steve duross - craftsman. artisan. entrepreneur. musings on running and growing a small business

i love children. some parents not so much

yesterday i was accused of harboring some resentment toward two little girls in the store. they were about 5 or 6 years old, bright and filled with energy (or sugar) and couldn't stop running from one thing to the next, touching everything. a natural reaction for almost any child. the place can be a bit overwhelming to all the senses. toward the end of their visit the mother informed cory quite curtly that they would be leaving soon and would stop touching everything. cory stated that it really didn't matter to him, that the children were fine and that we didn't mind. the mother pointed at me and said "yes, but he does." i did not acknowledge the comment, rather kept working with my head down and let it go. i kept an eye on these girls because the parents were mostly not and i am responsible for the safety of my clients. then a moment occurred when one little girl was refused something and she became loud and willful (with a dash of nasty) to her father, as children sometimes can be, that i reacted nonverbally by being taken aback. i guess the mom caught my reaction. the parents reasoned with the children to no avail. speaking as an uncle, i am aware that the job of parent is altogether dissimilar to my job as an uncle. i get that. my response to any child is usually along the lines of "oh i know you didn't just say that to me" or "who just said that?! i know it wasn't you because i do not put up with that." it is said in a stern yet slightly comic way to cue the kid of where my boundaries lie. so far it has worked with the nine nieces and nephews i have, and it's been working with the successive generation as well. what i don't get is how a 40 something reasons with a five year old and loses? that's just bullshit and no matter how i try to hide my feelings, they will always show on my face. kudos to the moms who say no and then enforce it by dropping everything and taking their kids outside to deal with the issue. i might lose a sale, but we all gain years from now when the child has an appropriate sense of social behavior. for the record, i don't think the "terrible twos" are germane to my point for obvious reasons. the screaming bothers me but not so much that i can't smile quietly on the inside. it's awful and funny to watch a parent try to deal with that phase, all the while feeling blessed that this is not my path. like bicycles on the sidewalk or people who walk their dogs while texting, i find the experience of neglected children within a confined space prohibitively disrespectful. it also creates a bad experience for other shoppers. once when shopping in the men's department of strawbridge & clothier some years back, a clerk bellowed "madam, control your child!". imagine me saying that today? kids will touch and smell and be ensorcelled by our store, and yes, i want the experience to be magical for them. but mom and dad should be tandem shoppers with these little kids, teaching them an appropriate shopping experience. we have many many awesome families with kids of all ages who come in together and work as a team to find new, fun stuff as well as the family's favorites. we always welcome our families but it must be obvious that a visit to D+L is vastly divergent to the local IKEA. no ball pits, no kids section, simply an apothecary store full of glass jars and grown up potions. kids often need help in learning to access our goods and we are happy to oblige. moms and dads are welcome to ask for assistance in showing our goods to little ones. we are encouraged to find the time. if things are too busy in the store, then we can always give them a project. duross & langel can be a learning experience on many levels from sharing the story of who we are, how we make things to teaching a bit about what they are seeing and smelling. parents, if you engage us into the experience, we promise you a lovely time in our store.