Hey, Villagers? Feel Free To Pitch In. I’m Totally OK With That.

Last year, while visiting a playground home to climbing structures as tall as my house, it seemed, with a curious and fast preschooler and a baby on my hip, I had to perform superhero feats just to catch my precariously dangling 3.5 year old son before he fell from a rope ladder… all while making a conscious effort to not drop the infant.

This scene played out as 3 other mothers stood 5 feet CLOSER to my falling child, all of them without a baby of any age attached or clinging to them. All while they watched on as I reached out with my go-go-gadget arms, barely swooping him up in time. Not a one of them reached out to help before, during, or even after his near-fall.

Today, we had a late lunch/early dinner at a local Potbelly sandwich shop, just me and the kids. When I go out to eat with them by myself, I try to, when at all possible, go to places at off times because I know we will, without a doubt, make a scene. It’s just the nature of the beast right now with a nearly 4 year old who’s always testing boundaries, a 15 month old who lives for the thrill of the chase, and a mother who is always a little on edge when left alone with them.

Be sure, though, I certainly TRY not to make a scene. I TRY to keep them in line, keep them quiet, keep them from throwing food, trash, and tantrums.Β But, there is only so much I can control. When I have to divide my energy between containing the children, paying for our food, getting the food to the table, cleaning off the table, setting up a highchair, getting drinks, etc., all my efforts get a little watered down.

You know what would help that immensely? What would make my experience AND THOSE AROUND ME so, so, so much better? Some help.

I get that Potbelly isn’t the type of establishment that brings your food to your table and gets your drinks for you. But when we are one of two tables there and there are 3 employees behind the counter watching all this go down, as my 4 year old runs off to take himself to the potty and accidentally knocks a highchair on my toe? Is it too much to ask for someone, anyone to step in, take the tray from me, take my food to my table, maybe ask me if they could help with anything?

And maybe all this comes off as aΒ “I’m a parent of PRECIOUS CHILDREN and should be treated SPECIAL” whine,Β but I assure you that’s far from it. Because I really don’t want my kids to 1. get hurt and 2. to make our outings unpleasant for anyone, including those around us.

I mentioned this issue a while back on my Facebook page, and some readers noted that perhaps strangers just don’t feel comfortable intervening. That, in this day and age, people are worried about grabbing someone’s falling child for fear that the other parent doesn’t want them to interfere or touch their child. Maybe strangers at the restaurant or other employees think I don’t want… or that I’d be offended by the offer to help.

And I can understand all that. I just wish there was a way for me to project to everyone that YES, I’m am TOTALLY OK with help. I am one of the villagers who can’t keep her shit or her kids together on her own, and I would very much appreciate the help so that we can all enjoy nice things.

Maybe I should come up with a badge… or a tattoo… or just write it in Sharpie on my forehead:

“If it looks like I’m losing my mind or a child, please feel free to step in.”

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  1. YES. Amen.

    There are so many times that I’ve had that happen alone with two kids. I’ll be trying to hold the door open with one foot, get the stroller through, keep Madison from running away or into traffic and people just WATCH. Like “Look at that poor sweaty lunatic with two kids.”

    I’m also a nasty bitch so when that happens I usually shout “THANKS FOR THE HELP.” on the way out.

    Then again, I’m also one of those crazy people that is okay with other people telling my child no. If my kid takes something away from your kid, pushes, or does something inappropriate that I can’t see, I would like to delcare now to all of the people that witness it… feel free to tell her no. I mean, don’t yell at my kid or anything like that… but feel free to tell her that’s not playing nice and tell me what happened because you can bet your ass if I see some kid shove mine or take something right out of her hands I’ll do the same.

    /end rant.

  2. hahaha. This is why my kids-in-tow dining out is almost exclusively limited to Chick-Fil-A. Every single time we go there, the gracious employees bring my food over, set up the kids’ high chairs, and stick down some placemats for them. And then give me free drink refills. All without being asked. Now, if only I could get my 2 year old to come down from the top of the playland when it it’s time to go home.

    • THIS is why I can’t quit Chick-Fil-A. I would love to because I just don’t agree with their views on homosexuals on a really deep level but I’m such a convenience whore. I can’t help but love having them wheel me highchairs, bring my food, give my kids free packages of cheerios and get us all refills. It’s refreshing.

      • I don’t live anywhere near a CFA, which is probably good because I am constantly having a moral crisis over convenience vs. corporate slimeballs. We went to this hole-in-the-wall hot dog joint in Buffalo, NY called Louie’s once and the grill guy set up the highchair, brought us damp paper towels, offered to take our picture for us, and then refused to let me throw away our garbage after. I wanted to hug him.

