I had left my children sitting at the edge of the book sale, with a pile of interesting reads for their entertainment, and was checking out other tomes just a few metres away. Suddenly, I heard someone yelling.
"Eh! Why you push my baby?" came the shrill tones of an enraged woman, cutting sharply through the hum of air-conditioning in the expo hall.
I looked up and saw that the woman had been shouting at my younger son. My three-year-old looked up at her, wringing his little hands anxiously. He kept quiet as she continued to look daggers at him. A toddler was cradled protectively in her arms.
After about a minute or so, she moved off. But not without a few backward glances at my boy - who was frozen like a deer caught in the headlights - and muttering angrily under her breath.
While this was going on, I kept my distance. I wanted to see how the scene would play out without my interference, and how my son would react.
He remained still and silent, until his dad - who had been watching, too, from another side of the room - went up to him and wagged an admonishing finger. Then, my little boy burst into tears.
The issue of telling another person's child off has become increasingly fraught in today's world. A Google search for the phrase "another parent scolding your child" yielded 2,750,000 results.
"Strangers are NOT allowed to yell at my kids," went one rant on TheStir.com parenting website, by a woman whose three-year-old son was reprimanded by an old man, after the child started screaming excitedly in a restaurant.
Some 548 comments followed that March 10 post: Some took the woman's side ("I hope you had the presence of mind to put the old curmudgeon in his place. If you did not, then the message your three-year-old received is that it is okay for hostile people to yell at and be mean to him."), while others pointed out that someone had to tell the kid to stop ("I hate parents who make excuses for their bratty children").