You don’t go to an auto mechanic and then ask them to repair your back porch. You don’t hire an interior decorator and then ask them to write your dissertation. You don’t hire an exterminator and ask him to bake you a pie. So why do people think that every place they go is in the childcare business?
I was shopping at the local Kid 2 Kid with my dear wife and the sprout yesterday, and came across this sign:
Let me first say that this is not a rip on Kid 2 Kid. I love that store. It’s the sharknado run over sideways. If you are a parent, or are about to be a parent, and you aren’t independently wealthy, and you have one of these stores in your area, you owe it to yourself to check it out. I imagine that if you visit the store a couple of times over a period of a month or so you could furnish an entire nursery, including clothing, for your little one for… I dunno, fifty bucks? Okay, that’s an exaggeration, but this store is awesome. Shameless plug over.
I say that to say this. Read that sign, then read the subtext. Signs of this ilk are Darwinism at work. They do not exist naturally in the wild. They exist as a response to a specific stimulus; specifically, these signs only appear when people do dumb things to prevent people from doing the same dumb thing in the first place. The same principle that gives us “CAUTION: HOT!” on the side of a McDonald’s coffee.
So the subtext is obviously that parents, rabid and delirious from the insane deals in this store (seriously, GO, see for yourself), are abandoning their kids to play in the toy section while the parents themselves purchase a new changing table, baby sling, crib and stroller for, oh, whatever they have in their pockets at the moment. Now, I’m not mad at you because you got distracted by the flashing lights and spinning propellers on the sweet, sweet deals. I’m mad at you because you left your kid unattended in public. Let’s count the ways in which this is offensive.
1. It ain’t the fifties anymore. Call me an alarmist, but my wife works in the news and she sees these stories every day. EVERY. DHARMA. DAY. An unattended child gets snatched and is never seen again. The world we live in is not the same world we used to live in. The internet has made it okay for the creepy crawlies to come out of their holes and pretend that it’s okay for them to like kids, so they are seeking kids out. So you went out in a public place — a store, no less, a crowded place where it’s perfectly normal for folks to have screaming kids — and your kid wasn’t surgically grafted to your side? Are you insane?
2. Your kid is not an angel. I know. His grandparents adore him to death, and his aunts and uncles say he’s just the sweetest thing ever. But you know and I know that that is not the truth. Given half a chance, even an eighth of a chance, your kid will take crayons to the walls, grab the hair of the nearest kid and lead them around like a yip-dog, smash the most expensive thing he can find, and then try to eat the itty-bitty pieces of plastic and chemicals. Keep an eye on him, and keep him from doing all that sharknado.
3. Looking after your kid is not anybody else’s job until you pay them to do it. Grandparents and generous aunts and uncles aside, no matter how cute your kid may be, nobody wants to watch it for you. They just don’t. If you want them to do so, then you have to compensate them for their time, trouble, and discomfort. That’s called an ECONOMY, a component of a functioning SOCIETY. Kroger, Wal-Mart, the fargoing Sizzler — the employees of these places are neither trained nor paid to either look out for the safety of, nor to clean up after, your rugrat. But you’re going to go on around the corner anyway and just trust that the pimple-faced dude earning minimum wage will save your kid if the unthinkable happens? Just leave some poor sap to clean up the mountain of canned peas your sprout knocked over because you couldn’t be bothered? DO YOUR JOB AND WATCH THE KID.
Okay, I didn’t get very far in this list, but I have to stop, because I feel my blood pressure bubbling up. Do I need to list all the reasons why this sign shouldn’t exist, why it shouldn’t have to hang in a store or anywhere for that matter?
Okay. Deep breath. Let’s return to sanity with the sporadic revival of the Favorite Passage from Today’s Writing Session:
The night really had gone wrong in every way imaginable. Lexi tried not to remind herself that she had warned herself against the prospect of meeting with Andy at all. She tried to forget that she had told herself explicitly that she might end up bound and gagged at the end of the night if she went to a strange man’s house and that that was exactly what had happened, albeit under entirely different circumstances than she had imagined. Still, she didn’t feel any anger towards Andy, and she couldn’t really put her finger on why. When he glanced at her with apologetic eyes, she returned his glance with a sympathetic smile. It hadn’t been his fault, really, that things had gone the way they had.
And my ego-writer is pointing out that the Id-Writer slapped the word “really” into that paragraph like I use spackle to fill the holes in the walls of my house: artlessly, shabbily, and with neither an ounce of finesse nor a care for the way it will be perceived. Ah, well, that’s what edits are for.