    • YES! While I was reading about the potbelly experience, the first thought in my mind was CHICK-FIL-A! I don’t go out to eat much, but I did stop in a chick-fil-a once with my 18 month daughter and I was sooooo caught off guard by how friendly and helpful and wonderful all the employees were!

      • I agree! I don’t agree with CFA’s social views but when I need to take my 2 1/2 year old and almost 1 year old out to eat, I can’t think of a better place – for all the reasons mentioned above.

        The incident at the park just FLOORS me! I can’t imagine anyone being mad because someone stepped in and saved their child from falling. And even if the mom was mad – screw it. It was worth saving the kid from the fall.

  3. I remember that post about the playground. And honestly, ever since then I’ve been so much more aware of offering for help when I see a mom struggling. I’m a mom of 21 month old twins so I totally get how hard it is to juggle kids, regardless of how many you have. Sometimes I have my kids with me when I help, sometimes I don’t and the mom has know idea that I’m a mom and can sympathize with her plight. I’ve seen many a look of relief and gratitude just from opening a door or picking up a toy that was dropped from a shopping cart. I get why people who aren’t moms not realizing the need to help. But us? Us moms? We need to help each other.

  4. I totally agree with you. Especially when it happens that I’m out with a 2 year old, a 3 year old, my grandpa in a wheelchair and my grandma with her cane. Trying to wrangle diaper bags, purses and whatever other baggage we have at the time while making sure my kids don’t get smashed ikn heavy doors that I can’t hold open because I’m pushing the chair or run away… because I can’t let go of the chair. I love when people just stare instead of offering to help so if you figure out the badge idea… I’m so in!!

  5. While I wouldn’t stop your son from climbing I would totally stand behind him in hopes of catching him in case he falls. Especially if you’re busy with other children, however if you’re the mom who has been on her phone for 30 minutes not even bothering to keep a loose eye on her child I might think twice.

    • Yes, Brandi! I was at the playground today and these two parents were sitting and talking and not paying attention to their kids. I felt like I was a teenager again taking my campers to the playground. I believe that as parents, we need to help out one another, but that doesn’t mean we can go to public places and expect that someone else will be the babysitter.

  6. Dude, I feel ya! You should see me when I go places with my boys. One is almost 4 and is also testing boundaries, the other two are two, one of them is autistic and has a habit of squirming away and running for it (often into the street).

    We were at Michaels the other day. Why I take them out alone at all, I have no idea. I’ve paid for my stuff and am unloading them from the cart. I lower my fast runner first. (huge mistake) As I’m getting the other of my twins down, he runs past through the open store door and into the parking lot. An employee was standing right in front of the door. She so helpfully told me, “He just ran into the parking lot”, as I’m dropping my bag, losing my sh*t, and racing after him. Gee thanks lady. Seriously, why did she not stop him. He’s two! She was right there. Granted this lady has no idea that he is autistic, and has no perception of danger. Still!

  7. I totally agree! It is unbelievable that people will stand & watch as I hold my 1 year old, try to keep my 3 year old corralled & load my groceries onto the cart–all with a 6 month pregnant belly. I mean honestly–I realize that I chose this life, but c’mon. What happened to common courtesy?? On the flip side, you bet your butt I’ll offer to help whenever I can if I don’t have my kiddos with me–but I wasn’t always like that, KWIM?? What’s that theory–pay it forward & all that.
    My mom was talking about being at Target the other day & “this woman” had 4 (young) kids & was really struggling & all my mom could think was “C’mon…control your children!” I was dumbfounded. Geeze mom. Why didn’t you HELP her?? Clearly more training is needed. LOL.

  8. I’m going to chime in on the Chik Fil A love. There’s always someone there offering to take my tray to my table for me, refill our drinks, get coloring books for my kid, etc. Other than their anti-homosexual stance, they’re awesome.

  9. So, without any intention to sound condescending in the slightest, I’ll relate what my immediate thought was upon reading this post- you’d be surprised how quickly people might respond when you simply ask for the help that you need. Many times in modern society, folks will think to themselves afterward, ” I should’ve/could’ve/ wish I had helped…” but simply because the call to action wasn’t there, they don’t step in. We live in what has become a very sue-happy and emotionally distant society- but I don’t believe that it’s our nature as human beings not to help when help is needed. Next time your hands are full, and you’re overwhelmed, just ask someone to give you a hand, however awkward it may feel in the moment. I am probably the most socially awkward person out there: but I’d jump into action if given the chance. I think your faith in others might be renewed if you give it a shot. πŸ™‚

    • I totally agree that I should have asked for help. It’s just… it’s so much more socially acceptable for someone to offer it, you know? I know, lame excuse.

