“Please Tell Me I’m Not Crazy” Says Mom Who Left Child Unattended a Few Moments

Hi ifbhdriktf
Readers — Can you EVER leave your child unattended for a few minutes in a public place? That’s today’s big question. – L.


Dear Free-Range Kids: Last night I took my 5-year-old son and almost 3-year-old daughter to Taco Bell.  High class, I know.  The restaurant was pretty busy, about five full tables at any one time.  My son needed to use the restroom and upon hearing this my daughter decided she needed to go, too.  My son went to the men’s room, which has no stalls, just a toilet and a locking door.  I took my daughter to the ladies room.  We took a bit of time, more that usual, but my son still wasn’t out by the time my daughter and I were done.  After sitting at our table for a bit I felt the need to check on my son.  Since I was estimating it would only take 10-20 seconds I left my daughter at our table.  Twenty seconds turned into about two minutes as I discovered my son needed help wiping (he still needs a bit of help sometimes if it’s, erm, messy).

When I came back to my table my daughter was still in her highchair and looked content.  The ladies sitting next to me, however, were not.  My daughter told me, “The lady asked me if I was okay and I said yes!”  I turned around and was about to tell her thank you for looking out for my daughter, when she started ripping into me.  She told me, “You daughter was choking on her water.”

I asked my daughter, “Did you choke on your water or just cough?”  In our family there is a distinction between the two.  My daughter answered that she’d coughed.  I turned back to the lady and said, “She’s getting over a cold and still coughs.”  Her answer? “All the more reason you shouldn’t have left her.”  She asked me how I could just leave my kid there and I said I’d needed to check on my son.  She responded, “Then you should have taken her with you.  You are so irresponsible!  Anyone could have walked in here and just taken her!”  I looked her right in the eye and said, “You would have let someone take my kid?”  She was taken aback by that, then raised her voice and said, “I could have called CPS on you!  I SHOULD have called CPS on you!  You don’t deserve to have your kids!”

A bit more was said about how irresponsible I was, and then she left with her friend.  I was so humiliated.  I sat there imagining if the tables had been turned.  If I was at a fast food joint and saw a mother trying to deal with two young kids I would have kept the kid entertained while the mother was with her other child.  I wouldn’t have felt the need to involve government authorities.  I was just blown away by this woman’s vitriol.

In hindsight, yes, I should have taken my daughter with me.  However, I really was not expecting a 20-second check to turn into a two-minute “let me clean you up.”  Nevertheless, I did feel comfortable having my daughter sit by herself.  She is very independent and the restaurant was full of people.  I felt that the community would have pitched it.

I guessed wrong. — Krista

To which I replied:

No, Krista, you were RIGHT. You were not crazy , the other woman was: I’d like her to explain, step by step, the exact scenario by which some kidnapper who just HAPPENED to be in that exact restaurant at that EXACT moment would have sprinted off with your child in front of all those other people. Does she have any idea how RARE stranger kidnappings are? (Rhetorical question. For a reality check, I refer everyone to my “reassuring crime statitics” link on the right side of this blog.) And I LOVE your response to the busybody, “Would YOU have let someone take her?” Why don’t onlookers realize that they are PART of the safety net that looks after our kids and not the shame brigade? And the knee-jerk idea that some government authority should be involved to punish the “imperfect” parent is grating, too. This has become all too common, as if citizens WANT Big Brother bitch-slapping any parent who dares to trust her community, her instincts and her child.

Life is NEVER perfect and if it HAD to be for our species to survive, we’d be on display at The Museum of Natural History as a quaint, extinct (and often rude) species.

What’s crazy about our society is how we assume children are in danger at ALL TIMES, no matter how normal and unthreatening the circumstances. – L.

Think outside the social norms!

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185 Responses to “Please Tell Me I’m Not Crazy” Says Mom Who Left Child Unattended a Few Moments

  1. Jon February 6, 2013 at 11:22 am #

    Thank you for writing this site. It makes me feel less alone every single day. (=

  2. Reformed Republican February 6, 2013 at 11:23 am #

    “Then you should have taken her with you. You are so irresponsible! Anyone could have walked in here and just taken her!” I looked her right in the eye and said, “You would have let someone take my kid?”

    I love this answer.

  3. Ali February 6, 2013 at 11:32 am #

    Don’t let the haters get you down. If I were in your shoes I would -and have!- done the exact same thing. You did nothing wrong, there are just a lot of busy bodies out there that would rather heap hate on a person rather than offer a kind hand. I dare say there are more hateful busy bodies then there are psychos and weirdoes that are into kids. Shake it off and tomorrow will be a better day!

  4. lollipoplover February 6, 2013 at 11:38 am #

    Life with little kids is imperfect and messy. You shouldn’t have to apologize to busybodies who think that CPS taking children away is the answer to all minor mishaps. I would have put the this lady on the defensive and asked her why she is so interested in your daughter- Is SHE a sex offender or kidnapper?

    Krista, if I saw your daughter and was worried about her *cough* I would have sat nearby, smiled at her, and kept an eye on her. It’s what decent people do, without judgement.

  5. Will February 6, 2013 at 11:48 am #

    I think, from now on, my response to anyone who questions my decisions about my children’s abilities to look after themselves for a few moments will be . . .

    “What kind of a PEDOPHILE would think something like that could happen?”

    With a major emphasis on pedophile. Right in Ms. Prodnose’s or Mr. For-The-Children’s face.

  6. Rob C. February 6, 2013 at 11:51 am #

    I applaud Krista for having the presence of mind while under attack to turn the tables on them and ask if they really would have allowed her child to be taken.

    I fear busybodies WAY more than I fear predators, because unlike predators, busybodies really ARE lurking everywhere, and are not afraid to attack in public!

  7. Jana February 6, 2013 at 11:59 am #

    Two minutes is an inconsequential amount of time in most normal circumstances. If she had been choking and nobody had intervened two minutes is still well out of the “danger zone” not to mention anyone who can cough is not really choking. If the kid says she is okay then she is okay and after that it is nobody’s business. Maybe we could trust the girl to know whether or not she is abandoned and unsafe or too ill to be alone because as it turns out, children are people.

  8. Captain America February 6, 2013 at 12:00 pm #

    The busybody is a woman with bad karma.

    The way for her to have dealt with this is to have helped (if she had to) with Krista’s Kid’s Cough, and then nod and say hi at Krista when Krista returned.

    You help people out when you can, is the idea. The other day Captain America, on his own initiative, held open a store door for a guy in a wheelchair.

    Krista, in the future, just ask the nearest busybody-looking person is she’ll keep an eye on the kid for a minute while you take care of an emergency.

  9. Sharon February 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Once or twice when my daughter was about three I left her unattended to get napkins to clean up a bloody nose. Once a lady handed me tissues and told me not to worry, the other time the lady said don’t worry I’ll keep a eye on her.

    I was upset at my daughter karate studios definition of a stranger. It is someone your parent doesn’t know. My daughter knows many more people at her school than I do. She also helps the day care staff because she knows the cars the parents drive. The day care staff then says S your parents are coming please pack up.

  10. Andy February 6, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    How nice the world without busybodies would be …

  11. SKL February 6, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    I don’t understand why people can’t just state their point (if they *must*) once and be done with it!

    I have been in a similar situation when my daughter was 3. The busybody was not going to let up until I agreed with her – which was not going to happen! Seeing my frustration as I got out of line and left (just to get away from her), she ran after me and accused me of planning to abuse my child! I was boiling. I wish I knew her address. I would send her a photo of my child every month just to prove she was alive and still in my freakin’ custody. Maybe we’d stop over for tea now and then, just to drive the point home.

    The problem is that there is no accountability for busybodies. You can be obnoxious and then go on your merry way, no matter what kind of mess you leave in your wake.

  12. Warren February 6, 2013 at 12:11 pm #

    It seems like the most regular threat these busybodies make, is they should or could have call CPS.

    Best response, put your cellphone on their table and tell them “Go right ahead. Here’s my phone, here’s the number, go ahead. Call them or shut the hell up.”

    Sorry won’t take crap from anyone, and that includes CAS, here in Ontario.

  13. SKL February 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    Maybe the next time something like this happens, we should ask for the busybody’s name and phone number. Something like this. “Wow, you sound like a child development expert. Could I have your name and phone number in case I ever need to pick your brain?”

  14. SKL February 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    And people wonder why I am NOT nostalgic for those toddler/preschool days . . . .

  15. Jackie@ MuscleUpMom February 6, 2013 at 12:18 pm #

    Sometimes I ask friendly, responsible-looking strangers to keep an eye on Child B if Child A needs help in that way…usually another mom. They never say no, and I offer the same if I see another parent in a similar situation.

    Wonder what that woman would think of that?

  16. Robyn February 6, 2013 at 12:20 pm #

    How I feel: I would not have left a 3-year-old alone in a public place like that. I have a 2-1/2-year-old and I can’t imagine doing that just a few months from now. Starting at 4 or 5, I probably would. Still, I don’t think this was WRONG of her. I just think it’s something I wouldn’t be comfortable doing with my son. I think the other women were out of line, esp. saying something as nasty as that she shouldn’t have custody of her kids anymore. Ridiculous.

  17. lollipoplover February 6, 2013 at 12:21 pm #

    Doesn’t anyone smile at the sight of little kids, epecially toddlers, in public anymore?

    Since when did we switch from making goofy grins to making snap judgements?

  18. Myra February 6, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    I agree with Jackie / Muscle Up. No one has ever turned me down when I ask for help.

  19. Marcy February 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    We need some sort of agency that WE can call on overbearing, self-important, busybodies who are harassing us. Calling the police seems as overbearing as them calling CPS, but perhaps we can pull the 911 trump card in response to their CPS card.

  20. Josh S February 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    “In hindsight, yes, I should have taken my daughter with me. … Nevertheless, I did feel comfortable having my daughter sit by herself. ”

    No. If you felt comfortable having your daughter sit by herself, you did the right thing. Even in hindsight, you did the right thing. Second-guessing after the fact is usually counter-productive (which is not to say it’s not worth reviewing to see if there is something you could/should learn from), and certainly so if it’s inspired by the meddling of an over-cautious person who has no stake in the situation.

    The only thing you might do — and mainly to avoid the idiots getting involved in the first place rather than for actual safety — is just to ask the nearest person if they can keep an eye for a moment while you check on your other kid.

  21. Daven February 6, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

    I’m going to repeat this a lot: “Why don’t onlookers realize that they are PART of the safety net that looks after our kids and not the shame brigade?” Yes, exactly!

  22. LRothman February 6, 2013 at 12:26 pm #

    When my kids were little (3 kids, each 2 years apart), I used to travel from the DC area to upstate NY with them (as the only adult) on most holiday weekends. We traveled on less major roads and stopped at local restaurants. As soon as my kids were settled, I’d give them crackers, tell them I’d be back and use the restroom ALL BY MYSELF. Then I’d take turns taking them in. I was apparently extremely lucky that no one ever yelled at me or snatched them from their seats while the waitress and other patrons watched. In fact,the comment I most often got was about how well-behaved they were.

  23. Jessie February 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    What I think about in stories like this is what is the effect on these kids of complete strangers telling their mother that she’s a bad parent right in front of the kids?

    We all make imperfect choices or choices that are simply different than other parents. For instance, I usually just bring my 7 year old son into the ladies room with me. I’m starting to get the stink eye about it, but he is a nervous kid and would probably freak out if I made him go in the men’s room by himself, so I just take the easy road. But if I were sitting next to that family, I would have tried to keep the daughter entertained and smiled at the mother when she returned. And also envied her that she has a more independent son than I do!

  24. Nate February 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    I’m glad we’re past this stage now, but I STILL get a lot of disapproving looks when I let my 8 and 5 year old daughters go to the bathroom by themselves (but together) in the diner. Or leave them at the table while I go.

    Honestly, people. They’re not going to fall in the toilet and drown. They’re not going to be snagged by a brooding, mustachioed villain who has been lurking unseen in the background the instant I turn my back.

    It takes a special kind of ego to think that that your children would perish if they were ever to be more than 5 feet away from you.

  25. Warren February 6, 2013 at 12:37 pm #

    How about calling the police, and having the busybody charged for the verbal attack, and the uttering of threats?

    There is no second guessing or hindsight. This mom did nothing wrong, and has nothing to explain or apologize for.

    The annoying busybody though should have been put in her place. Again this meddling woman didn’t approach with any ounce of politeness. Momma bear should have ripped her a new one, and sent her running with her tail between her legs.

  26. Chaille February 6, 2013 at 12:39 pm #

    Krista, do not for one second let yourself get caught up in the “well, in hindsight…”. That’s why HINDsight is 20/20, not foresight. It’s easy to look back on a wide variety of situations and imagine how we could have done things differently. So I agree with others – you made a conscious decision in the moment to leave your daughter at the table, and that decision was and still is the right one. I’ve done similar things – going off to help Child A, leaving Child B, and the “help” taking a lot longer than I expected. But we’re not fortune-tellers! We’re Moms! We make a million decisions every day based on our own experiences and on our own children. Why couldn’t the woman have just said, “I just wanted to let you know she seemed to have some trouble with her water while you were gone. But don’t worry, I kept an eye on her and she seems perfectly fine now.”

  27. Emily February 6, 2013 at 12:45 pm #

    I agree with Warren. CPS/CAS or similar, is so overburdened with actual, legitimate claims, that “Someone left her three-year-old alone, in a high chair, in a restaurant for two minutes, one time,” probably isn’t going to merit any attention from them.

  28. pentamom February 6, 2013 at 12:47 pm #

    Krista was wrong.

    “In hindsight, yes, I should have taken my daughter with me.”

    She was just wrong about that! I guess she feels that she could have avoided the whole unpleasant situation that way, and that’s true, but it’s not because she didn’t do what she “should” have done. It’s not that she should have acted differently, it’s that Mrs. Busybody should have acted differently.

  29. Becky February 6, 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    Krista – you are not crazy. You did exactly what I would have done! And, if I was that lady, I would have offered to HELP your daughter when she was coughing – not yell at you upon your return.

    Seriously!? What is CPS for? Is it to protect children (as it name implies), or is it to vilify parents for BEING PARENTS.

