Lego Store Detains Boy, 11, for Being Too Young To Shop Alone

A ntieddkfek
boy of 11 was detained in a Lego store for being “too young” to shop on his own. This note to the store comes to us from his father, Doug Dunlop, who describes himself as an outdoor dad in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. I have edited this down a little, but here’s what he wrote to the store:
Dear Lego,

Today, our son went to the Lego store in Chinook Mall, Calgary, Alberta.  He had over $200 and was intending to purchase some Lego with it.  He is a frequent customer and a skilled Lego builder. He uses his own money he has earned from such things as babysitting and shoveling walks.

Imagine my surprise when I entered the store and found that the manager had called a security guard to detain my son. He then tried to coerce me into staying with my son while he was in the Lego store.
It is important to note that my son has been to the Lego store on his own several dozen times and has made thousands of dollars’ worth of purchases.  No Lego store employee has ever questioned his behavior.  He does not disrupt business and he is a paying customer.

I spoke to the security guard who told me that the Lego store required a parent to be with any child 12 or under. He  stated that it was Lego store policy and that he was just enforcing it.
I then followed the guard to the manager, and asked him why he would call security on my son.  He stated that for safety reasons, no child under 12 could be left unattended in the store.  I explained that I had not left him unattended — he had arrived at the store on his own, as a customer.  I happened to be meeting him there afterward, but only because we wanted to meet for lunch.
I asked what scenario made the Lego store so unsafe that an 11.5 year old needed a chaperon?  He replied, “If I have to explain THAT to you, then you shouldn’t be a parent.”
The security guard then piped in and started making a claim that child abductions from the mall were a frequent event — which is a lie.  I cut him off and asked, “How many child abductions have taken place here in the mall?”
I questioned why the age policy was not posted at the front of the store and the manger responded once again with, “It should be obvious to any good parent that children under 12 shouldn’t be in a store unattended. We have the policy for child safety reasons. Your son is welcome in the store, but we ask that you accompany him whenever he is here.”

We left the store and have no plans to return.
Later, when we asked our son how they had even found out his age, he replied that he had been discussing Lego with one of the store employees when the employee asked, “Just out of curiosity,  how old are you?”  Our son naturally assumed that he simply wanted to know his age and told him.

Lego is a big part of our son’s life, and by extension a big part of ours.  It would be very sad for us to have to end our customer relationship with Lego on a permanent basis.
LENORE HERE: The dad went on to list what he would like the store to do, including providing an apology and posting the age policy on the front door.
Me, I recognize that just because this one manager and one security guard got it into their heads that an 11 year old is the equivalent of a toddler, that does not mean that all malls, or Lego stores, or Lego store managers, are this uptight. And the fact that the boy shopped there many other times unbothered by the staff indicates that this time was an anomaly.
But of course the big point is to make sure that kids — like the elderly, the disabled, and everyone of every stripe and color — are always allowed to be part of society without being discriminated against on the false pretense of “safety.”
Doug, the dad, says that he has just spoken with the district manager, “and the summary is that they will put up a sign saying no unaccompanied children under 12. The safety scenario he suggested was that if the mall was evacuated and my child couldn’t contact me it would be dangerous.”
Talk about classic worst-first thinking — dreaming up the very worst case scenario first and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen. It’s like saying, “Well, of course I’d LIKE to allow kids to play at the park. But if a tiger got loose from the zoo, it could be attracted to the scent of young meat. So for the children’s safety, we’re forbidding them to play outside.”
My advice to Lego: Apologize and give the boy a Bionicle. Quit while you’re behind, but have not yet outraged every kid in America with an allowance.
Come out with your non-hands up!

Come out with your non-hands up!

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195 Responses to Lego Store Detains Boy, 11, for Being Too Young To Shop Alone

  1. Anna April 29, 2015 at 6:38 pm #

    Ugh – I hate the “solution” almost as much as the problem. It seems that increasingly many places have such signs posted now, including the children’s section at my library. So even if it’s not illegal to leave your child there, suddenly it’s forbidden anyway. My son is still quite small, but I don’t see why when he’s 5 or 6 he shouldn’t be able to read in the children’s section while I go find a book downstairs in adult non-fiction, for instance.

  2. Daniel Johnston April 29, 2015 at 6:44 pm #

    It looks like this business just lost several thousand dollars worth of future sales. This kid and his dad both sound awesome, though. The stores’ lack of logical thinking is evident by their pointing to the nonexistent abductions happening at the mall, an assertion that cannot sustain even a single pointed question. Their inability to give any evidence to support their argument only shows how strong the kids/dads (and ours) is.

  3. Chuck99 April 29, 2015 at 6:58 pm #

    I remember, when I was young (in the 70s, though I hate to admit it), we would go to the mall, and while my mom and grandma shopped for girly clothes, I’d go to the book store and toy store ALL BY MYSELF. I’m shocked that I’m still alive to tell about it.

    But seriously, has anyone been in a mall when it was evacuated? And if that was really the problem, shouldn’t they just make sure the kid has a cell phone?

    BTW – I worked for years in comic book stores, when having kids come into the store was a good thing.

  4. Joanie April 29, 2015 at 7:25 pm #

    I don’t understand how, in the event of an evacuation (due to, I assume, fire – or possibly terrorists! Or toxic gas! Plague of flesh-eating rats!), a kid competent to shop on his own would be in greater danger from his alleged inability to contact a parent. First off, why wouldn’t he be able to contact a parent? Unless a nuclear bomb went off or the zombie apocalypse broke out (in which cases parents aren’t real helpful, and may in fact eat you), phones would probably be working. There’d be emergency personnel around, dealing with whatever caused the evacuation and setting up some kind of evacuee center where a kid could easily be found by his family. Secondly, why would a parent make him safer in an evacuation? At 11, with a track record of independent activity, he’s just as able to follow instructions from police or whoever as an adult is. Seems like if the mall security are worried about that, a quick ten minute talk between the kid and his parents about what to do if the mall is evacuated would fix the “problem”.
    Plus I hate the kind of blanket age restrictions that make it seem like at 11.5, a kid is a drooling toddler, but in six months he’ll magically be a functioning person. I know kids develop quickly, but seriously folks. Get a life.

  5. Lycere F. Cunningham April 29, 2015 at 7:27 pm #

    These such restrictions seem to be popping up all over the place. I don’t have any children, but I am a very short-statured adult of 32 (4’8″) who frequently gets mistaken for a child, and I have been stopped by the fascists who enforce these rules and told to leave stores. I’ve also been stopped for suspicion of being a truant school child many times, but at least with that, as long as I was outside *after* school hours (and before the nighttime curfew for minors) I should have been okay. Not so anymore with these restrictions that make it so that if I’m at a store or library at 5 pm on a school day, or any time of day on a weekend, and I’m still viewed as someone who is not supposed to be there.These rules don;t just hurt kids, they hurt adults in my situation as well, since the people telling me to leave, etc., never believe my ID showing my age is real anyway, they just claim it’s a fake or I stole it from a “real” adult.

  6. Maggie April 29, 2015 at 7:33 pm #

    The security guard then piped in and started making a claim that child abductions from the mall were a frequent event — which is a lie. I cut him off and asked, “How many child abductions have taken place here in the mall?”


    This infuriates me.

    The guard shouldn’t be making outrageous statements like this. If I was the mall management, I wouldn’t want a security guard claiming the mall was a dangerous place for children. And why does the store management want to pretend their store, and the mall, is a dangerous place for children? That’s also insane.

    Scare tactics and insults regarding someone’s parenting abilities is not a good way to develop customer relations. I’m really sorry that the boy and his father had to go through this.

  7. vallori April 29, 2015 at 7:51 pm #

    This reminded me that the McDonalds down the street from me has signs all over inside barring children from the place during certain times of day, and restricting them to staying only 30 minutes.
    McDonalds…Mc-Frickin-Donalds, I’m sorry, but WHAT!?

  8. Gila April 29, 2015 at 7:56 pm #

    I don’t agree with the policy 100%, but would like to address the evacuation scenario.

    My local mall was evacuated because of a suicide jumper. Lots of people had to leave. I actually got there right after they let everyone back in.

    Granted, this child sounds like a self sufficient person, but not all children would act appropriately in such a situation. Also, emergency personnel would be diverting their attention from the emergency at hand to deal with an unattended child, especially if the child started panicking because the parent was evacuated on the other side of the building, and the parking lots don’t connect all the way around.

  9. Linda April 29, 2015 at 8:05 pm #

    Though it’s tempting to say this manager is an anomaly, remember that Legoland Boston does not allow adults to visit without a child.
    Because any adult interested in visiting Legoland without a kid is obviously a predator.

    Worst first thinking seems to be their policy.

    “Adults must be accompanied by a child to enter.”

  10. anonymous mom April 29, 2015 at 8:10 pm #

    I agree there might be 11 year olds who would respond badly in an emergency situation, but there would also be 12 and 14 and even 16 year olds who could respond very badly in an emergency situation, and 8 year olds who might do just fine. We seem to believe that every 10 and 12 and 14 year old is the same, but that’s clearly not true. Kids vary wildly in maturity. A parent is obviously going to be the best judge of a child’s maturity level and in the best position to recognize if a child is capable of going to a store alone (and dealing with any of the situations that might reasonably arise while there).

    However, kind of like the difference between parents who let their kids loose in the neighborhood knowing they can take care of their own needs (barring emergencies) and parents who let their kids loose in the neighborhood so that they can be taken care of by other people, there is a huge difference between a parent who allows an 11 year old to go to a store alone so that they can look at and purchase goods and a parent who sends a child to a toy store thinking that store will basically babysit the child for free. And I’m willing to be that the Lego store gets a lot of the latter. I have no doubt that there are parents who do not think their children are capable of taking care of themselves and going on a shopping trip alone who drop them off at stores like the Lego Store figuring the store employees will keep an eye on their child and that it’s some kind of drop-in supervised play center rather than an actual store.

    Retail workers are not babysitters. I worked at a bookstore in the mall in high school, and we would rather regularly, especially around the holidays, have parents leave young children in the children’s book section while they shopped in other stores. These parents did not leave their children in the store because they knew their children were mature enough to be in a store alone; they left them in the store because they were not mature enough to be left alone and they figured the bookstore was a safe place to leave them and that we’d keep them out of trouble. But we were not babysitters and the store was not there to provide childcare.

    Anyway, I just wonder if the store’s policy is less about safety and stopping free-range parents from allowing kids to stop alone and more about frustration with parents using the store as childcare.

  11. Michelle April 29, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    Gila, why would the child necessarily be better equipped to deal with it six months from now?

    Some might say, “Well, we have to draw the line somewhere.” But do we? Wouldn’t it actually be much safer and more logical to let each parent decide for their own child, based on whether the child is actually mature and capable enough to handle being on their own, rather than setting arbitrary age limits that may or may not align with the child’s actual ability?

  12. Linda April 29, 2015 at 8:13 pm #

    [ For the record, in reference to my previous comment, I do know a few non-predator childless adults who think that Legos are really cool. ]

  13. Dhewco April 29, 2015 at 8:16 pm #

    Speaking of ‘not all kids act in the same way’, I wonder if this is more of a situation where the manager assumed Dad wanted the store to babysit. (This happens all the time, especially in book stores.) However, even if the store employees had time to watch the kids, it’s a nightmare for them. Some parents want to treat them as babysitters, but the kids suck. They’re loud, obnoxious, don’t care about the store’s inventory and don’t care about messes. When the employees object, all of the sudden their special snowflakes can’t be guilty of anything. It’s the STORES fault that the kids are running rampant and the employees should have done this or done that to prevent damaged property.

    I think that that was more where the store was coming from. It wasn’t about safety. Honestly, I would have preferred the kid have a parent there myself. Although, I would have left it alone after the Dad objected and let it go.

  14. Kimberly April 29, 2015 at 8:39 pm #

    I’m sorry, but I find it extremely unlikely that in the event a high-density public space (mall, stadium, amusement park) had to be evacuated, that there would be 0 children separated from their parents. Emergency personnel are trained for situations like that and not only that, but you will never find 100% of the emergency personnel preoccupied with an evacuation (they would all have their separate jobs — some hands-on, some in support) nor would you find a situation like that where 100% of those being evacuated would be “civilians” (odds are, there will be off-duty doctors, EMTs, police, military, etc. who would step forward to assist).

  15. Wow... April 29, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    Or if we’re going to be playing ‘what if’… what if the son is a St John’s Cadet? Then he can be helpful in the event of an emergency.

    And for the younger set(t)….yes, excuse the terrible pun:

  16. Rune April 29, 2015 at 8:53 pm #


    I live in this city; both myself and my 10 year old son frequently visit this particular Lego store. Separately, as well as together. I’ve often seen children unchaperoned and my son has never been asked to leave. There are a number of details about the incident that don’t seem to make sense, and I find the phrasing as related very concerning; granted – based only on my personal experiences. As a firmly free-range parent, I think this story should be looked into further before we jump to conclusions.

  17. pentamom April 29, 2015 at 9:07 pm #

    vallori, in that case it’s highly likely that the policy is about not having disruptive bunches of kids who hang out, crowd the place, and maybe even don’t buy anything there. Lots of small stores located close to schools have a “no more than 2 unaccompanied students at time” between certain hours rule. Rules like that are about ensuring an environment that doesn’t discourage actual paying customers from wanting to do business there during certain hours, and sometimes, depending on the nature of the basis, minimizing retail theft.

    But this situation is rather different — they don’t want any children, ever, under any circumstances, being there without parents. And for reasons that have no real-world basis.

  18. pentamom April 29, 2015 at 9:12 pm #

    Dhewco, in your scenario, it’s still obnoxious, worst-first thinking. In this case, the worst-first isn’t about a kid getting snatched, it’s about a kid being disruptive or needing to be babysat. I definitely understand the concern and I don’t doubt that it’s a frequent problem. However, calling security on a kid who was not disruptive, was a regular paying customer, and could have been observed to be so, is not the way to deal with it. If they can call security to chew out a parent when a kid isn’t being disruptive in order to enforce their stupid rule, then they can call security when a kid IS causing a problem. Obviously, the rule isn’t saving them a lot of time or trouble in calling in security, since they either have to do it to deal with the disruptive kids, or to deal with kids who are causing absolutely no problem or inconvenience (and in fact are bringing them revenue and profit) for the sake of maintaining their rule.

  19. sigh April 29, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    I can believe the Lego store doesn’t want to babysit kids, but to throw the “any GOOD parent ought to know better” BS at Dad is simply offensive.

    How about a sign that says, “If you aren’t here to make a purchase, please limit your browsing to 20 minutes” or something like that?

    Age is not the factor here.

  20. Ann in L.A. April 29, 2015 at 10:18 pm #

    Keep in mind that this is inline with Lego’s Legoland policy as well, which doesn’t allow any unaccompanied *adult* to enter their parks without a child.

  21. lollipoplover April 29, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    Jeez, it’s the 12-14 year olds who are more likely to be problematic shoppers (first taste of freedom, showing off) than the well-funded 11 year-olds. What a shame this store lost an important customer because of a Paul Blart who can’t differentiate maturity vs. arbitrary minimum age.

    I hate Legos. They kill my vacuum and are totally overpriced for itty bitty pieces of plastic. I’d rather have bees in my hair than shop in a Lego store, especially one with crazy supervision policies that turn off young customers.

  22. Coccinelle April 29, 2015 at 10:33 pm #

    But how a 12 year old kid is magically protected from kidnapping? Kidnappers ask children their ID before kidnapping them? 12 years old kids magically become 6 feet tall and 250 lbs overnight?

    Seriously, rules like that make no sense, but implying that he’s the worst parent in the world was beyond rude.

  23. Jessica April 29, 2015 at 11:43 pm #

    @Lycere F. Cunningham, I’m 5’2″, so I understand height being mistaken for age. It’s not so bad for me now, but when I was in the Navy, I was once told, while wearing cammies and carrying a sidearm that I looked like I was 11, and at 24, I and a group of friends were kindly told to go home by the cops and it was only once we got home that we realized they thought we were teenagers breaking curfew.

  24. Beanie April 30, 2015 at 12:21 am #

    There should be a matching service for kids and adults who want to shop Lego unaccompanied.
    “Are you here alone?”
    “No, I’m with that guy over there.”

  25. somebody or other April 30, 2015 at 12:46 am #

    You do have to “draw the line somewhere.” Historically, for hundreds and hundreds of years, the “age of reason” was understood to be SEVEN YEARS OLD. And that seemed to work out fine for everybody for a really long time.

  26. Ruth April 30, 2015 at 1:23 am #

    Nice conversation going here. My thought was that the policy has to do with the risk of children taking things without paying in a toy store. I think the baby sitting scenario is also probable. Or an attorney needing to earn their salary by finding a potential liability risk to create a policy about. It just isn’t sensible to enforce a policy like that when experience does not warrant it. This store’s employees must care more about rules than customer service or revenue, which is odd for a business. Does anyone know if there is a reason to suspect a bias against the child or his father based on factors that haven’t been mentioned yet? For many reasons this is disturbing and I’m glad for the discussion.