    • I second this. I absolutely wouldn’t refuse to carry a tray if asked, but I’d definitely be unlikely to just step in without being asked – unless a child was running into a road or something.

      • To clarify, I was mainly irritated at the EMPLOYEES for not stepping in. And I honestly think that if it’s so slow that 3 of them could congregate and chat it up behind the counter, all while they watched me struggle, they should have offered to help, whether or not I asked for it. It’s that whole customer service thing.

  10. I’ve made it a point when I walk into my church to throw my bags at the first person I see so they can help me get these heathens to the nursery. I swear, these kids have me beat and I will take all the help I can get. And what is with people not opening doors for a mom pushing a stroller? Or sighing because we are taking to long to make it through said door? Geez, people. Oh, and another thing kinda off subject…How can my 5 year old see me carrying my purse, diaper bag, and his brother and try to hand me his cup/trash/book because it’s “too heavy”?

  11. I love the fact I work at gymboree and we are a kid and parent/grandparent/family friendly establishment. As a parent of an almost three year old and my kid throws himself in the middle of kroger I wish someone would help me. At work, I love to help parents make their lives a little easier and understand.

    More kid friendly food establishments needed not just for children appetites and palates.

  12. As a dad in those situations, I can tell you its no better for us. What’s worse than being ignored is stared at like a circus freak let out the cage unsupervized.

    Sir, where is your wife? Does she know you are here with a child by yourself?

    But I will admit, on recent plane trip with our two-year old (aka, the trip to hell and back) a nice strange man offered to play with our tantrum-riddled kid while her parents breathed into brown paper bags.

    I don’t care if turns out to be a mass murder, he helped!

    The flight attendants could not have paid us less attention other than to remind us to keep our seat belts buckled. EFF YOU!

    • Dude. I can’t imagine. See, my husband has infinitely more patience than I do, so he never seems to need the help in public, but yeah… no fun for either sex. And your airplane stories are killing me. I snorted at your last comment.

    • I was on a long plane ride 2 years ago to TX. I was 6 months pregnant and carrying my 20-month old in my lap. I packed snacks, games, toys, even made her a new busy book and she was just a squirmy mess. A woman across the aisle AND up a row said “here, hon, let me help!”. She held her, let her rifle thru her purse, put “nail polish” (liquid eyeshadow) on, and shared her snacks. The flight back was just as great. Not one person was rude when my daughter cried in boredom- they spoke kindly and helped keep her occupied. I love southern hospitality!!!
      Here in Utah, most moms (of 12-15 kids no less) EXPECT others to help. My husband sells cars and you’d fall over at the stories of kids climbing around in $100,000 sports cars and parents sitting them on motorcycles to try to keep them still. Yikes!
      I am all for people offering my kids discipline when they need it, and I have thrown both kids under my arms and dragged them out screaming. You can’t always control them, but it’s showing you are trying that counts. Jill- you’re awesome :))

  13. I’m with the other moms with the door holding. I have 15 month old twins and have gone in to get Chinese takeout and walked in with a baby strapped to my chest and one in the stroller and none of the 3 employees offerend to help open the door when I left. The other question is where the heck is the handicap button to open the doors these days. The outdoor main street shopping idea is great but not when trying to push a tandem stroller.

    I’m a teacher and often I think I over step boundaries because I’m used to correcting other people’s kids on a daily basis. But when a child is in danger, like running into a street, someone should help out. For most of us pride is out the window when your child is running into danger.

  14. Make a shirt. Sell it on your website (people will buy it, you will make money!) and COUNTLESS children will be saved from playground accidents! πŸ˜‰ I’m usually the one on the playground keeping an eye on EVERYBODY’s kids and wondering, “Where did all the PARENTS go, and why am I the one making sure nobody gets hurt and people are getting along?”

  15. You know what gets to me? When I am dangling a baby on my hip, trying to keep hold of my toddler, keep my preschooler in tow all the while keeping my son close by. Then I go to open a door and (for obvious reasons) I struggle. Then some IDIOT stands by, watching me struggle and says, “Boy, you’ve got your hands full.” OH MY GOODNESS!! I generally want to smack that person.

  16. I don’t have kidlets yet and I’m so afraid of stepping on toes by helping out. I was in Target the other day and this little one had her hand on the floor and was about to get her hand ran over by a cart and I said “Watch out. There’s a little one down.” to the guy pushing the cart. He was thankful I stopped him, but the Mom of the kid who was looking at clothes like fifteen feet away from her toddler gave me this mean look. I was like “Whatever.”

    But I don’t want to intervene where it’s not wanted or offend anyone. So it’s like this fine line that others aren’t sure if you should cross.

