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casheroo's avatar

Hypothetic Situation: What would you do if you saw this?

Asked by casheroo (18026 points ) June 21st, 2009

You are in a bookstore, just browsing, shopping or whatever.
Meanwhile, a mother is checking out at the cashier, has a toddler with her. She has to sign the receipt, so she puts her toddler down. He walks away, but still within eyesight, so she looks down and signs the slip, looks back and her toddler is gone.
She runs over to the door, he couldn’t possibly have gotten out.
She begans yelling her sons name, and running up and down the aisles.

Do you just watch? Do you try to help?

I’m asking what you would do. No judgement of the mother, even though I’m sure everyone has an opinion ;)

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47 Answers

richardhenry's avatar

I would probably butt in (in a friendly way) as soon as the kid started walking away.

casheroo's avatar

@richardhenry Butt in how? I’m talking the kid was within reach and then disappeared by running.

Facade's avatar

I’d tell the mother that her son’s right over there (pointing). And add another reason to the list of why I’m not having kids.

I have no idea why i assumed the kid was a boy….

janbb's avatar

I would just help look. No judgement of the mother at all.

SuperMouse's avatar

I like @richardhenry‘s idea, and have done exactly that in the past. In these situations when I see the kid starting to walk away, I’ll say something like “Are you trying to escape?” I say it loud enough for the mother to hear it too, that way she will notice that the kid is on the move. If I hadn’t been able to do this I would help her look for her kid.

jonsblond's avatar

Toddlers are such a handful, especially when shopping. I would definitely help the mother by keeping on eye on the child and know which way he went. If the child was in harms way, I would chase after him/her.

MacBean's avatar

If I saw the kid take off and knew what direction he went, I’d help catch him. And if not, I’d watch the doors so the kid didn’t go outside, and I’d let the mother do her own running around. (Hello there, chronic pain. Thanks for making life difficult.)

MissAnthrope's avatar

If I see a kid taking off, I assume the parent wouldn’t want it and I stop them, in a friendly way. Never had a parent react badly, they always seem grateful.

richardhenry's avatar

@SuperMouse Exactly. Or drop kick the child.

casheroo's avatar

@MacBean One person did just that.

I wish some of you were in the store with me the other day. One one person offered to help, she was older, probably in her 50s, and stood by the door just in case. I was running up and down and couldn’t find my son (he’s tall for his age, but still too short to see) I couldn’t find him anywhere and became near hysterical. I could hear him walking around and reading his book, so I knew he was safe.
The lady was so nice and gave me a hug. I was so shaken up. I think it’s literally one of the worst feelings I’ve ever felt :(

KatawaGrey's avatar

I try and keep the child within eyeshot. If the child wanders too far off, I make a move toward the child and the parent usually sees me move and then sees the child. If this doesn’t work, then I might say something like, “Where are you going little guy?” and the kid is distracted long enough to be scooped up by mom.

janbb's avatar

@casheroo Sorry you had to go through that. These kind of things happen; no blame on you. Too bad the Fluther Brigade wasn’t there to help!

chyna's avatar

I did exactly what mcbean suggested one time in a department store. I heard the mother yelling “he’s only 2, he’s gone”. I went straight to the door and stood there looking for a 2 year old. About 5 minutes later I heard a cheer go up, so I knew he had been found. Or drop kicking is another alternative.

applesaucemanny's avatar

I would go look for the toddler and not expect anything in return and have no judgment whatsoever

marinelife's avatar

I guess my question to you is why would anyone not help?

casheroo's avatar

@Marina I’m not sure. I think people are too selfish. I think they’re afraid of getting involved in other peoples business, because god forbid that person is crazy or violent. But, in this situation, I don’t see what could have possibly held back the numerous other patrons from even stepping in. I know I would have tried to help if I were on the other end.

Bobbydavid's avatar

Find the child no matter what

kheredia's avatar

@casheroo I completely agree with you. Society has made it a point to make us all afraid of our own shadows. People prefer not to get involved and watch their own back even if the person next to them is screaming for help. When I was taking a psychology class I remember we discussed a case of a woman who was stabbed to death in front of her apartment building. She screamed for help and although many people turned on their lights and looked out the window, nobody called the police assuming somebody else would do it. The woman died.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I would immediately start helping. First I’d probably talk with the staff to make sure they are helping. Then I would start searching myself. This has happened before actually and I just quietly went around searching in that circumstance although I could imagine a time where I would search more openly and not so quietly. There have also been circumstances where I saw mom filling out paperwork and her kid wandering too far off. I just walk over, grab their hand and walk them back to mom. I really don’t’ care if mom appreciates my intervention or not, however horrible that may sound. I also limit my judgments and try not to make them. I find myself saying “oh how scary this must be” (to myself or to my husband) instead of anything else that would be judgmental.