  27. JKP April 30, 2015 at 1:31 am #

    The fact that he earned the money from babysitting is particularly relevant. He’s old enough and responsible enough to get paid to watch other kids. And yet once he steps into this store, he’s no longer old enough to be responsible for himself.

    The problem with drawing the line at 12 is that 12 is generally considered the age at which you can start babysitting (the Y and other organizations teach babysitting classes starting at that age). If a kid is going to be responsible for taking care of others at 12, they have to be responsible for taking care of themselves before then.

  28. orange roughy April 30, 2015 at 1:45 am #

    I saw a neighbor, in her robe, watch her 14 yr old daughter walk 5 houses down this morning, to another neighbor’s house. Then that neighbor drives her daughter and the watched daughter two blocks over to catch the school bus. The mom sits in the car with the girls until the bus comes. This is why my 13 yr old has no friends, because they don’t want their kids hanging with a girl that can ride her bike and go to the mall, their kids may want to do the same …..eek so scary

  29. Doug Dunlop April 30, 2015 at 1:47 am #

    @Rune I am not sure why you would doubt this policy. Metro news and CBC’s As It Happens both did stories on this event where they got statements from Lego. Tadhg had shopped alone in the store before with no troubles.
    The Lego store should not provide babysitting, but it should cater to customers of all ages.

  30. Andrej April 30, 2015 at 3:01 am #

    The funny thing is that I cannot imagine this could happen in Lego’s home country Denmark or anywhere else in Europe. It is like IKEA erasing women from their advertisements in Saudi Arabia.

  31. bsolar April 30, 2015 at 3:25 am #

    @Gila: “Granted, this child sounds like a self sufficient person, but not all children would act appropriately in such a situation. Also, emergency personnel would be diverting their attention from the emergency at hand to deal with an unattended child, especially if the child started panicking because the parent was evacuated on the other side of the building, and the parking lots don’t connect all the way around.”

    Not all adults would act appropriately either and they are much more difficult to deal with for the emergency personnel.

    You also describe an increasingly unlikely chain of events: first there has to be an emergency requiring an evacuation (a *very* unlikely event by itself), then the child and parent cannot reach each other before the evacuation, then the parent and child cannot meet anymore *after* the evacuation…

    Most would never encounter such a situation in their entire life and I don’t think we should be so strongly influenced in our behaviour by such incredibly unlikely events, otherwise we wouldn’t go to malls in the first place.

  32. Barak A. Pearlmutter April 30, 2015 at 4:25 am #

    Wait, he was “detained”, as in physically prevented from leaving? That seems illegal (felonious in fact) on the face of it. Can I walk into the mall and grab some 11-year-old and “detain” him? It’s not like the security guard has any special legal status as compared to any other person.

    The kid was not breaking any law. Pretty much all the security guard would be legally empowered to do would be to ask him to leave and if he won’t, to call the police on him for trespassing.

  33. Rick April 30, 2015 at 6:29 am #

    In a police state it’s necessary to maintain the idea that “grownups” are in charge and that you must turn to the “parent” for protection. It’s obvious that this manager is nothing but a tool of this police state mentality. How else to explain the “worst-first thinking” concept than as an enforcement tool of a police state?

  34. baby-paramedic April 30, 2015 at 6:30 am #

    Can confirm many adults don’t respond appropriately to emergency situations. Give me an eleven year old any day, they are usually capable of following instructions, and can typically be physically moved if necessary. Unlike adults.

  35. Jill April 30, 2015 at 7:35 am #

    The fear of children being in a store unaccompanied by an adult used to be that they might shoplift. Or that teens would congregate at a diner or fast food restaurant and scare away adult customers by swearing and acting up.
    When I was a child there were lstores that had signs displayed on their front windows saying “No One under 12 admitted Unless Accompanied By an Adult.” My friends and I avoided those places and took our pocket money elsewhere because it was known that the people who ran those stores didn’t lik kids.
    My personal belief is that store managers don’t see children as valued customers but instead are liable to mess up displays and steal stuff. They don’t want to become unpaid babysitters for kids who are dropped off at the store and left.
    They use”it’s not safe” as an excuse, but really they just don’t like dealing with children. It doesn’t help that children are increasingly seen as potential crime victims.

  36. Andrew April 30, 2015 at 7:40 am #

    How bizarre. I’d be more worried about the risk of the child potentially losing several hundred bucks in cash – and that would be a lesson well learned – than the tiny tiny risk of them being abducted (or killed by a rogue meteorite).

    What would the child do in the extremely unlikely event of evacuation emergency? What everyone else does, of course: evacuate, and then go home. Duh. If he can get to the mall on his own, he can get home again too.

  37. Juluho April 30, 2015 at 7:54 am #

    I love this site but sometimes I fear that one day my Free Range readings will cause permanent eye damage. How many times can I roll my eyes before they fall out of my head?

    11??? ELEVEN?!? Are we serious here?

    The state will be handing that kid a driving permit in a few years, but he can’t buy legos? In case the building collapses and the kids can’t call Mom and Dad? What age are kids learning to use phones these days? 19? 20?
    My new mantra is ‘I can’t even.’

  38. Crystal April 30, 2015 at 8:01 am #

    So he’s old enough biologically to get a girl pregnant, but somehow he can’t hand over cash?

  39. J.T. Wenting April 30, 2015 at 8:07 am #

    “This reminded me that the McDonalds down the street from me has signs all over inside barring children from the place during certain times of day, and restricting them to staying only 30 minutes.
    McDonalds…Mc-Frickin-Donalds, I’m sorry, but WHAT!?”

    Several stores and fast food restaurants here have such restrictions, and post the reasons very clearly:
    Teens from the local highschool are so frequently involved in shoplifting, pickpocketing, and disturbing the peace (from petty vandalism to hurling insults at customers and staff to flooding places with loud music and screaming) that they’re seriously hurting business.
    So stores have hired security guards, banned minors from entering during school breaks (or limited them to 2-3 at a time per store), banned them from bringing bags and coats into the business, etc. etc.and they very clearly state that.

    It’s a sad state of affairs that such things are now required to have a business that’s not looted and destroyed every few days by unruly teens, even worse that law enforcement, school staff, and parents aren’t even attempting to keep the brats under control.

  40. MichaelF April 30, 2015 at 8:16 am #

    My kids have asked to go to LegoLand (we live outside of Boston), but I’ve hesitated simply because of that inane policy. Though I may swallow my pride so the kids can go and have fun sometime.

    I’ve never had an issue at the Lego Store, though we only went on their Free Build Tuesday events and we always lost track of one of them inside the crowd. Though keeping an eye on the door I always found them again, fixated on some Lego kit or at another build table…no worries. I even let them browse in the local library while I go look for my own books, or alternate DVDs. No problems yet. They come back, they know where to go and how to find me if there are problems.

    From this learn to tell my kids never to reveal their age to anyone.

  41. Tiny Tim April 30, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    God we ran around by ourselves at malls all the time when i was like 8. That was the whole point of malls. They were “safe.”

  42. Buffy April 30, 2015 at 8:42 am #

    I saw no indication from the articles that this boy needed babysitting. I don’t know why some posters are jumping to the conclusion that that’s why he was detained.

  43. Donna April 30, 2015 at 8:43 am #

    My guess is that this situation is indicative of a current societal problem that is an off-shoot of the child safety obsession – making rules for one purpose and then saying it is for child safety when questioned because “child safety” has become a magic phrase and few people argue with the importance of child safety so you never have to defend the real purpose of your rules.

    This has nothing to do with child safety and everything to do with kids coming into the lego store and causing problems or just taking up space without buying anything for hours while parents shop elsewhere. Based on what appears to be very minimal enforcement, my guess is that the rule is little more than a way to get a kid who is being obnoxious or has overstayed his welcome out of the store without insulting his parents. It is much easier, and probably safer business practice, to say to the mother of a misbehaving child “ma’am we have a rule that anyone under 12 must be accompanied by a parent in order to keep children safe” than it is to say “ma’am your child is an obnoxious pain in the ass and he is never allowed in my store alone again.”

    Whether this kid was doing something he wasn’t supposed to do or the store employee was just being more overly literal about the rules than usual is something we will never know. And this is the problem with this just-couch-everything-in-child-safety stance. We never get a clear picture of what went on when everything is just dismissed as enforcing rules for child safety. And the more people hear child safety rules for children alone in stores, libraries and park, the more it becomes accepted that these things are dangerous.

  44. Nelly April 30, 2015 at 8:59 am #

    I just sent a message to LEGO stating the following:

    I hope the PR people of LEGO have seen the ridiculous and unacceptable behavior displayed to a customer in Chinook Mall, Calgary, Alberta. I plan on buying NO legos for my 4 children until I hear this has been addressed by your company.

    If you haven’t seen the story, please click here

    Thank you for your attention to this subject.

    You can send a message too:

  45. Peter April 30, 2015 at 9:01 am #

    Even if the mall were evacuated in an emergency, what is the risk to Lego once the child leaves the store? As a mall policy 12 sounds reasonable although it should be posted. Even as a Lego store policy I don’t think you can really complain about that. What is offensive is they neither the store nor the guard just say “hey, store/mall policy. Read it, learn it, live it”. Instead they get all judgey and try to rationalize with bogus reasons. That is really the only thing offensive here and that appears to be specific to this particular location.

  46. Peter April 30, 2015 at 9:10 am #

    Although if the store or the security guard truly detained the child and he expressed a desire to leve the store I would think that is a false imprisonment claim. The guard may have some kind of immunity or defense based on a duty to protect, but the store employee would not. Now lead off your letter with that and you might even get a Lego Fusion out them.

  47. Eika April 30, 2015 at 9:22 am #

    Anna (first post): “Ugh – I hate the “solution” almost as much as the problem. It seems that increasingly many places have such signs posted now, including the children’s section at my library. So even if it’s not illegal to leave your child there, suddenly it’s forbidden anyway. My son is still quite small, but I don’t see why when he’s 5 or 6 he shouldn’t be able to read in the children’s section while I go find a book downstairs in adult non-fiction, for instance.”

    As a librarian, I just have to chime in on this. I don’t know your library’s exact situation, but my library has those rules, too, and they all came about from necessity, not want. We’re on a busy street in the center of town, a five minute walk from the high school and a ten minute walk from the middle school, with several apartment complexes and a homeless shelter in walking distance. We say kids under 8 can’t be there without an adult because if an emergency DOES happen, most 8-year-olds in the area would be capable of walking themselves home. If you’re under 8, you have to be with a teenager. This is also because we can’t tell a 5-year-old they’re kicked out of the library for pulling armfuls of books off the shelf onto the floor, because it’s ‘dangerous’ and road safety isn’t taught in schools until second grade. If there’s a parent letting them do that, we can kick them both out.

    We also had to institute an age minimum to get library cards. We had parents coming in and getting cards for their newborns and toddlers because they had too many fines/had a bill on their own card, wracking up huge fines or bills on their kids’ card, and then the kid couldn’t use it when they were old enough. Now we have the kindergarten test, where you have to be 5 years old and can write your own first and last name.

    Neither measure is perfect. But when there’s frequently only one person working in the entire kids’ section– four rooms, or the entire basement– and one or two people upstairs, we have to have guidelines publically posted to defend ourselves with. And we’re willing to look the other way for parents and kids we know to be responsible.

  48. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 9:44 am #

    “My son is still quite small, but I don’t see why when he’s 5 or 6 he shouldn’t be able to read in the children’s section while I go find a book downstairs in adult non-fiction, for instance.”

    I think the problem is that many 5 or 6 year olds would not be mature enough to just sit and read quietly in the children’s section while their parent gets a book. Some would. But, many wouldn’t, and librarians aren’t babysitters. I know that my 5-year-old daughter would definitely be a pain in the ass to the librarians if I left her alone in the children’s section for any period of time. So, I would not do that. However, many parents would. It isn’t fair to the parents who make responsible choices based on their knowledge of their child’s maturity level, but we do have to recognize that many parents do not and have no problem dumping an irresponsible and immature child who needs supervision on anybody they think will watch them.

    I’ve often wondered if this is also the case with unattended children in parks. It’s less that the rule-makers actually thinks that a 9 or 10 or 11 year old at the park without a parent is truly unsafe, but that they know that kids that age, if unsupervised, can be troublemakers. They don’t want them causing trouble, but instead of saying that and potentially making parents angry, they say it’s to keep kids safe. As Donna noted, “child safety” becomes an easy excuse for any rule involving children under 12 that require no further explanation, even when the policy was originally intended to keep the area safe FROM children, not for them.

  49. Warren April 30, 2015 at 9:51 am #

    Okay, they have a rule no kid under 12 on their own in the store. Although I think this rule is wrong, not only on the basis it treating these kids like wimpering idiots that cannot handle themselves, but it is also insane from a business standpoint. How many of these unattended kids browse the store, make up their mind on what Lego they want, and then either buy it themselves, or their parents return to make the purchase or that item ends up on a Christmas list, or birthday list that is then bought buy someone else for the child?

    Still, if it is their rule, that is their rule. But, since when does having an age restriction on entering a location give anyone the legal right to detain anyone? If you are not allowed in, then you get asked to leave. This is another situation where no law was broken, yet the subject was detained, and this time by nothing more than private citizens, not even law enforcement.

    After the “lecture” the manager and rent-a-goon gave the father, they are very lucky he is a letter writer. Myself, I would be extremely pissed. Once they got judgemental, and preachy, my in your face method would come out in spades. Including possibly calling actual law enforcement to deal with the detainment of my son.

  50. Marie Inshaw April 30, 2015 at 9:56 am #

    Eika I get you. I was in Library school and I remember the articles we had to read about the problem public libraries had with the public, kids being one of those things (homeless another, but this isn’t the Free-Range Homeless blog). Kids act up. Adults act up too, but it seems more clear, or a little clearer, what to do with an adult or teenagers. Since parenting styles and kids abilities are so diverse it is hard to say (maybe the 5 year old can cross the street by themselves, but how would you know) what the right course of action is when the 5-6-7 year old starts acting up.

  51. Warren April 30, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    Yes, we bring up the library age limits again, and so on.

    While I understand it is going to happen, that some kids are unruly and disrespectful, not all of them are. Yet these are the same as zero tolerance rules. Simply ban all kids under a certain age, therefore our trained staff does not have to deal with the individuals that are the problems. So much easier, and it is the cowards way out.

    Never did spend a lot of free time in the library as a child. Made a few trips to research things to allow us to make kickbutt gokarts, or other things we wanted to build or do. Make a few photocopies of diagrams and such. And we usually were a little louder, just because we were not regulars. One shush from staff always worked to remind us.

  52. Christina April 30, 2015 at 10:10 am #

    I suspect the LEGO rule is really intended to prevent the practice by some parents who actually send their kids into the LEGO store to play while they go off and shop for themselves. The store is not a playground, and understandably should not be a substitute for babysitting your kids. This happens a lot in stores kids are especially attracted to.

    However, in the case of the 11 year old – he was clearly not running wild in the store and was clearly intending to purchase some LEGO. The store should have simply asked the boy if his parents knew where he was and let them know the rule for the future. They could have simply had him leave the store – as their “rule” doesn’t pertain to the entire Chinook Shopping Mall. This is where their actions really went beyond what was acceptable at best.

    The rule should be clearly posted in the shop window if they are insistent on keeping the rule in place. I wonder if they would allow the boy to be present if in the company of someone over the age of 12? I am guessing they wouldn’t.

    It would be good if they could find a better solution to satisfy whatever their needs are.

  53. Wow... April 30, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    The problem is the “age creep” effect that tends to happen, I think. We’ve all seen this before, right? Let’s say that we have this rule about ‘no-one under 12 in the store accompanied’ and let’s just pretend that it works fine.

    And then a 13 y/o comes in the store and throws stuff off the shelves,shoplifts and is just a general massive pain in the butt. The solution isn’t to put the age limit up to “no-one under 14” – the solution is to deal with the P.I.T.A.

    I can’t remember offhand but I saw a story on the ‘notalways’ network about some hotel who took guests under their own names from about…. might have been as low as 16 to as high as 20 (not America).

    About three ‘just legal’ teens/young adults decided to go to the hotel. They were massive pain in the butts and basically ran up a huge bill and trashed the place and were massive pains. Instead of just dealing with them which would have been the smart thing to do..they decided to raise the age limit the very next day.

    @Marie: How do you know that the teenager or adult can cross the road though?

  54. Anna April 30, 2015 at 10:49 am #

    Elka and Anonymous Mom: You may be right about the reasons for the library rule – though I’m not convinced that the rule isn’t at least partly about fear of litigation and worst-first thinking. But I still think it would be better to make distinctions and deal with trouble-making kids rather than inventing zero-tolerance policies. Kids aren’t all the same. E.g., because my son is 3, I won’t leave him alone in the children’s section yet (for one thing, he might need help on the potty) but I am 99% certain that if I did he would in fact behave appropriately. My siblings and I used to go together to the library almost every day during summer vacation, and none of us ever made one lick of trouble for the librarians. Obviously, the oldest sibling to go was in charge of the younger ones, but no, they weren’t always over 12.