    This aggravates me, as you can probably tell. I wish I was there, and I would have stood up for you and given that lady a piece of my mind in person.

  30. RobynHeud February 6, 2013 at 12:51 pm #

    The other day I was at Home Depot with both boys (3 & 1) sans dad, and the 3-yr-old had to go potty, so I rush over to the restrooms, realize I have items in my cart, plus the family restroom is in use. I’m completely torn about what to do, because I really don’t want to set the baby down in the restroom (he touches everything and the floor in that particular one is always wet) and the 3-yr-old still needs help getting on the toilet. Dilemma solved when a woman walked out of the restroom and I immediately said, Can you please watch my baby while I take my son potty? She agreed and a couple of minutes later I came out to see them both happily smiling at each other. I also left the diaper bag with my wallet and phone in the cart, but I didn’t even think about that until after the fact, and obviously, nothing was stolen/kidnapped. She was happy to help, and I was grateful for the help. That’s kind of my de facto thing when out and about and I find that if you just casually mention that you’re not abandoning your child, they are pretty nice about it. And just to echo a few others, thank you, Lenore, for being a voice of reason in this time of mass hysteria.

  31. A Dad February 6, 2013 at 12:53 pm #

    What is different between these 2 scenarios:
    Having a stranger from CPS take the child from the parents.
    Having a weirdo stranger take the child from the parents.

    I know the weirdo stranger is much worse but, either way, the end result is the same.

    I’ve watched the kids for people I didn’t know. That’s part of being in a society that cares for each other.

  32. Danielle February 6, 2013 at 1:03 pm #

    When I go for fast food my kids (ages 2 and 3) immediately run off to find a table while I order. Crowded or not. I keep my eye on them but they are quite content to sit by themselves. Normally it’s fine. I once had an old lady tell me they were too friendly. Hahaha. Apparently my daughter struck up a conversation with her. When I came to the table she said “she’s adorable but she’s too friendly.” Yes I’ll work on that. I wouldn’t want my kids to be friendly after all. Horror.

  33. Susan February 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    What scares me is the thought that she COULD have called CPS. What would have happened then? i am much much more terrified of the thought of losing my kids due to some busybody than i am by the idea that something could actually happen to them while i was in the taco bell bathroom. in that situation, actually, i usually smile at the person at the next table and say, “I’m going to the bathroom. Don’t let her get abducted, ok?”

  34. Joyce Zick February 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    I have raised five children and often with a husband away on deployments. Cannot even tell you how often I have been in this situation. I got in the habit of looking around in a restaurant for a family with young children, mom, dad…etc..doing the same thing as me and asking them if they would please watch my child/children while I take another one to the bathroom, or wherever. And if I noticed a mom in the same boat, I would offer. Dang, what the heck is happening to common sense and caring?

  35. Pamela Berkman February 6, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    This accusing woman clearly had no children or has never been in a situation where one parent has to deal with two small kids who need to be at opposite ends of a public place. Like you wouldn’t have heard your daughter if she yelled? I know this mom felt awful but ignore it as best you can.

  36. Wow, I can’t believe the nerve of strangers!

    LOVE your response to that nosy woman. I think a lot of parents these days, myself included, appear overprotective only because of the fear of judgment from women like that. Not that it makes it okay, though — There has to be a mass movement away from this overbearing helicoptering!

    Thank you, Lenore, for what you do!

  37. Jen February 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm #

    I don’t know why you didn’t take your son into the women’s room with you and your daughter. Leaving a 3 year old sitting in a high chair is just not a great idea. She could fall out or someone could snatch her away. Sorry. I don’t think you are crazy, but I don’t think you used your best judgement that day.

  38. Becky February 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

    i went to the grocery store yesterday. while in the self-checkout lane scanning my groceries, i noticed a very harried woman and her 2 daughters in the lane next to me. her youngest, no more than 3, was running around (not all wildly or causing any trouble, just being a bore little kid who’s been at the grocery store too long).

    the mother was trying her best to work the self checkout AND watch her 2 kids. she kept asking the older one, frantically, “WHERE is your sister?!?!?” i thought nothing of keeping an eye on her. “she’s right here,” i said, pointing to her daughter, who was looking (not touching, LOOKING) at some of the impulse-buy items in the next checkout lane.

    the mother seemed grateful that someone was there to help, and did not seem at all concerned that i (or someone else) might snatch her up and run off with her in this busy and crowded grocery store.

    i’m thankful that i was there instead of someone like the bystander in the story above. i have no doubt that if that had happened, the mother in my story would have broken down and cried.

    as hard at parenting can be, the last thing we need is for strangers to come along and tell us we’re doing it all wrong.

    kudos to the mom in the story for keeping her cool.

  39. Neil M February 6, 2013 at 1:24 pm #

    My goodness…I don’t know how you parents do it. From one side the media are screaming warnings about apparently ubiquitous kidnappers and sundry other villains, and from the other you’ve got ordinary citizens playing I-care-more-about-your-kid-than-you, always with one hand on the mobile to speed-dial CPS or the police.

    We all say that children are our most precious resource; if that’s so, can we cut the people who tend that resource a break?

  40. Warren February 6, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Yes Jen, and a pack of wild dingos could have come in and taken the child. Not too mention, it was a Taco Bell, with spicy food sponteneous internal combustion is not out of the question either. Oh but wait Jen, the child could have grabbed moms wallet, keys and took off for Vegas.

    Tell you what, since this is the states, why not give the child a concealable .22 just in case.

  41. good parent February 6, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    no way should you leave your child alone in a public place weather its for 20 seconds or 2 minutes… i dont know how anyone can defend this ! dont be so lazy and take the damn kid with you! who knows who would do something bad, take the kid what ever… and since when is it the responsibility of other ppl in the same place to keep an eye on YOUR kid

  42. SKL February 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    Someone up there made a good point. How is it any better for CPS to take a child than for a stranger to take a child? Either way tremendous damage is done. Way out of proportion to a mom letting her 3yo sit in a chair for a couple of minutes.

    When people call CPS, they should be taken seriously if appropriate, but they should also receive an education on what happens to children when CPS intervenes.

    When I’m out with my kids and I’m about to leave one or both somewhere for a few minutes, I make it a point to say where I’m going (and how soon I’ll be back) in a voice the tables around me can hear. Then I go about my business. If anyone became worried about my kid needing her mother, they would know exactly where to find me instantly. (After all, things do happen at the strangest times.)

    Would I do it if my kid was 3? Honestly, my memory doesn’t go back that far in detail, but I probably did.

  43. TaraK February 6, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    I say you are spot on. Yes, 2 minutes would be a long time. Yes, I MAY have asked the cute little old (meddling) lady next to me to keep an eye on her so I could check on the boy. Yes, I MAY have told the boy “stay here, I need to go make sure your sister is okay”. Or I may have done exactly the same thing you did! NOTHING HAPPENED and the likelihood of something happening is so small. Busy body lady should have kept an eye out for choking or trouble and when you returned just smiled and kept her nose in her taco.

  44. TaraK February 6, 2013 at 1:35 pm #

    And also, YOU know YOUR child. Some 12 year olds are not capable of sitting in a Taco Bell unattended by an adult. Heck, some adults are not capable of sitting in a Taco Bell unattended! If you have confidence in your child, you should be able to trust them in a “left alone for a couple minutes” situation.

  45. SKL February 6, 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    “good parent,” apparently there are busybodies who take it upon themselves to “keep an eye on” our kids whether we ask them to or not. Otherwise we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

    You must be a person who feels tempted to steal children, since you assume it is at the front of other people’s minds so often.

    As for calling any parent lazy, how the hell do you know? How do you know she didn’t just get off a 12-hour shift and stop at Taco Bell on her way to go to her kids’ physical therapy appointment? This always pisses me off. Nobody knows how much time and effort I put into my kids. Two minutes of letting a preschooler sit and eat her meal in peace cancels everything out? Screw that.

  46. Rachel February 6, 2013 at 1:51 pm #

    To the mom who wrote this in – I’m so sorry that happened to you. It must have been so stressful and humiliating to be laid into in public like that.

    I have three children 4 and under. I’ve been there. I have had to make a concerted effort to stop parenting out of fear of how the public will judge me. Don’t worry about people like that crazy woman. What kind of nutcase actually starts screaming at a stranger in public! Seriously! Who cares what someone like that thinks. Focus on being a good parent – part of which is living in reality and not in some kind of hyped up paranoid fantasy land. Instead of imparting anxiety and fearfulness to your kids, you’re modeling how to be resourceful and calm in public, and how to roll with the punches when plans change.

    GOOD JOB momma! You are doing awesome!

  47. Warren February 6, 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Amen, SKL!!!!!!

    This is what I have been gettting at for awhile. These busybodies, such as “good parent”, are not doing and saying out of concern for anyone’s child.

    They say what they say, and do what they do out of self righteousness, and it makes them feel better to be judgemental of others. No other reason. You can tell by their attitude, tone and demeanor.

    They do not deserve respect, or the benefit of the doubt. What they do deserve is to be put in their place, and if that doesn’t work, a good swift kick in the ass, and told to stay away from our kids.

    Again, my kids, my responsibility, my rules, my way. You don’t like it? Sucks to be you.

  48. Nay February 6, 2013 at 2:04 pm #

    “Pamela Berkman, on February 6th, 2013 at 1:11 pm Said:
    This accusing woman clearly had no children… .”

    Well, that seems equally an unfair judgment to make.

    Just because someone behaves like this lady did does not mean she doesn’t have kids.

    It means she behaved like a jerk in that moment.

    I don’t have kids (but I am an awesome Auntie) and I go out of my way to help parents I don’t know (strangers!) when I can plainly see they need a hand (or two).

    Nice people are nice people regardless of their reproductive status.


  49. Kerry February 6, 2013 at 2:33 pm #

    I had a very similar thing happen to me at our local food co-op. I left my son (and my wallet, for that matter) sitting in the grocery cart next to the deli counter while I went to ask for assistance (no one was there). It turned out I had to go to the bakery (about 20 feet away around the corner) and it took longer than expected to get someone’s attention. If I had know that, I probably would have taken him with me, because he was still quite young and I was worried he’d get upset about mommy being gone. When I came back an older man was talking to him, and turned around and said to me “Why did you leave this child here? Someone will take him.” I was so stunned I laughed, thinking he was joking. The only person bothering him seemed to be this concerned gentleman!

    I also once had someone take my son’s hand and walk him through an automatic door when I was standing on the other side less than five feet away. He was hesitant to go through and I was talking to him and encouraging him to come. She handed him to me and said “I wasn’t sure.” I never did figure out what that was about.

  50. CrazyCatLady February 6, 2013 at 2:40 pm #

    I belong to a group on Facebook that has “high standards” for how to parent. I try to point out that rather than criticizing moms, they should offer to help. If it is any help to the original poster, in a gentle manner by pointing out that people, especially new moms need help, I think that some felt shame at how they belittled other people, and hopefully in the future THEY will react differently.

  51. Jen Connelly February 6, 2013 at 2:44 pm #

    You know, the longer I live in the Pacific Northwest the saner it seems. Just the other day I was at IKEA with my 2 1/2 year old. He was hungry so we went to the cafe first but when we sat down I realized I forgot his straw. So I left him at the table to retrieve one (which I had to look for because it was the first time we ever ate there).

    When I got back a couple of old ladies were eying him as they found an empty table near by (there were a lot of other people around). But they said nothing to me when I got back, just smiled and cooed at my toddler because he was so cute sitting in the chair using his fork. I didn’t even think about it when I went off to get the straw. And I’m sure the people already sitting near us heard me tell him where I was going.

    There was another time I left three of my kids in the waiting room at my OB’s office because I had to have an internal exam. I was pretty sure my then 8 year old son didn’t want to see that so him, and my 2 younger daughters (then 4 and 7) waiting for me outside. I said very firmly for them to behave and if they didn’t the other nice people waiting would let me know. None of them said a word and I was gone at least 25 minutes. They were still sitting there quietly so we went out for lunch after. That was in Chicago where I noticed more people tended to mind their own business.

    The first time I ever had to make that choice was when we moved to a small town outside of Pittsburgh. The week after we moved my husband had to go out of town for an entire week so it was just me and the kids. I took them to Old Country Buffet for lunch one day. They were 2, 3 and almost 5. Have you ever tried to get food for 3 kids who can’t really carry their own plates? It was pretty funny. But I chose a table that I could easily see from the buffet bars and went back to get my own food. Then went back and got drinks for everyone (and I couldn’t see the table then).

    When I got back an old lady was asking my oldest where her Mommy was. She was happy to tell them I was getting drinks. The lady kind of gave me a look but then left. A moment later a couple that had been sitting near us left but stopped at our table to tell me how well behave my kids were considering their ages and that I should be proud (that actually used to happen a lot). When I left them the only thing I had worried about was someone interfering and wanting to call the cops or something. I didn’t worry about their safety since every table around us was populated by grandparents. I knew they wouldn’t let anything happen to them.

    Of course now those kids are 10, 11 and 12 and it’s not an issue for me. Nobody really thinks anything of kids that age being by themselves. At least not around here.

  52. Ada February 6, 2013 at 2:47 pm #

    I looked her right in the eye and said, “You would have let someone take my kid?”

    That’s a great response.

  53. TRS February 6, 2013 at 2:52 pm #

    It has happened to me. I am so sorry because it scares you. I my kids are more in danger from people just dying to call CPS on me because I left a child unattended for a few min than an actual abduction happening. These people are totally irrational. They would rather take away a child from an obvious loving family and have them put into a precarious foster home where there is probably more likely a chance for that child to be abused.

    Save the freaking CPS for the kids that really need it – the battered and abused. The kids that are left home alone for days while their parents party in Vegas. Call the police if you see a child cooking in a hot car but please just stand quietly with a child that you see alone. Save the sanctamonias rant.

    People are morons!

  54. TRS February 6, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

    I wanted to add – thank goodness my older two are now 13 and can be dropped off about anywhere at anytime. One of my daughters is 5ft 5 and still growing. No one would ever ask where her mommy is. My youngest is 8 and is fine to leave with her sisters.

    I am done with that crap!

  55. railmeat February 6, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    ” . . . dont be so lazy and take the damn kid with you!” – good parent.