Darwin's avatar

Since I have been there, done that (mine are teenagers now, which brings to the table a whole different set of problems) I have a tendency to notice small children. If I see one beginning to take off from a preoccupied mom I have a tendency to say something either to the child such as “Hey, man, you trying to make a run for it?” or to the mom such as “Someone is trying to make good their escape. Want me to cut them off at the pass?” Most toddlers will stop dead in their tracks if a strange adult makes eye contact and talks to them, and most moms in my experience appreciate the watchful eye. I have also been known to help search or simply block major escape routes so the child can’t get out of the enclosed area.

You can even forestall an escape by simply making eye contact with a child and waving “Hi.” Most little ones either stop to respond or they pull the “I’m so shy” act and dart back to mom and hang onto her knees. In either case, they stop leaving mom (or dad).

The only time I might make a judgment is when I see a parent going overboard in remonstrating with the child, but I generally keep it to myself unless the child is at risk of being injured.

kerryyylynn's avatar

Id probably go hunt down the kid with her, then drop kick the thing for booking it.

chyna's avatar

@Darwin Good point on the eye contact and speaking to the child. I have done that and they usually do run and hide behind their mom. No one the wiser that the child was about to make a break for it!

knitfroggy's avatar

I’d help the mother look for her child. I’ve had this happen before and it’s a horrible feeling!

sakura's avatar

I found a child wandering around the zoo once, all alone. I immedeatly took him by e hand and found the first member of staff I came to and handed him over. No hesitation what so ever, but what scared me most was when the boys dad was found he was like oh he was on the play area I knew where he was, and I was gob smacked as I found him wandering around the food courts and good 3/4 min walk for a chold away from the play area!It’s so easy for them to wander off! I know when I thougt I’d lost my daughter in a very smallstore (where I knew she couldn’t have escaped on her own) it was awful, I just got a horrid sinking feeling :( I think the childs safety is paramount like @richardhenry and @SuperMouse I would say something like, oh where are you sneaking off too… or oh look at your t shirt, blond hair etc.. and draw attention to him/her keep them occupied whilst mum finishes paying, in a friendly but none threatening way and would hope that someone would do the same for me, shopping can be a nightmare with children, they can disappear in an instant.

Judi's avatar

I would probably be watching the kid the whole time anyway. (that’s just what this grandma does. They always make me smile, even when they’re ornery.)
I would be the one saying, “Don’t worry mom, he’s right over there in the children’s books.”

casheroo's avatar

@Judi I think the woman that helped me was a grandma. She came over and told me everything was okay, once I had my boy in my arms, and she gave me a hug. It was pretty awful and she really helped. I cried so much on the way home, instantly thinking I’m a horrible mother. I don’t know why the guilt was so terrible. And that fear..just thinking about it makes me want to throw up. :(

Judi's avatar

I lost my daughter in target when she was about 2. Ugg…. Didn’t want that feeling in my gut again!

Clair's avatar

Anytime I’m around young children, I watch them like I know them personally. So I most likely would have saw the entire scenario and would know where he was. I would just tell her, I rarely meet a stranger, especially a desperate one.
I can’t imagine. I would hope someone would do the same for me. And that doesn’t make her a bad mother at all. Toddlers are wild!
@Darwin I do the same thing when I see kids running around and them/their parents need a reality check. I’ll try to freak em out a bit to keep them together.

jonsblond's avatar

Grandmothers are the best. Anytime my children would have a meltdown while shopping, it was always a grandmother that stepped in to distract them. Even if it was just for a minute, that grandmother put a smile on my child’s face and gave me a welcome relief.

augustlan's avatar

When my oldest was just a little over 1 and I was hugely pregnant with my second, she took off on me while we were Christmas shopping. She ran so fast she left behind a shoe! Not one person in that crowded mall helped me catch her… I was so exhausted after chasing her down that we had to leave the mall. Not fun.

Now that mine are older, I’m always watching other people’s children, so I’d notice and intervene before they got too far. If not, I’d definitely help the mom. I’m glad there was a happy ending. :)

cak's avatar

I would have to help and understand that unfortunately, this can (and does) happen. It’s awful when it does. I generally would keep an eye on the kid while the mother was paying, it’s just a habit.