    If I ever see you out and about in DFW struggling though, I’ll make sure to help out!

  17. disenchantedsl sarah on

    I help, I try as much as possible, I say no, I say “don’t fall and hurt yourself, maybe you should stop doing that”, I pick up toys in the street, I try stop peoples kids crying when they’re trying to converse/ pay at the till, u offer my place to the pregnant. Most of the time I get a dirty look, sometimes I feel like I’m intruding, but sometimes I get a thankyou, which is why I still do it, and is hope someone would help me when I have kids. But then again, this is England, we’re mainly rude and stand-offish and miserable…

  18. Aww Iknow that feeling. But I also agree with Kimberly: you need to practice asking for help. In’t it a bit like us expecting our husbands to be mindreaders? And also, partly, (sorry for going a bit deep here…) feeling unworthy of help you have to ask for? Because I don’t get that you feel like you have the right to be helped from this post, just that you wish people would help you. Asking for help with kids (or anything) seems to be such a taboo these days, just like we have to seem to have it all together, know what we’re doing, have the housework done, earn a decent income, spend 24/7 with the kids but also spend lots of romantic quality time alone with your spouse…

    Whenever I feel like this I look at my aunt. She has twin boys and even before that, when she used to babysit my brother & I, she just had this way about her. She asks for help (politely), doesn’t rspond to any snotty/condescending looks, and just goes for it. Sure, people might be a little annoyed sometimes by some boisterous boys, but really? Since when have we as a society decided we can no longer engage in polite interactions to let people know we need help/they’re inconvenciencing us/what they just said hurt our feelings/etc. We’re all supposed to be mind-readers!

    Okay, rant over. I just think that asking for help – practice practice practice – would be a great investment for your own sanity. It might not feel so awkward after you’ve tried it a couple of times.

  19. All I have to say is that you must really at least APPEAR like you have it together. Because when I walk around with my almost-2-year-old, I ALWAYS get help. No matter where I am. Someone opens the door for me, or helps me calm down my midget, or in one case of a particularly sweet waitress, she held my over-friendly toddler while I got us ready to leave!
    Sidenote: I live in Louisiana, and moved here from Arkansas and it was the same both places. I must just really look like need some serious help! Haha!

  20. I work in the service industry and see disasters like this all the time. 90% of the toodlers that come in are well behaved, sitting in their chair, not throwing food. While I don’t doubt that you’re trying your best with your children, but maybe until they’re well behaved enough you need to avoid the single parent outings. Whatever happened to the “behave or we leave” and then ACTUALLY leave? I’m not judging your parenting or telling you how to raise your children, but if your kids can’t act appropriately then they need to stay the eff home and not be rewarded by eating out.

    • Uhm, no. My child is a child, not a freaking lepper. I’m not going to just “avoid” outings with him until he behaves perfectly 100% of the time. It’s not “rewarding” him, it’s feeding him. When I’m single-momming it and working on a deadline, sometimes the only way my kids are going to eat is if I get someone else to cook the food… someone at a SANDWICH shop, not a 5 star restaurant. Actually leaving sometimes makes more of a scene than addressing the situation.And how is he supposed to learn to behave in public if he never goes out in public? I’d argue that there are adults in public who behave as bad or worse than toddlers and they’re never told to “stay the eff home.” Also, it’s not that he misbehaved the whole time we were there, it’s just that going out to eat with 2 kids, with one parent OR two, is mostly chaotic.

    • I wish I knew where you worked. If it was anywhere near me I’d be sure to visit on your shift and bring all my single mom (husbands are deployed) friends and their kids with me. YOU try parenting solo, while working and (for some of my friends) going to school, then see how much free time and energy you have to cook every friggin’ day.

      • So I guess for me this means I never take my child anywhere to eat since I am a full time working single mom? Sometimes the only way to get dinner in him before 8pm is to let someone else cook it. No one is saying toddlers should be dining in a 5 star restaurant, but to say that until they can sit silently they should “stay the eff home” is ignorant! I agree with Jill, how will they learn? And just to clarify if my son acts out significantly, he is warned and then we leave if his actions don’t improve. If you really work at a restaurant where 90% of toddlers are angels, I want to know what sedative they are putting in the food!

    • We can’t “stay the eff home”. We have groceries to shop for, prescriptions to fill, drycleaning to pick up, and go out to eat occasionally. How the eff are we supposed to manage a household if we need to be in seclusion on a challenging day? We all have not-so-good days, children and adults and I’ve seen as much poor behavior with adults as with kids.
      I have also worked in the service industry and I don’t feel so great about myself when we’ve gone out to eat and my kids have made a considerable mess. I clean what I can and tip extra. I do ask for help and when it’s offered without being asked, it makes my day.
      Stay the eff home, wtf…

    • Oh for fuck’s sake.

