Security! Security!

TargetI’m a little afraid that I’m going to be on some watch list at Target, because I can’t stop myself from talking to parents. I’ve talked about this before. And I’m just getting bolder.

A few months ago, I was at Target (don’t be confused and think I go to Target every couple of months or so; I go several times a week). I saw a mom who was animatedly talking on her phone. In the seat of the Target cart, a little girl, maybe ten or twelve months old, was craning her head, looking up and down, from side to side, up one aisle and down the next. She was enchanted by all the colors and textures and shapes around her. And her mom never glanced in her direction. Instead of narrating what they were doing together on their shopping trip, identifying what the child was seeing, or paying attention to what the little girl was interested in, mom chatted on and on and on and on. I walked away.

A couple of aisles over, two school-aged girls were shopping, with their mom, for a gift for a friend. Mom was on the phone. I must admit, I started following them. Amazed. The girls kept giving Mom suggestions.

“She likes this,” said one, pointing out a toy.

“And then she told him she just wasn’t going to take that any more from him!” said mom, into her phone.

They went into another aisle. “Oh, she would really like that,” said a different daughter, gesturing to another cute gift.

“I know,” said Mom, “they just can’t stand each other any more.” I feigned interest in several toys as I stayed a half-aisle away from them. The girls never stopped trying to get their mom’s attention. Mom never put down her phone. I had to walk away.

A few minutes later, I made my way to the grocery department. There was a mom with three kids. They were buying cereal. They were reading the boxes, all made choices, they debated their needs, and they were narrowing down their options when I intervened. I explained to the mom that I had seen, in the half and hour or so that I’d been in the store, two mothers who were more interested in gossiping with their friends than paying attention to their kids. “I just want you to know that I have noticed how you are parenting your children. I know it’s not easy, but I know it makes a difference in the adults your children will become. Way to go.”

Last week, I had been listening to the TED Radio Hour on NPR. They were talking about the 30 million words initiative, encouraging parents to talk more, and more effectively, to their kids. And I thought it must be the same issue discussed in a podcast Kevin suggested I listen to (and it was), which affirmed the intensity with which they talk to Peter.

I finished listening to the interview in the Target parking lot (and I guess you see where this is going). I was wandering around the baby department when I heard a mom in the next aisle. She was talking, talking, talking, describing what she was choosing (a toy) and why they needed to buy it (a gift for a friend’s new baby), and what color should they get. She was having this conversation with a toddler in the seat of a cart. And I. Could. Not. Stop. Myself.

“Excuse me,” I said.

“Oh, sorry,” she said, scooting away, “I’m in your way.”

“Oh, no. You aren’t in my way,” I said. “I wanted you to know that I was just listening to an interview on NPR about how important it is to talk to young children. What you’re doing is really significant. I think you’re doing a great job with your kid.”

“Thanks.” And she looked so happy.


Don’t let selfishness and prideful agendas take over. Embrace true humility, and lift your heads to extend love to others.

Philippians 2:3 (The Voice)


It just does not take much, does it, to brighten somebody’s day. Affirming someone’s appropriate choices and good parenting skills does a lot more good than pointing out inappropriate choices (which are my opinions) and poor parenting skills (also my opinions). Nobody really cares about my opinions if I’m complaining to them. Meanwhile, Peter came to visit this week.




8 Responses to “Security! Security!”

  1. Melanie Tate

    I really enjoy your opinions. We miss Peter when he goes to Waco. He really brightens my day.

    • Kay

      I’ll come visit you in jail, if you get hauled away……keep up the positive comments to parents doing it right. If you start chastising the other ones, we may have to have an intervention.

      • Gayle Lintz

        Thanks. I do think jail visits help a lot.
        And I really do know how much a frown from a stranger can hurt, so I try to keep a composed face, trying to keep in mind that I don’t know what’s been going on in the previous hours and days in a family. I would love to be able to say that I was never cross w/my own children when we were out in public (or at home), but it would be such a large lie that my growing nose might kill somebody.

    • Gayle Lintz

      Thanks, Melanie. He’s been brightening things for several days. I keep forgetting, though, that I am talking ALL DAY LONG when he’s here. As I write this, he’s playing w/Granddad. He’s saying, “Granddad! We need concrete! It’s here in Mimi’s room. (Aside to me: “It’s pretend concrete.”) Oh! Granddad, we forgot to get our pretend buckets!!” I don’t know what they’re building.

  2. Suzy Henson

    Don’t sell your self short. Your opinion is highly respected by many & your kindness to affirm even complete strangers shows a precious spirit. How blessed are any who benefit from knowing you even if in passing at Target.

    My love, Suzy

  3. mary greaves

    Awesome! Don’t stop! I was just waiting for you to say you stopped those moms on their phones and explained the importance with them of talking to their children!! In working with providers this is my passion! We have got to turn things around ….. help parents understand!! Research shows that professional parents say approximately 1000 more words to their children a day than those that are the lower socio-economic group……these children hear approximately 500 words a day. It is staggering to me!

  4. Gayle Lintz

    One of the people interviewed on the Ted Radio Hour said that it’s not just the number of words, it’s the actual *hearing* of the words. Hearing the words affects the brain’s development and structure. She works to have cochlear implants put in place as soon as possible in babies who are deaf. The actual hearing of words makes their brains develop more and better connections, even if they are learning vocabulary through sign language. It is staggering. And weekday teachers can make a difference. But getting parents on board broadens the impact. Maybe we should try to have an army of Early Childhood people constantly patrolling Target, looking for parents who are talking to and narrating for their kids.


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