    One thing I would think librarians might want to take into account is that if children don’t spend lots of time in the library, they’re extremely unlikely to become library-using and library-supporting adults. Also, I assume even current funding is at least partially tied to use. If kids can only go to the library with an adult, what you’re going to get is 3 and 4-year-olds brought for one half hour a week for storytime and virtually no older kids at all – which is, in fact, the pattern of use I see at my local library. Doesn’t that more or less doom your future employment, Elka?

    It also guarantees that libraries will only be of use to middle-class kids with nannies or grannies who have time to bring them there (again, very much what I see at my local library) whereas, presumably one of the social purposes of publicly funded libraries is to provide wholesome activity and educational opportunity for the underprivileged.

  55. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 11:06 am #

    @Warren: “Although I think this rule is wrong, not only on the basis it treating these kids like wimpering idiots that cannot handle themselves, but it is also insane from a business standpoint. How many of these unattended kids browse the store, make up their mind on what Lego they want, and then either buy it themselves, or their parents return to make the purchase or that item ends up on a Christmas list, or birthday list that is then bought buy someone else for the child?”

    I don’t think stores generally make bad business decisions like that. I am assuming they instituted this policy because these unattended preteens were not buying anything, making messes that employees had to clean up, and annoying off other customers. Now, I understand that not all unattended under-12s do that. But, there are no doubt many parents of immature, irresponsible children who were using the Lego store as babysitting and that’s why we can’t have nice things.

    I would also imagine that legal liability is part of it. If you leave your child unattended at the library or store, and they have no policy against it, and something happens to your child, is the library/store legally liable? Can you sue them for damages? This whole thing comes down not to child safety, but money: fear of 11 year olds shoplifting, causing damage, and running off paying customers, fear of lawsuits, etc. I agree that fear is a bad way to make decisions, but given how sue-happy many people are, it’s hard for me to fault the store.

    I’m also interested in knowing more about this story. If this boy has shopped in there unattended before, and if, as another poster here noted, their children have also shopped there unattended as well, what happened this time? Was it an overzealous new employee who was a stickler for the rules? Was the boy acting in an obnoxious or disruptive way? I just don’t know.

    I do think, as I’ve said before, that one of the best ways to promote free range parenting is to be a responsible free range parent. Don’t let your kid loose in the neighborhood if they are immediately going to head to the neighbors to start begging for food and attention. Don’t leave your child in the library’s children section if they are going to start running around and making too much noise. Don’t send your child to the park alone if they are going to cause trouble. Because, as Donna noted, I think a lot of these policies against children being alone places were started not to protect children but because children were causing problems, but they are made in the name of safety because it’s easier, and that just promotes the idea that children are so fundamentally unsafe at the library/park/store that we need policies against it.

  56. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    @Anna, I agree with you completely, and I think ideally libraries would be places where kids could go alone and there’d be somebody there to help them learn how to behave appropriately. However, most libraries are so woefully underfunded that that will be impossible. I don’t doubt many children’s librarians would appreciate having the time and staff and resources to be a place where neighborhood kids could go, but they just don’t, and they are already stretched to do their current job duties, much less add child supervision onto them.

    I think the other concern with treating kids, like adults, on a case-by-case basis is that what do you do with a child who is misbehaving? You can take a teen or adult who is violating library policy and just kick them out. But, no responsible adult is going to want to kick a misbehaving 5 year old out of a library. It would be extremely difficult to enforce a case-by-case rule for children, because you really wouldn’t have recourse if they violated the rules. Plus, many parents would insist it was unfair and their little angels wouldn’t ever misbehave. So while I absolutely see the problems with the policies, I have a lot of sympathy for what children’s libraries and retail workers are dealing with, and I do understand why these policies might make a lot of practical sense for them.

  57. Rachel April 30, 2015 at 11:20 am #

    but I bet he could fly on an airplane alone…

  58. Paul C April 30, 2015 at 11:21 am #

    We have a local Lego store, and whenever we visit, there are kids running all around with seemingly no supervision whatsoever.

    IMO, the problem with unsupervised kids in stores isn’t the safety issue, it’s the assumption that it’s okay for kids to be dumped in a toy store or section while the parents shop elsewhere. While technically there’s nothing wrong with that, a toy store or deparment shouldn’t be thought of as a free baby sitting service, which is what they often turn out to be. Kids running around playing with display toys they have zero interest in purchasing isn’t what those businesses were set up for.

    Obviously this was not the case in this example, as the child in question had every intention of purchasing an item. The policy, as faulty as it is, again IMO was made to prevent “kid dumping”, and not safety.

  59. Liz April 30, 2015 at 11:40 am #

    @Anna – the problem isn’t parents like you, the problem is parents who treat the library as a babysitting service, leaving the premises entirely to go shopping/drinking/meet a friend/go to work.

  60. Anna April 30, 2015 at 11:45 am #

    Anonymous Mom: That’s all true, and I do actually understand, having worked as a page in the children’s department of our local library throughout high school, but I still think it’s shortsighted for libraries to react to understaffing/underfunding by eliminating classes of patrons they will serve. It’s basically accepting that they’re on a death spiral in the long run, isn’t it?

    And is it really that different from any public service job, including retail? I mean, dealing with the public is always the main annoyance and time-waster in all such jobs, isn’t it? If we hadn’t had patrons incorrectly re-shelving books at the library where I worked it would have cut our workload in half. But then again, the patrons are the point of the library, and if you eliminate them entirely you’ve eliminated the library.

    Oh, and another small point: the kids I see behaving the worst at my library generally are “supervised” – it’s just that the parents are ineffectual and permissive. In which situation it’s even harder for the librarian to intervene, since she has to countermand a parent.

    Adults make nuisances of themselves in different but often worse ways than children, but we don’t ban classes of them for that reason; somehow doing that with kids is considered okay. You’re right that a lack of agreed-upon standards for children’s behavior is part of the problem, and I don’t know how you solve that one. There’s really no substitute for social cohesion, is there?

  61. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 12:01 pm #

    Anna, I do understand that, and in theory I think you’re right. But, realistically, in many places if word got around that you could drop your kid off at the library unsupervised, within days the library would basically turn into a day care center. It sucks for all of the responsible parents who wouldn’t figure the library was a good place to dump their kid while they did the grocery shopping or spent the day at work, but unfortunately enough parents would take advantage that it would be impossible for the library to function as a library.

    I don’t know what the answer is. I do think to some extent it makes sense for a library to have a blanket policy of “no unattended children” and then being willing to turn a blind eye when a mature child is unattended for a reasonable period of time, but I realize there’s problems with that, as well.

  62. Warren April 30, 2015 at 12:04 pm #


    The problem is store staff has to clean up after kids being there all day, and touching everything? Really?

    If you didn’t want kids in there, you don’t want kids touching and moving everything, then don’t open up a damn toy store. I hate to burst everyone’s bubble, but are not kids the targer demographic of a toy/lego store? Yes it is.

    It is rather idiotic to operate a toy store, and not expect to have kids touch and move everything. It is a cost of doing business. There are a lot of costs of doing business that no business owners like, but we do it. I have it in the tire business. And in the tire business, it is not only labour, but material costs. You accept it.

  63. Eika April 30, 2015 at 12:17 pm #

    Re: Anna and Warren:

    Libraries are always trying to change and adapt to the times. We have board games that can be played in the library, we have Lego Wednesdays, and we have elementary schools that bring their classes in once a week to teach them responsible citizenship. The issue is not with well behaved kids; it’s that we do have to draw lines somewhere.

    I love school vacation week, because we’re busy all the time and kids are in and out. A bit noisy, and there’s a lot more cleaning up to do, but okay. I don’t mind the four-year-old looking through twenty books when Mommy says she can have two, or finding books upside-down in the wrong place. I can tell you the names of over a dozen kids, and recognize a hundred or so, and kids who recognize the library lady get extra candy on Halloween.

    I mind when we have a picture of a six-year-old taped to the reference desk because his mom would go on a computer to look for work and send him down here to ‘play’, and he went outside onto the street rather than come downstairs, and went out emergency exits twice– and we had to point to that rule before she’d believe we weren’t ‘discriminating’ against her and she just had to have him sit nearby with a book. I mind that we’ve had two people go behind the desk and through our drawers to steal fine money, and one person who went into the staff room to steal from coats and purses, in the last year. (Caught in the act and on camera).

    The nearest elementary school is 3/4 of a mile away. Kids who don’t live in the homeless shelter or apartments nearby have to cross three busy streets and get the attention of various drivers who don’t pay attention. The high school and middle school– ages 11+– are both just down the street, and they walk over regularly. No, libraries aren’t for everyone, but we’re doing fine.

    The point I was trying to make– and appear to have failed to make– is that sometimes age limit rules are there for reasons. Employees are often willing to look the other way for people they know are well-behaved, or under specific circumstances, and sometimes the rules are out of line, like we all agree the age-12 one is for Lego. All the same, they’re still there.

  64. Esther April 30, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    “The security guard then piped in and started making a claim that child abductions from the mall were a frequent event — which is a lie. I cut him off and asked, “How many child abductions have taken place here in the mall?”

    He must really suck at his job then.

  65. Christina Union April 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    By that logic, if anyone with a physical or mental handicap was in the mall and it was evacuated, that could be dangerous, too. Shall we not allow them in public places?

  66. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 12:28 pm #

    Warren, toy stores owners made the decision to open a toy store rather than a drop-in day care center. If they had wanted to supervise children all day, they would have done the latter.

    I know we had this discussion last summer, when I was complaining about parents who let their kids loose in the neighborhood who then show up at my door seeking food, drinks, bathroom access, and attention. That isn’t being a free-range parent: it’s just not giving a crap what your kids are doing as long as they are bothering somebody who isn’t you. The parent who tells their kid to leave the house and not come back in until dinner while knowing full well that child is going to be self-sufficient during that time but instead seeking attention, food, and entertainment from neighbors is being irresponsible rather than free-range. And it does a disservice to actual free-range parents when that happens.

    I see this as very similar. Just because a store sells children’s goods does not mean that it is a place for children to go and play all day. It doesn’t mean it’s a place for kids to hang out while their parents do other things, because their parents think the store is a safe place to leave them. If your child isn’t mature and responsible enough to be left at home while you go to the mall, then your kid isn’t mature and responsible enough for you to leave them at the Lego store while you do your shopping. Deciding to drop your kid off at the Lego store because they aren’t old enough to be left alone and you figure the Lego store will keep an eye on them for you is being an irresponsible parent. Leaving your kid at the library all day in the summer while you work because they aren’t mature enough to be left home alone is using your library as a babysitter, which it is not intended to be, not being a free-range parent.

    I can say without a doubt that my 3- and 5-year-old children left unattended in the Lego store for an hour and told to play there while I did some shopping would create a mess above and beyond what a store employee should be expected to clean up. I would never think, “Oh, well, their job is cleaning up displays, so who cares?” Their job is cleaning up the normal messes made while people shop, not the messes made by children left to play. If we don’t show respect for store employees (and library employees), then we can’t and shouldn’t expect policies that respect our right to make responsible decisions as parents.

  67. Reziac April 30, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    If this mall is so dangerous cuz kids get abducted all the time, why does anyone still shop there?? See, that’s what needs to be nosed around — scare enough adults away and maybe the malls will feel the pinch of Stupid in their pocketbook

  68. Eric S April 30, 2015 at 12:29 pm #

    I so do enjoy hearing people like this manager, garble their words to try and find a new excuse, after being put on the spot. Ignorance at it’s best. Tip, if companies are going to lie, make sure they cover all their basis. That way they and the company they work for won’t look like complete morons. Personally, I wouldn’t not go back and give them my business. And I would Tweet and Facebook the incidence. Consequence of actions I say. If companies are going to be idiots, then they should learn to face the consequences of those actions.

  69. Warren April 30, 2015 at 12:32 pm #


    No you do not have to draw a line anywhere. What you have to do is deal with the one person that is causing a problem, not treat all people in that age bracket the same.

    Is everyone that afraid of confrontation, that they would rather just make a blanket rule, and punish all those in the bracket? That is weak, cowardly and unacceptable. If you cannot confront someone about unacceptable behaviour in your establishment, they you do not belong in a career that deals with people.

  70. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 12:35 pm #

    Correction: “The parent who tells their kid to leave the house and not come back in until dinner while knowing full well that child *isn’t* going to be self-sufficient during that time but instead seeking attention, food, and entertainment from neighbors is being irresponsible rather than free-range.”

  71. dancing on thin ice April 30, 2015 at 12:37 pm #

    I recently watched some TED Talks that leadership in many successful companies is not blindly following rules for rules sake. (I also have many years experience at a national known business that earned respect this way.)
    To avoid being management top heavy, even the lowest worker is able to provide input because they are more apt to be dealing with the public that a company/organization serves. Focusing on people instead of those wanting to be in charge whether they are a manager or stockholder is healthier in the long-term.

  72. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 12:38 pm #

    @Warren, what do you suggest a store does with the 7-year-old child misbehaving in their store and unattended? Because, I can say with certainty that I would not be comfortable just kicking them out, and neither would many other people. I know the maturity level of my own children, but not of random kids dumped in a place where I work. I’m not going to kick out a child who might not have any idea how to get in touch with their parents or how to get home, who was left there by a parent seeking free babysitting while they did some shopping.

    Children are not all toddlers, but neither are they adults. We aren’t going to treat an 8 year old the same way we treat an adult.

  73. Rhonda April 30, 2015 at 12:39 pm #

    I haven’t read all the comments, so maybe someone already mentioned this. Isn’t it LegoLand that won’t allow adults to enter with a child? This seems like a company-wide issue of worst first thinking.

  74. Eric S April 30, 2015 at 12:42 pm #

    @anonymous mom: While I agree with you about parents who let their children do whatever isn’t Free-Range. I think you have this story completely backwards. According to the letter, the father never dropped his kid off to “play”, while he did his thing.

    “…he had arrived at the store on his own, as a customer. I happened to be meeting him there afterward, but only because we wanted to meet for lunch.”

    To me, that says the boy went to the store ON HIS OWN, with the sole intent to make a PURCHASE. NOT to play. The father did not also tell his son to go play at the Lego Store, because he couldn’t be bothered to watch him. He obviously trusted his son well enough, because he trusted that he taught him well enough to be independent, and just made arrangements with his son to meet later FOR LUNCH. And possibly a ride home.

    I was 10 years old when I started going downtown to shop. I rode transit, or walked 20 – 30 min to go to the mall, cutting through allies as shortcuts, passing homeless people, prostitutes, and most likely drug dealers. But we (most kids then) were much more street smart than kids today. So we knew how to navigate our surroundings. And not once in my childhood have I ever witnessed stories like this. Except for when kids actually were running amok and undisciplined. If your as old as I think you are, you most likely had the same childhood as I did. Which makes me wonder how you can take this letter in the way you did with you last post.

  75. Eric S April 30, 2015 at 12:44 pm #

    @Rhonda: Adults are not allowed in WITHOUT a child. Which I think is completely ridiculous as well. I know some adults how like Lego. A couple actually have a collection. As in unopened boxes. Yes, some people collect Lego as a hobbie. Like some collect comics and baseball cards. They are collectors.

  76. Warren April 30, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    If you read any of what I have said, I have talked about dealing with offenders on a case by case basis. I don’t expect a store owner to put up with a PITA kid. But I do expect them to understand who their target demo is, and not punish all because of the few.

    As for the kids showing up in the summer for food, bathroom or whatever……………….really who gives a rat’s ass. If they are playing with my kid, I don’t care. Really, it may add 10 bucks a week for snacks and water during the summer………………. and for the kids in the area to be able to come in grab an apple, a bottle of water, or whatever is there, that 10 bucks is well spent. The only thing I expect is manners. I don’t know, maybe we live in some sort of Utopia, as compared to most of you, but we all understand that when the gang is out and about, come bathroom time, hunger time, it is location, location, location. Hell, I have come home and found a note from my neighbor on my kitchen island. “Warren, borrowed a bottle of red. Will replace. Thanks.”. The more I read this blog, the more I come to appreciate where I live, and the people around me.

  77. Millie April 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

    Love the loose tiger example. I would imagine (although I’m not certain) that the tiger scenario is just about as likely as the mall evacuation scenario!

  78. Warren April 30, 2015 at 12:50 pm #

    The 7 yr old brat…………easy, page the parents twice. Allow a reasonable response time. Page again, with the addition, that if there is no response in ten mins., we will consider your child abandoned and the police will be called. It is really that easy.

  79. Rhonda April 30, 2015 at 12:53 pm #

    Oops. That’s what I meant. Kind of changes the whole meaning…

  80. Joanna April 30, 2015 at 12:59 pm #

    Since no one else has asked, I will. Even with the notice that children under 12 must be accomapanied by an adult posted at the front f the store, what’s to prevent an under-12 from simply lying about his/her age? Had the boy in this story answered “Twelve” instead of “Eleven”, would Robo Cop have demanded proof, and if so, what kind of proof? Obviously, a 12-year-old wouldn’t have a drivers license. What’s next, requiring children to carry picture IDs issued by some branch of law enforcement?