    Damn kid? Wow ‘good parent’ – you sound like anything but. What’s it like going through life permanently pissed off?

    I suppose you gain some solace from knowing that you are better at everything you see others doing, than everybody else.

    Because that’s what your rant is all about, isn’t it?

  56. SKL February 6, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    The more I think about it . . . this mom was “lazy” because she had the audacity to go wipe her kid’s butt! I’d hate to see what “good parent” thinks diligent parenting looks like. Enema, anyone?

  57. Nay February 6, 2013 at 3:03 pm #

    Here’s the thing: it’s easy for a person to project and discharge their anxieties and insecurities onto a parent who they will never see again. However, in the same time it took to blame, shame and judge a parent, they just as easily could have minded their own business, kept a cheerful eye out or offered to help.

    The busybody’s actions say more about HER, than about the poster’s parenting skills.

    Maybe she misses her kids or grandkids. Maybe she was an anxious mother herself. Maybe she wishes she had kids and is jealous. Maybe she is just a cranky old cow! Who knows.

  58. TRS February 6, 2013 at 3:05 pm #

    The two times in my life I have been confronted – I gathered my kids and walked away. Do not engage these people at all in a conversation. Just thank them for their concern and keeping your child safe while you were unexpectedly detained and go. I don’t like verbal altercations in front of my kids. These people already had my kids crying and clinging to me. My older two were 9 years old in one of the incidents!

  59. Susan February 6, 2013 at 3:08 pm #

    I’m somewhere in the middle between free range and helicopter parent. I would not worry about having my child kidnapped but would worry about a young child alone in a high chair. What if the child decided to climb out of it and fell? What if she got out of the high chair and decided to look for her Mom outside the restaurant (and got hit by a car driving through the parking lot?) I live in a nice area of Los Angeles but still wouldn’t trust strangers to take care of my child.

  60. Emily February 6, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

    On another topic, I’m not blaming the OP at all, but it does seem a little foolhardy to take a child to eat at Taco Bell if he still has trouble wiping when things get “messy.” Taco Bell seems to provoke that particular digestive effect rather quickly.

  61. Warren February 6, 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    That is how you do things and that’s fine. But are you going to jugdge this mom for what she did?

    Why should you thank them? By thanking them for their concern and for keeping your child safe, you are confirming that they were right, and you were wrong.

    I do not understand why parents put in this position thank these busybodies, and slink away. By doing so, you are also proving to your kids, that these strangers were right, and that you child is not worth protecting. You are thanking strangers for interfering with your kids. wow.

  62. Crystal February 6, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

    This sort of situation has happened to me several times as well, and it always leaves me feeling shaken. Krista, consider this a high-five across the miles: you did nothing wrong and we support you.

    Additionally, it seriously cracks me up how people who attack others online never seem to have a basic command of spelling and grammar (I’m looking at you, Jen and Good Parent.). How can I take your parenting skills and advice seriously if you have not mastered sixth-grade language arts?

  63. ColRebSez February 6, 2013 at 4:21 pm #

    I’m afraid I would have to burn my children’s ears. Because at some point I would have said a word beginning with F and followed by “you.”

  64. HLZ February 6, 2013 at 4:47 pm #

    I have three kids, 5, 2 & 2 months. My 5-year-old daughter is in the bathroom throwing up right now. My husband is at work with a cold and we are out of cold medicine. He won’t be home until almost midnight. I need to go get some medicine for him. Do I leave a child with the flu at home on the couch watching TV with instant access to the bathroom? Do I put the sick child in the car to throw up in the car? If I put her in the car do I leave her in the car with a bag or take her into the store to throw up in there and spread her germs all over the store? Do I try to track down a friend (who are mostly all working) to drive over (a drive of at least 20 minutes for even the closest) and watch her for 20 minutes and potentially get sick herself and take it home to her family? Common sense says to leave her at home. The law says I will be arrested if I do.
    Many people forget or do not understand that each case is situational, and that there is no one rule that can apply to every single situation. Each situation, no matter how similar, is different because each child is different, the location is different, the people around are different, the neighborhood is different. And even when all of the above are the same, the child’s mood is different from one day to the next, the parent’s mood is different, the mood of the surrounding crowd is different. When my daughter was 2, there was no issue with leaving her at the table in a restaurant for a minute or two. She would quietly remain where she was. My son is now 2, and I can’t turn my back for 5 seconds without him being out of the high chair (there is no strap that can hold him) and dancing on the table.
    It’s all situational. You know your kids. Go off of your gut instinct. And if, in hindsight, you think you made the wrong decision, join the club. There is not a parent in the history of parenthood that hasn’t second-guessed at least one decision. Since your daughter got through her two minutes alone alive and unharmed, I’d say that you made the right decision.

  65. Amanda Matthews February 6, 2013 at 4:49 pm #

    At what age is it okay to drink water without a parent?! Even an adult can choke. I assume that at least one person in the restaurant would have the sense (and morals) to help a person that is actually choking, regardless of age. And what does coughing have to do with leaving the child “alone”?

    @Warren I don’t see it as confirming they are right and slinking away; I see it as shutting them up and getting away from unpleasant people, which I do want to encourage my children to do. The person may TAKE it as me confirming they are right and slinking away – but no matter what I say/do they aren’t going to take it as them being wrong, so there is no point in arguing with them.

  66. Krista February 6, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

    Everyone (mostly):

    Thank you for the kind responses. To address a few specific points brought up in the comments:

    This WAS in the Pacific Northwest, Jen, so, yeah. For the most part everyone is friendly and helpful. Just bad luck for me that night.

    Why didn’t I take my son into the women’s bathroom? Why should I? 99% of the time he has no troubles. This was out of the blue.

    But still, looking back on it (again), I would leave her at the table. She was perfectly fine.

  67. TRS February 6, 2013 at 5:13 pm #

    Why should you thank them? By thanking them for their concern and for keeping your child safe, you are confirming that they were right, and you were wrong.

    I do not understand why parents put in this position thank these busybodies, and slink away. By doing so, you are also proving to your kids, that these strangers were right, and that you child is not worth protecting. You are thanking strangers for interfering with your kids. wow.”

    Engaging them will escalate. It is best just to go. I am a Psychiatric RN and I deal with irrational and mentally ill people on a regular basis. Thanking them for making sure that my child was safe was pointing out to them that we are a village and it is great to watch after each other. Basically it left them slack jawed an speechless. They were looking for a fight and I was not going to fight with them or expose my child to their vitriol. The best thing was to make peace and leave.

  68. Becky February 6, 2013 at 5:28 pm #

    I must say all the worry about stranger child abductions means that the (sadly) more common parental abductions are ignored. I’ve known friends/family in custody situations and there is a prevailing belief that if a child has been taken by a parent or relative, they’re okay, which is dangerous, IMO.

    In fact, a friend from high school had been abducted by her mother when she was really young. She later told me that during the eight month period, there were times when she could have been found but people assumed she was okay because she was with a parent 🙁

  69. Warren February 6, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

    You see when these situations have happened to me, and they have, because my girls went everywhere with me, the little busybodies also took it further………..that because I am a man, I have no idea of how to properly look after my kids.

    You all can thank these people till you are blue in the face.

    You can shield your kids from the confrontation.

    I on the other hand prefer to take the bull or in this case the bullshit, by the horns. I will not gather up my kids and leave, I will not thank them for keeping my kids safe. I will tell them to leave my kids alone, they are my responsibility.
    Dont like what I have to say, or what I do………then tooo damn bad, shut your mouths and leave us alone.

    My kids have seen this, and take the following from it. That Dad will protect them, Dad will fight for them, Dad won’t take crap from anyone, and that Dad believes in his actions.

    Instead of thanking them, and praising them for looking over you kids. Which sends mixed messages to your kids, about you leaving them alone in the first place, and if you were not wrong in doing that, why are you taking heat from this stranger.

    I know the lesson I want my kids to have. That it is perfectly fine to stand up for yourself, your family, and your believes. And if someone whats to go after any of that, you are within your rights to fight back.

  70. mollie February 6, 2013 at 6:51 pm #

    “Why don’t onlookers realize that they are PART of the safety net that looks after our kids and not the shame brigade?”

    Because we’ve all got too much money. And before you say that you’re broke, don’t bother. I mean generally, the way we live, here in North America, in the “Western” world. Anyone with a minivan, and a mortgage, and who buys their kid an iPod as a toy. This is where we are, people. We have SO many resources, so much money, so many things, and yet, what got us to this point of overpopulation and overabundance as a species was not brains, beauty, or brawn. What got us here, over the millennia since we emerged from the African savanna, was interdependence, sharing, and community.

    We narrow our eyes at someone in judgement quicker than we rush in to help. Why? Because we can afford to. We don’t need each other, at least, that’s what we imagine is true. After all, we’re not relying on favours, we’re not relying on someone else’s kill to feed our young, we’re in our own little bubbles of wealth, purchasing everything we need, including care of our kids. So if we alienate someone, we still eat. It’s cheap right now to act like you don’t need others.

    Soon, it will be very, very, VERY expensive.

    And we will look back on moments like this one, in the Taco Bell, and say, “Wow, did we ever really live in a time when we had the luxury to berate and threaten others in our community over something as trivial as a child being left alone for a few moments?”

    These are, as my dad says, the “good old days.” I guess I disagree. Maybe from a materialistic standpoint, or technological one, but psychosocially, it’s the pits. Money has made us into monsters, unless we are conscious enough to care about cultivating compassion and community. Even then, it’s a helluvan uphill climb in this particular moment of human “civilization.”

    What I notice in certain areas of Vietnam, or Argentina, are people who have little, but love sharing.

    My heart breaks for this mother, who was subjected to such harsh criticism from a fellow member of her community. Here’s hoping she can hear it for what it is: a tragic crying out for something of value… perhaps this woman loves care and safety. And the tragic part is how far she moved herself away from both when she berated the child’s own mother and threatened to call the authorities. Care? Safety? She fell pretty short, it seems.

    Here’s what caring and safety look like, for me: this mother’s decision to help her son in the bathroom, leaving her daughter at the table alone.

  71. Maggie February 6, 2013 at 6:57 pm #

    I have a 3 YO, a 5 YO, a 6 YO, a 9 YO, and a 10 YO. I often leave some or all of the kids at the table to go fill plates at a buffet. I would leave the 10 YO or 9 YO in charge of the 3 YO. I would (and do) allow my 5 YO son to go in the men’s room. I wouldn’t leave my 3 YO at the table and go into a bathroom, though. It’s not at all likely she’d be kidnapped, but there is a substantial risk that she’d try to get out of the highchair and faceplant on the floor, or that she’d get down successfully and wander around the restaurant bugging people or getting into stuff. If I had to go into the bathroom to help my 5 YO,and my older children weren’t there to watch her, she’d have to go in with me. But really, I’m going into the men’s room unless someone’s unconscious. If my 5 YO doesn’t wipe well, he just gets an extra bath.

    The lady was really rude to you and there was no need for it. But yeah, I think 3 is a little young to sit at a restaurant table alone if you’re going out of sight.

  72. RobynHeud February 6, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    @ Warren, you made me think of the response I had lined up to use on busybodies who questioned my actions (never showed up, but still) “In the words of Bill Cosby, ‘this is not your child!'”

  73. Krista February 6, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

    Mollie, your post is incredibly insightful, thank you.

  74. Nicole February 6, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

    I loved her answer too, and wish she could have just kept that attitude. In hindsight she did the right thing, and should not feel bad at all. Ugh!

  75. Donna February 6, 2013 at 7:51 pm #

    “What if the child decided to climb out of it and fell? What if she got out of the high chair and decided to look for her Mom outside the restaurant (and got hit by a car driving through the parking lot?)”

    It’s called knowing your child. I’m sure there are things that you do with your child that I would not do with mine because I know that she wouldn’t handle the situation well. I also know that at 3 my child would have stayed put at the table for two minutes if I had told her to. And she wouldn’t have even been in a high chair since we didn’t use them past 18 months or so.

    “I live in a nice area of Los Angeles but still wouldn’t trust strangers to take care of my child.”

    She didn’t trust strangers to watch her child. She trusted her child to be just fine all by herself for two minutes. And, guess what; she was.

  76. Captain America February 6, 2013 at 8:01 pm #

    Folks, two questions:

    Question 1: to what extent is this behavior prompted by our society just having far fewer children around us?

    Question 2: does our birth dearth end up affecting parenting, but leaving us with fewer supports?

  77. Lori February 6, 2013 at 8:20 pm #

    My only issue with this is that she was left in a high chair. At 2, my kids would have been trying to climb out and I would worry they would fall. Otherwise, I don’t see any big deal.

  78. WendyW February 6, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    Off topic here, since there’s nowhere else to post it.

    I’ve been enjoying old episodes of “Family Ties” on Hulu, and last night I watched one that backed up the Free Range beliefs. It was a first season episode called “Fifth Wheel”. In this episode Jennifer is 10yo and her older siblings argue over who gets stuck babysitting her because they both have other plans. Alex ends up taking her along to a poker game with his buddies. Jennifer gets bored and disappears. When Alex notices she’s gone, he freaks out, goes home, everyone else gets home and freaks out. When they are getting ready to go look for her, she walks in the front door. Perfectly fine and calm. She had taken the bus home. I’m not faulting the family (or the script writers) for the freaking out, that is a normal reaction to a child who disappears, not to mention a great source of comic relief (this IS a sitcom). But there were NO discussions about abduction, actually I don’t think any particular possibility was mentioned at all. And there was no fuss about it being a huge accomplishment for a 10 to take the bus. That was never commented on, just accepted as nothing unusual. The whole topic of the show was NOT “horrible things can happen” but instead was about how big siblings treat little siblings. Very refreshing in comparison to today’s shows where every missing child is in the hands of a predator.

  79. No, You're Not Crazy February 6, 2013 at 8:25 pm #

    “You would have let someone take my kid?”

    I rehearse this answer in my mind everyday for when this happen to me. I can’t wait to lay into the B who goes off on me for leaving my child along for a minute! I would even call 911 and say this woman was harassing me as I took her picture with my phone.
    No, you are not crazy! We need to start taking a stand! You should not feel humiliated for doing the right thing. You did the right thing. She should be the one who gets humiliated. Not you!
    Read this story – it’s great what the dad does. He gets them arrested, and rightfully so.