      “I’m not judging your parenting or telling you how to raise your children, but if your kids can’t act appropriately then they need to stay the eff home and not be rewarded by eating out.”

      You 100% ARE telling her how to raise her children.

      Eating out isn’t a reward…. sometimes it’s JUST HOW DINNER GETS SERVED.

      I have arguably one of the BEST behaved 2.5 year olds I’ve ever seen but she can still be a complete handful because she is TWO.

      Clearly you have no experience with children. You want to know how they learn to be well behaved in public? BY TAKING THEM OUT IN PUBLIC AND MAKING MISTAKES. And I’m sorry, if I’ve paid for my food I’m not leaving unless my kid has thrown themselves on the floor in a screaming fit.

      If they’re just being a normal kid that has to be told no and likes to test boundaries? Not a chance in Hell am I leaving until I’ve finished what I came there to do.

    • You need a reality check lady! In what world do you live in where children act like adults????? I hope you eat your words one day…….You stay the eff home!

  21. Jaime MacFall on

    Maybe there could be a hat or diaper bag that says “I’m not one of those moms who will judge you for getting to close to my kids”

    Just yesterday I was waiting in line at the IRS to deal with taxes and a woman came in with a 3 year old and a 5 month old. While she was feeding the 5 month old, the 3 year old wandered off and started playing with various forms (quietly and rather enjoyable I might add) but she was yelled at by a security guard to “control her children” so she left the 5 month old in the stroller, took her bottle with her and started to chase down the 3 year old.

    The 5 month old started to cry because she wasn’t don’t feeding so I gave her a little pat and started making funny faces at her to cheer her up, I would have even offered to finish feeding her if I thought it was appropriate but when the mom returned she gave me the MEANEST stink eye and rolled her stroller an additional 10′ away least I try to soothe her baby again.

    In summary, a few greedy moms who want their children’s adorable temper tantrums all to themselves are ruining it for the rest of us!

  22. I have saved a baby from almost falling out of a cart – the mom was unloading her stuff onto the belt & baby was in the seat. She tried to stand up & nearly went over the handle head-first.

    I’ve grabbed a child that was running gleefully away from an obviously frazzled mom, & waited patiently while she came to retrieve him.

    I’m no stranger to helping out – because honestly, I’ve been there, & it is a Godsend when someone steps up. I’ve only occasionally gotten an ugly look or a snotty attitude, but I always retort with, “Well, then next time I’ll let the little one run into the street/fall on her head/get run over in the aisle”. Their tone instantly changes once they leave the “you-were-going-to-snatch-my-child” mode & realize that I was only trying to help.

    I think moms (& dads) in today’s society have been brainwashed into believing that EVERYONE is trying to kidnap their precious offspring, when in reality, kidnappings are relatively rare & usually perpetrated by people known to the family. Plus, I’m not going to grab your kid within your sight & attempt to take off with him! While kidnapping IS a legitimate threat, I think we as parents have been falsely hyper-sensitized to it – to the point that a stranger (even another mother) is perceived as a threat.

  23. I didn’t read the other responses so maybe this is redundant — but I think the problem is with our culture today. We are so closed off from everyone around us that no one would even think to just run over and help you. It isn’t even just a motherhood thing. If there was an elderly man trying to get his tray to his table and obviously struggling I think he would experience the same thing. We have been conditioned to stay out of each others space, Kinda sad.

  24. Last week, I was pushing the stroller with the 2.5 year old in it while wearing the newborn in a ring sling. The toddler has taken to hating the seatbelt in the stroller, so sometimes, rather than fight with her, I just let her sit, unbuckled.

    We crossed the street near home and as we were wheeling up onto the curb, the front tire caught momentarily and with the force of my pushing as we rushed to beat the light, it was enough to send her FLYING forward, sailing out of the stroller and right onto her face on the concrete.

    I had bags hanging on the back of the stroller so when her counterweight suddenly disappeared, the entire stroller came crashing back onto the ground as I rushed around it, confused newborn strapped to my chest, to try to comfort my now screeching and wailing toddler while being unable to pick her up or easily or quickly to comfort her.

    All of a sudden, out of nowhere, a passerby swooped in, picked up my crying snotty toddler, and hugged her close. “It’ll be ok, kiddo. It’ll be ok!” and then to me, “It’s ok, mama. Grab that stroller and make sure that little one is ok. I got this one.”

    Normally, I’m a little ehhhhh when strangers touch my kids or try to pick them up, but in this moment? I’ve never been more grateful. It takes a village, indeed. Even one made up of random passerby.

