I’m pretty sure this isn’t okay…

So. I was at Target today, picking up a few things. It was your average busy Saturday afternoon at the local Target — nothing out of the ordinary — but as I was walking out of the store, I noticed a little boy standing by the exit, by himself, crying. He was probably about six years old (I think… I am a terrible judge of children’s ages). Anywho, I saw him crying and went up to ask him if he was lost. He shook his head, but I wasn’t sure if he was just saying that or if he just didn’t want to admit he was lost. So I asked him where his mom was, and he pointed outside. I looked outside and didn’t see anyone… so I asked him if his mom knew he was inside. He said yes.

I didn’t quite know what to do — I wasn’t going to drag this kid outside in the event that his mother was actually in the store looking for him, but I also wasn’t just going to leave him stranded. So I walked outside to look around for a mother who may be looking around for her son. I didn’t see anyone, and I looked back into the store and saw two more women asking the little boy if he was lost. When I turned back around, a woman peeked out from behind a wall and was looking inside towards the little boy. I asked her if that was her son. She said, “yes, he wouldn’t leave the store with me.”

Um. Okay. So instead of making him come with you (you’re his mother and all… mother’s can sort of make their kids do things like this) you leave him there? For other people in a crowded store to worry about him while you “teach him a lesson”? Of course, I didn’t say this to her… I just said “oh good, I was worried,” as she proceeded to walk into his view and yell his name for him to go with her. I’m not sure what the other women said to her, or if they said anything at all, or what happened next, as I walked away at this point knowing that at least he was not truly lost.

Look. I get the whole “Okay, well I’m leaving, if you don’t want to come with me you can stay here” threat that parents use to teach their kids a lesson. And I get that she didn’t really leave and she was keeping an eye on him while she waited for him to come outside. But people see a little boy crying in a large department store and they worry. I’m not a mother and I don’t have that natural maternal instinct, but I immediately felt like I should take care of this little boy and help him find his mom. The two women behind me obviously felt the need to help him, too. I don’t think I’d want to be that mother who let other people worry about my kid while I watched. The whole thing just left me really unsettled.

What do you think? Do you think it was okay for the mother to do what she did — maybe she just had a weak moment — or did she cross the line by letting others get involved and concerned for the little boy?


  1. Maybe it depends what happened in the past. If this was the 100th time the child refused to leave a store without pitching a temper tantrum, the mother would have to find SOME way to teach the child that when she says it's time to go, it's time to go… perhaps this what what she thought would work best? It's not okay for a mother to let a bad day cloud her judgement, but if this was a repetitive behavior, I don't know if I could think of anything better to do, either.

  2. True, EB… I didn't look at it that way. I guess I just felt so upset with HER for letting me (and others) get upset about the little boy, thinking he was lost.

  3. I think the mother should have intervened and taken him home when she noticed the kid was truly feeling lost and especially when you or any other person tried to help, since there is no need to get other ppl worried. The point was made by then, you know?

  4. Yeah, as with everything in life, there is no black and white answer to this. My mom once made us get out of the car on the side of I-95 in Georgia and run behind the car because she had threatened to make us walk the rest of the way to FL if we didn't stop arguing. She eventually let us back in, and we were quiet until we got to FL the lesson having been learned. But I'm sure someone else driving that stretch of highway that day was appalled.

  5. From what I see and hear with the kids I work with all I know is this: Some people are not meant to EVER have kids…that is all!

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