I had the pleasure of having the police called while at Walmart.

Melissa - posted on 06/23/2011 ( 38 moms have responded )

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A few weeks ago, I was at Walmart with my 3 year old boy, we had spent a long time there. We did a little shopping, put our items in the car, and we went back in to see the optometrist. After we were done with the optometrist my mother wanted me to pick up a few food items for her while I was there. On our way to the food section of the store, my son ran off, while looking for him I quickly finished shopping. I looked all over the store thinking that he was some where near by. I was at the check out lane looking for him when I got a page to pick up my son at customer service, thank god someone found him. The gal said that she found him going in and out of the car, I thought good for him he went to the car so I would know where to find him.
When we got out to the car and put the food in the car, I got stopped by the police due to complaints about a child left unattended in the car. Oh crap, thanks kid. Thank good I'm good and have no warrents or priors. I found out the reason he went out to the car was because he knew their were toys in the car we just bought. He had opened them all.
Later that day I got a visit from CPS thanks to all the calls about him being left unattended in the car an I was labeled neglectful. I got chewed out for not going to customer service to help me locate him, or that some one could have walked out with him.
In our area the Walmart is not in a strip mall, its just a stand alone building. I went back to the Walmart and told the gal what happened and I thanked her for bringing him into the store to locate me, instead of all the other people that just called the police and created more problems for me. If I see a child in a parking lot unattended that is what I would do if I could not see their parents. Please think about this next time your at the store and see this happening. You could save some parent the pain of people over reacting.

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[deleted account]

Melissa, I’m not gonna criticize the fact that he got away from you because it can happen quickly with a child, especially a curious, active toddler. But I don't think you sound worried enough. Here's what I would do if my son (3, soon to be 4) somehow got out of my sight. There would be a quick moment where I would call his name and scan every detail of my immediate area for him. If he didn't respond or I didn't immediately find him, then the cart and any shopping would be abandoned, probably with my purse still in it, while I searched for my son. Everyone around me would know that I was looking for my son, his name, what he was wearing and I'd stop everything and keep looking until I found him. And if, by some chance, he'd made it all the way back to the car? I'd probably pass out from the fear of thinking of what could have happened, with him being such a little boy wandering in a dangerous parking lot. I've only been in two car accidents in my life and both of them were in Wal Mart parking lots from people not paying attention. If they don't see my 3,000 pound car, what makes you think they're gonna see your 40 pound child? No offense, but your son (and you) got lucky that all you have to deal with are some questions from the authorities. You could be dealing with much worse, like a missing, injured or dead child. How does that possibility not scare the crap out of you?

[deleted account]

Several things here worry me to be honest
I agree with the other mother that it is NOT good for him to go out to the car - a child running around and playing in a parking lot IS VERY DANGEROUS!! He is BELOW the sight line of drivers who could easily hit him!

Also I am worried that when separated your son did not a)stay put! or b) look for a store employee or police officer

Finally I am worried that you seem to not "worry" about your three year old running loose in a store. He could've broken things, stole things, gotten himself hurt (imagine him in the garden tools section!).

I do not think the people who called the police and CPS were out of line in the least.

Amanda - posted on 06/25/2011

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Cant believe you were more upset that he opened the toys in the car than you were of him being lost. I think that this is not the first time this has happened and maybe he should be taken away from you. Bad, just a bad reaction.

Jane - posted on 06/24/2011

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The few times my kids got away from me I was in a total panic, leaving my cart, and searching for them. I still remember the way I felt, as if I couldn't breathe. I, too, wondered about the lack of concern.

And I must say, Wal-Mart is not a safe place. In our town the men's room tends to be a hangout for pedophiles and guys have been arrested for messing with lone children in there.

I used to work in a museum and I once found a first-grader by himself in the parking lot. He told me he wanted to go home to see his mommy so he left the building. And nobody saw him go. It was sheer chance that I found him.

Since we had a number of first grade classes visiting that day I assumed he belonged with one of those groups. But which one? He could tell me his first name but not his last, he could tell me that his teacher was called "Miss" but he didn't know her name, and he didn't know the name of his school.

Fortunately, we had a public address system so I could describe his clothing. Two different teachers finally showed up, both missing a little boy. One student turned out to be in the men's room, and my find turned out to be the other teacher's missing student.

This child was six and could barely give me any information. Imagine how little a three yo could say. And imagine how far either of those kids could have gotten.

