As a small child, parents have always taught their little bundle of joy never to wander around in the store, to always stick by them like super glue, and if need be, always hold their hand. Of course, there is no guarantee that the child will ever follow this simple rule willingly. Almost always, it requires disobedience and/or a life-changing experience to either set the child straight or make the parent take drastic measures in the future. This is the perfect summary as to the event that occurred in a New York Macy’s Department Store when I was four years old.
The Christmas holiday season was very hectic. My mother wanted to finish her holiday shopping, but unfortunately, none of my babysitters were available and my father was at work, so Mom had no other course of action except to take me along with her. At the entrance to Macy’s, Mom told me loud and clear: “Do not wander away from me in the store. I want you to stay right next to me at all times.” She could’ve screamed it through a megaphone, however, my teeny tiny brain refused to heed her words of command because we weren’t even in the store for two seconds and I was already tearing off through the establishment like a rabid monkey.
For the next hour or so, my mom was constantly begging me to stop wandering around and stay with her, but all I did was disobey her time and time again. I would stand next to her for a few minutes just to satisfy her, but the moment her back was turned, I was off again just like that. I believe by the twentieth time I had gone off to some new section of the department store, she’d given up and figured, “Maybe if I let her explore every nook and cranny, she’ll get tired and come back…” Then again, this is a four year old she was dealing with, so “tired” was basically thrown out of the window.
By this time, I’d found my way into the Men’s Clothing section, but actually, I was searching for the toy area. I never made it there because my eyes fell upon a few Bullwinkle stuffed animals atop a sweater display. My mind forgot about the going to the toy area instantly. Now, mind you, even a four year old has some weight to them, and I was no different. The glass perfume case that was just mere feet away from the display only made the inevitable worse.
So in my determination to get that toy, I started climbing the sweater display. Everything was fine until I reached the top… My weight was too much for the weak exhibit and it tipped right over into the glass perfume case. It shattered into a million pieces and the commotion from it echoed throughout the entire store. A few minutes later, my mom, the store manager, and a few other concerned (and nosy) customers came over to see what the heck was going on.
When I crawled out of the broken glass clutching one of the stuffed animals, the two questions on everyone’s lips was, “Is she okay? Is she hurt?” Miraculously, I wasn’t hurt at all. Thanks to my coat and other clothing, not one shard of glass had cut me. After confirming that I was perfectly fine, my mother grabbed me, endlessly apologized to the store manager and offered to pay for all the damages; however, the store manager told her not to worry about it since he was just relieved that I wasn’t harmed.
What my four year old self didn’t know was that my mom was afraid that Macy’s would sue her for the damage, yet the store manager was terrified that my mom would try to sue the store because of the potential injuries I could have sustained. Later at the checkout counter, Mom noticed that I was still holding the plush toy and she ordered me to put me it back, but at that moment, the store manager walked up behind the clerk at the counter and informed us that he would give it to me for free, which of course, made me a very happy kid.
To prevent history from repeating itself, Mom bought a dog leash from the pet store. From then on, before setting foot in any store, Mom would loop one end of the leash around my waist and hold the other end. Naturally, when other patrons in the stores saw my mother restraining me with a leash, they questioned her and accused her of being a barbaric parent, but she always answered with the same explanation: “I’m just protecting my child.”