  80. Amanda Matthews February 6, 2013 at 9:21 pm #

    @Warren “My kids have seen this, and take the following from it. That Dad will protect them,”

    I protect my kids when it is necessary.
    An idiotic busybody talking is not necessary to protect them from. Freaking out about that imo would make me no better than the busybody that freaked out because I left my kid sitting somewhere for a couple of minutes (or whatever reason).
    Due to my protecting them when needed, my kids know I will protect them when needed.
    They also know I won’t freak out at the drop of a hat…

  81. Warren February 6, 2013 at 9:23 pm #

    Donna is on point again.

    Those of you saying you wouldn’t leave a 3 yr old, or a whatever age child in a highchair, should not be judging this mom.

    Your kid may be a climber, or a Houdini, but obviously hers is not, and she felt fine, with her actions.

    We are always talking about how one rule doesn’t fit everyone, and yet some in here revert to that mentality as soon as it is different from what they do. In this case, it is reverting to all 3 yr olds are the same. Not so.

  82. Donna February 6, 2013 at 9:28 pm #

    I hate the way people automatically think that we are expecting them to “keep an eye” on our kids if we leave them alone. I have never in my life expected someone to babysit anyone without … oh, I don’t know, talking to them first. If my child is sitting at a table in Taco Bell by herself, it is because I think she is just fine sitting at a table in Taco Bell by herself, not because I expect a random stranger that I don’t even speak to to babysit her.

    I do, however, hope that the other people in Taco Bell will act like human beings who look out for others in their community. I expect nothing more from society if I leave my 3 year old sitting at a table than if my 60 year old mother was sitting at a table alone or I was. I certainly don’t think any of the other diners think that they are MY babysitter if I am eating alone but I hope they would try to help if someone tried to abducted me or stab me or I was choking.

    I often left my child alone at a table in restaurants when she was very young and still do. I’m a single mother who eats out with just my daughter frequently. With the chances of a McDonald’s worker seeing our food on an empty table and throwing it away being extremely high, if I have to go to the bathroom, I can either leave her at the table with the food or pack up everything and take it to the bathroom with us. Which seems less ridiculous (and gross)?

  83. Warren February 6, 2013 at 9:32 pm #


    Whether the busy body is sane, a moron, an idiot, or Saint freaking Marie it doesn’t matter.

    She confronts you about how you parent, and treat you kids, infront of your kids. You thank her for her concern and for looking after your kids.

    And it is people like you that are so afraid of confrontation, that you view any confrontation as a freak out. You can stand up for yourself, put someone in their place, and defend your rights without freaking out.

    Contrary to some people’s way of thinking, there are appropriate times to be submissive, assertive, aggressive and violent.

    You want to show your kids that you will allow a stranger to insult you, degrade you, and you will thank them and leave, that is fine. I prefer my kids grow up with some form of backbone.

  84. pentamom February 6, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    Susan, I’m going to give the mom the benefit of the doubt that she knew that her three-year-old knew enough not to climb out of her chair if told to sit and wait for two minutes, let alone try to go outside alone. I know that some three-year-olds are capable of reliably obeying this kind of instruction — most of mine were, at that age. I don’t think I would have felt comfortable doing what this mom did, but that’s about my comfort, not really about whether they were trustworthy enough or whether it was objectively safe.

  85. AW13 February 6, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    I also have to support those who say “know your child”. At age 3, my kid wasn’t even sitting in a high chair anymore, but I still wouldn’t have had the option of going to the bathroom without him, mainly because he never wanted to let me out of his sight. (He still doesn’t, unless it’s his idea.) So it all depends on the kid. And I also have to agree with those who are saying that we do not expect others to watch our child. What we assume is that our child is capable of caring for him/herself in a given situation, and that the people around them will act with human decency and intervene if necessary. I would expect this sort of human decency to extend to adults, too.

  86. Cynthia812 February 6, 2013 at 10:22 pm #

    HLZ, I hear ya! One time, the baby was sleeping and my older kids were supposed to go to a friend’s house 2 minutes away. The baby would have probably slept for another hour, but I had to haul him with me for a four minute drive. Statistically, I’m sure he was safer at home in his bed.

  87. Krista (from the story) February 6, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

    I wanted to chime in that my daughter insisted on using a high chair that night, particularly because she knows how to crawl in and out of it.

  88. SKL February 6, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

    Here’s how I picture me in this situation.

    I am leaving my 3yo for a few seconds to go stand outside the bathroom door and ask my son what’s up in there.

    Son says “I need help.”

    At that point I weigh whether I need to go back and get my daughter or not. I decide based on her individual situation. Does she wander or stay put? Does she get scared or sit and enjoy the scenery when I’m gone? Would she be happier eating her dinner or hanging out in the bathroom while I wipe a butt?

    I decide and act. I might or might not tell my poopy kid “I’ll be back in a minute” and go get my other kid. Either choice is valid depending on the kid. I would assume the mom would be the best person to make the choice. Certainly not some nasty stranger who never learned manners.

  89. Lynette February 6, 2013 at 11:24 pm #

    OR how it COULD’VE gone with some community help, a quick story from a few years ago on a long haul trip from our home in Malaysia to Denver where I was traveling alone with my two young daughters (3 and 5). We had a good two hours to kill in the San Francisco airport prior to boarding our final plane into Denver. My 5yo seemed to be feeling well and wanted to eat. The choices were overwhelming – as they are when we first arrive back into the US – and we ended up with a table full of food for the hungry girls. As soon as I got everything set up, 5yo looked at me with teary eyes and told me she couldn’t eat and needed to throw up. A table full of food. Our bags. And my 3yo. And just me. BUT Its amazing how wonderful people can be when they make that choice. A woman at the next table had been watching us and as I got up to clear the table, grab the bags, and grab the girls and dash – she made eye contact with me and started to offer to watch Amelia and the bags just as I began to ask her. It was a quick decision and she sat at her table introducing herself to my 3yo while 5yo and I dashed to the bathrooms not so conveniently located clear across the terminal. All was okay. 5yo did not get sick. 3yo did not get kidnapped. Our bags did not get stolen and I made a mini-connection with another woman (wearing a beautiful cashmere sweater that I noticed when she gave me a quick hug) that buoyed my faith in people just being good. My kids are older now but I still try and be that woman in the cashmere sweater.

  90. hineata February 6, 2013 at 11:35 pm #

    @Warren – I sincerely hope you pick your fights wisely, or else that you are 6’10’ and built like the proverbial outhouse :-). ‘Confronting’ some people in the areas where I live and work would result in hospitalisation.

    @Krista, you didn’t do anything wrong. The only thing I might have done differently was maybe asking someone beside the table to keep a general eye on the girl. I actually don’t see any reason why the community can’t keep an eye on a child for a couple of minutes – that’s sort of the point of community. I have often looked out for strangers’ kids, and usually enjoyed the experience.

    I remember having a really bad day in Malaysia, when the kids were 2,3 and 6, and facing having to get the three of them across 4 lanes of traffic to pick up medicine for Midge. Four lanes in SE Asia translates as anything up to 8 or 9, as people just drive wherever the car will physically fit. And forget pedestrian lights or crossings – you are just a target.

    Thankfully, a Kiwi bloke who I’d never met but whose wife I had talked to was sitting in a coffee shop in the mall we were standing in front of. I knew it must be him because he had a uniform on, and there were only three families of us in JB at the time. He said ‘Okay’ when I asked him to please watch them. He was probably just surprised I had the gall to ask him (the alternative was sitting on the roadside crying!), but I’m still thankful when I think about his willingness to help out. Sometimes we really do need other people, even strangers, and thank the Good Lord they are usually helpful :-).

  91. John February 7, 2013 at 12:42 am #

    While my niece and her husband were down at Disney World, they were waiting in line for one of the exhibits with their then 7-year-old son when one of the adult busybodies reprimanded them for allowing their young son to wear his baseball cap on backwards. “Why that’s disgusting! Don’t you know that wearing caps on backwards is an indication of gang activity”? So why would you let your little boy portray that image”? Yes, there are nut cases everywhere! Well, today Tyler is a strong and well educated 22-year-old man who does not and never has belonged to a gang!

  92. bmommyx2 February 7, 2013 at 1:04 am #

    Krista, you were not wrong. I love your response. I have been yelled at by total strangers too for leaving my kids secured in a locked car, in car seats with the windows cracked on a not hot or even warm day for a few minutes while I was 20 feet away paying for gas. Another time I left my sick 5 yr old in his car seat lock securely in the car with his sleeping baby brother while I was gone for less than five minutes getting OJ. I didn’t want to wake the baby & expose everyone in the store to my son’s illness plus he wasn’t up to walking around the store. I will admit that both times my son was crying off & on, but babies cry & sometime my son doesn’t calm down until we are home. No crime here. Both times the women said I was lucky they didn’t call the police. I have come a long was since my oldest was a baby & I was trying to make a salad at the salad bar while holding him, he was newborn & an older woman offered to hold him & I politely declined her offer several times. I think we as a society are brainwashed by the media to think evil lurks around every corner & it rarely does.

  93. Donna February 7, 2013 at 1:34 am #

    Several have suggested that she should have asked someone nearby to watch the kid and my question is why? Certainly if you don’t think your child will be okay by herself while you’re gone, you should ask for help. But if you believe your child will be just fine, why ask for help you don’t really need? So a busybody doesn’t accuse you of being a negligent parent?

    As I said, I did this frequently and never even thought about asking people to keep an eye in my kid. Not because I don’t want a stranger to keep an eye on her if needed – I did ask in other situations – I was simply confident that she would be fine barring a rare abduction. She would stay put or possibly play if at a place with a play area. Since it was rare whereever we were for my child to have “eyes on her” while I peed since we had no other eyes, she was very experienced at entertaining herself for a few minutes while I used the bathroom by 3.

  94. LadyTL February 7, 2013 at 3:30 am #

    Honestly it infuriates me every time I hear people say they are going to call CPS on petty obvious not abuse things like this. People calling them with reports of kids in cars or left alone for 3 seconds is why so many cases of real abuse go unnoticed for so long. CPS is required to look into every single report made. No matter how stupid the report is.

    Because of stupid over reporting, my own case of child abuse got ignored all the way through high school. Even with two emergency room visits from it. It was easier for them to just take my parent’s word for what happened because they already had too much to handle, when if they had taken more than a few minutes to think about the evidence they would have seen the truth. And this was 15 years ago!

    I can’t imagine how much worse it is now with every Nosy Nancy calling about a child alone for a few seconds or some other ridiculous assertion of not-abuse.

  95. missjanenc February 7, 2013 at 3:57 am #

    1) I think good parent is the same type of psycho who would insist her 12 year-old son use the women’s restroom.

    2) If you eat at Taco Hell be prepard to deal with the ding dongs.

  96. Puzzled February 7, 2013 at 8:48 am #

    How can you leave a child in a high chair by themselves? What if they try to climb down, then successfully climb down, then go into the kitchen and build an atomic bomb from vegetable cuttings they found in the garbage? There are dangers everywhere!

  97. pentamom February 7, 2013 at 8:51 am #

    The high chair may have been because the child at that age couldn’t comfortably reach the table from a regular chair or booth, but there were no boosters available. I could see using a high chair in that situation for a child who normally didn’t use one anymore, especially the open kind they have at fast food places, that is really just a “high chair,” not an enclosed thing with a tray like you use for smaller children at home.

  98. Taradlion February 7, 2013 at 8:57 am #

    I agree with others who said, “know your kid.” to good parent and those like her, would you leave your 18 month old in a crib for a minute? Well, if so you would be a bad parent for my son ;now 8) who could climb out with full dismount by 17 months.

    Krista, you are not crazy. As others have said, if your child was choking, I hope they would help, just as I hope they would help an adullt eating alone, and not reprimand them for not dining with their own personal EMT. You didn’t leave her “alone”. There were other people around. As you briliany said, “would you let a kids snatcher take her?”…would they watch her choke on a taco so they could wag their finger and say,”told you so?”

    In 20 years, I have helped 2 baby/toddlers choking (ie wide eyed, in distress, no cry or cough) in a restaraunt, one I knew, one I didn’t, both times their parents were RIGHT THERE, freaking out.

    You cannot choke on water. It can go down the “wrong pipe” – nothing you can do about aspiration unless you give your child liquids via g-tube. I am surprised miss busybody didn’t say your daughter was drowning to make you understand the dire situation!

  99. Kas February 7, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    @ Warren- “We are always talking about how one rule doesn’t fit everyone, and yet some in here revert to that mentality as soon as it is different from what they do.”

    I think you are spot on here. But I’d like to point out that the same follows for how adults choose to handle interactions with other adults. You choose confrontation and that is fine for you. Others choose to react a different way and that is fine for them. To berate people for choosing to act differently than you would flies in the face of what I quoted you saying. And to suggest that their children will grow up weak because of it— with the implication that your children will grow up “better” than theirs because of your choices— is uncalled for.

  100. Susan M February 7, 2013 at 9:04 am #

    Those women were WAY out of line in their reaction, but you do have to consider that a child in a high chair left alone in a restaurant is a common sense reason for raised eyebrows. Sure you may “think” you know your child well enough to know that they would never climb out or wander off. But kids can and DO surprise their parents every day around the world. Anyone who thinks otherwise is naive. Just because “nothing happened” doesn’t give a logical case to prove that the action was intelligent. I know of a family who fostered and adopted three little boys when they were 1, 2, and 3. The reason these children were taken from their homes was because someone called CPS because these children were left alone to feed and fend for themselves for literally hours everyday as the parents worked. But nothing ever happened except a very messy house. The parents could have argued that “they knew their kids well enough to know they would be fine…and they were” but no rational person would agree this is good logic. Obviously what this woman did was no where NEAR the same level of situation and she may have made a slight error in judgement in leaving a small child alone in a high chair, but it was nothing to be scolded about. However most people would think it is not a good idea to leave a small child alone in a high chair for the obvious reasons of them trying to climb out and getting hurt. And 3 is still a bit young (from a purely scientific developmental point of view) to be trusted in a public place to know for sure they won’t try to wander off looking for mom and get somewhere they shouldn’t be – like the kitchen area or outside in parking lot traffic. Even if you’ve done it before and nothing ever happened, it really isn’t the best choice. But still no reason to be treated so rudely. :/

  101. SKL February 7, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Why is everyone so fixated on the mom’s choice to have her kid sit in a high chair? Is that hurting anyone? Some kids like to sit up high instead of kneeling at the table through a meal. So what?