Olivia - posted on 06/24/2011

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I have to say that i have a 3 year old little boy myslef. And they are definatly a handful, and has recently started not wanting in the buggy when we got to walmart, he wants to walk!! I will not criticize you for him getting away from you because that does happen, but the thing i dont understand is how you could have continued to grab somethings while you were looking for him....i would have left my buggy with everything in it and been running around looking for him, and when i couldnt find him near by i would have gone straight to the customer service desk!! I just dont understand you not being conserned that he wasnt in your line of sight. The cops should have been called. So good job to the people that did. and shame on you for not being more concerned about where your son was!!

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38 Comments

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Jessica - posted on 06/26/2011

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I agree with Chrissy.... although I have always wondered if it was just me who worried about the bogymen (burgers, kidnappers, if he gets the plug covers off.... if he gets hurt even though his room is so toddler proofed I would have to bubble wrap him to stop him any more... ect...). I thought I was the only one who worried even when they are perfectly safe and tucked into their little beds...

Chrissy - posted on 06/26/2011

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Geez I get worried if my 2 year old girl is out of my sight for any more than a few minutes WHEN I'M AT HOME - WITH THE DOORS SHUT AND LOCKED, let alone if she were out of my sight in a shopping mall. God help me. Who knows what she'd be up to or what could happen to her. The list is endless. You have got to be joking. That's an under-reaction if I ever heard one.

Jessica - posted on 06/25/2011

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... maybe you should keep a better eye on him...? What if someone kidnapped him instead of taking him to customer service? What if a car hit him? Would you blame everyone around you for it or think "If I get him back I will never let this happen ever again!"? While I agree with ppl taking him to customer service, I do not believe they overreacted. Some kids are taught "stranger danger" and run off when strangers get too close. Maybe that is what they didn't want to happen hm?

Alison - posted on 06/25/2011

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All i can say is WOW!!!! I can't believe how your not so concerned about all this. I personally don't even like my daughter pushing the cart with me because i physically cant see her as im walking straight ahead. You should of had the police called on you...you should have had CPS called on you and quite frankly i hope your spose is chewing you a new one...and if your separated i hope they use this post against you in a custady battle! you know there is a thing called a code adam alert for a reason...come on now!!!

Sara - posted on 06/25/2011

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Holy Cow! As a foster parent and bio mother I have to say it's people like you who keep the children coming into my home!!!! My twins are 8 and if I couldn't find them in a store I would drop everything I could do and hunt them down. If my 4 year old girl was missing I would panic even more!!! Holy cow!

Karli - posted on 06/25/2011

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You don't deserve to have kids ever, if this is a joke you are a disturbed person and if this was real you are a terrible mother. So sad in any case.

Nancy - posted on 06/25/2011

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I'm hoping that this post was a really bad joke because the thought of a person being so indifferent to the welfare of a toddler scares and greatly saddens me. How horrible it must be for that young boy to know that no one cared enough to come looking for him. Heartbreaking.

Stephanie - posted on 06/25/2011

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I agree with everything said. A toddler running off isn't a surprise but it's definately a concern and I consider the lack of concern about finding him completely negligent and frightening. I would probably be crying my eyes out if my daughter was lost. Shame on you. I think you got off easy.

Alisha - posted on 06/25/2011

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Yes, my daughter who is 8 ran off once and she is slightly delayed and I instantly took off calling her name and looking for her. That is neglect.. it only takes 1 swecond for something bad to happen. My 2 year old is always buckled into the cart and if he gets to a point where he does not want that it is best if you can to find a sitter while you shop. I cannot believe you shopped while he was missing and thank God, he was not hit or taken.

Rebekah - posted on 06/25/2011

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I am sorry but, how could you not know where your kid was? I know where mine is all the time b/c I have my eyes on her all the time! You have to b/c a lot could happen!!!!!! If he had enough time to go back and forth from the store to the car, you should have realized that your kid was not there!!! I hate it when parents don't watch their kids!

Brianna - posted on 06/25/2011

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I cant believe u let ur child run off like that! and then continued to shop?! and he even was outside in the parking lots and car without you!? omg... ya i would call that bad parenting..

Meghan - posted on 06/25/2011

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in this day and age, there are several things wrong with this. we live in a sick world, the fact that your walmart is a stand alone building vs strip mall has absolutely nothing to do with anything, any sicko could've turned him into a victim. Have you actually SEEN people driving in walmart parking lots? and you thought him being alone out there was "safe"?
I agree, he could've gotten into anything! opened chemicals, played with kitchen ware, choked on a fruit, sampled the entire produce section... To be quite honest, the fact that you didn't have visual contact with your 3 year old, and the fact that that DIDN'T bother you is pretty frightening to me. I'd stay with a child that was in a parking lot alone, and I'd try to get him/her to customer service...I'd probably also call the cops if I found him/her alone in a parking lot, playing in an unlocked car. What if he wasn't playing in YOUR unlocked car? Maybe instead of making yourself out to be the victim here, you could put yourself in any right-minded concerned citizen's shoes and see what they saw


