35 Comments

  1. Mine would never sit in the cart either. Fortunately, while they liked to explore, they were rarely destructive.

  2. But if they had been destructive, whether or not they sat in the cart wouldn’t have been their decision, correct? Because you’re the parent.

  3. Well, this is a repeat from, I think, about 25 years ago. I don’t know if there have been any improvements in cart seating since then, but I doubt it. The strip has never shied away from Joan being really bad at discipline and is quietly critical of that. Max didn’t really settle down until Wally became a permanent fixture in his life. I have no idea why he’s a patchy goat in this strip, though.

  4. Max is presented as having a poorly-defined mental illness. He didn’t speak until he was several years old and is still largely nonverbal. This is not just poor discipline, it’s failing to get medical help (that we see on-panel). It’s actually borderline neglect, as far as we can tell from what’s shown.

  5. I was kidding about that part, DemetriosX: 25 years ago it was my kids in the shopping carts.

    And it’s not just Joan who’s bad at discipline: This

    is just a parental train wreck.

  6. Not that this changes anything, but both strips have “© 1999” in the gutter between panels, which makes them 20 years old.

  7. The proliferation of useless (redundant) “classic” features is just one more reason that I’m glad I don’t have to use the bloated GoComics website on a daily basis. I don’t remember who it was that pointed out the “Comics RSS” website, but I’m very thankful for it.

  8. Um, all this talk about “the women on this strip are the worst excuses for parents” or Joan being “bad at discipline” confuses me. Seriously, if you had kids you know exactly how the mother _feels_ about a trip to the supermarket. This is a comic for crying out loud, everything is exaggerated beyond credibility. And yes, if your kid does not want to stay in the seat and you make it sit in the cart anyway, you will find this little angle has ways to make you regret your parental decision. Loud tantrums are one way, trying to climb out in defiance of gravity, personal safety or, indeed, common sense another. A kid can make your shopping trip a taxing experience, and the next time everything goes smoothly.

    So yes, this was a mild chuckle for me. Nothing special, but certainly no display of parental neglect either.

    (Except, of course, I might have missed some “sarcasm” tags in the comments.)

  9. @Markus: You’re not wrong, but in the early years of the strip Joan never, ever says “No” to the boy. There are several episodes where she expresses her inability to get him to behave where a firm no would do the job.

  10. Markus, I am indeed a parent and I assure you that, since neither of my children ever acquired the ability to send me out to cornfield, I never worried about one of them “having ways to make me regret a decision.”

    And if I’d had daughters, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t stand there while their grandmother bought them slutware.

  11. I agree with Markus that, taken in isolation, this comic strip can just be humorous exaggeration about how it can be exhausting to go grocery shopping with your kids.

    However, the clothing one seems more about mother-grandmother relationship than the mother-child relationship (OK, they’re both mother-child relationships, but you know what I mean). How a parent is able to deal with a grandparent who’s openly undermining them seems to have more to do with the relationship they have with the grandparent, than with their own parenting skills.

  12. The POV from the other side . . .

    (I’ve always wondered why, if a child is taken from its parent[s] because the parent[s] did something bad, the child THEN given to the parent[s] . . . who’ve already proven to be bad at parenting.)

  13. I suppose in the sense that anything that involves your child in any way is a parenting skill. But given that there are all kinds of other relationship constraints, I wouldn’t take difficulty dealing with an undermining grandparent as a sign of parenting skill in general.

  14. Off on a tangent. There are a few names used for shopping conveyances in various places. Locally, they have always been called shopping carts. I have noted recently that some people have been calling them “buggies”.

    So far, everyone I’ve heard use that term have been younger black people. I find language interesting, and shifts like that happening in “real time” particularly so. I don’t know if it will be a niche cultural thing, die out, or become more widespread.

  15. Andréa, I’ve wondered about the same thing.

    As Caulfield reminds us, doing the exact same thing and expecting diferent results…

  16. When I used to take my autistic grandson to the store, he would either run around like a maniac or scream bloody murder if I tried to, in his words, tie him down. Then I told him he could stay in the bottom of the basket if he behaved himself, and that worked for one time. Then I had a brainstorm: he was sitting in the basket with his back to me, and I pretended I couldn’t find him. I’d be looking all over the store and he’d be laying in the bottom of the basket, giggling. He’d giggle even louder if I put some groceries on top of him.

    The best part was one time I asked a passing woman if she’d seen Tristan (as if she knew who that was) and she looked into the cart and described him perfectly. ‘Yes! Yes! Have you seen him?’ ‘Nope.’ hehe

  17. @ Brian – “Cart” is the usual term in the US; usage in UK tend to prefer “basket”. In New Zealand, we encountered the term “trolley”. I’ve never heard them called “buggy”, that word is generally used (in the US) for a “stroller” (UK: “pram”) used to transport toddlers (but they work for groceries, too).

  18. CarlFink – I have never thought of Max as having a mental illness. I just thought of him as rowdy very young child. His mom is a bit overwhelmed at dealing with him alone – especially since his dad just disappeared (reappears as I recall for a arc of strips. Spoiler alert for anyone reading the strips for the first time – as his “step” cousin (nephew of his step father) lives with them and pays attention to him, he comes less rowdy. One problem he does have is that he never grows up.

  19. I am not sure when the seat belt straps were added to shopping carts but that would be the biggest change related to children – then again, they could use the cup holders some have.

  20. Forgot – sometimes an unruly child is described as being like a goat. Also he is climbing around as goat climbs around.

  21. RE: Grocery carts. ‘Cul-de-Sac’ has an entire series on grocery carts, when Dill’s brother gets a job as a ‘cartherder’ . . . for example, today . . .

  22. @ Chak – Wonderful story. It would be fascinating to know how your grandson now looks back on those experiences of “hiding” in the cart, although I realize that it might be very difficult to draw him out on the subject.

  23. @ Kilby, When he was three we really had to work to get him to talk, but by four we couldn’t shut him up. He still talks a mile a minute, and he’s 19 now.

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