    As for the argument that “something might have happened even though you know your kid would not do that,” well. My kid once licked the wall in a McDonald’s bathroom stall. (Who knew chocolate-brown tiles could be so tempting?) So you’re right, you never know. But hey, at least I was right there with her!

  102. SKL February 7, 2013 at 9:28 am #

    And I think people are losing sight of the fact that it only takes a minute to wipe a butt. It’s true that something “could” happen in a minute or two, but it’s still very unlikely; probably no more likely than “something” happening when you take the kid out of the high chair to walk to and from the toilet.

    Of course if you know your child is likely to try climbing out, that is a whole different issue. The key words being “know your child.” I give moms the benefit of the doubt on that.

  103. Warren February 7, 2013 at 10:19 am #

    I am not telling anyone not to do or don’t do anything. I am simply asserting what I do, and why I do it. And alot of times, come under attack for it, because far too many people feel that any form of confrontation is wrong.
    These are the same people that would punish a child for retaliating against a bully.

    For some reason in today’s society it has become the expected norm, to be polite, kind and leave with your tail between your legs, instead of standing your ground, standing up for yourself and your kids.

    And to hineata, you do not need to be built like a defensive lineman from the NFL to stand up for yourself. Attitude and conviction backs em down 8/10 times. These people that ineterfere in our parenting are no different than bullies. Stand up to em, be the aggressor, and they will back down.

    That does not mean you have to freak out, there are plenty of ways to be the aggresor, or the intimidator without going ballistic.

    But in direct answer to the other part of your question, hineata, I am 6 foot 2 and a very physically strong man, due to sports and my job. I do not back down, and am the type if I see you in a bad spot, will step in and do what it takes.

    But this is a topic for another time, how society has gotten to the point that it is overly civilized, making all forms of violence taboo.

  104. lsl February 7, 2013 at 12:08 pm #

    Here is a story of a friend’s sister who had CPS called on her. She is Deaf, but the CPS worker didn’t want to wait for an interpreter. The two worst things, to me, were that the judge agreed with the worker that they didn’t need an interpreter, & the worker saying “Normal kids don’t get hurt.”


  105. lsl February 7, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

    ps, it’s in ASL, but close captioned in English, make sure you have cc turned on

  106. Katie February 7, 2013 at 12:13 pm #

    @Warren, I agree it is time to stop cowtowing (is that the spelling?) to clueless paranoid idiots. It is crazy that you can only criticize people for not being paranoid enough. How about criticize people for making selfish decisions from being paranoid, such as driving ugly gas guzzler SUVs and minivans, not to mention driving them 3 blocks to school.

    I’m 5’3 and I would have had no problem telling her off is she threatened me with CPS.

  107. Katie February 7, 2013 at 12:28 pm #

    @ISL, This is far different than the taco bell case listed above. While I’m usually sympathetic to this type of thing the woman in your youtube link seems to have horrible judgement and I think there is more to the story than what she is saying. She chooses to not buy health insurance, but has spent money on a useless SUV??? Then she doesn’t want to pay to take the kid to the doctor. Although I don’t know CPS is the answer and deaf people should be given interpreters.

  108. Warren February 7, 2013 at 12:57 pm #


    That case of the deaf mother. WOW

    1. Useless SUV? She has multiple kids, and lives in an area of extreme winter conditions. She needs an SUV. Not all SUV’s are $80,000 BMWs. Very judgemental.

    2. This is a case of required whistle blowers. The teacher is required to call CPS and the police. They are doing this more often, for minor things, because their ass is on the line. Better safe than sorry, mentallity.

    3. That mom needs a good lawyer. If her account is true, her rights were violated on numerous occassions.

  109. pentamom February 7, 2013 at 2:02 pm #

    Susan, the problem is, between knowing your child (therefore having a pretty good idea of how *likely* she was to climb out of the chair, of course anything COULD happen) and knowing that no sane person is going to watch a child toddle out the door of a fast food restaurant and into traffic without stopping her, there was no real risk. As Donna says, expecting people to stop a child from being seriously hurt or killed is not expecting them to babysit, it’s expecting them to react the same way they would to any unlikely event involving another human being.

    Of course “know your child” isn’t a blanket exemption from common sense. But what we’re talking about here is knowing your child well enough to know whether it’s a *reasonable* concern that she’s going to hurt herself, in a situation where there really weren’t all that many kinds of trouble she could have got herself into anyway, in the time allotted. If the mom knew her child well enough to have a reasonable (not infallible) believe that the kid would stay safely in the chair, she was not putting her child at risk by going to the other side of the restaurant for two minutes, in any way comparable to leaving a houseful of young children home alone.

  110. Warren February 7, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

    Wow, Susan. You just scolded this mother a few times, but politely. Politely or rudely doesn’t matter. You are saying she should consider every outcome, no matter how remote, into consideration?

    Here’s one for you, while trying to wipe one kids butt, and hanging on to her other child, she slips on the wet bathroom floor, hits her head on the toilet and dies. Now we have two unattended children in a Taco Bell.

    Give it a rest, she did nothing wrong.

  111. SKL February 7, 2013 at 3:28 pm #

    Isn’t there a statistic somewhere that says the majority of accidents happen “in transition”? So wouldn’t it generally be safer to leave a kid sitting happily than make her transition to a new place and activity?

  112. SKL February 7, 2013 at 3:33 pm #

    Now I remember where I heard what I said in my last post. My kids’ nanny, who had been a daycare worker and a school teacher as well as a nanny of multiples and a mom of 4. She has seen her fair share of “what could happen” and she was always saying these things usually happen when you’re in transition between activities / places. More chance to fall, trip, bang into stuff, be surprised, get distracted, be tempted to wander, etc., etc.

  113. mollie February 7, 2013 at 3:35 pm #


    I’m suddenly reminded of the parking meter enforcement in my town, which is diabolically strict. If you go one or two minutes over the time you’ve paid for, chances are very good you’ll get a $20 ticket. I’ve never seen such eagerness and overabundance of personnel to achieve this collection of revenue. And if you’re 10 minutes over, forget it. There’s always a ticket on your windshield. Shouting at the person in uniform doesn’t change it, either.

    Sometimes it seems to me like every child has their own personal “eye in the sky” watching them… but it’s not really that the children who are being watched, it’s the parents. “I’m watching you,” they seem to say. “If I see that your child is ‘unattended,’ even for a moment, I’m right here to come down on you like a ton of bricks, tell you you are a bad parent, and to threaten to call the authorities.”

    I’m pretty sure the people who write the tickets here are on quota, they get a commission for every violation. Money motivates them. In the case of the “parenting police,” it seems they are motivated by the same thing that gets people hopping up off the sofa to answer a “Jeopardy” question. “I’m right! I’ve got the answer! Hey! I know this!” Perhaps they really want to be seen, acknowledged and heard.

    Warren, I don’t want to thank someone who just wants to be seen and heard and tells me I’m endangering my kids. But I wouldn’t be violent or aggressive with them either. I might just repeat back what I heard them say. I’ve done it before. “Okay, so you want me to hear that you were sitting here upset and wondering where the hell this child’s mother was?” And they nod. “Yes I was!” Okay then. That usually does it, because after all, there I am! Kid is okay! Person has been seen and heard and acknowledged!

    I usually tell my kids afterward, “Wow, that person really wanted to be heard! They kept saying the same thing over and over again until I repeated it back to them. I’m saying a prayer now that all people find a sense of peace in their lives.” I’m not saying the person was right or wrong. I’m saying that I want peace, and if I can find it inside of me, well, that’s a start.

  114. Joe February 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm #

    This story made me want to know what the real possibility of a child being abducted are.

    According to the FBI’s stats, there were and average of 252 child abductions/yr in the US between 2000 and 2007. So, assuming 300M in the US, your child has less than one in a million chance of being abducted from Taco Bell.

    Take out the parental kidnapping stats and it drops to an average of 90/yr. So your child has a very slim margin of being abducted. .003% chance (if I did my math right).

    And your comeback to the lady was great. “You would have let someone take my kid?”


  115. SKL February 7, 2013 at 3:49 pm #

    “I usually tell my kids afterward, “Wow, that person really wanted to be heard! They kept saying the same thing over and over again until I repeated it back to them. I’m saying a prayer now that all people find a sense of peace in their lives.”

    I’ve done this too – well, except for the “repeated back” part.

    I have no plans to model to my kids what I *really* feel like saying sometimes. (Oh, who am I kidding – they’ve heard me let it fly a few times – but not usually at complete strangers.)

    I prefer for my kids to hear me say things like “we’ll have to agree to disagree.”

    Occasionally I say “thank you” initially for having something brought to my attention. For example, the time one concerned lady said (in a not-so-friendly voice) “excuse me, she’s STANDING” (my 1yo on the seat of the grocery cart). If someone then goes on and on about it, I can’t exactly take the “thank you” back.

  116. Brenna February 7, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    What baffles me about this is how everyone – those busybody women, and a whole bunch of people in the comments – think of 3-year-olds as babies still. Maybe my kids are just especially mature for their ages, but at 3 they were and are perfectly capable of doing a whole lot of stuff on their own. They need no help in the bathroom (barring the rare diarrhea incident) and use the public restrooms alone when it’s really inconvenient for me to assist them, they get their own water to drink, they heat up their own corn dogs when I’m preoccupied with their little sister’s diaper changes or housework (just one 30 second button on the microwave), they can make their own peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (though much messier than I can), they can play outside unsupervised and stay in the designated area, and they are perfectly capable of not wandering outside to look for me when they know I’m in the bathroom with a sibling. That fear seems especially odd to me. There are a lot of things they can’t do on their own or aren’t mature enough to handle, but they are capable of so much more than people assume.

    But honestly, I don’t think my kids are gifted. I don’t think they are especially mature. I think they are capable of acting responsibly because my husband and I don’t belittle their capabilities in our minds. We know what our kids can handle and what they are capable of, and we require that they be responsible for themselves as much as they are able. We have done this from the beginning with all of our children, and are just baffled when anyone shows surprise at their independence.

  117. Donna February 7, 2013 at 4:33 pm #

    @SKL – I think I unintentionally started the high chair thing when I said that I left my 3 year old at a table and she wasn’t in a high chair. I didn’t mean anything other than my child was not in anything that took an effort to climb out of and was right in the booth and still I felt fine with leaving her there while I ran to the bathroom.

    @ Warren said … “And alot of times, come under attack for it, because far too many people feel that any form of confrontation is wrong.”

    I know few who feel that any form of confrontation is wrong. You seem to believe that the ONLY way to deal with any issue, big or small, is loud, aggressive, in-your-face behavior. And you have made it very clear that you believe that anyone who doesn’t react in that fashion to every single slight against them is weak and unwilling to fight.

    The fact is that I am very good at confrontation when the situation calls for it and in many varying ways. If addressed by a busybody in a restaurant, I’d simply roll my eyes and walk away. I’m not “running away with my tail between my legs,” I’m simply choosing not to engage in her idiocy. What is the point in engaging her? To try to prove that I have bigger “balls?” She can do nothing to me. She has absolutely no influence in my life. Her opinion of my parenting is meaningless to me. I am most likely never going to see her again. I am not going to change her mind by being an ass to her. I accomplish nothing by engaging her in a pissing contest except blowing off some of my own hostility.

    And, frankly, your reaction is the complete antithesis of what I want my child to learn. Instead I want her to learn to pick her battles and, when she chooses to fight, to do so in a way likely to achieve something more than blowing off her own steam. I also want her to grow up to realize whose words and opinions are important and whose are not. I don’t want her to grow up believing that she should be affected by every insecure stranger who chooses to attack her in Taco Bell for some reason.

    In my opinion, confrontation in this situation doesn’t show that you are powerful at all. It shows that people who should be of no consequence to you, like some busybody in Taco Bell, have immense power over you. You care what they have to say enough to engage them in some battle rather than saying “you and your opinions are meaningless to me” by simply walking away.

  118. hineata February 7, 2013 at 4:34 pm #

    @Warren – pleased it sounds like you can look after yourself, LOL!

    On a serious note, I am with those who say that you shouldn’t expect everyone to take an assertive stance. I am someone who seldom thinks up a good retort immediately, and so would probably just say, “Thank you”, either from shock or while attempting to be as sarcastic as possible.

    I am descended from a long line of fairly violent people, and I know agression certainly is extremely useful sometimes, an example being when my 3x great grandfather led a party armed with stone machetes and the odd rifle to drive the Hau Hau back up the Whanganui River (stone makes one hell of a mess of the human skull, BTW), or when my dad’s uncles did haka at the front of the trenches while others sneaked in behind and quietly slit the throats of those watching the display.

    It also has its totally unhelpful side, as in times when Christmas parties would erupt into spectacular brawls, the women usually being both the starters and the victors in the drunken punch-ups. One of my aunties is now ninety-one, stands about five foot nothing, and I still wouldn’t like to meet her in a dark alley at night. And my dad, at age fourteen, ‘stood up’ to the footie ref for a decision he didn’t like by ‘knocking the bugger out’. Earned himself a lifetime ban. Really, really good idea, not!

    Don’t know why I’m writing all this, I guess I just don’t like this idea of ‘standing up’ to people unless it is about something very important. And a strange nutjob in a cheap restaurant is not important enough to be bothered with. And I am not one, as a teacher, to tell kids not to be worried about bullies – I have shown girls before how to overbalance a little snot who insisted on kicking them, and taught all my kids, among other things, how to throw a punch properly, matchbox or other object in fist etc.

    But I am with mollie in finding peace first – confrontation and agression should usually be several step down the line, in my opinion. Not fact, just opinion. Has worked for me and mine so far this generation, and, barring a return of the Hau Hau, I am hoping will continue to work :-).

  119. hineata February 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm #

    PS I’m assuming, from comments above, that Taco Bell is a cheap restaurant? Am not insulting some pinnacle of fine dining, I hope?