...a toddler, alone, playing in a random car, in a busy parking lot, and no one looking for him
... wow

Erin - posted on 06/24/2011

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I believe that I would call the cops as well. I have a 7 year old, 3 year old, and 3 month old. My 7 year old isn't even allowed out of my sight. I can't imagine a 3 year old wandering out to a parking lot alone. Children don't have the problem solving skills and street smarts like adults do. What if he got hit by a car? What if someone did take him?? It doesn't matter if your wal-mart is in a strip mall or stand alone... There are creeps everywhere and you can't just trust that your child is safe. I would have dropped what I was doing and searched for my child while asking every person I saw if they saw him... It bothers me more than you could know that you don't even seem worried... Instead of dropping what you were doing to look for him, you continued to shop and proceeded to check out???!!! What was your next move if no one paged you that they found him? Would you have driven home?? I definitely would have called the cops and CPS as well!!!

Ashley - posted on 06/24/2011

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You all said it for me i have a three year old and although my walmart is small and my son has been out of my sight never for more than a few secounds and im always going after him. If my son went to the parking lot i would have a panic attack. This reminds me of a few weeks ago i took my son to the fair and there was a little girl around two wondering around i saw her and assumed her family was in the croud but i kept my eyes on her until i saw her head out to the main high way no fences nothing i grabed her and went back to the huge croud of people asking them if she was theres my friend went to tell the fair people and i stayed with her and my son were i saw her first. It took ten min finally for her dad to show up she disapered on the other end of the fair grounds apparently. I could not believe that that two year old was able to walk the entire fair grounds and no one noticed her until me and she nearly got to the road. At least her dad was looking for her but this hole thing freaked me out if my son got away i would really expect good people to step in before a bad one could. So now as paranoid as i was im times 10 now.

[deleted account]

I'm SO glad he was found and ok. Now would be a good time to talk to him about what to do if you are ever seperated again.



My NINE year old got 'away' from me in Costco a couple of months ago. We were in the back of the store when it happened. I did a quick scan down the aisles as I walked to the front of the store and was about to go to the customer service desk when she found me (while she was w/ an employee) and ran to me. Scariest 10ish minutes of our recent lives. Freaked us (me, her, her twin sister... little brother (3) wasn't TOO concerned) all out and I most certainly wouldn't have finished shopping while 'looking' for her... and she's NINE. My 3 year old wouldn't get away from me cuz he's in the cart 99% of the time. I would be royally upset if he DID get away from me and thought to go to the car... since he's not allowed in the street/parking lot unattended... ever.

Ella - posted on 06/24/2011

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My worry is that someone could have kidnapped the child or MOLESTED him :( It is such a big deal. My 2.5 yo is soooo independent, he walks and when he runs I am right behind him.

[deleted account]

I think if I found a child wandering in a parking lot or in a store, and then soon after a frantic mom, who was obviously worried and had been looking for her child came to me and reunited with her child...then that would be different and not a case to call the cops. Kids get away from their parents every day. That's not the part that bothers me. I think what's freaking everyone out here is that she doesn't seem like she was worried at ALL. And maybe the people at the store got that vibe too, and then called the authorities.

And as a side note, I wasn't trying to bash the OP. I just simply and honestly don't understand the seeming lack of a reaction.

[deleted account]

You should have gotten a visit from children services. Honestly the way you seem so nonchalant about your child disappearing like that I have concern about the safety at your home and whether you pay enough attention to what he is doing to make sure he's not getting into something unsafe. You kept shopping even though you didn't know where your child was? Those are your words! I think that is pretty crappy. I know full well that a child can get away easily and don't think you are bad for that. But as soon as my child got away I would be tracking him down. I wouldn't casually stop for a second to pick up an item while I searched. My buggy would have been forgotten where it was. He could have gotten grabbed in an instant. A man tried to do that in a crowded aisle during the Christmas holidays when I was a kid while I was standing RIGHT NEXT TO MY MOTHER. She luckily noticed what was going on and grabbed me. And the Walmarts in my neck of the woods are stand alone too. Why the heck would that make a difference? I agree with other posts that your child could have easily gotten hit. I would have been shaking from adrenaline and relief if I found out my son ran off to the car.
I don't think you are a bad person or an intentionally neglectful mother, but I'm concerned.

