Shopping and waiting rooms
Wed, 01 August 2012 10:20:19
By: Kay West
Shopping , offices and Waiting Rooms
Before she was a year old, my daughter had
been to more places and logged more miles
than I had in the first eighteen years of my life. My
mother was a stay-at-home mom with five children,
and we rarely went anywhere en masse outside of an
occasional outing to a park or swim club. She reserved
her errands, grocery shopping, and appointments for
times when she could persuade a neighbor to keep an
eye on us or on a night my father was not working.
As a freelance writer, I do much of my work at
home, but in the days before e-mail, my baby girl came
with me to deliver stories, meet with editors, and even
on some assignments. Happy and easygoing, she was
no more difficult to tote about than the diaper bag.
Once she was mobile and talking, I could no longer
take her on work assignments, but she and her brother
went everywhere else with me.
Beginning at about the age of four, a young lady
should be taught the basics of good manners in public
places. Unlike teenagers who would prefer to think
they were hatched from an egg, young children want
to spend time with their parents, whether sitting
down to hear a story, playing Chutes and Ladders,
or going along to the bank. Errands might not be
as much fun as playing a game, but children must
eventually learn that even unpleasant things can be
borne with as pleasant a nature as possible.
For quick errands such as banking or running
to the dry cleaner or drugstore, girls do not need to
bring along toys, but they should be told how long the
errands will take. Children should not be required
to accompany their parents on lengthy shopping
No other type of business or service tolerates
such disregard for another person’s time than do the
government and doctors. Since this seems to be the
norm, however, pediatricians’ offices usually come
equipped with toys and books. In a group practice,
though, don’t count on there being enough to go
around. You should bring something along just in
case, like a self-contained puzzle or a coloring book.
If you must bring your daughter to the office,
even for a short while, it is your responsibility to
provide her with something to hold her attention.
Under no circumstances is she to touch things
that do not belong to her or to rummage through
When shopping, a young lady stays close to her
parent. If the young lady cannot control herself in the
grocery store, she will have to ride in the cart until
she can. This applies to ten-year-olds as well as fouryear-
olds. In stores and offices, a young lady keeps
her hands to herself. When my daughter is forced
to accompany me on a shopping expedition, I try to
leave a little time—even just a few minutes—to go
someplace she enjoys as recognition of her patience
and good behavior.
Your Daughter Is Becoming
a Young Lady If . . .
She stays close to her parents when shopping or in
other public places.
She is not greedy with samples in a grocery store.
She does not badger her parent or other adults to
buy things for her.
She does not rummage around, exploring desks
or closets in offices or peeking under doors in
In banks, post offices, and other places where
transactions are conducted, she does not
scribble all over deposit slips and change of
In offices, she does not make photocopies of her
face on the company copier or raid the office
kitchen without permission.
She gives her seat to an adult in a crowded waiting
In waiting rooms, she does not hog all the books
or puzzles to herself, but takes just one as she
needs it, then returns it to the pile when she is
She uses trash receptacles in public places. A
young lady does not leave a candy wrapper or
used tissue on a chair in a waiting room or a
counter in a bank.
Do not expect your daughter to endure a lengthy
shopping trip unless it is to a toy or candy
When going to the doctor’s office or someplace
where you will be expected to wait, provide
something to occupy your daughter’s attention.
When your daughter asks to go on errands with
you, let her know how long you plan to be gone.
Do not succumb to your daughter if she badgers
you to buy her a treat; otherwise you can expect
a lifetime of badgering.
Do not promise a reward at the outset, but if
there is time, offer some token of appreciation
if her behavior was good.
Try This at Home
Whenever we go to a large store or a mall, I remind
my children to stay in the store if we get separated. I
would never leave the store without them, so if we both
adhere to this rule, even if we can’t see each other, we
can know that we are both in the store somewhere.
Practice what your child should do if she realizes that
she has somehow ended up separated from her parent.
She should find an employee or security guard and tell
that person that she is lost. When my daughter was old
enough—ten was the age I set—to be in a toy store by
herself (for no more than fifteen minutes) while I went
next door to the pharmacy to pick up a prescription,
I reminded her not to leave the store and not to go
anywhere with anyone else. Make sure your child
knows how to react to a stranger making advances.
Some Good Advice
If you encounter an obviously lost child in a mall or
department store, do not touch the child, but bend or
kneel so that you are on eye level, speak quietly and
kindly, tell the child your full name, and ask if he or
she is lost. Do not ask the child to come with you as he
or she may have been taught not to go anywhere with
strangers. Send someone else to get a store employee
or security guard, and stay with the child until they
return. They can then employ store policy to find the
missing, and probably frantic, parent.
This is an extract from How to Raise a Lady by Kay West. To buy the book now, click here