  81. Pete April 30, 2015 at 1:04 pm #

    If stores insist on using shame in an attempt to control parents (“If I have to explain THAT to you, then you shouldn’t be a parent.”) – I see nothing wrong with using shame to show them the errors of their ways. They are assuming everyone agrees with them, and it is a mistake to shield them from hearing otherwise.

    Put it another way: Stupidity rarely response to reason, but it will respond to humiliation.

    These stories should specify the store location. Name and shame these busybodies who fill their days by haselling children and insisting everyone make decisions based upon ignorance and fear.

    If this LEGO shop wants to take the official position that young children are not safe in their store, we should do our best to spread the message for them and make sure they reap the rewards of their actions.

  82. Pete April 30, 2015 at 1:13 pm #


    OK – Seriously: This should be the lead.

    Headline: “Frequent child abductions plague local mall”

    Story: “According to a senior security employee, child abductions from the mall are a “frequent event”. This would be frightening in and of itself. However, the fact that the mall has refused to disclose the crime statistics, and has responded to the crime wave by haselling preteen children, speaks to woeful ineptitude in calgary’s fight against a potential serial kidinapper at-large…”

    Stupidity cannot be argued with, it can only be mocked.

  83. Kenny Felder April 30, 2015 at 1:24 pm #

    Lenore, what would you think about advocating a write-in campaign? Post the address on your Web site and urge people to write in–electronically if necessary, but physically if possible. I suspect they would be surprised how many people don’t think that an unaccompanied 12-year-old is a terror to all parents.

  84. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 1:31 pm #

    @Eric S, yes, if things went as the father describes, then the store was out of line.

    But, my point was that it’s very unlikely the store actually instituted a “no unattended children under 12” policy because they were concerned about child safety, whether it be potential abductions or evacuations. They almost certainly instituted the policy so that parents would not use the store as day care. And I’m guessing the reason the son is normally allowed to shop without a problem is because most employees are aware of that, and will only play the “no unattended children allowed!” card if a kid is acting up or it seems like a parent is about to leave a small child so they can shop. What’s unclear is why this one specific manager decided to invoke the policy in this specific situation. Is he just a stickler for the rules? A paranoid weirdo? Was the child in question being annoying or obnoxious or disruptive? Has the store had a rash of people leaving kids there to be babysat lately and has decided to crack down? It’s not clear.

    I agree it’s really stupid to use “child safety” as a reason to ban kids from stores, but it’s a no-questions-asked rationale for most people. Oh, it’s for safety reason? Then, by all means, have your rule. So of course stores are going to say that bans are kids are there for reasons for child safety, because that’s better PR than saying, “We’re tired of lazy, irresponsible parents thinking we’re free babysitters.”

  85. Warren April 30, 2015 at 1:36 pm #

    Gotta love how civilized we have become. Was just on the phone with the old man. He needs tires, I asked him about this story, and what his reaction would have been. 35 yrs ago give or take a year, upon being insulted by the rent-a-cop and manager, he said without hesitation, “One or both of them would have gotten a shot in the mouth.”. And back then most cops would have just brushed it off as a dispute, that ended. Where now, it would be charges, lawsuits, and thousands in taxpayers money wasted.

  86. BL April 30, 2015 at 1:43 pm #

    “We’re tired of lazy, irresponsible parents thinking we’re free babysitters.”


    When I was 8, I went to the library myself, a good 5-6 blocks away.

    I didn’t need them as babysitters, since I had the run of a 5000-population town – playgrounds, streets, fairgrounds, parks, even hanging out at the local airstrip.

    But it’s no longer that way for 8-year-olds, or even teenagers. And this is called “progress”, of course. (rolls eyes)

  87. The Divine Miss O's Mom April 30, 2015 at 1:55 pm #

    Regardless of what the store/Lego says, this isn’t at all about child safety as much as it is about store security (children under 12, if they are so inclined, cannot be charged with shoplifting) and the issue of parents who use stores as a babysitting service being couched in the now socially acceptable cloak of child ‘safety’ (I consider it hysteria) as indicated by the sign actually posted by the store following this incident (note that age is not mentioned):

    “To ensure that your child has a safe and enjoyable experience in our store, please do not leave them unattended.”

    Apparently Amanda Santoro, a Lego brand relations manager, told CBC News in an email the company stands by the policy:

    “As a toy company, our utmost concern is for children’s safety, and as such we have a policy in place regarding unaccompanied minors. As this customer was under the age of 12 and alone, we followed our protocol and stand by our policy.”

    …yet isn’t a minor anyone under the age of 18, not 12? So according to Lego’s self-proclaimed policy above, anyone under the age of 18 must accompanied by a parent?

    The news story can be found here:

    It’s obvious that the LEGO store simply does not want the potential/perceived hassle/responsibility for unattended children… because we all know all children in every situation, unattended by an adult, are either delinquents that must be watched every minute because of the harm they will do to others, or they are unreasonably vulnerable and at risk of harm to themselves. (rolls eyes)

    Lego is simply attempting to circumvent any possibility of theft without recourse (children over 12 can be charged), but they don’t want to ‘offend’ anyone by coming out and saying flat out that they believe children will steal if a parent isn’t there to keep an eye on them.

    For a company that targets kids as consumers, you’d think they’d do more to encourage kids to shop. The stores my daughter likes best are those that make her feel welcome. Most kids take great pride in being treated with the respect having money to spend engenders. They don’t do anything to jeopardize that. Sure the odd kid will succumb to the temptation to steal something, but every kid should not be held hostage to the actions of anyone else. You can’t legislate morality, or values.

    Personally, if Lego is losing a significant amount of money to theft, it’s not kids doing the stealing. Lego also may want to consider that you create what you believe. Treat a kid with respect and dignity, and they will conduct themselves accordingly. Threat them as delinquents, they will also follow suit.

    As for free-range parents who are trying to raise their kids to be good, responsible consumers/citizens… contrary to being negligent and oblivious to potential stumbling blocks/dangers, we are very aware and we make darn sure our kids have the skills to handle a responsibility/situation BEFORE we turn them loose to freely range. If my daughter is shopping alone, it’s because she has proven/earned the right to that level of responsibility and freedom.

    I was considering a sizable Lego purchase for my daughter’s 11th birthday (the same daughter who, currently age 10, shops alone in any number of stores in our city), but am now rethinking this. As much as she would LOVE the Lego, I don’t feel companies/stores with these sorts of policies should be rewarded for this sort of “worst case scenario first and proceeding as if it’s likely to happen” thinking.

  88. Wow... April 30, 2015 at 1:56 pm #


    Let’s say he did panic – I think it’s unlikely but so what if he does? Heck, say he has a full blown panic attack….so what? In a true emergency situation, he can panic for a bit. Is it unpleasant? Sure. Will it do him any harm? Nope. Panic is unpleasant, that’s all.

  89. Lea April 30, 2015 at 2:12 pm #

    At 11, I was taking the city bus, unaccompanied (and usually my mother had n idea where I was going), all over town including the mall. I’d go, sometimes with friends sometimes alone. We;d spend hours shopping, browsing, eating,playing video games (I’m old enough to have played in an arcade). I had been babysitting for several years at that point and sometimes took overnight babysitting jobs. I got myself to the library, pool, school, parks, bowling, movies and all sorts of other places as well. This was not unusual behavior for 11 year olds, at that time. I don’t remember ever encountering a sign that had an age limit for kids to be in a store. I know some stores kicked you out if you behaved in an obnoxious or damaging way, just like they did adults. It was kind of expected that if screamed, played tag or rearranged half the store they would ask you to leave. it never once had anything to do with a child being in danger, simply because they weren’t yet at an arbitrary age. At 6 I was walking a few blocks, to a gas station, alone and with friends, to get candy!

    What kind of twisted logic say a person is a helpless little one at 11.5 and yet, six months later, at the magical age of 12, they are skilled and independent enough to manage themselves in all sorts of situations and fight off the vast amount of kidnappers that mall has? I’d really love to have a conversation with that malls management to discuss why their mall seems to be such a known magnet for kidnappers of those under the magic age of 12.

    People of all ages, often can not handle themselves in a crisis situation, such as an evacuation. I know plenty of adults that panic at fire alarms and tornado sirens and have to calmed down and coxed through them. I know plenty of kids that are the ones calming the adults and being the voice of reason in those situations. There is no reason at all why an 11.5 year old could reach their parents, should the mall be evacuated but a 12 year old could.

    These rules for “unattended” kids under X age (that pop up all over), is simply ridiculous. They make no sense, unless you happen to be paranoid enough to ignore all facts in favor of the boogieman is out to get you beliefs or you simply don’t like children. Either way it’s pretty bad for your business, especially one that is child centered such as a Lego store. Either you want to discourage children from being in your store by using this age thing or you honestly believe your store is a danger zone for children. If children are your target audience and you use either of these reasoning’s, then you are going to lose money, when you lose customers.

  90. Warren April 30, 2015 at 2:18 pm #

    Okay, let’s get off the whole discussion of evacuations, safety and all that crap. This has nothing to do with safety. It has everything to do with a blanket rule, so that the owner does not have to deal with unruly kids. Even it that means punishing and excluding a lot of potential buyers.

  91. Tiny Tyrant's Mom April 30, 2015 at 2:29 pm #

    My thoughts on this:

    1. The policy is idiotic, but I also recognize that the store manager, or even the district manager, lack the power to unilaterally change it. Lobbying Lego corporate would probably be the most effective course of action.
    2. Assuming the dad’s portrayal is accurate, that store manager was incredibly rude. Having been in the position of having to enforce moronic policies, I think “I’m very sorry, I realize it’s a huge inconvenience, and you’re absolutely right, the policy should be posted.” The end result would be the same, but at least it has the virtue of not being rude or condescending.
    3. I’m curious what Lego defines as Unaccompanied’. My husband is a huge Lego geek. If he’s focused on his own think while our child interacts with the staff, is that unaccompanied? How about if I wait right outside so as to allow my child the opportunity to practice basic interactions with adults? In both of those scenarios, a parent is right there in the event of evacuation/kidnapping/Armageddon/whatever absurd hypothetical corporate lawyers come up with.

  92. Heather April 30, 2015 at 2:31 pm #

    I heard this on the news last night and almost forwarded it to the Free Range Kids site. We in Canada often think we have it better (and we usually do) than our American neighbours when it comes to this kind of event. I’m pretty disheartened to see that a busy suburban mall in a midsize city is seen as such a terrifying place that kids are not welcome unless under armed guard.

  93. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 2:36 pm #

    @The Divine Miss O: “If my daughter is shopping alone, it’s because she has proven/earned the right to that level of responsibility and freedom.”

    And that is how it should be.

    Unfortunately, for many parents, that will not be the case. They will leave their child in the Lego store while they run other errands or shop in other stores not because their child has proven themselves to be responsible enough, but because they haven’t. They know their child isn’t responsible enough to be left home alone, for example, so instead they leave them in the Lego store, where they figure they’ll be supervised by adults.

    I know that when I was working in a bookstore, parents did not leave their 5 and 6 and 7 year olds there while they did their Christmas shopping because their kids had proven themselves mature and responsible enough to be in a store alone. They left them there because they kids needed supervision, and they figured we’d provide it. But that wasn’t our job.

    I absolutely agree that a responsible 11 year old who can abide by store rules should be able to shop alone. But, many times these stores are dealing with parents leaving immature, irresponsible, poorly-behaved 11 year olds left in the store because the parent neither trusts the child to be home alone nor wants to drag them along while they do their shopping. That is completely unfair to the store employees, and it ruins it for other parents who, like you, would not send a child into a store alone unless they knew they were mature enough to behave properly while there.

  94. JP Merzetti April 30, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    I have fond memories of shopping for my own hockey and baseball gear, at that age. I recall the serious poker-faced 7 and 8 years olds……..asking my wise old sage self for advice. Cooper Weeks vs. Rawlings? Sherbrooke vs.Victoriaville? And they were on their own, too. Kids ruled, man.

    There is just so much wrong with this story.
    A store manager (if he’s a good one) unaware of the fact that this kid is a longtime customer in good standing?
    Seriously addicted to what that store sells for good profit?
    Total lack of respect.
    (Yo cash ain’t nothin’ but trash, boy.)

    And pipe the security guard, for heaven’s sake. Quoting the false statistics that justify his sorry-**s job.
    Leggo first arrived on the scene when I was that age – and I never ever shopped for it in any other way than on my own.

    But this is the sad shift in current state of affairs. A good, responsible kid, who has been well-raised, and who is quite capable of behaving responsibly on their own, out participating in the public realm, as a valued citizen – is instead kicked to the curb.

    The first time I saw the movie Lawrence of Arabia, at the age of 11 – I had to petition my big sister (who was 17 at the time) to take me. They’d just invented PG 13. That was the one and only movie I ever saw in my little town, that required “mature” accompaniment.
    I had a running relationship with the neighborhood Odeon – allowing me in to watch Sunday afternoon matinee “art” movies.
    Things like Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Hot stuff, for a 12 year old kid.
    Thankfully, I was not corrupted. I magine.

    I’d go one up on Doug, though.
    Let the kid shop (as he has done many times before) until he displays behavior unbecoming in a shopper. Like any other.
    And Mr. security guard? If the Mall suddenly goes into lockdown? Use some common sense and human compassion: Whisk that kid into the back office, along with the other human beings present.

  95. JKP April 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm #

    I’m tired of all the excuses about “free babysitting” being the excuse for these policies. The solution isn’t to ban all unattendend children under X years old. The solution is to specifically address the problem. Post a sign:

    “This toy store/book store/library/park is not responsible for children left unattended. Employees will not be responsible for supervising unattended children. Patrons of ANY age who are being disruptive will be asked to leave, and if they will not or cannot leave on their own, security will be called to remove them.”

    The blanket rule banning all unattended kids under X years actually makes more work, because you’re calling security and dealing with removing kids even when they’ve caused no problems.

    Parents can then decide if their kids are mature enough to be on their own in the store and if their kid can handle themselves if they do misbehave and get kicked out.

    Parents who are lazy and dropping immature kids off for “free babysitting” would then deal with the fallout themselves when they have to pick up their unattended child from security because they couldn’t find their way home/back to their parent on their own.

  96. JKP April 30, 2015 at 3:24 pm #

    And parents don’t always leave a child in a toy store/book store because they weren’t mature enough to be left home alone. Often they could be left home alone, but when they find out mom is going to the mall, they want to come with so they can go into those stores and spend their allowance.

  97. julia April 30, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    my 8 yo and 11 yo often go into the Lego store solo – I am close by (in the sitting area in the mall) but not in the store – never an issue. I am hoping that LEGO intervenes and corrects this wrong….

  98. Tiny Tyrant's Mom April 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm #

    After posting my original comment, it occurred to me that the policy might be in place due to rowdy, unsupervised kids terrorizing other customers. In such cases, the policy should be enforced with discretion. Obnoxious brats? Get out, and don’t come back without a parent! Respectful kid legitimately interested in making a purchase? Assume the kid is twelve, and don’t ask questions. When did our society completely lose all common sense?

  99. Ben April 30, 2015 at 3:46 pm #

    If the story isn’t safe enough for kids under 12 to shop in, then perhaps the security guard should be doing a better job of keeping the place safe. Of course, an age policy does nothing in the event of an abduction. News flash: 12 year olds can get abducted too. Unless a kid gets to practice their street smarts, they’re going to be equally helpless at age 12 as they were at age 5.

  100. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 3:51 pm #

    @JKP, “And parents don’t always leave a child in a toy store/book store because they weren’t mature enough to be left home alone. Often they could be left home alone, but when they find out mom is going to the mall, they want to come with so they can go into those stores and spend their allowance.”

    They don’t always. But, many do. Ask anybody who works or has worked in a toy store or bookstore–it’s a major problem and a nuisance.

    The kind of sign you suggest makes sense, but it would put the burden on the store to prove that the child was being disruptive, and as we know, many parents will insist that their little snowflakes would NEVER be disruptive and it was the fault of the store. If you have a policy saying no unattended children, period, than the burden is on the parent.

    I have just, in various jobs, dealt with a lot of parents who will take advantage and push things that they shouldn’t to have a lot of sympathy for the reasons for a policy like this. It sounds, though, that it was unnecessary in this case.

  101. Ben April 30, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    While I doubt abductions are a common event at said mall, someone robbed a kid from their freedom.
    From where I am standing, I’m hoping the security guard gets arrested for kidnapping the boy, so he finds out how stupid the policy is.

    @Jill: If someone doesn’t like kids, then why they’d choose to work at a Lego store full of kids is beyond my comprehension.

  102. Dana April 30, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    We buy a ton of Lego, but that’s going to stop if this is their policy. I just sent an email requesting a response to the corporate headquarters. This is just crazy. No way is this store concerned about anyone’s “safety”. The only thing they care about it their bottom line. They just don’t want kids hanging around who might try to pocket some Lego. Pretty cynical and “anti-child” attitude for a store that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for kids.