Laura - posted on 06/24/2011

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I'm going to have to agree with all the moms on here and say if I couldn't see my son and couldn't find him for any amount of time I'd be dropping everything I was doing to find him! The first thing I would do is notify the store he was lost in. It also makes me wonder what you are talking about at the end about if "I see something like this happening". From the sounds of it, nothing was happening, because you weren't looking for him. And personally, if I saw a 3 year old alone in the parking lot unattended, I would be taking action too, before someone bad came along and took him!

Erica - posted on 06/24/2011

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I agree with the other moms.. My son is almost 2 and i would freak out if i couldnt see him. Which hes not allowed to walk ANYWHERE in public unless hes holding mine or his daddys hand.. Maybe u need to rethink your actions and what u would do if your son was hurt because you rly didnt care.. In my opinion u got wat you deserved

Olivia - posted on 06/24/2011

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who knows. i dont think it matters because i cant imagine not being concerned if i couldnt find my son! and i have a 3 year old boy. the thought terrifies me!

Olivia - posted on 06/24/2011

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No i believe that she is to embarassed now to respond. because we are all pretty much bashing her. But her lack of response or retaliation makes me think maybe she realized that her lack of concern was wrong!!

[deleted account]

Melissa hasn't been back to respond and I'm seriously beginning to think this is all a joke. It HAS to be.....right?! Please?!!

Olivia - posted on 06/24/2011

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The issue with the statement ---- "I hope CPS advised you that if your child ever runs from you again, that you should immediately stop what your doing and look for your son." ...... is that should be an automatic instinct for a mother. and honestly if i had been the cops or cps i would have been very tempted to take that child from you right then and there. Now im not sure if legaly they could have right then.. but i think they should have!! There is something so very wrong with this and it just makes me sick. If my child ever got away from me even for 2 seconds i would be hysterical.

Dora - posted on 06/24/2011

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If I ever come across a child wandering around alone and I don't see any adults looking for them I would immediately call the cops. What scares me about your situation is the fact that your child runs off and your 1st instinct was not to look for him but to finish shopping. Nothing should ever come before your child especially material objects. I hope CPS advised you that if your child ever runs from you again, that you should immediately stop what your doing and look for your son.

Rosie - posted on 06/24/2011

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don't forget blaming HIM for going out to the car with the "oh crap, thanks kid" comment. *vomit*

Krista - posted on 06/24/2011

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Uh.... I see you blaming a lot of OTHER people for something that you could have helped. If my child was lost in a Walmart or ANYWHERE for that matter, my first response would NOT be to continue shopping, but to drop everything that I was doing to go look for him. And you know what? I don't think people overreacted at all. This whole posts smacks of neglect to me and it's disgusting. That you would think it OKAY to not immediately go find your child is sickening. I panic if my son is out of my sight for two seconds, let alone an entire shopping trip. I really think you ought to stop blaming other people for you getting in trouble when it is a direct result of you being negligent.

Krista - posted on 06/24/2011

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Yeah, I think you definitely UNDER-reacted to the situation.

Yes, someone could have absolutely walked out with him. Or he could have gotten run over by a car while wandering around in the parking lot. Neither of those situations are far-fetched.

On our way to the food section of the store, my son ran off, while looking for him I quickly finished shopping.

What, what, what? Seriously? Your toddler disappeared on you, and you figured you'd finish your shopping? Finding him would have been the ONLY thing on my mind -- screw the shopping.

The gal said that she found him going in and out of the car, I thought good for him he went to the car so I would know where to find him.

Um yeah...good for him that he walked OUT OF THE STORE AND THROUGH THE PARKING LOT.

My land. There are just no words. I don't blame them for calling the cops and for calling CPS. I would have also called the police if I'd seen a toddler wandering unattended in a parking lot. And your utter lack of concern, and the fact that you think it's just peachy for a toddler to wander around a parking lot all alone, makes me think that perhaps they were not unjustified in calling CPS, either.

Give your head a shake, Melissa. This could have been a serious tragedy, and the fact that it WASN'T one is due to sheer dumb luck.

Rosie - posted on 06/24/2011

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i can't believe you just went shopping instead of looking for your kid. i'm glad somebody called the police on you, who does that??

[deleted account]

Ya, I have to say that I'm surprised by your nonchalant attitude about finding, or rather, not finding him. It would have been my ONLY concern until he was found.



Anyhow, I can't fault people for calling the cops either. I might have called them if I was there. Sorry.

Shalaina - posted on 06/23/2011

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I definitely would go and stay with a child if they were alone and go to customer service but I can't blame people for calling the cops. A three year old walking in the parking lot by himself? Too many bad situations that could have happened to list.

I also don't think it is a 'good for him' to go outside by himself, it should be to customer service/ask the first worker that you see.

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