cars rarely die, that doesn’t really follow as well as it sounds.

  47. QB November 5, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    This is getting to be more and more of a problem. I spoke to a mother the other day who was grocery shopping and left her kids (11 and 6 I think) in the car. She was hurrying not because she was worried something would happen to her kids, but because she was worried someone would see it and call the police on her.