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Woman Says Stranger Left Her To Watch His Kids In A Food Court — She Feels Like An 'Idiot' For Her Good Deed

Photo: Lenar Nigmatullin/Shutterstock
mom feeding child

Kids, especially infants and toddlers require around the clock supervision to keep them safe from harm and out of trouble. The stress and anxiety of parenting is compounded when we venture out of the house with our little ones.

One woman took to the r/entitledparents subreddit to share her frustration and disappointment about another parent’s behavior after running into him in the food court.

The Redditor posted about her experience immediately after it happened and was understandably upset.

She was left in charge of a complete stranger's children in a food court.

She started by sharing that she has a rebellious toddler who is normally with her mother-in-law during the workday. This week was unusual as her husband was away and the child’s grandmother had taken a vacation, leaving her to single-handedly manage the child and her work-from-home job.

The woman decided to take her daughter for a walk-in order to ease some of her stress. They also stopped by a local food court to grab lunch while they were out and came across a father of two small girls, two and four years old.

Immediately, the stressed-out mom noticed that the man had seated his kids on bar stool-style chairs with no backs or straps to hold them in.

Though concerned, she chose not to call him out when he initiated small talk. But as she turned away from him to feed her child, she heard him issue some troubling instructions to his kids.

“So, guys, you look after each other and the bags, the nice lady is here, I'll go grab a coffee,” the man said, and darted off before the shocked mother had a chance to object.

The woman sat there managing her own child and two little strangers as her meal grew cold. She spent her time chatting with the four-year-old, making sure neither child fell from the high perch their father has left them on, and consoling her own fussy daughter.

Thirty minutes had passed before the disappearing dad came walking up, Starbucks cup in hand. She took a mental note that the coffee shop was on the opposite side of the mall and the man hadn’t even been nearby when he left his children.

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Instead of apologizing for leaving his kids with her, he said ‘sorry’ to his toddlers and avoided looking at the makeshift babysitter.

Unable to hold back her irritation any longer, the Redditor grabbed her food and her kid, waved goodbye to the man’s children and left, astonished that any parent would leave their kids with a stranger in a crowded mall for any amount of time, let alone half an hour.

Now she feels like a “gullible idiot” for allowing the inattentive parent to take advantage of her kindness. The woman does acknowledge that she would have never been able to live with herself if something happened to the small children, so felt obligated to stay with them.

Commenters praised her for being a good person but said they would have taken different steps had they been in the same position.

The first person posted, “You’re good to stay there: I’ve witnessed a similar situation in a major shopping center in the UK: the woman in your situation took the kids to a security guard and told him that their parent had just wandered off. Don’t know the fallout, but I assume it was…fun.”

There is reason to be concerned. Over the years, there have been several high-profile cases of kids abducted from the mall, and not all of the suspects have been men. One of the most well-known was the kidnapping of "America’s Most Wanted" host, John Walsh’s son, Adam in 1981.

Another person pointed out the apparent sexism in the dad’s actions, saying, “Wow, look at that A--hole thinking he’s entitled to the free labor of a woman he doesn’t know from Eve! Next time take them to a security guard or call the local equivalent or Child Protective Services (or both).”

There is truth to this. Studies show that people find women to be more trustworthy. Especially when it comes to caring for kids. Still, most Redditors believe that is no excuse for abandoning your children with a complete stranger for any amount of time.  

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NyRee Ausler is a writer from Seattle, Washington, and author of seven books. She covers lifestyle and entertainment and news, as well as navigating the workplace and social issues.