  120. Warren February 7, 2013 at 4:35 pm #


    For one thing, if you have a ticket, whether it is one minute or ten minutes over, you have done something wrong. It is black and white, and not a point to be disputed.

    Having a busybody challenge my parenting in front of my kids, is a completely different beast.

    And again, the assumption is that a confrontation must be over the top. No it does not. Damn, I feel like running a course on how to be assertive and aggressive, within limits.
    This is usually the problem, any confrontation is bad, therefore any confrontation is over the top.

    If you cannot figure out how to confront someone, and have them back up without causing a scene, then do not judge me or my ways. You have no idea of how I do things, nor do you have the stones to stand up for yourselves or your kids. And that is black and white.

  121. Crystal February 7, 2013 at 4:52 pm #

    Warren, I just have to note that I always enjoy reading what you have to say. And I wish I had your sort of guts! 🙂

  122. EmmyB February 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

    I didn’t leave them alone deliberately, but I, um misplaced both of my children during the school pick-up last night in the procession between different daycare areas at either end of the school. The 5 year old was lagging behind because she’d dropped her gloves and must have gotten confused by the closed doors between rooms. The 7 year old got dressed, and headed out one exit without me noticing, and waited on the play structure.

    Meanwhile, I was heading upstairs and wandering around the school looking for the other one. I didn’t actually think she had left the building, but my only real concern would be that if she’d gone out to play, walking through the parking lot would be dangerous at that time of day. However, she had apparently decided that I’d left her there, and started walking home on her own. She was intercepted at the next block by another mom, who walked with her the remaining block to our house, realized no one was home, and then walked her back to the school yard, where we eventually all found eachother. It was a bit of a gong show on my part, but really, there was no drama, no blame, just someone being helpful. Wouldn’t it be nice if that were more common?

  123. Donna February 7, 2013 at 5:50 pm #

    @Warren – The problem is that you are conflating many terms. There is a HUGE difference between “confrontation,” “assertive,” and “aggression.” One can be assertive without being confrontational or aggressive. One can be confrontational without being aggressive or assertive. While it would be hard to be aggressive without being confrontational, you can certainly be aggressive without being assertive.

    I have no interest in your course on being assertive and aggressive. I’m perfectly capable of being both. I am also perfectly capable of being confrontational without causing a scene. I simply find it absolutely idiotic to be confrontational or aggressive with people of absolutely no consequence in my life. It serves no purpose. It is not standing up for yourself or your kids. It is just needless confrontation and aggression.

  124. Brenna February 7, 2013 at 5:53 pm #

    @the other Brenna:

    You are so correct, and this drives me insane. Kids are much more capable than we give them credit for, and I believe it does them a terrible disservice to treat them otherwise. There’s a great book called The Parenting Breakthrough, that includes a list of things kids should do by certain ages, and it made me realize that even I, who try to give my kids a decent amount of responsibility, should take a look at what I’m still doing for my seven year old, and step back and let her do things for herself. Kids would all be much better off if we all did!

  125. pentamom February 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    I agree that the high chair thing doesn’t really matter. I was just thinking that while I wouldn’t have had a child that age in a high chair normally either, I very likely would have in a fast food place if there was no other reasonably comfortable way to feed her. So there really was no reason for people to react to the high chair part at all.

  126. pentamom February 7, 2013 at 7:37 pm #

    “In my opinion, confrontation in this situation doesn’t show that you are powerful at all. It shows that people who should be of no consequence to you, like some busybody in Taco Bell, have immense power over you. You care what they have to say enough to engage them in some battle rather than saying “you and your opinions are meaningless to me” by simply walking away.”

    Well said.

  127. pentamom February 7, 2013 at 7:38 pm #

    Brenna @4:29 p.m. — Brava!

  128. pentamom February 7, 2013 at 7:41 pm #

    “PS I’m assuming, from comments above, that Taco Bell is a cheap restaurant? Am not insulting some pinnacle of fine dining, I hope?”

    You’re right. It’s about the cheapest chain restaurant there is in the States — pseudo-Mexican food made with cheap ingredients, in fast food form.

  129. Warren February 7, 2013 at 8:50 pm #

    Well you can all just walk away, and think to yourself that you are taking the high road.

    Yet you have allowed someone of no importance berate you and challenge your parenting, infront of those you parent.

    You say walking away is the way to go. I say you are just showing your kids, that they are not worth your efforts, that it is fine to be bullied, that when confronted just take it up the ass, and thank the person for doing it.

    My kids are worth it, and my pride is worth it. And there is absolutely no problem with leaning in close to the busybody, and whispering, “They are my kids, sit down, mind your own business, and shut the f— up.”

  130. pentamom February 7, 2013 at 10:08 pm #

    Warren, I think the point is more like you don’t have to let yourself accept the bullying, even if the person wants to be a bully. Walking away and not letting one dumb person’s dumb reaction affect you isn’t “letting yourself be bullied.” It’s not like this person is going to have the ability to keep coming at you, like an actual bully would.

    I’m with the others: what you’re teaching your children is that every stupid reaction isn’t worth your time or energy, which is true. If you’re concerned that they’re going to get the idea that you just “take it” when people do that, you just clarify the issue by saying, “When people say foolish things to you, and you know you didn’t do anything wrong, you can ignore them.” It will become plain enough to your children that there are times you can’t ignore people, and that’s when you teach them how to react.

    I agree you don’t thank the person, although I could envision a sarcastic form of thanks just to shut the person down long enough to end the encounter. But I don’t really advocate sarcasm as a way to deal with people, tempting as I frequently find it.

  131. Warren February 7, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    Well I would love to hear from you all, just what battles are worth it, and when you figure it is time to take a stand?

    I really would, because from memory, none of you have ever agreed to take a stand. You would rather just accept the crap from others, not do anything about it, so that these idiots never learn. They then go onto do it to other’s. But that is ok, because they aren’t your problem.

    Someone telling you infront of your child, that you are a bad mother or father, and you thanking them, is no different than thanking someone for slapping you across the face.

    You can all suck it up, if you want, but I have a helluva lot more respect for myself, and alot more pride.

  132. Cynthia812 February 7, 2013 at 10:48 pm #

    @Brenna(s) on the subject of kids being capable beyond what we think they can do, someone I know recently told me about a woman who runs an at-home preschool in her town. She has a half day class on Mondays and separate morning and afternoon classes on Tuesdays. After the Martin Luther King holiday, she had her Tuesday morning class, and forgetting that it was not Monday, left the house to run errands. Apparently, the procedure for drop off was for the parents to drop the kids at the curb, and they walked in themselves. So when she got home two hours later, she walked in and found a houseful of preschoolers. They were fine. She was horrified, of course. But the parents seemed understanding. As someone pointed out, she’s probably the last person in the world to ever do something like that again, having done it once.

  133. Yan Seiner February 7, 2013 at 11:10 pm #

    @Warren: “An insult is like a drink. It affects only if you accept it.”

    I prefer to walk away, shake my head, and get on with my life. People that accost you in public places live on the controversy they stir up. If you don’t give them the satisfaction of arguing with them they will shut up.

  134. SKL February 7, 2013 at 11:21 pm #

    Warren, I have told people off on rare occasion when they would not get out of my face. That time when my kid was 3 and some witch kept saying “she wasn’t with an adult. She wasn’t with an adult. Bla bla bla.” I don’t recall saying “thank you,” but initially I did explain briefly why I’d left my pouting, putzing kid lagging behind along the walk through a very safe park. When the hag persisted, I explained that she was 3.5 years old and very intelligent and in no danger whatsoever. I was definitely snippy at that point. However, I do not think anything I said changed the busybody’s mind.

    That’s the thing. If it isn’t going to change anyone’s mind, arguing is a waste of breath. I may enjoy this online, but not face-to-face. IRL I prefer to say my piece one time, succinctly, and be done.

    I normally go with the flow when out & about, but on occasion something is really ridiculous and I will say something. Like just today, when the green staff at Panera refused to give us pbj in the half-salad / half-sandwich combo. “That isn’t one of the choices in the computer.” Gimme a break. (My kids got their pbj in the end.)

  135. Donna February 8, 2013 at 12:15 am #

    @Warren – Actually we all have agreed often with taking a stand. We have very much disagreed on the type of stand to take. I’m all for taking a stand. Your in-your-face way – the ONLY way you find acceptable to take a stand – is not my way of handling things generally, although there is a time and place for it. My problem with you is not how you act. To be completely honest, you often sound assholish to me but it isn’t me who is coming across that way so I don’t care. I’m irked by your repeated insistance that if you don’t get in someone’s face and, to quote you, “be aggressive and intimidating,” you are not fighting and are weak. You are 100% closed to any idea whatsoever that there are other ways to handle situations. And are downright belligerent if someone dares to suggests a less aggressive way may actually be better and more successful in certain situations. You have one way and one way only to attack every single slight no matter how small and it often seems like killing a fly with a sledge hammer. Which is fine … right up until your continued insistance that rest of us are weak because we prefer to kill our flies with fly swatters.

    Sorry but you have never changed a single person’s overall opinion by getting in their face. In fact, you probably do more to teach them to leave people alone by ignoring them. They berate you because they are jonesing for a fight and you play directly into their hands by giving them one. They walk out of contact with you still thinking they are right that the world is a bad place AND that you are an asshole and horrible parent. Nothing was achieved except you got some pent-up anger out.

    And why exactly should me or my kids care if some redneck in Taco Bell says I’m a bad parent? Good f-ing grief! I can’t imagine anyone whose opinion means less to me or my kids. If that is all it takes for my child to suddenly believe that I am a bad parent, we have bigger problems that I need to worry about.

    Your assumption is also that we don’t talk to our children. I don’t need to try to intimidate some busybody in Taco Bell into thinking that I am a good parent. Not worth my time or energy. But my child and I may discuss what was said and why it was wrong.

  136. LRH February 8, 2013 at 12:29 am #

    Obviously the rude woman was nuts, and I am with Warren somewhat. I think she should be called on it.

    I am going to politely, also, take issue with this whole “let you get upset” and “give them that sort of power over you.” I’m not picking on Donna, I’ve heard that before long before her, but to be blunt–I think it’s psychobabble. For one, offensive behavior needs to be called out and pointed out to the offender, otherwise, it’s encouraged to continue. People who butt into parent’s business are wrong to do so and should be told that they’re wrong, even if they don’t change their behavior they should be told.

    Also, it ignores human nature. Why SHOULDN’T a person take issue with something that is offensive? It’s not about you GIVING it power over you, it’s about that the given behavior is just naturally upsetting. That’s not weakness, that’s just normal. We’re not machines here, we have emotions and feelings and it’s natural to respond to them–at least within reason anyway.

    Such talk reminds me of people who, when you yell about something that upsets you, they say “why are you reacting that way? Reacting that way doesn’t change anything.”

    Well–what if you fell off an 800 foot building to your death? Is it natural to yell? I mean, it’s not like your yelling is going to cause you to not fall and to magically be suspended in mid-air, yet such a person is bound to yell. What if you burn yourself on the stove? Is yelling going to heal the burn? Of course not. But would you appreciate someone saying “why are you yelling, it doesn’t change anything?” Duh–I just burned myself, why do you THINK I’m yelling?

    But yes, we expect people to just ignore their emotions and never respond to anything. Tennis players are scolded for “grunting.” Excuse me? You’re running all over the place chasing a ball and competing at a game at the highest level with tons of money on the line, and you’re supposed to have no emotion? You can’t “grunt?” Oh get real. If it were me playing tennis, I’m grunting so loud you can hear me in Italy–and if you don’t like it, stay the eff home, frankly.

    Oh, and heaven forbid a football player celebrates a touchdown. Professional athletes don’t get to that level without being fiercely competitive. They play well beyond the point that they became multi-millionares because they love the game & they want to win. You don’t get to that point without being fiercely competitive, yet they can’t express any emotion over a great play? Get out of here. That’s nonsense.

    If we’re going to be really logical about it–speaking of games, why do fans cheer good plays and boo the opposition? How much sense does that make if you think about it rationally? You have no control over that game, yet you spend hours in the cold watching it and cheering and getting really into it, all over something you can have no control over.

    Yet we do it. Why? Because we’re HUMANS for crying out loud.

    So yes, I think a person has a LOT of latitude to get upset over a nosy busy-body threatening to interfere with someone’s parenting life by threatening to call social services. You damn right someone ought to be upset about it and throw the hissy fit of a lifetime over it.


  137. Warren February 8, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    Thanking someone for disrespecting you and your children is not dealing with it.

    If you want to be the pacifist, and allow people to disrespect you and your family, go for it. I really do not care.
    I am just saying that is not my way, and if standing up for myself and my kids, makes me an asshole, then I am the biggest asshole out there Donna. And in all honesty, I have no problem with being labelled that, by people who allow others to walk all over them.

    Our priest always said, “turn the other cheek, and when they go for that one, drop the sucker.”

    You actually want to know just how nasty I can be, when it comes to my kids, and family? When my youngest was two and a bit, her and the puppy were in the back seat of the car. I ran into return her older sister’s library books. When I came out, a busybody was trying to coax the dog out of the car, so she could get to my daughter. For her troubles, she did not get thanked, she did not get praised…she got grabbed by the coat and dragged away, with a warning that a repeat occurance would not be advisable.

    You can word it anyway you want, you can try to justify it anyway you want, it still comes down to a lack of pride, a lack of self respect and a lack of a back bone.

    Like my friends and family say, I am the greatest guy that they have ever met……………….just do not f–k with his family.

  138. LRH February 8, 2013 at 12:41 am #

    Oh, quick PS–I am NOT saying, as Warren has said, that people who choose not to engage are being wimps. (I’m not scolding Warren either, you understand.) Yes, sometimes you can just laugh off the idiots and stroll on. It can be powerful, too–years ago I once worked for a jerk, for a part-time job, I mean really he was a JERK. He fired me and did so in front of another attractive woman while we were all in his office, he didn’t even bother to excuse the woman and fire me privately, he made a big show of it right in front of her, obviously to belittle me in front of her and to be a show-off.

    How did I reply? I shook his hand and thanked him, saying something like “I want to thank you, you have made me so happy. Working for you has been such a nightmare. Now, I don’t have to put up with you anymore. I’m free. You’ve made my day. You be good now!” I smiled, and left. You should’ve seen his face. You could’ve flown a 747 through his mouth it was opened up so wide.

