As moms, we all know that going shopping with little kids in tow can be a recipe for disaster and destruction. When my twins were babies, just getting out of the house and into a store felt like a small victory. So, when we inevitably break something during our outings, I look at it as par for the course.
I figure that since these are stores that I shop in frequently, a broken and cheap toy doesn't make much difference in the grand scheme of things.
In retail, there's a name for the phenomenon of goods lost in this manner — shrinkage. I guess I figure that since these are stores that I shop in frequently, a broken and cheap toy doesn't make much difference in the grand scheme of things. But that doesn't mean I will outright steal. One time, we got halfway down the street before I realised that one of the twins was holding an expensive bottle of Moroccan hair conditioner — apparently, he had nicked it from the shelves when I wasn't looking. We went right back to the store and turned the bottle in. Thankfully, the cashier thought it was cute. This is the response I mostly encountered while we were out, which probably made it easier for me to ignore those items that we were breaking or using — what we were doing wasn't stealing, we were just being adorable, right?
While my daughter's main items for pilfering are fruits and vegetables, now that my twins are older, they go for items they can actually break. The other day when my son was helping me shop for groceries, he threw a jar of peanut butter into the cart with so much force that it broke. Yep, I put it back and took a new one.
Although I never really gave any of these small items a second thought once I left the store, I know that my very virtuous husband would feel differently. He's the type of guy who makes sure to buy some small item at a gas station if he's using the bathroom. "They are not paying for us to use the toilet." If someone accidentally forgets to ring up one of his items, he'll point it out. So, I'm sure that if the kids broke something on his watch, he would probably pay for it.
And maybe that's the right thing. Recently, while at a large drugstore chain, my daughter kept playing with the Baby Bottle Pop in the candy display while I checked out. "No, you're not getting that. Put that back," I repeated, while frantically trying to complete our purchase. Behind us, a long line of impatient shoppers was growing. Then just as we were leaving, she got the bottle open and it hit the ground, sending a cloud of pink sugar all over the carpet. With the evidence enveloping us, I quickly ushered her out of the store. In the end, I didn't pick up the broken item and hand it to the cashier out of a bit of embarrassment over our destruction. And to be honest, my policy also depends on the size of a store — if we broke something in a small, independently owned business, I would be more likely to confess than if it was in a big box store that factors shrinkage into the cost of doing business.
In the future, I'll probably still not pay for small items that get broken, but I'll try to make sure we're more careful when we shop.
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