There isn’t room for judgment, life happens.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Not being a parent myself, I can’t even imagine the distress a parent might feel if their child had gone missing or had wandered off and my heart goes out to all of you who have had this happen or have witnessed it. I wouldn’t hesitate for a moment to help anyone out in looking for their child or assisting them with something else for that matter.

Furthermore, it wouldn’t be appropriate or sensible for me to pass judgement on someone who hadn’t intentionally done something wrong. In fact, I don’t have the right to judge anyone about anything.

bea2345's avatar

I would probably, depending on circumstances, keep one eye on the toddler and even call, “Hey, miss, your little boy/girl has gone behind that shelf.” Pass judgment? I hope not.

Elizzzzzer's avatar

I would have been watching the kid, the babysitter in me still prevails. I would help her find him.

augustlan's avatar

@Elizzzzzer Welcome to Fluther!

casheroo's avatar

@all Thank you all for the kind comments. It really makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.

TylerM's avatar

I’d get my pois… I mean tranquilizer blow dart out and do my duty.

Jeruba's avatar

Little ones are always one or two levels of competency ahead of where we think they are. We are thinking they are still at stage x, and they’ve already moved on to y or z.

From the moment I saw the woman set the child down, I’d have had him spotted. It’s a reflex after watching my own make some fast moves when they were that age. I’d realize she was distracted and simply do surrogate duty for a few minutes until she returned her attention to him. So he would not be disappearing while I was on the watch. If she rounded him up swiftly, I’d say nothing at all, just go on with my business. If it looked like he was straying too far, I’d have spoken to her right away: “Excuse me, but your little one is headed out the door.”

If the door was closed and there was no danger of any kind, I think I’d leave it to her to find him, just so she’d learn to be more watchful, but I’d still have him in view until she caught up with him. Of course, if I heard her crying and calling out, I’d have spoken up and not let her suffer.

In her place I would not have let go. I’d have had hold of some part of his clothing while I signed the slip. The only thing faster than a two-year-old is a cheetah.

augustlan's avatar

I did have to master the art of trapping a toddler between my legs and the checkout counter. I’m sure it was very attractive. ;)

jonsblond's avatar

@augustlan Didn’t you love the evil stares from the women who forgot what it’s like to have a toddler. ~ :)

casheroo's avatar

@augustlan I usually do that, but it wasn’t possible at this counter because he could have gone under towards the cashiers. I usually do a body trap with my legs though. I can’t even imagine what others think. haha

Darwin's avatar

“The only thing faster than a two-year-old is a cheetah.”

You got that right. They can also turn invisible at will.

mzgator's avatar

I had a newborn, three year old and four year old and a firefighter for a husband who was at work every other twenty four hours. I trained the two older children to put a hand in each one of my pockets when we went to the stores that had no shopping baskets. That way I had an arm to hold the baby and an arm to do other things. I may have looked strange, but I never lost a kid. They are, 15,18,and 19 and still remember the rules and laugh about it.

dannyc's avatar

Kids are such wanderers, they demonstrate humankind’s explorer mentality from such a young age. 99.9999% of the time they are OK. Find them, and when you do, don’t scold them, ask them what they saw..you will learn a lot. Next time, learn from the experience, and watch them a bit more carefully. And understand the fear of a mother who loses track of their child, they need your help if you can.

KatawaGrey's avatar

You know, ever since answering this question, I am hyper-aware of all the little kids I see wandering around. I am happy to report that I keep an eye on the kids who wander from their parents but a little unhappy to report that I see parents who let their kids wander off in unsafe situations. I went to 6 flags on tuesday and outside of the bathroom, there was a little boy in a stroller, unattended. I looked at him and asked the girls I was with if they saw anyone leave him there. Several minutes later, his mother came out of the bathroom. I understand how hard it is to manage a small child in a stroller when you are by yourself but I would think that leaving a small child unattended in the middle of an amusement park would be a big no-no for parents.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

if i saw the kid, i’d certainly tell her where he/she went. if not, i’d watch for him/her by the door while the mother looked for her kid. no reason to pass judgment, as it doesn’t seem that the mother is being careless; just trying to complete a task with a curious toddler on the run.

MrBr00ks's avatar

Yes, I would help, at my job, when this happens, everything is supposed to be dropped and everyone looks. Plus, I have kids, and would want someone else to help too. Karma and all.

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