Thursday, October 06, 2011

Is it ever okay to butt in?

Do you ever think there's a good reason to butt into a situation? With family? With strangers?

Today I was shopping in a large department store. A young woman about 60 -70 feet away from me was calling out for Lily. I glanced at her--she had an infant in a carrier on her chest and was going through a rack of clothes. There was no immediacy or alarm in her voice.

After about 10 seconds I abandoned looking through the rack and turned around to see if perhaps Lily was near me. Sure enough, one aisle over, a toddler (maybe three-years old) was admiring a jewelry display. I approached and asked if she was Lily. She gave me an adorable smile and nodded. I called out to Mom that Lily was over here. Then the grandma came over took Lily's hand and walked away.

I went back to the clothing rack I'd been looking through, and another shopper caught my eye and raised her eyebrows. I told her I'd have at least thanked someone if they found my child. Her response was she'd never allow her toddler to walk away.

It ended well. Lily was reunited with her mother. Although about five minutes later I heard Mom calling for Lily again.

I left the store feeling a sense of unease. Should I have said something to Lily's mom and grandma? Nothing bad happened. But in today's world it could have. Bad things occur and change lives in a second.

A long, long time ago I was shopping with my three children -- all preschoolers. It was a stressful grocery trip. I apparently told one of my kids if they didn't behave I'd killed them. Of course that was simply an expression -- an expression borne of frustration. Have you ever shopped with three children four and under??

An older, well-meaning woman overheard me. She paused and put her hand on my cart, stopping our progress. With a light in her eye and a soft smile, she gently said, "You know, dear. They put people in prison for killing their children."

She sure stopped me dead in my tracks! I hadn't realized how irritated I'd become, and I was grateful for someone stepping in and giving me a gentle rebuke and a good chuckle.

What do you think? Does it really take a village? Should you on occasion become a buttinski?

Photo credit: jeltovski from


Bonnie Doran said...

Hi Megan. I'm usually too timid to get involved, but in one case I encouraged someone. An acquaintance was relating a scary situation a year or two ago in which her toddler went missing from the church nursery. After frantic searching, a teen from church came to her with her toddler, explaining that a stranger (whom she never saw again) had handed her the child. The mother was still distressed that her daughter had been in danger. At the Lord's prompting, I told her, "Have you considered that this stranger might have been an angel? If that was true, your daughter was always safe." She started to cry as she realized God had been watching out the whole time.

Megan DiMaria said...

What a lovely story, Bonnie. Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer K. Hale said...

Wow- this is a toughie. I think in the case you experienced, you did the right thing by helping Lily find her mom. And since Grandma was there, too, I probably would have kept my mouth shut, like you did. However, if the child was in immediate danger, it's definitely time to step in. I think we have to handle each situation individually. Crazy parents are everywhere. Several times I've wanted to call the authorities on people I've seen in a store or something and I have to stop and think, "Maybe she's stressed and shopping with three kids under the age of 4 and she's not really going to kill any of them." :)
Thought provoking post!

Megan DiMaria said...

Thanks for the vote of confidence and the chuckle, Jennifer. Have a great weekend.