    So yes, sometimes there is power in NOT responding with a hot head, believe me, I understand. I also understand too that one should not let emotions RULE their every action and reaction.

    All I am saying is I think that there is too much of a push for people to not be allowed to feel anything, to have any emotion at all whatsoever, and you sure as well shouldn’t respond to any feelings at all, and I don’t agree with that premise (although, again, I do understand not being OVERLY emotional and letting all of your emotions rule you all of a time).


  139. Donna February 8, 2013 at 1:23 am #

    Warren –

    I would like to know where in any of this I said to thank anyone. I said I roll my eyes – probably more like give a “you’re crazy” look – and walk away. Nothing in there about thanking anyone.

    What you described in the last post is MUCH different than a busybody calling you a bad parent. THAT is something to get aggressive and confrontational about. Some stranger running her mouth rarely is.

  140. Donna February 8, 2013 at 3:36 am #

    Let’s be honest, Lenore is doing more to help fight the helicopter mentality on a large scale than any of the rest of us here. The rest of us don’t have columns, tv shows and websites. We are not invited on Anderson Cooper and to give talks around the world (although I’d readily go if someone would like). And yet, I’ve never seen anything that I would describe as aggressive or intimidating coming from her. Assertive? Yes. Sarcastic? Definitely. But never aggressive or intimidating. Nor have I ever known her to advocate aggression and intimidation against those who disagree with her/us. In fact, I’ve always found her to be polite and controlled even when clearly being provoked. I guess she is a wimp with no pride, self respect or back bone just like most of the rest of us here.

  141. Katrin from Frankfurt February 8, 2013 at 4:41 am #

    I live in Frankfurt, Germany and until one year ago, we lived in a neighbourhood where many families live. I had my favourite café there, which happens to be very narrow so it is impossible to get inside with a buggy. But you can drink your coffee outside, too. So I used to let my daughter sit in her buggy and order my coffee inside. If there were other persons outside, I would ask them to have an eye on my daughter, and it never was a problem. And no one ever started a discussion.

    And that would be my advice to Krista, too. Get yourself some help by involving others.

  142. Warren February 8, 2013 at 5:48 am #


    There is a big difference between disagreeing with me, and lecturing me infront of my kids, berating me infront of my kids, and threatening to call the authorities on me.

    If you cannot see the difference between a disagreement, and a personal attack, then there really is no need to discuss this further.

    You may not like my ways, but they have never let me down. I can have a peaceful disagreement with anyone, but I will not allow anyone to make a personal attack on me, or my family. You do not want to defend yourself or your family, that is your right.

  143. Ann Sattley February 8, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    The societal overreaction is what gets me! I have two segments on my podcast that I hope get people thinking about these issues. One is “overreaction of the week” and the other is “grumpy neighbor award.” This one definitely qualifies as both.

  144. pentamom February 8, 2013 at 8:49 am #

    “Well I would love to hear from you all, just what battles are worth it, and when you figure it is time to take a stand?”

    One good example of time to take a stand would be when the person’s behavior or actions might conceivably actually affect you, in the tiniest bit, ever again.

    This does not apply to a person in a restaurant whom you will never see again who has no power over you that you don’t let her have. Bawling her out will not teach anything to all of the other busbybodies that might confront you on other occasions, even if there’s a chance that it might teach something to her (which is very doubtful anyway.)

    I do not think you are being accurate in claiming that no one disagreeing with you here has suggested we never take a stand, or hasn’t ever suggested a time when we should take a stand.

  145. pentamom February 8, 2013 at 9:00 am #

    Warren, you are missing the point if you think that the “ignore it” reaction is about pacifism.

    It’s not. It’s about deciding what’s worth your time, and what isn’t.

    LRH — it’s not that there’s never a time to get upset. It’s that I have better things to do than lecture every busybody who comes down the pike, and better uses for my emotional energy. Their stupidity is actually NOT my responsibility unless it has to be, and I’m not going to make it so. Goodness, if I took upon myself to correct every stupid thing I saw people do in public, even every stupid thing that might have reference to me, I wouldn’t have time to actually raise my own kids. Nor do I think I’m an important enough person to take on the responsibility of setting everybody straight. I don’t mean I’m a door mat — I mean that it’s my job to take on my OWN problems, but “everything stupid that everyone says to me” is not necessary my own problem, because nobody made me queen of the world. Much of the time, it’s background noise. What we’re saying is how we don’t believe that *this particular example* rises to the level of something we need to take on. It’s not that nothing does

    If you believe that situations like this merit a response, fine. Not everyone has to, in order to validate your own estimation of a situation.

  146. SKL February 8, 2013 at 9:26 am #

    Warren, what about those times when you are so angry that your first instinct is to do something you will surely regret later? Those are the times that many people are “speechless.” That is called a wise choice.

    If you get physical or start yelling / cussing at someone in a public place, you are going to be escorted out at best. I prefer to leave on my own volition – especially when my kids are watching. I don’t think statistics will bear out your idea that kids seeing adults being combative in public leads to positive outcomes for those kids. Now if you’re a person who can always find the right words at the right time and say them in the right tone without getting yourself in trouble, more power to you. That is a talent we do not all have.

  147. LRH February 8, 2013 at 10:22 am #

    pentamom I do understand what you’re saying, & I’m not at all taking the tone of Warren (not to pick on him you understand) and say that you’re being a doormat, not at all.

    All I am saying is that I hear so often from persons about how if you respond to anything, ever, you’re “giving that person the power to make you upset” and I think that’s silly. You’re not giving anybody anything, they’re stealing. I think what you’re saying is correct–that is, not every single annoyance or wrong in the world can be replied to, else you wouldn’t have time to handle your own business. I could not agree more. All I am saying is that just because someone DOES reply to something doesn’t constitute them being “letting that person/situation have power over you” as it were, which is something I hear all the time.

    I mean, if I go down the road and see an attractive woman and tell her in graphic terms, using vulgarity and words that rhyme with “truck,” what I would love to do to her, sure some would just blow me off with a dismissive “yeah right, loser” but some would get very upset and scold me harshly. Some would have boyfriends present who would proceed to get rather upset and tell me in no uncertain terms what he will do to me if I don’t leave them immediately. Does that mean they gave me the power to make them upset? No, they were appropriately responding to me being a jerk.

    To me, someone threatening to call social services warrants this. Frankly, I think it should be completely legal to respond to them along the lines of “you ever threaten my family again like that and they’ll be finding you in the woods in pieces small enough to fit in a sandwich bag.” Or, if that’s too vigilante-like for you, I think a person should be able to legally file charges against someone who threatens social services on you. I think someone threatening social services on someone is every bit as much of a threat as any form of vigilantism is, because of what social services can do to families. It needs to be addressed as such–but again, and I mean this, those of you who recognize it as wrong but choose to dismiss such people as pathetic losers not worth your time, I’m not criticizing that.


  148. Warren February 8, 2013 at 10:53 am #


    Just how many busybodys do you deal with on a daily basis? You make it sound like it happens routinely, instead of once in a blue moon.

    And again, why does eveyone assume that putting them in their place or ripping a strip off of them cannot be done without causing a huge scene. If you are not capable of controlling yourselves, then yes walk away.
    And for the record, I am never speechless, I am never out of control.

    Those who routinely talk about giving others power over you, and taking the high road, and lowering yourself to their level, are usually pacifists to a cetain extent. Or they are what I call anti-confrontationalists, who will avoid confrontations at all costs, and justify it as the right thing to do. When in reality it is a lack of pride and courage causing them to avoid confrontations.

    Yes, it may not be for everyone, if you do not have the courage, and not everyone does, if you cannot control yourself to not make a huge scene out of it, then don’t do it.
    But walking away, or not speaking your mind because of some divine belief, is a cop out.

    Again you do not like my ways, then stay out of my way, because I am who I am, and I don’t give a rat’s ass if my way offends or bothers anyone.

  149. SKL February 8, 2013 at 10:59 am #

    LRH, there’s responding and there’s reacting. I think it would be awesome to always have a perfect comeback and be able to say it in a direct and pointed way. Even if that is just “this is not your business.” Or “I have things under control.” A normal person on the other side of the conversation would take that as “time to shut up now” and act accordlingly. If this is what Warren is talking about, I think that’s great.

    If he’s talking about blowing a gasket on someone (assuming they are not actively accosting the parent or child), then I don’t see the point, but if it makes him happy, whatever. It seems to me that the other people around would take it as a sign that the parent lacks self-control and maybe the kids do need outside intervention. Honestly, whenever I see someone going off publicly on another person, I suspect mental illness. No offense intended, but it’s so rare around here, that’s what I think.

    And making idle threats or lodging insults also sounds ridiculous to listeners.

    That’s one of the reasons we often talk about being prepared with certain concise statements about free-range choices. Having them at the ready so we aren’t “speechless” with anger at being insulted. The right words at the right time will put sane people in their place (and insane people can’t be reasoned with anyway). But I for one have a hard time thinking of the right words in the moment.

  150. SKL February 8, 2013 at 11:02 am #

    And Warren, I don’t think it’s necessary for you to repeatedly insult the people here. What exactly are you trying to accomplish by accusing people of being prideless cowards?

  151. Amanda Matthews February 8, 2013 at 11:27 am #

    A person that we’re likely never going to see again isn’t worth fighting imo.

    I will stand up to for example my in-laws when they berate me, step over me, etc. because they will CONTINUE to berate and step all over me if I don’t. If I stand up to them they will stop and the other inlaws will see that I won’t take it. Same with neighbors, for example, and my family (though my family has figured out long ago that I won’t take it).

    But with a stranger, the quickest way to get out of being berated and stepped on is to shut them up and get away from them. And with a stranger, if I stand up to one, it’s not like they will tell all the other strangers not to mess with me.

  152. Amanda Matthews February 8, 2013 at 11:36 am #

    “For one, offensive behavior needs to be called out and pointed out to the offender, otherwise, it’s encouraged to continue.”

    The problem is, different people find different things offensive.

    Some people find leaving a child alone for a few minutes offensive, and by saying that, you are encouraging those people to call out any parent that does so.

    There’s going to be at least 1 person everywhere you go that finds something about you/what you do offensive, and if everyone was always calling out what they found offensive, there would be constant calling out. There would be many people that react to the calling out with anger and/or violence, and therefore there would be chaos.

    This is why, with the more functional societies, the more people crammed into a small place, the more polite everyone is to everyone else – even when inside they are offended.

  153. Renee February 8, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    I was at a nursing home, and my son had to use the bathroom in the general gathering area/lobby. He is a young 4 and not very responsible with washing his hands. He tried to use the men’s room. I told him no we had to use the ladies.

    Two older women made just a passing comment, that no one could be trusted anymore. It was not in a negative tone, but more of ‘how’s the weather’ conversation. I nicely responded, it wasn’t that I didn’t trust others I just didn’t want him to try to wash his hands in the urinal.

  154. LRH February 8, 2013 at 11:55 am #

    “The problem is, different people find different things offensive.”

    Then those people need an education on minding their own business. My children aren’t their business. They’re MY business. Period. Their lack of education & their ignorance isn’t my problem.


  155. Donna February 8, 2013 at 12:49 pm #

    @ Warren –

    I defend my family just fine when my family needs defending. A stranger mouthing off to me in a restaurant is not a time when my family needs defending. That person can do nothing to me. Her screams of “I should have called CPS” are meaningless nonsense akin to a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. She has not called CPS nor is she threatening to do so. She is simply throwing a tantrum because Krista didn’t agree with her that the child was in mortal danger for being left for 2 minutes. Her opinion of my parenting is completely irrelevant to me. Her effect on my child nonexistent. She was not physically touching anyone or block their way. Not sure what threat I’m supposed to be protecting my family from here.

  156. Warren February 8, 2013 at 1:11 pm #

    Like I said do what you want.

    Walk away, take their crap, and try to say you are not affected by it. If you were not affected by it, you would not talk about it in a forum such as this.

    Really, if you think it is fine for your kids to see a stranger treat their mom in that manner, and her mom take it. Go for it. When your kids grow up, and they have the same thing happen to them, and the next generation and so on, good for you.

    I know that my girls stand up for themselves and others. They do not take crap off of anyone.

    And one does not have to be in danger, to need defending. There are things called honour, pride, intergity all of which are worth defending, at least I believe they are worth defending. So if you are not sure what you are protecting your family from, then continue to live in your rose coloured bubble.

    That is the difference between you and I. I will not compromise my values just to avoid hurting someones feelings, to avoid a confrontation be it verbal or physical.

    You remind me of those people that say getting involved in a physically violent altercation is just lowering yourself to the attackers level.

    You also keep saying to pick your battles, and that you have chosen some battles. Which ones Donna, which battles have you chosen and what did you do?

  157. Donna February 8, 2013 at 1:22 pm #

    @Warren – The problem with this whole discussion is you’re arguing apples while we’re arguing oranges. All you keep saying is that you must defend your family if it is under attack. I think most here probably agree with that sentiment.

    We are saying that we don’t believe our family is actually under attack in this situation. You won’t give an reason that we should believe our family to be under attack – that we should care what a stranger of absolutely no consequence in our lives thinks about our family – and insult us because we don’t agree that this is some great threat to our family.

  158. SKL February 8, 2013 at 1:27 pm #

    Warren, again, I have no idea how you look to others when you “take a stand.” You say that you never lose your cool etc. Maybe we don’t disagree at all. But your words are coming across here like some crazy people I’ve known. Like the guy who called my 8yo sister a bitch because he didn’t like the exchange price she offered on an item in OUR used-book store. You know, by golly, he stood up for himself, for what it wasn’t worth. Or the guy who bragged that he didn’t teach his daughter to hit back; that’s too late; he taught her to hit *first,* so nobody dared ever mess with her.

    On the other hand, you have people like my dad who rarely “takes a stand,” but when he does, in his calm but direct manner, people listen.

    I have no idea where you fall on the continuum, but if it’s anywhere toward the former, be aware that those daughters you think you are teaching to “stand up for themselves” are probably cringing in embarrassment when you do that.