  103. Wow... April 30, 2015 at 4:09 pm #

    @anonymous mom: And lots of adult obnoxious patrons will insist that they were behaving just fine and it’s the store fault like claim the store is sexist or whatever.

  104. Beyond Hope April 30, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    Stuff like that I always ask the manager “I guess my son’s money isn’t good enough for you.” That usually shuts them up about stuff like that. Does it really matter who is buying what so long as sales are being made? Now there’s huge bad publicity. Kids not being allowed to shop as kids means that as adults, they are not as likely to shop there either.

  105. JKP April 30, 2015 at 4:12 pm #

    anon – The burden is not on the store to prove to the parent that the kid was disruptive. A kid is disruptive, you kick that specific kid out no matter what the parent thinks. And if the parent has a problem – you tell them why the kid was asked to leave, and if they don’t believe you, who cares. If those parent don’t ever want to come back to your store with their kid, well then that’s just a bonus.

    A store is better off defending itself against parents complaining that their kids were thrown out for being disruptive than defending itself against parents complaining that their kids were thrown out for no other reason than they have the potential to be disruptive but weren’t actually disruptive.

    Kids I have thrown out of my business were being disruptive with their parent standing right there letting them be disruptive (pulling stuff off shelves and dumping out bags of marbles on the floor and climbing bookcases).

    It’s lazy and frankly outright discrimination to kick out all kids because of the actions of a few.

  106. Dana April 30, 2015 at 4:17 pm #

    to “anonymous mom” – I doubt most parents are leaving their children in stores for free babysitting. that’s silly. And if they are, then the store always has the right to remove them if they’re disruptive or causing damage to the store. That in no way justifies a policy like this that doesn’t allow for common sense and hurts kids like this one who was responsibly shopping and trying to spend money at their store.

    But honestly,even if kids are not being the epitome of maturity and politeness, so what? If stores don’t want to have kids around being a little silly or loud or acting like…. KIDS.. then don’t market your products to them!! You don’t get to make money off children then look at them in disgust when they act like children. Lego makes billions off of children and this policy is an absolute insult to them.

  107. Liz April 30, 2015 at 4:25 pm #

    What magical thing do they think happens on their 12th birthday?!

  108. lollipoplover April 30, 2015 at 4:26 pm #

    My oldest son started his first business (golf course stand- used golf balls, drinks, snacks) at age 10.
    At age 11, he branched out into dog walking, pet sitting, and snow removal with his best friend. He was a Lego enthusiast and active builder/tinkerer so we got him a woodworking bench and tools for his 12th birthday.
    He has since done business making birdhouses, cat towers, and actively trash picks furniture that he refurbishes and resells. He has taken his used golfball business online and in stores at age 13, he is developing another venture this summer to detail cars.

    On the way home from his soccer practice last month, he saw a sign at a landscape company for “Free Pallets” and he asked what a pallet was. We pulled into the business and he loaded up 10 of the pallets in my truck to tinker with. (Sometimes I feel like my garage looks likes Sanford & Son but it makes him happy to build and create.) He remembered a conversation at a neighborhood party where many of the neighbors were complaining of deer who eat their gardens and they wished they had a mobile garden they could bring in by the house so it wouldn’t be destroyed. He used the pallet wood to make mobile (on wheels) container gardens and is now growing seedlings of herbs and veggies and has almost 30 orders, mostly from neighbors but also his teachers.

    But at a Lego store, he couldn’t be trusted to shop alone despite having earned his own money as a responsible, capable kid like the 11 year-old in this story?

    It is insulting to children to treat them like babies and expect them to still want to buy your product. Kids are savvy and capable yet Lego treats them like drooling idiots.
    You just lost another customer with your stupid policy. I’d love a address to write Lego to complain of their ridiculous policy.

  109. caveat emptor April 30, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    Do you think Lego stores will become like liquor stores? Underage kids will wait outside and accost strangers.
    “Psssst. Can you buy me some Lego?”

  110. Taed April 30, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    My gaming store has an under-13 rule, which we found out about when he was there the first time without me (and yes, the policy was on their web site, not made up on the spot)i. But given that my son had been there at least 100 times and took the bus there all by himself, it was disappointing. Luckily, there’s another game store that has no such restriction, so he (along with about 50 other tweens) spends about 6 hours (and $20) there every weekend, but unfortunately it’s farther away and a bus route isn’t reasonable. However, I have no problem with a business having their own rules regarding such things, even though parents and kids might wish otherwise. I know the owner of my gaming store and the issue isn’t that they’re afraid of abduction or whatever, just that they don’t want to be “responsible” for the kid should they have an issue or they need to close the store.

  111. The Divine Miss O's Mom April 30, 2015 at 4:32 pm #

    @ anonymous mom: we get it… not all parents actively parent (though most do), and there are people who use toy departments, libraries, malls, etc. as child care services… and it is inappropriate to do so. Trouble is, retail has had to deal with this issue since commerce began. The point is that somehow managers, store staff and anyone else involved found appropriate ways to deal with these incidents without laying down draconian, belittling, patronizing ‘guidelines’ and policies for everyone to follow.

    I repeat, you can’t legislate morality, or values… and it is wrong to even try. There are no rules that will cover every potential and possible transgression. The problem in this situation is first a ridiculous and overly arbitrary (and I believe disingenuous) policy, and a ridiculous incompetent manager.

    EXCELLENT points!

    @ JKP April 30, 2015 at 3:22 pm
    “I’m tired of all the excuses about “free babysitting” being the excuse for these policies. The solution isn’t to ban all unattended children under X years old. The solution is to specifically address the problem. Post a sign:
    “This toy store/book store/library/park is not responsible for children left unattended. Employees will not be responsible for supervising unattended children. Patrons of ANY age who are being disruptive will be asked to leave, and if they will not or cannot leave on their own, security will be called to remove them.””

    Tiny Tyrant’s Mom April 30, 2015 at 3:42 pm
    “After posting my original comment, it occurred to me that the policy might be in place due to rowdy, unsupervised kids terrorizing other customers. In such cases, the policy should be enforced with discretion. Obnoxious brats? Get out, and don’t come back without a parent! Respectful kid legitimately interested in making a purchase? Assume the kid is twelve, and don’t ask questions. When did our society completely lose all common sense?”

    Ben April 30, 2015 at 3:46 pm
    If the story isn’t safe enough for kids under 12 to shop in, then perhaps the security guard should be doing a better job of keeping the place safe. Of course, an age policy does nothing in the event of an abduction. News flash: 12 year olds can get abducted too. Unless a kid gets to practice their street smarts, they’re going to be equally helpless at age 12 as they were at age 5.

  112. That '70s Mom April 30, 2015 at 4:34 pm #

    These examples just get crazier and crazier. I just received this email from a friend of mine who lives in Sandwich, MA – a quaint, safe town on Cape Cod. Naturally I thought of you immediately as i shook my head in disbelief. Here’s what she wrote – hope you enjoy it:

    I meant to tell you a funny story that sort of went along with one of our conversations this a.m. I recently read in the police log in local paper that a 7 year old was walking doll carriage down street and police officer had to speak with parent. When I read the area of town it was in, I laughed. I had a couple of guesses about who the child was. Sure enough,I found out today at Little League that it was the youngest daughter of a friend who was invited last night, but couldn’t attend. The mom was doing yard work and the child was walking her bitty baby around the neighborhood. The police officer who returned the child, doll, and doll carriage said that this was dangerous behavior as the child might “talk” to people. You have to know this kid-she talks to everyone-incessantly.The mom said she was respectful to police officer but she still lets child walk with the doll carriage.

  113. Wow... April 30, 2015 at 5:00 pm #


    So..let’s say there’s a Kinder Kid who can use the library appropriately but has some issues…like…I don’t know…say the kid’s dysgraphic/dyspraxic or something. What do you do then?

  114. anonymous mom April 30, 2015 at 5:06 pm #

    @Ben: “@Jill: If someone doesn’t like kids, then why they’d choose to work at a Lego store full of kids is beyond my comprehension.”

    Because they need money? I’m guessing it’s a minimum or near-minimum wage job with no benefits for most of the retail workers. They aren’t taking the job because it’s always been a career goal to work selling Legos, but because they need a job, have few skills and little experience, and Lego was hiring.

  115. Harrow April 30, 2015 at 5:26 pm #

    When I was 12 years old (in 1953) I made some money (about 10 dollars AIR) fixing bicycles for other neighborhood kids, and went shopping — alone — at Radio Shack. I bought a 55,000 volt flyback transformer. No clerk, cashier, guard, or policeman ever even asked me what I intended to do with this potentially lethal device. Indeed, every adult I encountered seemed to believe that just because I was up to something that no other 12-year-old was doing, it was not necessarily dangerous or illegal, and in general no one had the right to interfere with me except my parents.

    High voltage is dangerous, but my parents and teachers trusted me to take the necessary precautions. I was able to duplicate some of the work of Nikola Tesla, and by the time I finished middle school I had gained the deep understanding of electricity and magnetism that served me well throughout my career as an electrical engineer. This important part of my education would have been impossible if I had been surrounded by timorous adults continually mewling and whining about the worst that could happen and determined to keep me safe.

    I can only hope that somewhere in the U.S.A. there are some parents and neighbors brave enough to allow some 12 year old kids to explore where they will while being responsible for their own safety. Because if the cases I read about here are becoming the norm, then we are flushing all hope for security and freedom down the drain.

  116. Donald April 30, 2015 at 5:30 pm #

    I saw an excellent sign directed at parents about their children.

    It was a joke. It sends them a message to keep their children from becoming unruly in their shop. However it’s not a blanket policy that all children at this age shall…… (which is wrong because I have seen 7 year olds more mature than some 13 year olds)

    It said, “Unattended children will be given an espresso and a free puppy.”

  117. Jill April 30, 2015 at 5:39 pm #

    @Ben I don’t want to shock you but I have known school teachers who didn’t like children. I wouldn’t be a bit surprised that there are toy store managers who dislike kids.

    As for the idea that the mall might have to be evacuated and any children shopping alone wouldn’t know what to do, I’m not trying to sound like one of Monty’s Python’s Four Yorkshiremen, but when I was a child, we expected to be under nuclear attack by the Russians at any moment. Other than equipping us with cans of tuna fish and jars of peanut butter to be consumed in the bomb shelter in the school basement, we were pretty much left to get on with it without undue concern about how we might react when the Big One hit. Those were simpler times. .

  118. Sandy Clements April 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm #

    My dad was abandoned at 11 years old during the Depression. He got a job on a farm. I was a latch key kid when I was 7 due to family health problems and huge bills in a poor family. I made my own lunch on the stove. There were many many more crimes against children than now but no one was worried because it was still strange for children to be treated like children past the age of about 11. It was also considered none of your business how you raised your child as long as the child continued to be healthy. No one would ever have terrified a young man by calling the “law” on him.

    No one seems to get bent over the genuine abuse of bad and dangerous schools, rapes, killings of children in foster care, dead native women, and not enough food, education or health care. I just wish the Internet had not given the willfully ignorant and not too swift a voice. Even 100 years ago kids went to work, got married and had kids. We have prolonged childhood way past when it should be.

  119. Jason April 30, 2015 at 6:22 pm #

    I hope none of people writing off-handedly about how “extremely unlikely” a mall evacuation is have any responsibility for protecting people or property other than their own.

    Emergency preparedness is not worst first thinking. A plane is unlikely to crash on your flight to Dallas this morning, but all the planes still have emergency exits, and the airports still have fire crews who drill for the day when someone else’s flight does crash.

    The mall is also unlikely to be evacuated while a given child is there shopping, but they do get evacuated, and malls have to have detailed plans for what to do, rather than think about it at the time because it was so extremely unlikely. How many of you would just shrug off a disastrously executed evacuation of your family members if that was the excuse?

    To the original topic, ideally, an 11 year old would be able to go in and shop without issue, and the parents who drop their kids off for babysitting could be pulled aside and told of the store policy against unaccompanied kids. But, try defending that arbitrary policy and see where it gets you.

    Like it or not, a store is private property – it’s not a park – and property owners have the right to set limits that individuals may disagree with. The easiest way to do that is with a quantifiable metric like age, height, whatever, rather than the judgment of some minimum wage part-time employee.

  120. JJ April 30, 2015 at 6:35 pm #

    God I hate the “free babysitting”excuse. First it implies that everyone under some age (12?) needs constant babysitting. Second it feeds the sanctimonious helicopter parent mindset (if you didn’t want to spend every hour of the day with your kids then you don’t deserve to have them!). Third, if an 18-year old or 52-year old patron is disruptive you’d ask them to leave, right? So do the same for a 9 or 11 year old who is disruptive. Lastly who the heck does Lego think it’s end-customers are if not 11 year old boys and as for public libraries, they exist to serve the public which includes kids.

  121. SOA April 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

    I used to work at a KB Toys in the mall. We had no policy about unattended kids but it was an issue. But not 11.5 year olds. They usually behaved and just looked at stuff. I don’t remember having trouble with kids that age. It was the parents dropping off 7 year olds or 5 year olds or 6 year olds and just leaving them there while the parents went and shopped. That ended up with us babysitting kids while they tore up boxes, climbed the shelves, knocked stuff off shelves and tried to walk out of the store with toys they did not pay for.

    Now that was a real issue. I had to call security on a couple kids to come take them to their parents since they were trashing the place.

    I don’t care what age you are. If you can behave yourself then you can be alone in the store. If you can’t, then you need to have your parent with you. Sounds like this young man is very responsible and mature and its ridiculous they enforced that on him.

    I don’t have a problem with the policies in general so that if a parent is trying to drop off a disruptive kid to be “babysat” by store employees they can enforce that policy, but otherwise just ignore any kids by themselves that are behaving like good citizens.

  122. Diana Green April 30, 2015 at 7:01 pm #

    The store policy is “backside covering”. It was not intended to be enforced except in extreme circumstances. Every business has a slew of policies like this.
    Are you absolutely certain that there is not another side to this story?

  123. SOA April 30, 2015 at 7:20 pm #

    Those saying just throw the disruptive kids out are missing a big factor here. If you kick out precious snowflake then you get to deal with precious snowflake’s mother coming in and making a scene and berating you. You get to deal with precious snowflake’s mom going on social media and bitching about you and writing into the newspaper and getting her friends and family to boycott the store. Basically it causes drama and trouble which is not good for business.

    So they put up the policies to cover their butts to get rid of disruptive kids in a polite non offensive way and so precious snowflake’s mom does not get her little feelings butthurt when her kid is asked to leave and she can go on thinking she is mother of the year.

  124. Wow... April 30, 2015 at 7:32 pm #

    @SOA: As opposed to dealing with say… a woman seeing sexism everywhere… and being kicked out after being disruptive? Isn’t that woman going to go to every formal and informal media outlet too? And yet somehow stores manage to kick those people out.


  125. Lorianne Robinson April 30, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    If the policy is you must be 12 to enter, then why did they let the child enter without checking his age? Once they found out his age, why did they allow him to remain? I am a mother of 4 and grandmother of 4. My understanding of the law is that if anyone detains my child without my consent, it is kidnapping. I would press charges against this store manager and this guard for the unlawful detainment of my son. Of course, I realize that Doug, the dad, would have needed to call the police at the time and this is no longer an option. But for anyone else who may be listening. No adult, other than the police can detain your child. The school can only because you give them permission to when you enroll them. Don’t give away your power. Just my thoughts. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong. ~Lorianne

  126. Carolyn April 30, 2015 at 7:37 pm #

    I’m a parent of a 12 year old boy in Alberta and think parents should be familiar with policies such as this so it should come as no great surprise. Yes, all kids are different and one can hope the parent is the best judge of what their child is capable of, but this not always true. We’ve visited the other Lego store in Alberta, also in a mall and I cannot envision a scenario where I would leave my child there with a pocket full of cash. Maybe if I was sitting nearby outside in the mall? But these Lego stores are small and there is little to do in them except browse a bit and build a mini figure- when we go it usually takes 10 minutes as my son has researched his purchases online and/or we have called the store to ensure availability. So I’m wondering how long he was left there….
    I don’t think it was necessarily bad parenting or anything, but I question raising a big stink about it. Maybe it was okay for him to be left for a short time (still wondering how long) but it is also okay and appropriate for some father/son time at the Lego store. The 11 year old is clearly hooked on Lego as many are, and I’m wondering how he feels about being told he can no longer go to the only Lego store around: many of us with young kids were pretty excited when we got these Lego stores! Would it be so bad to simply supervise him while he makes these purchases? Lego won’t lose out- he’s just going to have to buy it online or at ToysR Us, he’s not going to just stop using it if this is a child who has that much money to spend on Lego.

    Malls in Alberta have been mentioned as targets for terrorists recently, there was an evacuation at West Edmonton Mall just a month ago due to a suspicious package, so that concern is real.

