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Glazer: Attention shoppers: Dont bring food
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Earlier this week I went out on a mission to find the perfect dress. I have a dinner to attend in a few weeks and it's not the sort of soiree where my usual polo shirt and jeans attire will do.

I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted to wear. All I had to do was find it. Three hours and four department stores later, the planets aligned, the clouds parted and I spotted exactly what I needed.

Everything was right. The right size. The right style. The right fabric. Even the right price. I was about to perform a celebratory jig when I saw the Hershey-colored stain smack across the front.

I looked around the sales floor, half expecting to see a stroller containing a toddler waving a candy bar. The offender was long gone but his or her handiwork remained, indelibly stamped on delicate, dry clean-only fabric.

Which leads me to today's rant. What is the deal with parents giving their children food, messy food, and then taking them shopping? I see it every day. Kids with chocolate bars, chips covered in florescent orange powder, sticky sodas and dry cereal which, when scattered, leaves a trail worthy of Hansel and Gretel.

I operate a resale clothing store and this is a constant issue for us. I never quite know how to approach the topic. How do you politely tell someone something what ought to be painfully obvious?

"Excuse me, ma'am. Could you please hold that powdered donut while your dervish of a child climbs through my racks?" or " I'm not sure an 87-ounce Big Gulp full of blue soda is the best thing to give a 2-year old in a clothing store."

Twenty years ago, the standard finger food for little fellows was dry Cheerios. A baggie of those and a bottle of juice and the family was good to go. Now it seems like anything that can fit in diaper bag is fair game.

Fruit appears to be a popular selection. Not just apple slices or a banana. Oh, no. There are drippy orange sections and ripe peaches. Grapes are a favorite, too, even though a good many of them slip out of chubby little fingers and wind up squashed on the carpet.

I even had one family come in with children munching on hot buttered corn on the cob. Really. I'm not making this up. I wish I were.

I think there's a bigger issue here that needs to be addressed. Somewhere along the line, we've decided that delayed gratification equals poor parenting. If a child wants something they get it. Right then. No matter what it is or where they are. Diaper bags are a cornucopia of snack foods, ready to fulfill any request, whether it's sweet, salty, solid or liquid.

Can we please stop that right now? New parents, listen up: when venturing out shopping with your children, your job is to keep them dry and hydrated. That's all. Solid food has no place outside the food court, a restaurant or the privacy of your car if you've used a drive-through.

You don't have to pack a picnic when preparing for a trip to Target. I promise, your child will survive without a candy infusion during a half hour shopping excursion.
It teaches a lesson about respecting the property of others. It teaches children patience, a trait that will always serve them well. It also helps put food in perspective. It's fuel, not entertainment or diversion.

And it saves fellow shoppers from the heartbreak of finding the perfect dress only to then discover the telltale stain.

Teressa Glazer is a Gainesville businesswoman. Her column appears biweekly on Fridays and on