‘Tis the season to shop, and the malls are packed with holiday shoppers. When we have to bring our children along, it can be difficult to keep an eye on them. Cindy Molina told me about the time her son Alex was eight years old. That was the same year Polly Klaus had been abducted, and the newscasters gave parents safety tips to teach their children what to do if a stranger tried to grab them.
So Cindy and her husband Frank explained to Alex and his nine-year-old brother Ryan that if you’re out in public and a man grabs you and tries to take you with him, holler, “Help! This isn’t my father!” Or if it’s a woman, “This isn’t my mother!”
Cindy explained, “Because if you just cry and kick and scream, people will think you’re having a tantrum with your own parent.”
The next time the family went shopping, they were in a department store, and Frank took Alex to look at some shirts while Cindy took Ryan to shop for pants. When Frank was done, he took Alex’s hand and said, “Let’s go find your mom.”
Alex started yelling, “Help! Help! This isn’t my father!” Everyone around them stopped and stared. The sales people gave Frank dirty looks. He was super embarrassed and explained that he really was the father.
By that time, Cindy arrived to see what all the commotion was about. “It was so humiliating.” She explained to the people that she and Frank had just taught their sons some safety tips and apparently Alex wanted to try it out.
“We found out that it really does work,” Cindy said. She recommends that all parents teach this safety tip to their kids, but they should warn them not to test it on their parents out in public!
Louise Behiel has four grandchildren, ages 7, 5, 4, and 18 months.
“I love spending time with them. The younger two live close to me and they love to shop with grandma, so they think it’s ‘my’ Walmart and they know the store has the biggest playroom ever. What fun.”
I’m sure they think you’re the best grandma ever, Louise!
Nope, it’s a surveillance tape from a department store.
Thank you to everyone who’s shared parenting stories with me. I LOVE hearing from you.
So, do you have a scary or humorous parenting memory? If you’re not a parent, memories from your own childhood count, too!
Warning: I might feature your story in a future post! (Names can be changed to protect the guilty.)
If you don’t want to leave a comment but would rather contact me by email, here’s my address: lynkelwoohoo at yahoo dot com.
A version of Frank and Cindy Molina’s story first appeared in The Highland Community News in December of 1998.