Open Letter, Grocery Store Edition

Dear Staff of My Local Grocery Store —

I appreciate how much you fuss over my daughter. I do. You all seem genuinely delighted when she comes in to visit. You fuss on her, and you compliment her, and your are so friendly to her. It’s really quite lovely.

And I appreciate how many of you are mid-50 year old parents of grown children, or even grandparents, and so you love to be able to coo over small children and pat them and kiss them. And I appreciate that you are from a different generation, when parents all took care of each other’s kids and looked out for them and it-took-a-village-to-raise-a-child and all that.

I understand all that.

But lately, you have been getting a little TOO familiar with That Baby. Picking her up. Taking her hat and mitts and coat off. Asking for hugs and kisses from her. Carrying her around to visit other staff. And, creepifyingly, asking for a lock of her hair from her next haircut.

It’s starting to get weird. It’s getting to be a bit too much.

So, grocery store staff, hear this now.

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES IS IT OKAY TO WALK OFF WITH MY CHILD OUT OF MY SIGHT, WITHOUT MY PERMISSION, NO MATTER WHO YOU ARE GOING TO SEE. AND THEN LEAVING HER IN THE BACK OFFICE WITH OTHER STAFF WHERE I CANNOT SEE OR HEAR HER.

I understand that you all know each other, and you know that you have no ill intentions toward my child. But I don’t care about that. All I know is that my daughter is not where I can see or hear her, and unless she is with her father, it is not okay.

IT IS NEVER OKAY TO TAKE A CHILD OUT OF HER PARENT’S SIGHT.

I was so agitated and upset today, I did not have the presence of mind to deal with this issue in an appropriate fashion. It was all I could do to get my daughter bundled up and get into the parking lot before bursting into tears. But rest assured, my husband has NO problem whatsoever about dealing with this problem to ensure it will never happen again.

I hope today you realized by my reaction that what you did was not okay. But whether you did or you did not, rest assured that one way or another, this situation will NOT happen again. And you will understand that I will likely not be a patron of your store for awhile.

Respectfully, if not scared out of her mind,
That Baby’s Mother

**********

Dear That Baby,

I understand how social and personable and funny and self-confident you are. I do. I love that about you.

But please, please — when somebody who is not me or your daddy takes you by the hand and walks you away, PLEASE react. Do something. Kick up a fuss. Cry. Whatever. I don’t care. Just PLEASE send up a signal and I will rush to get you. I don’t care who they are. If they are not me or your daddy, make it known that this is NOT OKAY.

Please.

You are my world. You are my heart. If anything were to happen to you, I would die. I would just die.

Love, with all the love it is possible to have, and a healthy dose of fear,
Your mommy.

11 thoughts on “Open Letter, Grocery Store Edition

  1. Reading that, my heart dropped into my shoes. I can’t imagine how that felt in the moment. And how it still must feel.

  2. I feel for you so much Cinn. I had a similar situation happen with Autumn in a burger joint. An older man (I am guessing with dementia or alzheimer’s) was out with his daughter for lunch. For some reason he approached Autumn to speak with her and got between me and her, right in her face. I asked him to move back, to backup, insistently getting louder and louder, with no response from him at all, he was so intent (innocently) on my girl. The daughter took her father’s hand and backed him away reassuringly, giving me a scathing look and saying “He doesn’t mean any harm.” To which I replied “I don’t give a fig what he means or not, he has no right to get that close to a toddler. Imagine how you would feel if you could not get to your daughter with a strange person crowding over her.” She paled visibly, shut up, apologized, and quickly left the restaurant. I then proceeded to break down and cry all the while hugging my girl protectively. I noticed that all the other patrons were smiling at me supportively and several spoke on the way out patting my shoulder and commisserating. Scared the shit out of me.

  3. Wow, I’m getting shivers just thinking about what happened to you. As Hazel said, who in their right mind would do that in this day & age? I mean, it has never been acceptable to have some who is a virtual stranger walk off with your child, but these days – really really not acceptable. Why don’t people think before they act?

  4. I would be just like you, too upset to really freak out on them at the time, but boy once I got home my blood would have been boiling for days!!!

    I agree, shop elsewhere, even if it means driving 10 more minutes.

  5. Unbelievable!! I can’t believe that there are people who think that this is ok, no matter what their good intentions are. I would have gone so completely spastic.

  6. I am a grandparent and have come from the older generation but I never even speak to a child until I have asked the Mom if it is ok. Yes, we came from a different generation when things were not as crazy as it is now. I would be afraid the cops would be called if I did something like that now. There are too many weirdo now to take a chance on something happening.

  7. Yikes. Sounds awful.

    Our toddler is past the stage of flirting with and smiling at everyone. Is more in the I-want-that, get-me-out-of-this-grocery-cart-NOW, I’m-too-cool-to-smile-at-a-stranger stage, so I guess I don’t have to worry about anyone getting too cutesy with him.

    In Ethiopia, however, we did have strangers in restaurants take our guy out of our sight. Very scary (particularly given that the first time it happened was our first evening with our guy!), but for some reason, we accepted it. Don’t think we’d be quite so accommodating here in Canada!

    Hope you’ve been able to de-frazzle.

    Karen

  8. OMG! I can only imagine how you felt! And the hair taking thing is way to weird for me. I agree, too. Shop elsewhere and let BDH rip a strip off ’em!

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