    So sorry, I cannot help questioning this a bit, and need more information- how long was he left there, did he attempt to call his dad- if the child didn’t have a phone, his dad should have a way to be reached.

    There is nothing wrong with supervising our kids, it’s not smothering them to go to the store with them at age 11, they can still grow to be independent adults. I certainly was never left to shop alone at that age, when I was left by my parents, it was with older siblings and under circumstances that would be questioned nowadays, and frankly, I think they should have been then, no offence to my parents, but some things were more accepted back then.

    There is a policy at the library, the leisure centres that children have to be a certain age to be left unattended (13) and it’s really okay that we are expected to supervise our children and not expect others to do this. I found myself annoyed the other day in the library by an unsupervised toddler left to roam around.

    I think the parent was likely embarrassed to have his parenting questioned, but I don’t have a problem with the Lego store having a policy of making sure children are supervised, it makes my shopping trip with my children much more pleasant.

  127. OriginalGeek April 30, 2015 at 8:03 pm #

    It’s appalling that a store manager would attack a person’s parenting abilities like that. The manager should surely be fired, as his attitude makes him unfit to serve in that capacity.

  128. Warren April 30, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

    Ladies and Gentlemen, and Dolly,

    Everyone is debating the rule, the reasons for the rule and the managers attitude.

    You own a store, and want to eliminate your own target demographic, go for it. Word will get around that your Lego Store isn’t kid friendly, and WalMart and other stores will benefit from it.

    My biggest problem in this whole incident, is the fact that the manager and the security guard felt they had the right to detain this person. They do not. I would really love to here where a company’s age restriction is legal grounds for someone to be detained?

  129. Beth April 30, 2015 at 10:17 pm #

    Carolyn, maybe your particular 12-year-old isn’t capable of shopping by himself, and if that is OK with you that a 6th or 7th grader is unable to do this, that is fine. But THIS particular 11 1/2 year old was perfectly capable of doing so. And nothing magical was going to happen to him in the upcoming 6 months to make him better at shopping on his own.

    I wouldn’t know what to do if I was in a mall evacuated because of terrorism, other than go home. This kid got there by himself, so he probably knew how to get home. What else is there to do?

  130. Matt C April 30, 2015 at 11:30 pm #

    “it’s really okay that we are expected to supervise our children and not expect others to do it.”

    Carolyn, why do you jump to the conclusion that a parent like this “expects” others to be supervising their children when they aren’t? Maybe they think that an 11yo doesn’t need supervision in this situation. Heck, the only difference between this kid and me at that age is that I was riding to the toy store 2 miles with my friends rather than being dropped off there by a parent. Nobody at that toy store was concerned with my presence or even paid the slightest attention to me until I brought my acquisition and my hard-earned allowance money to the front counter. Why this contrived preoccupation with the burden of supervising other people’s kids? Just ignore them.

  131. Sarah J April 30, 2015 at 11:32 pm #

    My money says that this rule is actually in place for the sake of the business, and not so much for the safety of kids. Lots of parents drop their kids off at toy stores, game stores, and so on for hours at a time while they go off and do something else. Stores are afraid that they’ll be held liable if these kids got hurt, or if they wandered out of the store and something bad happened. So the store makes these rules and says it’s about child safety, when really, they don’t want to be sued. That’s what a lot of these kinds of rules are about these days. With tall playground equipment, odds are low that a kid will get seriously injured, but people still fear the lawsuits.

    Still really sucks for well-behaved kids, and kids who are paying customers. What sucks about these rules is that they don’t really allow for nuance. Calling security for a child left alone in a store might be appropriate in certain circumstances, like if the kid is stealing or ruining stuff, or if the kid is very young and left alone for several hours, but a well-behaved kids shouldn’t be an issue. (especially when he’s buying stuff)

  132. Becca April 30, 2015 at 11:33 pm #

    Hi, voice of reason here. Sure Calgary is pretty safe. No child abductions are not common. Yet. I grew up south of Boston, where child abductions are all too common. And kids stores and the Malls are the #1spot that they happen. The stores are not keeping an eye on your children, that’s the parents job. It’s a liability, just like anywhere else. It’s a bummer when we can’t be free to do as we please, but that doesn’t make it someone else’s problem. Calling security was going a bit overboard in this instance. The child was already interacting with staff and clearly capable of finding his dad if there had been a bigger issue such as fire. But, just because my dog can be controlled by my voice doesn’t mean I get to walk him off leash whenever. Why? Liability.

  133. George April 30, 2015 at 11:49 pm #

    As a longtime fan of LEGO, I emailed LEGO through their website to object. I’ll post again if/when I receive a response.

  134. Warren May 1, 2015 at 12:11 am #

    To all the commentors wondering how long he was left unattended…………………he wasn’t left unattended for any amount of time. Try reading.

    He wasn’t left there. He went on his own as a paying customer. The only reason his dad showed up, was because they were meeting for lunch.

    The security guard was probably there to keep the manager safe from harm. Unlawfully detain my kid, and then get in my face about it…………best hope the mallcop is big.

  135. Warren May 1, 2015 at 12:13 am #


    There is no way in hell I am going to change the way I raise my family because of the paranoia over terrorist attacks. That ranks up there with the stupidest reasons I have ever heard.

  136. Warren May 1, 2015 at 12:15 am #

    Sorry Becca, that was meant for Carolyn.

  137. Havva May 1, 2015 at 12:22 am #

    This whole story brought up a lot of bad memories of age limits getting imposed in my home town and creeping up and up and up, always just out of reach. That colors my perspective, so to get a better read on if my ideals are realistic, I went and interviewed my local librarians who deal (quit well I might add) with dozens of unattended children. This library is located a stone’s throw from the elementary school, and attracts a surge of elementary age patrons when school lets out. Yet the library remains pleasant, and functional, and materials undamaged, even at this time. My husband, having assisted in hosting a club there, reported kids as young as 6 coming to the club independently. I told the librarians that I wanted to add their knowledge to a discussion about age based limits in terms of what policies they have, what issues they face, and how they manage the masses of kids.

    They opened with “we do not babysit.” Adding that they adhere to the county CPS guidelines (which they kept in leaflet form in arms reach). They told my that they do not attempt to maintain order by age based rules, and to not ask age. Instead order is maintained based on the situation and the behavior of the people involved. The most problems with the kids involve forgetting to walk, talking too loud, or a mass of kids shushing a loud child more loudly than the original noise. They admitted that between school dismissal and dinner time are the loudest part of the day (I’ll note also the busiest. I’ve seen it so loud it wasn’t usable when full of families, but haven’t had that problem with the kids.). Overall the librarians feel that the kids are well behaved and easy to manage.

    I asked, okay, but what do they do if they have a discipline problem? What if a child keeps making noise or otherwise doesn’t behave when reminded? The senior librarian smirked a bit, and said it was all very easy. That they had a powerful threat that keeps the kids well behaved. “We kick them out, and then they can’t use the computers.” He did not find this a difficult task at all, just a matter of course, and the ultimate trump card. Even the librarian new to our location (but experienced in the system) said that she hasn’t seen any big behavior problems, but if say a kid were running about tearing books off the shelf, of course the child would be kicked out. And no they don’t worry about that, at least not in our location.

    Now our CPS guidelines say 8, so they were a little surprised to hear that 6 year olds were coming alone, but the librarian who reached right for the CPS guidelines, shrugged the news off after a moment with..”well, the younger ones usually come with older siblings.” And they again reminded me that they do not ask the ages of the children. This revelation did not cause any hesitation in the continued references to the just kick them out policy.

    That said, for all their comfort with managing child patrons, the librarians firmly discourage any parent who asks if it is okay to leave the kid in the library while they go shopping or whatever. The ages in their examples ranged from 7 to 11 years old. To this they ask the parent “Would you leave your child alone in a mall?” (a quote from their CPS brochure). They also add that the library is a public place, so children are allowed too. But there will be no supervision, and the library will not be responsible for the child, so anything could happen. They ask the parent if that situation is acceptable to the parent, and safe for their child.

    They also say that they have had a couple incidents over the years of finding children very upset, who were not okay with being unattended, and that they consider calling CPS in those instances.

    There is just one legal obligation where they must be strict about age. They are not allowed to leave if a child under 13 is on the premises when the library closes. This does not however mean that they detain otherwise independent kids at closing time. But, if the child can’t vacate the premises on their own, the tardy parents (up to a half hour) will be greeted with a CPS brochure and admonishment. Beyond a half hour there would be a call to CPS. This they note is more of an issue at the harder to access libraries. Where as, in our walkable neighborhood, the children just walk home. As thought to prove it (and this being closing time) a couple elementary age youngsters began drifting to the front to check out books, used the restroom, and depart.

    The librarians noted that they occasional work at other locations, and they have far less comfort with children in some locations, than they have with the elementary age patrons at our library. The problem ages they gave for the most problematic library climbed up into the teens (I’ll also note that in the problem location, the population is 90% white, while our neighborhood is predominantly immigrant.)

    I thanked the librarians, and told them that the polices sounded fair, and that I thought they were doing a very good job. And that word ‘fair’ was reflected back a few times. That they strive to be fair to all their patrons.

    I would say that what they described fit my ideals pretty closely. That they do not punish the group for the sins of a few. And they only bring out the big guns when a child is left stranded, or is not prepared and okay with being alone.

  138. Havva May 1, 2015 at 3:07 am #

    Sorry about going full dissertation on this, but having experienced the generalized distrust of kids, as a kid, this is an important issue to me. So having used my previous post to show how well things work without age limits; I want to explain how age limits create the very behavior they claim to be dealing with.

    My parents taught me that I had to earn trust, and with that trust would give you freedoms.

    But when the age based rules came, all most kids had to do was reach the magic age. Then they could do it, and lord it over siblings and neighbors who were banned. Problem is this was taken as… ‘now I’m old enough to do what *I* want.’ And the ‘old enough’ children weren’t necessarily better behaved. So instead of correcting the misbehavior, the age limits went up, and up, and up.

    Little by little my friends and I began losing hope of ever reaching the age limits or being able to enjoy experiences for long. And we started complaining how our older siblings were spoiling everything. The phrase ‘enjoy it while you can’ was thrown about to mean… go hog wild because it won’t last.

    **Now pay special attention to this if you think it is okay to have a limit but let some kids slide**
    Some of the kids went and disobeyed the limits and got away with it. They reported back that the only way we were ever going to get to do anything was by breaking the rules. It seemed the adults were incompetent to stop the misbehaving kids. But they heaped punishment on the kids who would accept their rules. Homework piled up like never before, even over holidays. And our teachers told us that every misery was for ‘safety’ and to ‘keep us off the streets.’ We interpolated, ‘no matter what you do, or don’t do, we will never trust you.’ Every time a new restriction came down, I got more and more sorely tempted to reject all the authority. When I was in 8th grade they banned scissors and markers. I asked why they were punishing the good with the bad? An administrator replied “You are all bad, *you* just haven’t been caught yet.”

    That poison of distrust was all over the town. Adults who watched me sit in silence through long board meetings for years. Insisted ‘all’ kids my age were budding criminals. They accepted I wasn’t, but they refused to believe my friends were not. They had seen bad pre-teens. But, that was all they were going to see, since the good kids had too much work. And we all felt unwelcome in society anyhow.

    In high school several teachers were fond of telling us “you have no rights, you have protections”. By then my friends were all banned from going out on school nights, afternoons, and evening. And finally they decided rebellion was the only way. The store that catered to teen fashion was actually the worst, it had a sign in the window banning unaccompanied teens. And the attitude that this was how to deal with problems was so prevalent, that my mom thought it no big deal, and dragged me in there over my objections. I probably sounded like a nasty ingrate to the owner when I told my mom that if she bought anything from there, I wouldn’t wear it.

    The only good I can see in any of this, is that it gave me a window in to understanding of how discrimination becomes a self perpetuating problem, and how easily people can brush off systemic evils.

  139. sexhysteria May 1, 2015 at 4:28 am #

    If the Lego store staff think child abductions are a frequent event, they shouldn’t be in the business of selling children’s toys. I would consult a lawyer about the possibility of a lawsuit against the company for harassing the poor child.

  140. Cassie Bell May 1, 2015 at 6:10 am #

    Thank you for posting this story, Lenore, and for all your hard work to educate us on these issues. It’s sad to know that some people’s thinking is so judgmental The issue in this story and many others you have shared speak of extreme actions being taken in the name of safety. It’s hard being a parent in a judging world. As a parent, I so appreciate that other parents are speaking out on their kids behalf, supporting, and advocating for their independence and growth. This wave of educating our communities to change their thinking and attitude towards parents and kids must continue. Thanks for giving voice to this situation. I am spreading the word in my community and trying to figure out how to educate folks on this issue and your site is key!

  141. Buffy May 1, 2015 at 8:32 am #

    @Becca, define “all too common”. Is that 5 abductions per month? 10 per year? I would think if mall and kid’s store abductions were “all too common” those of us in other parts of the country would be hearing about them.

  142. Tara May 1, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    And what magical transformation will occur between the ages of 11 years, 364 days and 11 years 365 days?? A number is just a number. Does that mean that a severely handicapped child of the age of 12 should be left alone in the Lego store? They’re 12, 12 is 12 according to the policy.

    Think, people!

  143. Puzzled May 1, 2015 at 9:37 am #

    >But, just because my dog can be controlled by my voice doesn’t mean I get to walk him off leash whenever.

    So that’s how anti-free-rangers feel about kids?

  144. Anna May 1, 2015 at 10:15 am #

    A funny thing about these age limits is that they’ll never solve the problem behaviors (as Havva notes) unless they ban kids up to 15 or 16 or even older. Obviously, kids differ, but in my experience as a former school teacher, kids between 8 and 11 or so tend to be mature, emotionally stable, reliable, and responsible in their behavior compared to either younger or older kids – much more so on average than teenagers, in fact.

    I think I remember reading something by Maria Montessori about that: to the effect that if aliens came from another world to observe us they might think that kids in that age group were another set of adults, whereas before and after than period (i.e., preschoolers and adolescents) kids tend to be less stable and more erratic. So it’s a bit ironic to ban kids under 12 in stores or libraries to avoid the disorder they might cause, and then let in teenagers. (Not that I’m saying all teenagers are troublemakers either, obviously!)

  145. Wow... May 1, 2015 at 10:28 am #

    In the event of a brat and the ‘special snowflakeitiis’ mother….well…it’s a shop…they have CCTV.

  146. Suzanne May 1, 2015 at 10:34 am #

    Once again a controversy between Lego and the very age group they market to. These toys are already outrageously overpriced, I would think they would work a little harder at not damaging the relationship between themselves and someone who has bought “thousands of dollars worth” of their product. I would be taking issue with the insulting way both the store manager and the security guard handled the situation.

  147. Papilio May 1, 2015 at 11:03 am #

    @Tara: And what happens if you ARE 11 years and 365 days, but last February had 29 days?

  148. Cindy May 1, 2015 at 12:20 pm #

    What the Lego store is also trying to say is that they are not a free babysitting service. I have been in that store and it has been full of young, unattended children that are running all over the store. The same thing happens at the “Build-A-Bear” that is just down the hall from the Lego store. Children are plunked in there too and left alone so that the parents can go shopping without them. This has nothing to do with free- range kids and everything to do with parents looking for free babysitting.

  149. JJ May 1, 2015 at 12:40 pm #

    Becca, “Yet. I grew up south of Boston, where child abductions are all too common. And kids stores and the Malls are the #1spot that they happen.”

    I respectfully challenge you to back that up. I think you are repeating what you have heard people say based on vague notions and a culture of fear. There are about 115 child abductions (not including family members) per year in the US. It doesn’t add up that a large number of them are taking place in malls south of Boston.

    I also live in a big city with lots of crime and some of it against children. But kidnapped from the malls? Wouldn’t even register in the crime statistics. Not something I am worried about.

  150. Havva May 1, 2015 at 12:47 pm #

    If it is about people expecting free babysitting, deal with the people expecting free babysitting, like my local library does. My library has dozens of elementary kids in there all the time without “young, unattended children that are running all over the” library, or even making much noise.

    This works because they have no problem kicking out miscreants who walked in on their own and telling parents who try to leave a kid “we aren’t babysitters” this is a public place, anything can happen, here are the rules. Can you and your child deal with this, or not? Children who are abandoned that can’t handle being kicked out… then they hand the parents a CPS brochure if they can find them, or call CPS to deal with the parents if they can’t be found. It’s called establishing reasonable expectations, and dealing with problems as they arise. For this one of their top 3 problems with unattended children is the children shushing each other too loudly.

    You don’t clean up the “young, unattended children that are running all over the store” by calling security on the kid that doesn’t run from you because he would like to buy your products. All that accomplishes is teaching children that if they want something, they have to break the rules to get it. And that you should go hog wild while you can because good behavior buys you nothing, zip, zilch, zero. Seriously read my earlier posts… your view on where these problems come from and how to fix them are exactly the reverse of what works.

