Stuck at Sears and Followed by a Rude Stranger

Blast from the past: Here’s a post from several years back, when Boy was a rambunctious three-year old and Girl was a rambunctious baby.

On Being Stuck at Sears and Followed by a Rude Stranger

My plans for Wednesday morning: hang out with M__ and N___, who will be moving to Cambridge all too soon.

 My car’s plans for Wednesday morning: produce for my enjoyment a dead battery and alternator.

 It was too late to call the car dealership, which is an easy 10‑minute bus ride away. Alas, I wasted twenty minutes on the phone trying to get through, then felt rejected because no one wanted to talk to me. So I decided to spend “a half hour” at Sears.

 Oh, sorry, I meant to say “two and a half hours.” Yep, that’s how long it took before I was outta there. What exactly do you do with two small children for two and a half hours at Sears? I found a long, narrow hall and let Boy run down it, then clapped as he reached the end ‑‑ but after four or five times, he was done. We hung out in the women’s sitting room, but then Girl played the “I want to touch the outlet cover” game, and Boy followed suit. We had lunch, and Girl played the game of “I don’t want pizza, crackers, or water, no, no, no! I want pizza! Please put me down, I want to be picked up!” while Boy played the game of “feed Girl,” which is okay as long as Girl wants to eat but turns into my game of “Mommy sits between the two children” after that.

 In the middle of all this, Boy ran around a corner and I followed, leaving Girl by the stroller. Not the sort of thing I would normally do. Then I heard a man say, “Excuse me!”

 I grabbed Boy and returned to the stroller. “Yes?” I said.

 “You need to be watching your baby!”

 “I was,” I said.

 “No, you weren’t. You were behind the corner. Somebody could grab her and run!”

 “Thank you,” I said, in a firm conversation‑ending tone, then shepherded the kids out of Sears to get lunch.

 The man followed me!

 He sat at a table facing mine throughout the whole lunch. I watched him while pretending not to, ready to yell for help if he approached, because any way you slice it, that would have been a really aggressive thing to do. Fortunately, he finished lunch, went out to the parking lot, and drove away.

 Was he a scary creep or just a jerk? I don’t know, but overall, I’m creeped out.

 So . . . where exactly is the balance between letting your kids roam at will, and attaching them to you with a tot‑leash? If I let Boy run down the aisle at the supermarket, might someone grab him and run? What if I let Girl play in the wood chips at the park while I go down the slide with Boy? Et cetera? 


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