broken-vase-300x300Ask Rene:
The Price Is Right?

Dear Rene,

A few weekends ago, my husband and I were shopping with our two small kids, Hannah age 3 and Ella, 5, in a local home furnishing store – a place we shop quite often and actually know the owners. The store is wonderful, filled with lots of floor displays and room for customers to shop.

The kids were having a good time playing with each other while my husband and I were shopping.  All of a sudden we heard a loud crash and saw my 3 year old Hannah, on the floor surrounded by broken glass, crying. She had accidentally bumped into the display. Other than a small scratch Hannah was fine, just startled by the loud noise.

Needless, to say the owners were concerned about Hannah and happy she was fine. Once things settled down, my husband and I were approached by the owners who explained to us that the items broken had to be paid for.

Rene, the items were on a floor display in the middle of the store, just waiting for an accident.  We are happy our little girl wasn’t hurt but do you think we are responsible and should pay for the broken items?


Rachel, San Diego

Dear Rachel:

Honey, thanks for writing but this is a joke right? Either that or you’re new to the site and not sure how I respond. If you are new to the site, something tells me after you read this, you won’t be back. So open your checkbook wide and be prepared to pay up. Here’s why.


A playground warning sign with selective color desaturation

There are places specifically for little people with lots of energy. They have slides and swings and wood chips all over the place so tender knees don’t get scraped up. Little people meet up with other little people and share everything from gossip to germs. They are called PLAYGROUNDS and that is where kids are supposed to run around, not inside stores filled with expensive and breakable stuff. NO!

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One of the aspects about this that concerns me is not only did you and your husband NOT offer to pay right away, but you genuinely seem surprised that the store owners would ask you to. Let’s say you have an expensive vase in your home and you host a dinner for some friends. Their two kids come over and are throwing your dog’s tennis ball in the house when it hits the vase, which comes crashing to the floor. Your friends would feel awful and, in the interest of keeping the friendship on track, would probably offer to pay for it on the spot.  They know it would not be fair for the actions of their kids to result in you being out money. It’s the same thing here; why should the owners have to pay because you didn’t keep an eye out on your kids?

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Okay, now I have to tell you.. this is one of those things that gets in my craw. I am a mother and I understand kid behavior having seen it up close and personal. I know it’s hard to control them and sometimes they do stupid things without a clue as to why. BUT, they are your responsibility! Why on earth would you take a three and five-year-old furniture shopping with you anyway? You can’t concentrate, you’ll be running after them (though in this case it sounds like you were not) and you’ll probably end up spending way more than you intended (in this case it sounds like you will) in an effort to get them to hush up.

As parents we have a responsibility to raise our children; as members of our community we have a responsibility to make sure our children don’t disturb or disrupt the comfort of others. So, yes you need to pay and in the future and next time, leave your kids home unless you are going to a kid-friendly place. A funhouse, yes. A furniture store? Not on your life.

Good luck mommy!

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That’s my advice.. what would you tell Rachel?

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(Editor’s note: This piece originally ran on May 2, 2011)