These days, there's an ongoing debate about where and when one should be expected to put up with other people's kids. It's easy to see why: Very young humans are as annoying as they are charming. In an environment like a supermarket, where you're trying to get as much done as quickly as possible, children introduce an unwelcome element of chaos. You have to dodge your cart around them as they run hither and thither grabbing stuff off the shelves, smashing ketchup bottles on the floor, emptying detergent everywhere and poking holes in all the peaches.
Why, you wonder through gritted teeth, don't their parents keep them in those child seats that are such an integral element of shopping cart design?
They may have tried.
Some kids are docile, some are not. And as often as not, it has little or nothing to do with the parents' parenting skills or lack thereof. The wild child will crawl out and down to scamper the aisles. If you strap them in, they scream bloody murder nonstop for the entire duration of the shopping trip. Where you see crazed children shutting themselves inside ice-cream freezers or toppling soup can displays, you're sure to find a parent with a broken spirit shuffling behind.
So why bring the demon child to the store in the first place? The answer to that strays deep into the political arena where questions about affordable childcare lurk. We'll let that sleeping dog lie. The point is, yes, parents should do their best to civilize their kids, but the rest of us should try to substitute empathy for eye-rolling when we see them fail.