  151. SOA May 1, 2015 at 12:58 pm #

    I agree that just dealing with the problem offenders is the way to handle it, but as I pointed out earlier easier said than done due to the large amount of people nowadays who have no shame, no manners, and are all entitlement and attitude. If you dare call out another parent a lot of the time they lose their shit on you. I have been there.

    I had a woman go off on me once for just telling her kid to get off from a stacked pool display. Just jumped my shit up one side and down the other. She probably might have even called corporate and complained which could have got me fired and got my manager in trouble. My manager supported me on it though thankfully.

    Now a library might have an easier time with standing up to people since they don’t have a corporate manager breathing down their neck. Retail stores have managers and district managers and corporate managers who if they recieve a complaint will get very irate and fire people over it or get onto the employees because they don’t want to deal with customer complaints period. I have had this happen to me even when I was in the right. It doesn’t matter to them who is right or who is wrong. If a customer calls corporate, we all get in trouble no matter what.

    So in fear of their job, the regular low on the chain employee is not going to risk calling out special snowflake or special snowflake’s mother.

    And I don’t blame them for that, because I have been there myself. You can however complain to corporate that they are not allowing their employees to do the right thing and call them out. You can blame the special snowflake parents for ruining it for everyone else.

  152. Beth May 1, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    @Cindy, surely you can see the difference between a child dropped off for “free babysitting” and a 6th-7th grader with his own money, browsing the store and deciding what to buy.

    Can’t you?

  153. JJ May 1, 2015 at 1:00 pm #

    Honestly, my curmudgeon-alarm bell is working overtime reading, in this post, about all of the “unsupervised children/rug rats running all over” stores, malls, libraries, etc. I don’t think this has ever been my experience.

    Are you all sure you just don’t like kids?

  154. Beth May 1, 2015 at 1:45 pm #

    @JJ, agreed. And even those extremely rare times that it has been my experience, the staff of the place has always handled it.

    Get off my lawn!!!

  155. Emily May 1, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

    >>@Cindy, surely you can see the difference between a child dropped off for “free babysitting” and a 6th-7th grader with his own money, browsing the store and deciding what to buy.

    Can’t you?<<

    Spot on, Beth. The "free babysitting" accusation is even more insulting in this case, because this boy earned part of the money he was about to spend on Legos, by babysitting. So, how could he be "left in the store for free babysitting," when he's a babysitter himself?

  156. Havva May 1, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    @ SOA,

    If they are so darn afraid of complaints that according to Cindy the store is “full of young, unattended children that are running all over the store.” The why even bother with the one who isn’t and risk having his parents complain? If you chose to run your store as an insane mess with unattended children running all over the store. The have the decency to have it be a “free-for-all,” Not just a “free for all the worst behaved, but if you seem calm and unlikely to run we’ll call security on you.”

    You know why your manager supported you? Probably because he dealt with a lot of nutcases in his day. And you can’t run anything successfully for long, if you just do whatever any nut tells you to do. Go read managers can and do support their employees.

    “So in fear of their job, the regular low on the chain employee is not going to risk calling out special snowflake or special snowflake’s mother.”
    But they will call out the one free-range kid trying buy $200 worth of your product with money he earned?!

    “And I don’t blame them for that, because I have been there myself. ”
    You went after the well behaved kids? Because you were angry that management didn’t support you and you couldn’t go after the “special snowflakes?”… that’s vengeful and low. But not particularly surprising.

    “You can however complain to corporate that they are not allowing their employees to do the right thing and call them out.”
    That’s sort of the point of this story and the comments, and the people posting how to contact LEGO corporate.

    “You can blame the special snowflake parents for ruining it for everyone else.”
    NO, that is unacceptable.
    That is like when a swindler singled out my (white) husband and got caught, and a (black) witness told the (black) swindler “You are the reason people don’t help us!” Which got loud support from the other passengers on the train (also all black). Drop the races and does that make any sense? Of course not. That is the result of collective punishment. What we call racism and injustice.
    Well special snowflake parents didn’t ruin it for everyone else. It was ruined by the bigots, yes bigots, who decided it was okay to treat good children like crap, because some people are too cowardly to stand up to problems.
    You know what happens when you restrict every decent kid, and cave in to obnoxious adults and miscreant kids. You teach people there is no justice and the only way to get anywhere is to be an obnoxious miscreant. Now we have a generation where large numbers were treated like crap as kids and got no support from their parents. And they in turn don’t want to let their kids get walked all over. And because we saw that being obnoxious got special perks, there are a lot more people willing to be obnoxious. Those unnecessary rules, fundamental unfairness, making special exceptions, and caving to obnoxious people created droves of people who don’t much care for rules. But are selective about which are breakable.
    People call free-rangers ‘special snowflakes.’ They call kids who defiantly want to carry their own asthma inhalers ‘special snowflakes.’ They call kids who do legit destructive things ‘special snowflakes.’ They call young adults who grew up learning ‘you don’t get jack unless you try to bend the rules’, who then *shock* try to bend the rules ‘special snowflakes’. They call moms who grew up under unfair authority, and thus don’t immediately believe their kid did something wrong ‘special snowflakes.’ And all of these people equal are told “Why are you so d*mn special that you (and your kid) can’t follow the rules?” and they say ” “yeah, so, it sucks. Rules suck. Suck it up and deal you ‘special snowflake.'” Few stop to think “Why do we have such broken rules?” and “How can we make rules that are fair?” “What have we done to make our society so distrustful?”

    “Special snowflakes” isn’t a descriptor of anything. It is hate speech used to shut down conversations. And it is used to imply that a failure to knuckle under to ageism, or having the distrust that grew out of ageism, is the same as destruction and entitlement.

  157. SOA May 1, 2015 at 4:01 pm #

    JJ-considering I went through infertility treatments that were painful. invasive and expensive to have kids, yes I like them. Also by choice worked in a daycare center because I like kids. I volunteer at my kids school because I like kids. I have all their little friends over to the house regularly for playdates and parties because I like kids.

    But I am realistic enough to know and been around enough kids to know, that there are some brats out there. And those brats can be quite annoying and destructive when their parents don’t keep a tight rein on them.

  158. SOA May 1, 2015 at 4:04 pm #

    Havva: actually in all my retail/customer service jobs-that was the ONLY manager that EVER supported me over the customer. They usually got onto me for daring to upset a customer even if I was in the right in that situation. How dare I enforce rules and guidelines?! So no, I don’t default to expecting the manager to side with me because majority of the time in my multiple jobs they threw me under the bus in order to make the customer happy.

  159. SOA May 1, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

    Havva: Dropping off a kid that is too young or immature to behave alone in a store so the employees can “Babysit” while you shop kid free-is being a special snowflake. Period. I don’t know how you can defend that kind of behavior. Making it the employee’s job to fix the toys the kids broke, pick up the stuff they knocked off the shelf, tell them to not run and not scream, ask them to move so customers actually trying to buy something can get by them. That is what special snowflake means. Thinking you can do whatever you want no matter what logic or manners has to do with it.

    It does happen. Certainly it was not every day. We would get maybe one or two kids a week that fit that description and parents who thought that was okay to do that to us.

    I never kicked a kid out for being polite and not bothering anyone. I did call security on a couple kids who tried to walk out with merchandise without paying. I wanted to call security on the kids breaking stuff but the manager told me not to because their parents would complain to corporate and we would get in trouble. Stealing equaled a reason in corporate’s eyes to call security. Breaking stuff, throwing items off shelves, running and being loud was not apparently reason enough.

    I will absolutely blame the jerks that ruin it for the rest of us. Most of the time strict policies get put in place because of the few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else. Now it is debatable if that is the best way to deal with bad apples, but hell yes I will blame them for their wrong doings.

  160. lollipoplover May 1, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

    Where in the country are all of these bratty kids running wild in stores so I can avoid ever going there??

    This has even remotely been my experience. I did chemistry experiments with some 200 3rd graders today. Corrosive chemicals, explosions, and reactions.
    They listened! They followed directions and safety protocols! We had 2 spills and 1 student who almost tasted the chemicals but these kids conducted themselves with maturity and focus well beyond their 8 years. I was expecting to need some tequila shots right now but they were good students

    Is shopping really that hard and dangerous for kids? When did retailers change “The customer is always right” to “The customer is right unless they are under 12, then we profile them and don’t want them shopping here”?

  161. Beth May 1, 2015 at 5:10 pm #

    Dolly, now you’re just making things up. A manager who is accepting of his inventory being damaged, especially a manager who has to report to an owner or a corporate entity? No.

  162. Havva May 1, 2015 at 5:17 pm #

    @ SOA,

    “Dropping off a kid that is too young or immature to behave alone in a store so the employees can “Babysit” while you shop kid free-is being a special snowflake. Period.”
    No it is being a negligent parent, a jerk, and taking advantage of an institution which willfully allows itself to be taken advantage of. In many cases it could be child neglect, for which a call to the police or CPS would be in order.

    “I don’t know how you can defend that kind of behavior.”
    I’m not defending it. I’m saying kick the kids out, call CPS, or call the police as appropriate. If the business chooses not to do that, it will only get more trouble. I’m not defending jerks who abandon their kids. I am stating that these people are attracted to places where they can get away with it. I am drawing a distinction between dealing with these problems and just kicking out any kid who isn’t old enough for your taste. And I am saying that if you don’t set reasonable standards you produce unreasonable behavior.

    “Making it the employee’s job to fix the toys the kids broke, pick up the stuff they knocked off the shelf, tell them to not run and not scream, ask them to move so customers actually trying to buy something can get by them.”
    You chose to do this job. And your employer chose to run a shop where this behavior is allowed. It is your employer who decided not to empower employees to kick people out. Your employer would prefer to soak the cost of destroyed merchandise, and pay extra people to try to fix broken toys, constantly re-shelve things, and attempt to contain the children sufficient to do business. I think that is civic irresponsibility on the part of your employer.

    “That is what special snowflake means. Thinking you can do whatever you want no matter what logic or manners has to do with it.”
    I am well aware of that definition. And to most people logic and manners means following certain rules, like never letting your kid do anything, no mater how good they are, because they *might* do something bad.
    No not all “special snowflakes” are victims. But reducing people to that caricature, while not actually adressing the behavior, creates people who don’t give a shit about your logic or idea of manners.

    “It does happen. Certainly it was not every day. We would get maybe one or two kids a week that fit that description and parents who thought that was okay to do that to us.”
    I’m not saying it doesn’t. Pay attention. I listed extensive procedures my library uses to deal with these problems, they have a few incidents in the past 20 years as a result, your manager gets more because he encourages bad behavior.

    “I never kicked a kid out for being polite and not bothering anyone.”
    You apparently never kick anyone out. That’s why you have problem kids.

    “I did call security on a couple kids who tried to walk out with merchandise without paying. I wanted to call security on the kids breaking stuff but the manager told me not to because their parents would complain to corporate and we would get in trouble. Stealing equaled a reason in corporate’s eyes to call security. Breaking stuff, throwing items off shelves, running and being loud was not apparently reason enough.”
    That was your manager’s/corporate’s choice. A terrible choice but there it is. Are you really shocked by the results? Even an otherwise good kid who finds out your store rules have no teeth might conform to the free-for-all your store set up, and go hog wild. Do the parents not care, or do they not know? And if the store doesn’t care that reduces the motivation in the rude to reign it in.

    “I will absolutely blame the jerks that ruin it for the rest of us. Most of the time strict policies get put in place because of the few bad apples that ruin it for everyone else.”
    No strict policy gets put in place because people in responsibility decide to discriminate instead of getting off their buts and addressing the problem fairly and directly.

    “Now it is debatable if that is the best way to deal with bad apples, but hell yes I will blame them for their wrong doings.”
    Yes it is there wrong doings. They should be blamed for their wrong doings. That’s what I have been advocating the whole time. Blame the wrong doers for their wrong doing. Punish the wrong doers for their wrong doing. Don’t let it slide and then claim the wrong doers made you commit injustices against the good. Because all you are doing is telling the good. There is no reward for being good. You will be punished for the bad, because we are too week and lazy to punish the bad.

    news flash….
    THERE WILL ALWAYS BE BAD PEOPLE. If every parent and every child has to be perfect before any child or any parent can have freedom. None of this class will never have freedom.

  163. Wow... May 1, 2015 at 5:24 pm #

    When teachers give out whole-class dententions frequently to one or two kids, they find that the general bad behaviour of the class increases because human nature is ‘Welp, I’m going to be hung anyway so I might as well be badder than I would be otherwise.’ I mean…if that class always gets detention, they’re not going to care about following the rules. Duh.

    And the ‘bad apples’ don’t care. You only punish the good kids when you do that. Because the bad apples know they deserved it. As far as they’re concerned (and probably most of the rest of the class), the teacher held everyone back.

    It really is that simple, @SOA. Deal with the bad apples. I mean….what would you do if this was any other class of people?

  164. SOA May 1, 2015 at 7:28 pm #

    I agree they should just deal with the problem kids as it happens.

    But you also need to realize in our society today, people love to go online and complain about something and next thing you know its gone viral and ends up on national news with some lie the parent came up with. Like the waitress who said the family did not tip her and left her a gay hate note. But the truth was they never did that and tipped her after all. But everyone automatically believed the server and the business got a million hate calls and boycotted etc and so on.

    So it has come to the point where no one wants to say anything to anyone because all it takes is one mother to go online and claim we kicked her kid out because he was black or disabled or transgender or free range or whatever, and people get up in arms and start freaking out and it is bad for business.

    When in reality they kicked the brat out for being a nuisance. But no one knows that. They just automatically jump in and believe the parent. I mean we believe the parent in this story don’t we? But for all we know this kid could have been doing something wrong and that is why they called security. It comes down to their word versus your word. And people just don”t want to get into it with strangers anymore for this reason.

  165. Wow... May 1, 2015 at 8:20 pm #

    @SOA: Frankly,it’s irrelevant whose right in this scenario. Either the kid was a problem or he wasn’t. If he was a problem, kick him out and blanket policies aren’t useful. If he wasn’t, blanket policies like this one aren’t helpful.

    And no, it’s not easy. But it is simple.

    And….no…it’s not word-vs-word. It’s a shop – it has CCTV.

  166. Havva May 1, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    @ SOA,

    “But you also need to realize in our society today, people love to go online and complain about something and next thing you know its gone viral and ends up on national news with some lie the parent came up with.”
    Well hello worst-first thinking. We have how many of those in the whole country each year? And when I look businesses up on yelp, most of them have complaints, yet few are collapsing because of it.
    “Like the waitress who…” slimed innocent people who did absolutely nothing to her. So we should be afraid of offending nutters because a nutter who wasn’t offended by them lied?

    “So it has come to the point where no one wants to say anything to anyone because … ” they have become unwilling to take on the basic risk of living in our world.

    “When in reality they kicked the brat out for being a nuisance. But no one knows that.” Really, there is plenty enough skeptics and if the local customers trust you they’ll belive you.

    “I mean we believe the parent in this story don’t we?”
    Actually I looked it up in the Calgary news and saw the media interviewed the manager and he confirmed the basics minus the insulting language. But I’m upset about the insulting policy, not the insulting language.

    “And people just don”t want to get into it with strangers anymore for this reason.”
    Yes “stranger danger’ convinced people to withdraw from healthy engagement. And be terrified of each other. And when people don’t do that the only people they wind up engaged with are the once that get in their face or offend them. And the stupidity is self perpetuating.

  167. Wow... May 1, 2015 at 8:37 pm #

    @Havva, @SOA:

    Could someone explain this ‘tip’ thing to me? I don’t get the fuss over it. It could well be a cultural thing though.

    Here, a tip is a thing that is given for service ‘above and beyond’ and it’s not a given – that it is, it’s something that you’re grateful if you get it but you don’t kick up a fuss if you don’t. It just means that you did the bare minimum.

  168. JKP May 1, 2015 at 9:41 pm #

    Wow – to answer your question, here in the US, tipped employees legally get paid far under the minimum wage because the law assumes that most of their wages are from tips. It’s been a while since I waitressed (in college) but I only got paid $2.13 per hour when the minimum wage for my state was close to $8 per hour.

    Also, the IRS taxes you based on your sales, assuming that you will get an average of 15% tips on your sales, regardless of what your actual tips are. Because of those taxes, you never get an actual paycheck from your employer – it’s all held for taxes – so the only money you earn is what you get in tips.

    So in the States if a customer doesn’t tip anything, they are basically getting services for free, and it may actually end up costing the server money to have served them, because they still have to pay taxes as if they were tipped 15% instead of the 0% they received. Plus, the server may have to pay other staff (bartender, food runner) out of their tips. It didn’t happen often, but I did have a night here or there where a table with a huge bill stiffed me on a tip for no reason, and then I actually ended up not just working for free, but actually having to pay out of my own pocket to work that night. That really sucks when you’re a broke college student. But then sometimes you worked a busy night where everyone tipped well and you made a lot of money. The hope is that overall it balances out.

    As a customer, you can tip more for good service. But to tip nothing basically means that server is paying out of their pocket to have waited on you. And many things that people “dock” the server’s pay for are things out of their control (kitchen being slow, bartender being slow).