  25. This is interesting to me, I recently moved to Chicago (about a year ago in fact) from Germany with my now 4 year old (Although I am British originally). We lived in Germany for 3 years and I found that people were more than willing to help out or talk to my son. In fact when we first moved to Germany I was traveling from the U.S. alone with a 9 month old, when the plane landed a lovely older German lady carried my son for me while I was organizing and attempting to lug around all of the inevitable traveling gear we had after the 9 hour flight. I was beyond grateful.

    Here in Chicago I’ve noticed that it really depends on the neighbourhood as to whether someone will offer help. I live in a neighbourhood with a high immigrant population, and the people around here stop and chat to my 4 year old, ask me if I need help when I look frazzled and our local Greek grocery store often give him a small piece of candy or pieces of pastry from the bakery on our way out. A lady who only spoke Portuguese helped me by holding my son up so I could pull out his foot after he missed his footing and got his leg stuck on one of the climbing things at our local playground. I certainly don’t expect the help but it is lovely when offered, and I do make sure to pass it on when I see someone else who needs it (I’ve helped carry more than my fair share of strollers up the stairs in our old, no elevator, apartment building). So I can’t help but wonder if it’s an American cultural thing?

  26. Panera Bread is alsp awesome – they will give me a table number and bring my food to me. I heart them for that (and that crazy delicious broccoli cheese soup)

  27. I see this behavior on the bus all the time, a young mom wearing an infant, struggles onto the bus with her toddler in a stroller. People not only don’t offer to help lift the stroller up the steep steps of the bus, they grumble & complain because they’re told they need to move to the rear to make room.

    Can’t understand anybody not reacting to save a 3 yr old from a nasty fall, but then I’m the type of person who recently ran into the middle of the street in my bathrobe to stop a neighbor’s 2 yr old from going into the road after a lost ball.

  28. I never really understood the need for drive-thrus until I had my son. It was like they were designed for parents with young children. No need to hassle with unloading and loading kids into and out of the car. Juggling highchairs and food and drinks can be insane. Add that to the Oregon rain that can make being outdoors done right miserable.

    When I moved back to Oregon from LA,it was amazing how much more helpful people were in Oregon. It may be due to the older population in the area that I live in now. I have found people that are grandparent-age are much more helpful than those of other ages.

  29. I went to Wal-Mart when I was a new mom (alone! wow!) and saw a little girl standing in the aisle crying. I knelt down and asked her if she was lost and if she wanted me to walk with her so we could find her family and she nodded yes. An older man saw this and he found her mom who was a couple of aisles away, so I walked with the girl until she was reunited with her mother. I smiled and waved at the mom, who glared at me and scolded the child for wandering. I was heartbroken (and hormonal), but the gentleman thanked me and told me that I did the right thing. I explained that I had a newborn and the mom instinct just kicked in. I am not deterred from continuing my good deeds though, I know that I would want someone to calm down my lost child and hold the door for me. I know our society is scared of being sued and worries about making others eel patronized (Another awesome story: I was at a coffee shop and a woman spilled her cup on the sugar & creamer bar, so I grabbed some napkins and she snapped “I can clean up my own mess!” Yikes.). But, hopefully, those of us who don’t mind the possible rude glances and comments will keep doing good and karma will begin to do its magic.

  30. Heh. Yeah, I’m one of the “afraid to intervene because some parents are batshit crazy and will yell at you for saying something to their precious child.” Unless it’s a dangerous situation, in which case I will grab that child in a heartbeat.

  31. I completely agree.

    However, I did have someone chime in just last week and it wasn’t quite the help I needed.

    My 2 and 3 year old were with me on a trip to the store for groceries. It was one of the stores that gives away free cookies but I prefer not to let my kids snack on those, and I don’t want them expecting a cookie every time we walk in the door of our local supermarket.

    My 2 year old started throwing a tantrum about something (we have tantrums every 2.5 seconds, so who knows what this one was about). I ignored him and kept pushing the cart through the aisles. I had 2 more things to grab and then we were ready for the checkout!

    This older lady walks up to him and says, “Why are you so sad? I think you need a cookie!” I responded with, “Thanks, we are ok though.” Her response- “Go get him a cookie. You want a cookie, don’t you? Tell your mommy to get you a cookie. ” At this point, now my two year old is screaming for a damn cookie and I am trying to get to the checkout. We keep walking away and the whole time, the freaking lady is yelling down the aisle- “He needs a cookie! Get him a cookie!”

