I've always been very vigilant about keeping an eye on him, for a number of reasons, mostly because I cave to the social pressure that it's just a weird thing to do. But, also, because I just want to keep an eye on my kid. There's nothing I hate more than a parent, or a person who isn't a parent, who is clueless that the world exists around them. You know, the rude ones that stop walking right in front of you, leave their cart and walk away. Or they'll take up 2 parking spaces right in front of your house and then go out of town, leaving their car behind for a fucking week and a half. (That may be a more specific example than you need). And, I know how kids are, of course, having had a few myself. I know they will scream and meltdown regardless of where you are; they will ask you inappropriate questions like "why are you so fat?" or they'll try to grab things out of your hands, or whateverthefuck kids do in a store. Kids are kids, and it's up to their parents to teach them proper social behavior. The question of "what's wrong with kids today?" is phrased improperly, because there's nothing wrong with kids today. Instead we should be asking "what's wrong with parents today?"
Anyway, this is kind of a life mission of mine. My kids will not be these clueless fucks who only care about themselves, it's actually kind of ironic, really, that I ended up with a kid with autism, but that's not the point right now. But, in the store, with my kid with autism, I'm always hovering on the line between "appropriate social behavior" and "he's really not bothering anybody so who cares what he's doing?" And he's not bothering anybody, except maybe for those obnoxious, nosy Berkeley hippies who think it's their responsibility to tell everybody else what to do and how to live (the other end of the spectrum of "clueless fucks," by the way) but, really, there isn't much that's not going to bother those people (uptight bitches, the lot of them). When he was little, I was always hyper sensitive about his whereabouts, and constantly making him stop having his running down the aisle fun and stand next to me. Over the years, though, I've lightened up about it, because, really, it's not that big of a deal for a kid to be running up and down the aisles. He's never once bumped into anybody, or knocked anything down, and I've learned that while it may look like he's not aware of his surroundings, he actually very much is. So, I trust him. And, over the years I've lightened up and let him have his fun.
(One time he was "arrested" by the staff at Berkeley Horticulture Nursery and taken to the front desk, where they paged me over the loudspeaker. He wasn't even 4 and not very verbal at the time and I was VERY proud of him for being able to answer the question of "what is your name" but less so when I heard "Will the parents of Child 1 please come to the front? He needs you." Nosy Berkeley fucks! He wasn't bothering anybody, he just REALLY likes to watch plants fly by his head!!!)
Sometimes he'll ask to go to a particular store because he knows they have the best aisles, and today he asked to go to Ikea. We compromised on Office Depot, though, because I actually needed something from there. So, we go in, and he instantly takes off running in the other direction. The store isn't that crowded so I decide to just let him to his thing while I go looking for 1099 forms, and I tell myself to lighten up about that social behavior pressure thingy. Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke! Or something. It took me about 5-7 minutes to find what I needed and that whole time I had no idea where he was. So, I'm done with my shopping and I start wandering around looking for him. I'm not panicked, because I know he would never leave the store without me, I just have to find the correct aisle. I bet toner cartridges look pretty cool when they're rushing past your head!
Eventually I start calling his name, because I'm done and want to get the hell out of there. And when I do, he comes walking right up to me.... holding a bag of M&Ms and 2 things of Reese's peanut butter cups. Just like any other kid would do! And I get to have a very typical "no, you can't have all that chocolate" conversation with him, just like a normie parent would, and we settle on just the M&Ms. He hadn't been running up and down the aisles, at all, he was in the fucking candy section picking out his favorites! Just like any other kid would do.