‘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.
enjoyed the post
I love reading stories like this, and that last video made me chuckle 🙂
Oh, I feel for the Molinas! No good parenting goes unpunished. Sheila, good for you for holding onto your boys. Louise, bless you for believing it's fun to take the grandkids to WalMart. Lynn, I love those YouTube videos. The one that showed the toddler patting the sales associate's butt reminded me of a story my parents told about toddler me panicking at the top of a down escalator and clinging to my dad's khaki-clad leg. Unfortunately, the leg didn't belong to my dad, but to a guy too kind to shake off a scared kid.
Oh so funny. As soon as I remember the antics my kids performed I will have to save it for your parenting posts.Have I repressed them?Perhaps. 🙂
Jerzey72 – Thank you!Sarah – I'm so glad you enjoy these parenting stories. That video made me chuckle, too!Pat – Another great memory that you've shared with me! I'm so glad that man was a nice guy. Coleen – I'm looking forward to hearing some of your stories! Thanks.
Ah … kids! Being embarrassed by them in public is part of a parent's initiation to the big leagues! Here's the first grocery store one that popped into my head. I was shopping with my very young daughter who was in the early stages of talking. I took her temperate that morning and announced she was running a fever, low-grade, no big deal. Off to the store we go. In the feminine product aisle (no less!) we pass two senior citizen women who smiled at my daughter and exclaimed how cute she was. My darling daughter announced in an alarmingly articulate manner, "I have a beaver." No amount of shh'ing or repeating 'fever' would stop her from telling everyone about her beaver. Then she asked for a Dora balloon, the one with a dick. STICK, honey, a stick. Yes, I want it with the dick. *Sigh*
LOL.I used to run away and hide from my mom whenever we were in the store . . . I did it several times, too, most frequently in Walmart and JC Penney. I, of course, thought it was terribly funny; she did not.
Ginger – Thanks so much for the belly laugh. Your parenting story is hysterical! Saving it, for sure!Eagle – Haha! It's lots of fun to hide in the clothes racks and keep our parents on their toes, isn't it? Thanks!
Great safety tip! I'm passing this along. Also from now on I will not do anything stupid in a store, like run into a pillar or make faces at the camera! Thanks so much for joining in the giveaway at the Write Game. Hope you win.
Very, very funny. I have some beauties. I'll have to forward them to you.
Lee – Yep, I think after watching these video clips we'll be a little more self-conscious in department stores! Thanks, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I win one of your books!JJ – I'm looking forward to hearing your stories. Thanks so much!
This is a hoot! Thanks, Lynn. And I love the idea of having other writers share their memories.
thx for the inclusion, Lynn. Loved the videos – had me lol. this is a great column. look forward to reading it.
OH my goodness! What a story!
Too funny! I remember the days!
Alicia – Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. I hope you'll share some stories with me one of these days!Louise – Thanks so much for contributing and for the support!Sharon – Yes, kids, we never know what to expect next!Susie – I remember those days, too. Now I get to watch my kids deal with it!
LOL. Louise and Sheila, I had a good time reading your stories. As a clueless parent, the lesson I got from them was "Never, never take your kids to a department store" :)Fun concept, Lynn!
*snort* That was so hilarious. That last video was a hoooooooot! Kids are unpredictable. I loved the stories. Lynn, you are one awesome chica. Sorry I haven't been by. Christmas shopping. Tree decorating and the house. I'z pooped!
I was shopping with Peanut at Target when she was about 2-ish (and super talkative). We passed the bra aisle and she yells out, "Look, mom, there are your boobies!":)Loved your post. Always enjoy a good chuckle AND good advice.
I have many, many close calls to talk about. My middle child was an escape artist explorer. I kept him on a leash as very long as possible. If not, I would have lost him! I'll regale you with stories some day!We use Gavin DeBecker's amazing book, PROTECTING THE GIFT in order to keep our kids safe. We actually teach them to talk to strangers. We teach them what kinds of people are safe to ask for help. And it's not ever anyone in a uniform. (Historically, some of the very worst kinds of power hungry people have become security officers at malls and such). We teach our kids to trust their instincts, and to find a mom with kids to ask for help from. Everyone with kids should read this book!!
Fabio – Thanks! Yes, it's always easier to shop without towing kids around!Robyn – 7 kids and all the Christmas hustle & bustle, how could you not be pooped? Thanks for stopping by!Stephanie – That's a pretty funny story. We never know when our kids are going to embarrass us. Thanks for sharing!Heather – Thanks for the heads up about Protecting the Gift. Sounds like a great book. Your hubby and you are awesome parents. I look forward to hearing your stories!
Fun post Lynn. Well, I could tell you all kinds of horrid stories. Major temper tantrums galore bringing me all kinds of looks. But there was this one time when my youngest didn't want to go in the house when we needed to. I was holding her wrist as we walked towards the door when she suddenly decided to throw herself to the ground in a fit of rage. She went down with a twist and popped her elbow out of the socket! I rushed her to the doctors and while I in the room with the doctor and my daughter I could hear my son telling the people in the waiting room how we were there because mommy pushed his sister to the ground and buster her arm. Nice. Just what I needed – a visit from Child Protective Services.
Debra – Thanks so much for sharing this story. Good thing you didn't have to deal with CPS. Kids do say the darndest things, don't they? (I loved that Art Linkletter show years ago!)