    REALLY?!? I understand her initial desire to help but when I say no, I mean no and it’s still MY KID. Sigh. So, maybe all help isn’t good. πŸ™‚

    • We get this kind of “help” a lot and we also don’t let our kids had sweets/candy and things like cookies, cupcakes, etc, except for special treats like birthdays. I point blank tell people that we don’t give them sweets, and one time I had to lie and say that they had an allergy so that the person would stop pushing.

  32. I completely know this feeling, and the entire time the on-lookers are staring at me struggling with my kid (now kids), I can feel my anxiety rising. I have been known to look them straight in the face and say “you can help me if you want!” They usually look or move away from us! I wish someone would actually step in. Help only happens in a place like Chick-Fil-A known for their type of service. Next time (if there is one!) maybe ask for help, see what happens? I think people on the other side might be nervous to assist too, as you mentioned. When I’m faced with seeing a mom who needs help, I am wary to offer assistance. But then again, I so rarely go anywhere without my kids, my hands are usually too full with my two to be of any help anyway!

  33. For the record, I would totally step in…and I have. Especially when I’m picking up the kid from daycare and they are just down to one teacher and there goes that kid again climbing a bookcase. It’s instinctual for me. I help. And I think it’s because I would want someone to help me. I say go with tattoo. I’ll take one too πŸ˜‰

  34. uhmhmmmm…..i must admit that i am the villiger and i have been scorned for it at times. I openly and freely offer a hand OFTEN. Maybe because i am a mother of 3 who often finds herself outnumbered and overwhelmed. I grew up in a communkity where the motto “It takes a villiage” was litterally the MOTTO when it came to kids. I have no problem stopping what i am doing to give a helping hand or an incouraging word. I just wish more people thought like i did because it is very rare that when i am out with my 3 rough and tumble boys that anyone offers a hand or even a kind word. I mostly get slant eye looks and whispers. But if karma is still alive and well then i should be recieving a payment in the near future πŸ™‚

  35. This made me laugh out loud. In a ‘I’m-not-laughing’ kind of way. My husband is finishing his degree, and I’m often toting our 8,4, and 20-month old by myself. I am continuously amazed at how many people treat you like you DO have rabies when you have three children out and about by yourself. Especially in restaurants or retail spaces. Those people are probably thinking ‘She’s the mom. She had 3 kids, and she should be able to take care of them herself’. They fairly exude those vibes. Well, not that I disagree, because I SHOULD be able to balance a tray of food while holding said infant on opposite hip, while holding door open with oposite ankle so 4 year old can enter while 8 year old is too busy chasing bugs or picking his nose or poking sister to be much help. But I totally CAN’T do it sometimes (without a few choice words and angry glares at my children) I agree- give a momma a hand!!!!! I’ll do the same for you!

  36. Hi Jill, I just saw this post and I’d really like to follow up with you about it. At Potbelly our top priority is to serve delicious food with world-class customer service, so we feel badly to hear that one of our shops missed an opportunity to help you out! Would you be willing to email me at speakerofthehouse@potbelly.com and let me know which shop you visited and at what time? We’d really appreciate the feedback so we can coach our team through ways to make our customers really happy.

    Janet Nowlin
    Speaker of the House
    Potbelly Sandwich Shop

  37. Sharpie on the forehead for sure. As a non-parent I fall into that maybe I will offend the parent group. I would like to think that I would try to help a face-planting child, but anything else and I’m likely to be trying to stay out of it – dropped sock, tossed toy, running child. Mostly because I feel like if I jump in and do what I think is helpful the parent will think I am correcting their child/lifestyle/whatever and it will become an issue. Heck I would barely feel that it was my place to do that with my sister in law’s kids and I know her!

  38. I was under the impression that most parents help other parents out until my little one fell at the park. I was 5 months pregnant with my now 18 month old and my oldest at that time was almost 3. I also had my 7 year old niece visiting. The girls were playing at the park when my oldest fell on a ladder, she missed a step. Blood was immediately everywhere. I grabbed her and at the same time searched for something to clean her with and assess her. I was fumbling as she was hysterical and honestly a bloody mess. Several people stared, no one did a thing. My niece finally found some wipes for me and helped me out. When we got in the car my niece was the one to question why no one helped. My oldest ended up with stitches under her lip, she stuck her top two teeth completely through the bottom part of her lip out to her skin. In my opinion she had a right to be more then hysterical, ouch!!