    I have zero memories of my mom telling off anyone in public. Thank goodness, honestly. I don’t think it’s ruined my life, and I think my kids will be OK too. But if you want to think otherwise, feel free. I don’t plan on going off on you about whatever you think about my parenting. I just think you should be a little more civil to the people here.

  159. pentamom February 8, 2013 at 1:31 pm #

    “Just how many busybodys do you deal with on a daily basis? You make it sound like it happens routinely, instead of once in a blue moon.”

    Currently, not many. Back when I was seen in public more with five kids (or two or more and was pregnant), or it came up in conversation that I homeschooled, LOTS.

    And boy if you have “too many” kids or homeschool, do you get the benefit of everyone else’s wisdom. It’s better than it used to be on the homeschooling front, as it’s become more common and there are fewer and fewer people who don’t know someone who is not a lunatic who does it, and I don’t go out with all my kids much anymore since they’re older.

    And it just wasn’t worthy my time and energy to set every. single. one. of them straight.

    My kids have survived to the ages of 11-22 and they know quite well that there are things worth standing up for. They’ve also learned that everyone else’s ignorance or stupidity is not their problem.

  160. Donna February 8, 2013 at 1:33 pm #

    @ Warren –

    Let’s see most last summer I got in the face of the local librarian. She pitched a fit about my daughter being there for a few minutes alone. I let her know in no uncertain terms that while I can appreciate library rules (I didn’t know there was an age limit) she is in no way to ever lecture me on my parenting.

    Why? Because this is a woman who runs in the outskirts of my circle. I have little interaction with her but my friends and my daughter’s friends do. She is my daughter’s best friend’s neighbor. Her opinion was still meaningless to me but I was not going to let her get away with thinking she has any right to lecture me about parenting when we are going to be running into each other on occasion.

    And it worked. That was 8-9 months ago and she has not dared to say anything to me or about me since. My kid has eaten at her house a few times since then with her friend and she was perfectly nice and respectful to my child. Me she ignores and I’m 100% fine with that.

  161. Warren February 8, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I assume you did this without making a huge scene. See I give you the benefit of the doubt, that you are capable of handling a confrontation without escalating the situation.
    You would be well advised to give others the same benefit of the doubt, that they give you.

  162. Donna February 8, 2013 at 2:51 pm #

    Warren – It is not about causing a scene. It is about the need to confront everyone about everything and your continued insults of people who don’t find the need to confront everyone aggressively, whether a scene was created or not.

    Take my library scenario. That was my reaction to that specific librarian for the reasons that I gave. There is also a librarian that is part of my close social circle and the mother of one of my daughter’s good friends (and the host of most of the playgroups). I would not have reacted the same way had she been the one who addressed me. I would have discussed the situation and made my point but there would have been no confrontation, aggression or intimidation. This is a friend and I have no desire to intimidate her. There are other librarians who I don’t know at all. I may have chosen to ignore the exact same comments coming from them. We don’t frequent the library or interact with these people at all. Why get into a pissing contest with them? My library at home – the one we frequented almost weekly – I would probably react very similar to the way I did here.

    “There are things called honour, pride, intergity all of which are worth defending, at least I believe they are worth defending.”

    Absolutely, but my honor, pride and integrity are not harmed in the slightest bit by some random idiot in a Taco Bell. How is a person that is throwing a tantrum – because that is what this devolved into when Krista tried to speak to her rationally – affecting my honor, pride or integrity? Because my honor, pride and integrity is certainly not wrapped up in the opinion of a person acting crazy in Taco Bell. Nor is it wrapped up in the opinion of the other strangers in Taco Bell. Nor is my child going to be affected by the rants of someone in Taco Bell. My honor, pride and integrity needs absolutely no defending here either.

  163. Warren February 8, 2013 at 3:35 pm #

    If your honour, pride, and integrity do not need defending here, then why are you defending them.

    Listen you do what you want, I really don’t care. But on the same note, keep you judgement of my ways to yourself. If you do not want your ways scrutinized, then do not scrutinize mine. Thats what you do not get. You keep coming at me, yet you get pissed, when I come back. Whatever happened to just thanking someone for their opinion, and walking away?

    Just saying.

  164. pentamom February 8, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

    Precisely for the reason Donna said — you keep making an issue of it. When someone keeps making an issue of something, you have to do something. But if it’s a one-off instance with someone you will never see again, it’s really pointless. There’s nothing at stake, honestly.

    If I can walk away from the person and there’s no ability for her to keep making an issue of it, then there’s no point.

    My honor, integrity, and pride are not at risk among a group of strangers at Taco Bell who will never even give me another thought in their lives, after the initial interest in the little scenario is over.

    They’re not at risk in my own self-image because of what some silly woman in Taco Bell says, and they’re not at risk among my kids because of what some silly person says. They see me day in, day out — they can judge from that.

    I can’t imagine going through life thinking that other people who don’t even know you care that much about your honor, integrity, and pride, or that your kids will doubt them because you don’t react to a silly person’s silliness. But you can, so there you have it — people differ.

  165. Amanda Matthews February 8, 2013 at 3:52 pm #

    @LRH “Then those people need an education on minding their own business. My children aren’t their business. They’re MY business. Period. Their lack of education & their ignorance isn’t my problem.”

    Just as you think this, they think it IS their business, and that YOU need an education on how to do whatever it is correctly in their opinion (raise your kids, etc.)

    I agree that it isn’t their business, but you and I are thinking logically; a lot of people don’t think that way. (This is where the problem begins – someone using logic can never convince someone using emotion and/or ignorance to see logic.) And I agree that they need an education about the matter, but I’m not going to give it to them; I’m too busy living my life and educating my own children to give anyone else a one-on-one education for free.

    However, I’d be glad to take business cards from those of you who think they are worth the time and effort of a telling off/calling out, and had these cards to people instead of thanking them 🙂

  166. Amanda Matthews February 8, 2013 at 3:53 pm #

    *hand these cards

  167. Warren February 8, 2013 at 5:01 pm #

    Amanda summed it up oh so well.

    Too busy………that is why no one does get involved, no one takes the time to put the busybody in their place, no one stands up and is counted. Too wrapped up in their own world, to give a crap about the next victim.

    This busy body that is allowed to continue on with her self righteous beliefs…… what about her? If left alone, and not educated, what is she going to do? For all we know the next time she is going to call CPS, because she has not been educated in manners and minding her own business.

    That is okay, because you have successfully dealt with her, in regards to your life.

  168. Donna February 8, 2013 at 5:25 pm #

    “If your honour, pride, and integrity do not need defending here, then why are you defending them.”

    I am not defending my honor, pride, integrity or even myself to you, Warren. I am simply damn sick of the fact that in almost every single thread Lenore posts you insist that the ONLY way to deal with it is to be aggressive and intimidating and then insult the people who suggest handling things another way. In this thread alone, you’ve called the bulk of the regular posters here – and tacitly Lenore since she does not advocate aggression and intimidation – weak, wimps, lacking in pride, lacking in self respect … did I miss any of the insults thrown?

    It has nothing to do with my honor, pride and integrity, as they are fully intact, and everything to do with you lessening my enjoyment of a group of which I am a member.

  169. Donna February 8, 2013 at 5:37 pm #

    And the only person ever appearing pissed is you, Warren. In every other thread, you suggest getting aggressive with people as the only response to everything under the sun. Other people, without insulting you at all, suggest other ways that they would prefer to handle the situation, and rather than accepting that there are different strokes for different folks, you insist that everyone else is lacking in character, refusing to fight and that you are the only one trying to save the world. Not seeing where anyone else here is pissed, or at least where anyone else is pissed without reason.

  170. hineata February 8, 2013 at 6:00 pm #

    @Warren – it is difficult to get involved, if it seldom happens to you or around you.

    For myself, I choose to take a stand, vocally and on paper, for:

    -religious freedom, or the rights of Muslim women here to wear the basic hijab without getting hassled.
    -the rights of Maori and Pacifica children to be seen as intelligent at least as often as Pakeha (whites).
    -the rights of Chinese children to fail occasionally
    -the rights of ‘other’ language speakers to converse in their native tongues in public and in their own homes freely, without snide comments from mono-lingual English speakers.
    -my own rights to have English spoken in my home (provided the guest is actually proficient enough in English to make that practical).
    -the rights of children to carry out their own games without interference from the school thug

    The list goes on.

    These are all things of importance to me and the people around me. And I am sure that the women who post here are doing equally positive stuff.

    Loonies in cafes, who cares? For more than the few minutes you feel taken aback/embarassed by them…

    That said, I must say that I genuinely enjoy reading both your’s and LRH’s posts, because you both remind me so much of my kid brother. He is another one who will argue with anyone over anything, and I miss debating with him at the moment, as the day behind thing means we are hardly ever both free to Skype for long at the same time. If you’re ever down in Seattle, look out for a fat Kiwi bloke with a Nordic blonde wife….:-). He’ll probably be biking on the wrong side of the road, making him a relatively easy target, LOL!

  171. hineata February 8, 2013 at 6:07 pm #

    And Donna is absolutely right, what you describe regarding the child, the puppy and the car is not nearly the same as some nut being making stupid comments. I am five three and not naturally terriby aggressive, but I too would take out anyone who actually tried to physically get to my child. Any mother would.

    And any family member. My son was arguing with my daughter one day in Kukup (Malaysia) when a druggie came up behind her and grabbed her shoulder (wanted money from my husband). Son (13 at the time, small build) just swung around and hit him. Automatic reaction.

    When you need to, you look after your own.

  172. Another Lenore February 8, 2013 at 9:02 pm #

    I would have told her to just call CPS because it really isn’t something they would even address.

  173. Warren February 8, 2013 at 9:45 pm #

    You and I are polar opposites. There is no getting around it. You prefer to walk away for the most part, and I prefer to stand my ground. Neither way is wrong. But for the record, you have been just as aggressive towards telling me I am wrong, as I have you.

    Time for a truce………………don’t ya think?

  174. Donna February 8, 2013 at 11:51 pm #

    Warren –

    I don’t prefer to walk away for the most part (unless we are only talking about stupid battles with Taco Bell patrons, then yes I do prefer to walk away). You simply refuse to see anything other than in-your-face aggression as fighting. If I am going to fight, it is going to be intelligently, and aggression and intimidation rarely seem like good ways to get to long-lasting results to me. We may agree to disagree on that point but I will continue to take issue with statements that aggression and intimidation are the ONLY way to fight and that those of us who prefer other ways are weak and doing nothing.

  175. SKL February 9, 2013 at 12:18 am #

    Warren, so now it’s my personal duty to re-educate every obnoxious person I meet? Sorry. Maybe you want to take up that cause, but I have other causes. I don’t particularly like talkinig to people – not even nice ones. Just the thought of telling someone off makes me tired. Maybe you get energized by such a thought. We are all different.

    Did it ever occur to you that the moms most likely to need to do the stuff described in the OP are moms who are extremely busy? And maybe a little drained at times? Trying to grab a bite to eat and rest her feet for five minutes, but no, mother nature has other plans. It seems there is no rest for the weary. Give a mom a break for Pete’s sake.

  176. Warren February 9, 2013 at 8:00 am #

    Love how it is always the “mom”………..again sorry to burst your bubble, but this “dad” is the primary.

    Also, if people were not so narrow minded, things would be easier. Just because words like confrontation, fight, agressive are used, it does not mean over the top, long drawn out arguements, all out battles, or making a scene.

    But you do not have to back down, and whether you like it or not, that is what you are doing. Reality is a what it is, and no matter how you spin it black is still black.

  177. SKL February 9, 2013 at 9:58 am #

    Warren, because it’s moms you are bashing. And although we all know that occasionally you get a single dad who has 100% custody of two young children, that is not typical. It is much more typical to find single working moms out and about with their little kids. Since I happen to be one of them, I can tell you exactly how it feels to work all day, run around all evening for your kids, and then be told you’re a slacker. Besides which, I’d love to see you go through what I went through to adopt these kids in the first place – alone – from a third-world country. Talk about standing up for my kids when it matters.

    As another mom pointed out, most likely all of us would kill or die for our kids if that was what our kids needed at a given moment. You probably know this. And even if you don’t, our kids do, and that matters a lot more. So I really think it’s time to get off your high horse.

  178. Susanna February 9, 2013 at 6:44 pm #

    I’d like to see more of us jump in the middle of these exchanges and defend these poor parents against bullies like this, because that’s what they are. If you question my parenting in front of my children, look out! Along those same lines, if I saw this going on, those ladies would have heard from me and they’d have thought twice before confronting another hard-working mother about something so stupid again. The only unspeakable thing that happened here is that they thought it was their place to say something at all.

  179. Warren February 9, 2013 at 8:19 pm #

    Thanks Susanna.

  180. Joel February 9, 2013 at 11:31 pm #

    I’d ask the chatty Cathy who pulled her tampon string.

  181. Patti February 10, 2013 at 8:18 am #

    I often tell new moms that my best advise is to ignore those Nosey Rosie’s out there that criticize, especially those without kids! That being said, I agree with Jen way above. I think you might have had a moment of poor judgement. Of course, the #s are in your favor NOT to have your child taken, but do you really want to take that chance? When you hear about this missing child on the news, you almost always hear the Mom say, “I look looked away for a minute.” The fact that your son had a private bathroom, I would have looked at that opportunity to use it as a family bathroom opportunity-which is golden when u have more than one kid out in public.

    I have a 6 year old and nearly 3 years. We have a “public motto”, — leave no man behind.

    I don’t agree with your being chastised by a stranger in that manner, but she accomplished one thing: I bet you’ll think twice about leaving your child alone again.

  182. Warren February 10, 2013 at 5:23 pm #

    Nice Patti, your statements in here are no better than those of the busybody, in the Taco Bell.

  183. hineata February 10, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    @Warren -what you said.

  184. SKL February 10, 2013 at 8:02 pm #

    Patti, if it’s logical to say “kidnappings happened a few times when moms looked away for just a second, therefore never look away” . . . and it’s not logical to say “tens of millions of moms looked away and nothing happened, therefore it’s not dangerous to look away”?


  1. Free Range Kids » The Way I Never Want to Think - February 8, 2013

    […] Readers! This came in response to the post about a mom who unexpectedly left her 3-year-old alone at a table at Taco Bell for two minutes and got screamed at by the woman at the next table for “endangering” […]