Attack of the Little Darlings

Despite my appalling ineptitude at retail, I have to admit, working in it is a golden opportunity to observe human behavior. It's like going out with a crew from Wild Kingdom; you watch certain behavior for awhile, and you come to expect those behaviors in a goodly sample of the shopping population.

Wonder what Jane Goodall would think?

Sometimes it's actually kind of fun watching the older ladies come in and stroll around, gabbing with their friends, then almost in unison stop, regard something on the shelf and intone "Oh, that's pretty!"

Or watching some suburban wife go through the store on a decorating/spending tear, while her husband (who apparently is the one actually footing the bill for the trip), trails behind her with his hands jammed into his pockets and a sheepish look on his face. Yeah, buddy; I see you [cue whiplash sound].

But there is one behavior I'll never understand. Worse, it sets my teeth on edge every time I see it. It usually involves a mother, one or more kids, and the mom's friend(s). While the women shop, at least one of the kids -- usually the youngest -- will start crying or screaming or perpetrating some action that should fall somewhere east of What Mom Considers Proper Behavior. But do the women in charge stop to take care of the situation? Nooooo! They tra-la-la along, completely tuning out the child in question, who might actually be in some sort of trouble, or disobeying rules.

Excuse me, but since when does a shower curtain pattern take precedence over taking care of your kid? If you're just going to ignore him, why did you bother going through all that morning sickness and labor pain to have him in the first place?

Understand, I'm not talking about a situation where Mom is dealing with something equally urgent or important (like another of the kids), so the squeaky wheel has to wait his turn for the grease. I'm talking about situations where Mom is so absorbed in that blouse that the kid's needs have fallen completely off the radar.

And it's even worse when the kids are willingly acting like complete savages and tearing through the store as though it were their own personal playground and making enough noise to hear them on the opposite side of the place, but golly-gee, aren't these throw rugs just too darling?

It. Drives. Me. Crazy.

And yes, I do have room to talk. From an early age, Ness has been taught that there is acceptable public behavior, and there is unacceptable public behavior. The latter always draws a swift and harsh response from Daddy. Therefore, she conducts herself properly in public, and even looks sideways at kids that don't.

Just as my mother and mother-in-law did for us. And their mothers did for them. I still remember as a kid the rare occasions when I would act up in a store. My grandmother (God rest that dear woman's soul) was a large woman, but as I discovered the hard way, she could move like lightning, using a switch the same way Toshiro Mifune used a samurai sword. I quickly learned that there were things I wasn't allowed to do in public.

But kids today* don't seem to have been taught those lessons. they go racing through the store, or screaming, or having tantrums, and generally acting like little barbarians while Mom (and surprisingly, sometimes Dad) tra-la-la's through a wonderland of savings. And there's nothing I can do except smile vacantly and fight down the urge to show the little hellions another use for all those belts on that rack over there.

Then again, what good would that do? It's not entirely their fault. I blame the parents. Mom and Dad should be teaching the kids the difference between right and wrong public behavior. But they're not. And that's a damnably sad commentary on our modern society**.

*God, I sound like some old curmudgeon in a rocking chair, don't I? I also catch myself increasingly going, "I can remember when..."

**Oh, there I go again...

I hear ya, but speaking as a mom who didn't get to go out without children in tow, I figure as long as they aren't lobbing incendiaries into crowds of innocent shoppers, like their world leaders are, I will just shop and let shop!
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