  39. I completely agree that it’s likely a product of our overly careful society. I see people all the time watching me, even giving me pitying looks when one of the four are having a complete whack attack in public, but nobody dares to offer a helping hand. Trust me – you’re not offending me when you ask if I need help. What part of a screaming baby, two mischievous preschool aged boys and a naturally curious two-year-old girl communicates that I need anything but help? Haha

  40. Pingback: Helping Hands « themamabeth's Blog

  41. I completely agree. I am always glad for someone to step in and stop my 2-year old from getting too far out of reach if he breaks free when we are out, and I’m always thankful for a kind stranger to make funny faces at my 7-month old to distract him if he is fussy or crying. I try to extend that courtesy to other moms if I’m out somewhere by myself because I know I’d be appreciative. Even something as simple as talking to a kid while their mother checks out at the store without having to deal with an endless stream of “Mommy! Mommy! Mommy!” is exceedingly helpful.

  42. Emily at Tales of Fruit and Cake on

    I hear you. What I find super ironic about what your saying is LOCATION. I live in suburban Maryland… Similar to the fast pased, no nicey-nice, every man for himself of NOVA I believe you are from. But every time I’m on a playground or in a restaurant I’m surprised by strangers helping me. Random mommies on the offering to help my 4 year old slide down the fireman’s pole, or push my 2 year old on the swing. In Panera the staff carries my food to my table without me asking. Because they see me with 4, 2 and a new baby…. I dunno, maybe it’s just that I seem like such a mess that I get the benefit of a lot of pity.

    I do find it odd that in the south you don’t see more friendly help being dolled out by strangers. I went to school in the south and it certainly seemed that there was a better ‘help out your fellow man’ vibe.

  43. I’ll never forget the ONE time I was in Target when someone helped me. I was with my three girls, who were at that time, 3, 21 months and 2 months. I had the baby in the bjorn, the 21 month-old in the front of the carriage and the 3 year-old in the big part of the carriage. i was attempting to get my food shopping done for the week and basically on the verge of tears b/c it was absolutely insane with the three of them that day and a cart full of household needs/groceries. The baby started crying b/c she was hungry so I was running the carriage to the checkout lane, when my oldest daughter decided to stand up in the back of the carriage and immediately started to flip over the front onto the floor. Another mom, with her two older kids, came flying out from the side of me, grabbed my daughter and caught her, then placed her down gently next to me. I completely expected a lecture on how I shouldn’t allow my children in the back of the carriage like that and I shouldn’t be moving a carriage that fast with children in it in general and, instead, she looked at me with sympathetic eyes and said, “sweetie, we’ve all been there.” i really REALLY wish i had gotten her name b/c it was the single nicest stranger moment i’ve ever encountered while being out with my girls over the last 5 years. i had tears in my eyes from the notion that someone helped me, rather than got upset. i would send this woman christmas gifts every year if i knew who she was. THOSE MOMENTS LAST FOREVER. πŸ™‚

  44. I have experienced the frustrated kid who wants to swing or get on the horsies while I wrestle with another child πŸ™‚ There was a kind lady who helped and this made me feel OK about helping one of her kids into a swing. I totally had that thought of her thinking I was trying to take her kid or be creepy or something, and of course you don’t hang around the kid or constantly follow him and stuff like that….that’s creepy πŸ™‚ Even if thats your fear (men/boys) helping with a tray or high chair would be a non threatening way to help a mother out.

  45. I agree completely! I have no problem catching a falling child or helping a mom because dear Lord I have so been there in every way. I have a four year old boy and a 3 1/2 month old boy. My four year old is a dare devil with absolutely no fear…and because of raising him I am kind of desensitized from what normal children do. My response to most injuries is “Is he bleeding? Is it broken? Is he unconscious?” No to all three? he’s fine. However, I am always grateful to those that offer their assistance! I also have the utmost respect for those ladies who are not afraid to set my kid straight if he is doing something that he knows is wrong but that I cannot or had not seen it.
    I know about people that get all bent out of shape that you took it upon yourself to help them or their child. Once I was in the Wal-mart parking lot going to my car when a family was going in. The mother was herding two boys with a little girl on her hip and the father was walking behind with another boy throwing a tantrum. She turned back to offer her two cents to the father and one of the boys ran like hell into the street and in front of an on coming car. I dropped my bag and grabbed the boy around his chest/waist with one arm. (All while being 8 1/2 mo. pregnant!) The mother FLIPPED OUT and started screaming that I was trying to abduct her baby. I was like, wtf? Really? I have a four year old of my own..why on earth would I want another one? I hide from my own all the time. lol. Anyway, I put the boy down and said, “Your welcome”, gathered my bag of crap and went on my way. The father ran after me and apologized (and thanked me) I graciously accepted his apology because I know what it’s like to have to apologize for people (i.e. My crazy mother.) but I was distressed that a mother would automatically assume that I would snatch her kid from the path of a car while being hugely pregnant just to make off with him. Psh. Regardless, I’d probably do it again.

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