Yesterday morning, at a local park: Kids were everywhere, mamas and day-care providers, too. Everyone was soaking up the glorious sunshine and basking in the glow of our brand-spanking new playground equipment.
Luke headed directly for a giant climbing rock and began putting his Croc-clad feet into child-sized toeholds, grinning. Matthew was soon shrieking down the slide, Isabella fast behind him, both of them laughing. All was well.
I turned to greet some mothers I know, cooed over a five-month-old princess, let my gaze scan the park every now again, seeking the children, one by one. Luke = rock. Matthew = swings. Isabella = slide.
Check. Check. Check.
A few minutes passed and I again eye-swept the area: Luke is still on the rock. Matthew is playing soccer, while nearby, Isabella builds sandcastles. Wow, Luke must love those rocks. He’s been in that same spot for about 5 minute….
I jogged over and was mortified to discover that Luke hadn’t been gazing about in wonder, as I’d assumed. Instead, he’d gotten stuck and then scared and, unable to move had been crying the whole freaking time.
Feeling awful, I quickly scooped him off the rock and into my arms, shushing and bouncing his heaving little body. I then glanced over to the three mothers standing a few steps away, let my jaw drop as they merely glanced back and walked away.
My son had been BAWLING for close to 5 minutes and they did nothing. Not. One. Bloody.Thing. No helping him up or down, no motioning me over. NOTHING.
This has irritated and saddened me so much. I cannot seem to let it go:
First of all, I am angry with myself for not noticing sooner, but I refuse to beat myself for it any longer. All afternoon is enough. But am also angry at three –count ‘em, THREE – mothers who could not step out of their own comfort zone long enough to wind an arm around a crying child and help him to safety.
It takes a village, my ass.
A friend suggested that it’s society’s fault – that people are too afraid to reach out for fear of being sued or misunderstood or worse.
I guess I get that. I don’t actually accept that – especially not for me or my children – but I get it. But it saddens and angers me, all the same. Is THIS what we’re teaching our children - to be afraid to offer a helping hand? To know that strangers are not friends we haven’t met yet?
Surely, that can’t be right.
If you were those mothers, what would you have done? Any similar stories out there?