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May, 2009

WHO Is Watching You?!

A friend told me that once, during a trip to Japan, he witnessed some children misbehaving at a public water fountain and the parents didn’t notice. Some random adults took the children by the arms and led them to their parents and told them they were acting inappropriately. The parents bowed deeply and apologized and thanked the people for letting them know. It takes a village, right? In the US, this would never fly. In fact, I’m pretty sure there would be lawsuits involved. Sometimes my village feels like the place where they sent all the town fools.

I am very fortunate to live walking distance to a great park and just another quick jaunt down the road to a shopping mall with an indoor play area. My girl is a running and climbing toddler now so we take regular trips to both locations, according to the weather.

During these outings, I’ve encountered an irritating and disturbing trend… young children without their parents or care takers around. Maybe this has been going on for years here in the greater Los Angeles metro area: young children running willy nilly around public places sans supervision, and I’ve only noticed it in the past two years, since I’ve become a mother.  Or maybe I just need to let MY kid run around willy nilly. Maybe I’m being hyper-vigilant with my two year old because I’m a first time mom. I’ll set the scene and you tell me.

Scenario at the park:

I am blowing bubbles for my little girl at the playground. Two little boys, approximately 3 and 4 years of age, run up and decide to jump and play in the bubbles with her. I’m down with this until the little one decides to completely get all up in my bubble blowing grill. He starts demanding that HE be the one to blow the bubbles, practically grabbing the wand out of my hand and his brother started throwing sand at my kid. Neither child speaks English. I don’t speak their language. The younger one communicates everything with an insisting “UH UH UH UH!” This is the point where I start looking for their mother. I ask the boys, in very broken other language (I don’t want to get doo-doo for being racist, but just trust me, in L.A. I’m often the ONLY person speaking English at the park on any given day and I actually like it that way), “Where is your mommy? Your mommy? Where?” Neither one answers me. There is not an adult associated with these two little boys anywhere to be seen.

Here is my dilemma: I’m sick of these rude kids but I don’t feel right leaving them there at the park alone. If I were a perv or a child murderer, it would have been so easy for me to have lured those kids and grabbed them. Any creep with some candy or a cute puppy or bubbles could have had those little boys in a matter of minutes.

I spent over half an hour waiting at the park with my little girl before a woman showed up who seemed to actually be their MOTHER! WTF? She told them it was time to go and off they went. No “thank you for babysitting my unruly children for free while I sat in the car and smoked a joint or whatever the hell I was doing”. Nothing. Didn’t even acknowledge me.

It just bugs me. Why don’t some people watch their children? I’m all for letting your kids explore and learn on their own, but they need to be supervised. I don’t know if I did the right thing by staying or not. Maybe it’s just not my problem. Maybe I need to care less. Or maybe stupid people shouldn’t be allowed to have children, but as history has shown us time and time again, stupid people just keep having babies. And lots of them. So, I don’t know. What’s a socially conscious, responsible human being to do? I guess just sit around and wait.

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