    I know that has nothing to do with free range, but you asked. I know other countries don’t have tipped employees the way we do here in the US, and in those other countries servers get paid in full by their employer and tips are just a bonus for good service.

  169. Wow... May 1, 2015 at 9:47 pm #

    @JKP: Ah, thanks. I’m English so yeah.

    And yeah…the minimum wage is well…the minimum you’re allowed to pay here. So when I was reading that story about the server, I was mentally going ‘Right…it’s disgusting if they left a bigoted message’ and then the tip stuff and I was like ‘Erm….so?’ They came off as kind of entitled at that point. But yeah, clearly cultural differences.

    Thanks for the explanation though.

    See this for how tipping works in the UK, if you’re curious.

  170. JKP May 1, 2015 at 10:01 pm #

    Wow – thanks for the link. I’ve been to other countries where they are offended if you tip. It’s seen as an insult, like charity, implying they aren’t getting paid enough by their employer.

    So it’s always good to know the customs of the country you’re visiting.

  171. SOA May 1, 2015 at 10:44 pm #

    I am with you in that it is sad our society has changed so much. Used to be if little Jimmy was caught doing something wrong by a neighbor or store owner etc all it took was a call from them to his parents and Little Jimmy got in big trouble. Now the neighbor is more likely to get cussed out if they call and complain about LIttle Jimmy trampling their petunias. Because how dare he question my parenting?!

    I don’t know if we can blame any one thing for this shift. I don’t think it is just free range versus helicopter stuff. it probably goes much much deeper. Like both parents working full time jobs so that kids spend all day at daycares or after school programs instead of running the neighborhood. Or people being more invested in online activities and friendships and not getting outside as much. Or people becoming overall more entitled. Or people being easier to offend nowadays over every little thing.

    I mean I really don’t know what is the blame or root cause. I just know it can be scary saying anything to anyone anymore because you get your head bit off. All it takes is a couple times of you getting your head bit off before you just stop trying to engage people.

    Ask my neighbor nicely to keep their dogs from pooping in my yard and I get cussed out. Yeah next time I will just call the cops instead of trying to talk to you about it nicely.

  172. Cheska May 1, 2015 at 10:55 pm #

    I can understand the stores policy regarding that children should be with an adult ,in case the mall had to be evacuated,the child has a medical passes out in the store..also you never know who is watching ,, or following you,and than as soon as you turn your back your child is gone..child abductions happen ..Even though Calgary is a pretty safe city to live in . you still have to be careful ,.Teach kids the buddy system,have a friend or older sibling come along so if something happens a parent can be notified..
    This situation was not handled properly..
    Lego should apologize,and give the boy what ever lego set he wants or a least a gift certificate..

  173. Wow... May 1, 2015 at 11:10 pm #


    Really? Yes, child abductions happen but really…car accidents are a lot more frequent. And people don’t plan their lives around them so why should they plan their lives around child abductions?

    What happens if he passes out/has some medical emergency? Uhh….he’s attended to like, anyone else? He’s eleven years old, not eleven months. Perfectly capable of regulating his body temperature, for one thing. Eeeesh.

    Let’s say that the mall is evacuated and he can’t find his dad. The boy evacuates the mall and then goes home and rings dad (using an address book, if necessary) to tell him what happened. Duh. The kid’s eleven, not an helpless infant.

  174. Anna May 2, 2015 at 12:04 am #

    Cheska: Why do your reasons apply any more to a kid than an adult? What happens if an adult in the store has a medical emergency? Is abducted? Is evacuated? How is the answer to any of those different for an adult than for a normal, able-bodied 11-year-old? Should we have mandatory buddy-systems for grown-ups too? Or maybe we should just all be on lock-down.

  175. lollipoplover May 2, 2015 at 7:00 am #

    “Yeah next time I will just call the cops instead of asking him nicely.”

    Call the police over dog shit??

    First, police do not get called because you lack proper communication skills. Did he threaten you with bodily injury? If not, the problem is YOU. We, as a society, cannot keep calling the police over disputes over dog shit removal, children walking to parks, and enterprising 11 year-olds shopping in toy stores.

    If you ask someone “nicely”, the resulting conversation should not lead to them “cussing you out”. Seriously, ify confronting people and addressing all of the wrongs against you usually leads to someone yelling back at you it’s because YOU STARTED IT.

    This is being a shit stirrer. You can’t let minor infractions go, have to be right, and feel wronged when conversations turn out negatively. Because It’s never your fault that you drummed up this negative encounter…

    Sorry, when you feel the need to WASTE public tax dollars calling the police because there is a load of crap in your yard, you need to be called on this crap. Stop using the police for non-crimes and conflict resolution because you lack basic social skills to resolve minor differences with neighbor.
    You are abusing the system.
    I feel so bad for your neighbors.

  176. Buffy May 2, 2015 at 8:28 am #

    lollipoplover for the win!

  177. SOA May 2, 2015 at 8:31 am #

    Actually off leash dogs is a crime in our county. So the cops are the ones that deal with it.

    I don’t get why some people seem to think we live in Sesame Street and everyone is super nice and happy and helpful. No. There are plenty of jerks out there. Plenty. So no matter how nice you ask them something, they will respond rudely and harshly.

    Does not mean our kids can’t play outside alone, but teaching them to learn how to navigate dealing with rude and trashy people is part of the lessons they need to know. We had a drug dealer living in that same cul de sac too. It was not the nicest neighborhood and they were acting like trash. Teaching kids how to be wary of assholes and weirdos is part of teaching them how to navigate the world. They need to know not everyone is going to be your friend and some will be downright hostile to you. Because that is our world. Learn to distinguish which people are which.

  178. Wow... May 2, 2015 at 8:45 am #

    @SOA: Assholes and weirdos? Really? Assholes, sure. But what danger do people who are just ‘weird’ pose?

  179. lollipoplover May 2, 2015 at 9:25 am #

    “Actually off leash dogs is a crime in our county. So the cops are the ones that deal with it.”

    I volunteer for a dog rescue. I foster dogs and currently have a very unadoptable (we are his 4th home) escape artist who can break out of our fenced-in yard even when you are standed a few feet away from him.
    He is particularly bad right now (springtime birds are calling him to the other side of the fence) and he got out twice last week.

    I have NEVER dealt with the cops for this terrible crime of him running through yards and chasing birds. Why? Because my neighbors aren’t ASSHOLES who call the cops over the sight of an errant dog or dog turd. They try to help catch him. I ran my gaggle of dogs this morning and bumped into a runner who I’ve seen for years but never talked to. We talked earlier in the week when he stopped me and said “I see you had a slip up the other day” referring to the joy ride that our dufus dog took the previous morning. I thought he was going to yell at me, but he asked the dog’s name and where I lived so he could help me catch him if he every escaped again. This morning, he ran by, said my dog’s name and my house location, and I told him THANK YOU!
    I love where I live because of the people in my community.

    You say, “There are plenty of jerks out there. Plenty.”
    Then try and change that. Start with yourself.

    Don’t be the jerk who calls police over dog shit.
    Don’t be the jerk who calls police because a dog escaped it’s yard. Hey, it could be an autistic kid who runs loose. Would you want the police called for that?

    He cared, wants to help, and knows that nobody is perfect, even responsible dog owners.

  180. Cynthia812 May 2, 2015 at 10:03 am #

    I’ve had two epiphanies while reading this. 1) Many communities use parks and nice libraries as set dressing to create higher real estate prices and property taxes. They do not take use or convenience into consideration when planning them. The library mentioned that is across three busy streets from all nearby schools is an example of this. The park in my town can only be reached on foot by walking along a highway and crossing two highways. Fortunately, they did put in a sidewalk, but they also need a pedestrian overpass to make it safe for unattended kids.

    Second, the idea that kids cannot be unsupervised plays into this irritation on the part of librarians and employees. A library or store is not a daycare, and should be able to remove disruptive people. Period. If you’re really concerned they have no where to go and it’s bad weather, let them sit in the entryway. But those people feel obligated to take on child care, I think because they really feel the kids will die if they are kicked out on their own. This sort of mission creep affects schools, too. If you have to keep kids locked up in school because it is considered unsafe for them to be somewhere else, your mission has completely changed. Education really takes a back burner.

  181. Buffy May 2, 2015 at 11:33 am #

    “There are plenty of jerks out there. Plenty. So no matter how nice you ask them something, they will respond rudely and harshly.”

    Dolly, we’ve all been reading your posts for years, and you are rude, harsh, and entitled. (Should we go back to the post in which you insisted that a poverty-level woman who lived across a busy street from her bus stop should either buy a car or move?) You have a pretty hard road ahead if you intend to convince anyone here that you ask nicely.

    (And no, I don’t owe you an apology.)

  182. Richard May 2, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    when I was 11 ears old I was taking busses all over town, going to movies , going to arcades , buying things everywhere. That was in 1980 of course . Trick or treating was parent free late into the evening. I walked to school from the age of 6 on, came home for lunch . Simpler times.

  183. JKP May 2, 2015 at 2:37 pm #

    I think calling the cops to resolve interpersonal disputes is what happens when kids never experience working out their problems amongst themselves. As kids they run to mommy, “Mommy, mommy, Sally won’t share!” And mommy steps in on their behalf. Then as adults they run to the cops, “Officer, officer, Sally’s dog crapped on my lawn!”

    If kids only ever learn to run to authority figures to fix their problems for them, then as adults they only know how to run to authority figures to fix their problems for them.

  184. JKP May 2, 2015 at 3:17 pm #

    In addition, I think it also leads to the other side of the equation, the jerks who won’t respond to a nice request from a stranger. If as kids, they never had to honor requests from their peers, only from authority figures in a position to “make” them comply, then as adults they likewise only respond to authority figures in a position to “make” them comply.

  185. Emily May 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm #

    >>I don’t get why some people seem to think we live in Sesame Street and everyone is super nice and happy and helpful. No. There are plenty of jerks out there. Plenty. So no matter how nice you ask them something, they will respond rudely and harshly.<<

    Actually, Dolly, Sesame Street does teach kids how to deal with jerks (and also, how not to be one). That's why they made the character of Oscar The Grouch, with occasional appearances by his wife, Grungetta, and their pet worm, Slimy. Anyway, from what I remember from my childhood, the typical Oscar-related plot line goes like this:

    1. Oscar pokes his head out of his trash can, and asks what all the commotion is about.

    2. One of the other characters (usually Susan, Gordon, Maria, Bob, Mr. Hooper, or one of the other adults) cheerfully tells Oscar the activity of the day, that all the adults, kids, animals, and monsters are doing together, as a big happy community.

    3. Oscar says that he hates whatever they're doing, because it's too nice/happy/positive/pro-social, and Grouches don't do nice/happy/positive/pro-social things.

    4. Other character basically tells Oscar that they're all sorry he feels that way, but he can still join in if he changes his mind, and everyone continues on with the activity at hand, ignoring Oscar.

    5. Oscar gets upset at being ignored, participates after all, and enjoys it.

    One key example of this is the episode where they're all making music together, singing, playing instruments, et cetera, and Oscar tries to make music that deliberately sounds bad, by composing a song called "Oscar's Junk Band," which is sung to accompaniment played on instruments made from "garbage" (actually recycled materials). This backfires when the other characters like his song, and praise him for recycling.

    Anyway, my point here is that that approach obviously wouldn't work with a hardened criminal or a drug dealer, but there aren't any of those on Sesame Street, because it's a children's show. However, this approach is a perfectly reasonable way to deal with a difficult relative, neighbour, co-worker, or other person in your life who's not really your friend, but you see them on a regular basis, and there's really no way to stop them from being obnoxious, so all you can say is, "That's nice, Uncle Bigot. The rest of us are playing Jenga in the living room, and you're welcome to join in." I think the overall lesson that Oscar teaches kids is, you can't control other people's actions, but you can control your own actions, and your own reactions.

  186. Wow... May 3, 2015 at 4:28 pm #


    Indulge me, will you? Mostly out of idle curiosity, what does your local library do in this scenario?:

    A child who happens to be a minority in some way is also a massive pain in the butt and is WAY more disruptive than “low-level disruption.” Mother comes in after being contacted and says you kicked them out solely due to being a minority.

  187. Emily May 3, 2015 at 9:16 pm #

    @Wow–I’ve never seen a public library staffed by only one person. So, if Havva and whoever else was on duty, could all corroborate the story that they kicked Bratley out of the library because of his behaviour, as opposed to the colour of his skin, then it’d be harder for his mother to disbelieve them. Also, don’t libraries have security cameras as well? It’s hard to argue with video footage of Bratley ripping pages out of books and playing Frisbee with the DVD’s.

  188. Donna May 3, 2015 at 10:02 pm #


    My local library often only has one person working in the children’s section of the library. And the design is such that Bratley’s behavior would not be viewed by anyone outside of the children’s area.

    Also, never underestimate the ability of a parent to be oblivious to their children’s demonic behavior, even when faced with it. It generally only takes me one meeting with my client’s parents – both juvenile and adult clients – to understand exactly why my clients are they way they are. In other words, a person who can be reasoned with and accept responsibility doesn’t raise a child who is both old enough to be left alone in the library and destructive and uncontrollable.

  189. Ellen May 3, 2015 at 10:14 pm #

    *sigh* Guess I shouldn’t be a parent either! This afternoon, my 11-year-old daughter and I were at the local mall shopping for some new clothes for her. We were in Sears and they were locking the mall doors – since we were parked at the far end of the mall, I left her alone there while I went to fetch the car. Strangely enough, the staff at Sears had no problem with helping my daughter shop for clothes on her own without me hovering nearby! Shocking I know – when I got back, she was happily browsing through the clearance racks (she had a budget and was trying to make it go as far as possible!) So yay for Sears, boo for Lego!

  190. George May 4, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    I posted at the end of April that I’d contacted Lego about the incident. Here is the response that I received:

    “Thanks for getting in touch with us.

    “I’m sorry you’re disappointed with our policy about unattended children in LEGO® Stores. We really care about our fans, no matter what their age may be, and we never want a LEGO fan to be made to feel unwelcome. LEGO Stores are meant to be a fun and inspiring experience for all of our fans. In order to do this, we need to make sure our stores are as safe as possible for children and adults, alike.

    “In this instance, the child visiting our Calgary store was unaccompanied and under the age of 12. Our employees followed our policy and notified mall security. This policy will be posted soon at all of our locations.

    “Some areas have laws about unaccompanied minors under the age of 12. We followed the guidelines for those locations and put this policy in place for all of our stores.

    “Listening to what LEGO fans have to say helps us get better and better we’ve passed your comments along to the team in charge of LEGO Stores.

    “We want to make sure we’re doing a good job for you, so you’ll always find the link to a four-question survey in our emails. Please tell us how we did today:

    “LEGO Survey link

    “Please let us know if you need anything else.

    “Kind regards,

    LEGO® Service”

  191. Emily May 4, 2015 at 4:47 pm #

    George, I’m angry on your behalf. You got a canned “I’m sorry you feel that way” letter, which just isn’t right. A better response would have been, “George, you’re right. We did screw up, because your son was behaving perfectly well, and he was legitimately planning to buy something. Here’s a gift certificate for your son, and a note of permission from us for him to shop at any Lego store alone, until we’re able to change the corporate policy, so that employees know to only call security on people who are behaving badly, regardless of age.” But, those don’t happen very often, because admitting you’re wrong, and taking steps to fix it, is harder than saying, “That’s the way it is, because safety/liability/bureaucracy!!!!” But, you know, I don’t think this is over. If you post that letter on Facebook, and encourage others to Share it, and if Lenore does an update with the letter as its own blog post, then before long, I think that word will get out, the Lego company will eat its words, and your son will be able to shop on his own in peace.

  192. Warren May 4, 2015 at 5:11 pm #


    If you care to write back to Lego, you can inform them that Alberta has no such law. Maybe remind them that since there is no age law, that they are basically discriminating against this and other kids.

  193. Ann May 5, 2015 at 5:56 pm #

    That is nuts. A couple years ago we were at some mall while we were visiting from out of town and I left my then-9 year old alone at the Lego store while I went to go browse through the Sephora store (totally boring for him!). The Lego store had a few computer terminals where the kids could play Lego video games, which he just loved, so I left him there about a half an hour. No one said anything to us. The excuse about abductions is weird. Who abducts a kid in a busy toyshop? Especially a kid as old as 12! Now, when I was a kid, there WAS a stranger abduction of a little girl, who was about 8, out of my local mall’s bathroom – where she had gone alone, and she was later found murdered. But I bet getting abducted from a shop where there are people around has happened ZERO times. I’m sure they are actually more concerned with unattended minors making a mess than they are with abductions.

  194. Elise May 6, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    So Lego stores don’t allow kids under 12 without a parent, and adults without kids are forbidden at the Legoland Discovery Centers.

  195. Wow... May 6, 2015 at 2:20 pm #

    Let’s put the stats aside just for a moment. Even if it really was as dangerous as the security guard claimed, how the fudge does detaining him make sense? Don’t you usually want people to get OUT of dangerous places, not stay in them?