Tuesday, October 19, 2010

A Brief Return

Just popping in to say hi. I'm back from the mountains, where I actually had access to the Internet was just too dad-gum tired to post. I have no idea how teachers do it. I spent four days doing school presentations and now I need to chill out for the next four months.

I will have to wait until next week to chill out, however. On Thursday, I'm going up to Attleboro, MA, to give a speech and visit some middle school classes about one of my books. I'll be back Friday, and then I only have one more trip for the foreseeable future. Yay!

I wanted to report something I saw today, which has to be really, really high on my list for The Most Idiotic Parenting I've Ever Seen. I was walking across the library parking lot, when I noticed a driver being incredibly careful as she pulled out of her parking spot, tapping lightly on her horn as she drove. At first I couldn't figure out what she was up to, but then I saw the three-year-old on his scooter and understood.

Yes, right there in the middle of the library parking lot was a little kid riding a scooter. His mom was standing at the back of her car, hatchback open, changing her baby's diaper. Scooter Boy went back and forth from the car to the parking space opposite.

I'm trying to remember the last time I've been so dumbfounded. Really? Letting your kid entertain himself by riding his scooter in the parking lot of the public library is somehow a good idea?

What touched me was how careful all the drivers were as they pulled out. They saw the kid, and they pulled out of their parking spots at approximately twenty yards per hour. It was as though collectively everybody in that parking lot was more concerned about that little boy than his mom.

I never know what to do in these situations. Dress down the mom? Go stand by the little boy until she finished diapering the baby? In the end, I did what everybody did--I backed out of my spot very, very slowly, keeping my eye on the little boy the whole time.

I know that every mom in the world has pulled moves that later she can't believe. You leave the three-month-old baby on the bed while you run to get the phone, praying he doesn't suddenly learn to roll over in your absence and fall off the bed (in my case, he did). You don't strap on the belt on the diaper changing pad that's on top of a high changing table (that's when Will learned to roll over--onto the brick fire place). You run a yellow light with the kids in the car and almost get hit. You wake up in the middle of the night completely panicked, the memory of what almost happened making your heart race.

But let the toddler ride his scooter in the parking lot while you change a diaper? That's not a "I'll just be out of the room for five seconds" sort of thing. That's insane.

Oh, I should have said something. Would you have said something? Tell me what.


Back next week, and much more regularly, I hope!


GretchenJoanna said...

I admit I breathe a little easier when I see a blog post from you. I'm glad you can look forward to a period sans trips.

I don't know what I'd have done about the child in the parking lot...the last time I intervened, returning a wandering toddler to her home several houses down the block, I got a threatening tongue-lashing from the mom.

Gumbo Lily said...

I'm glad you're getting a little respite between speaking engagements, Frances.

About the little boy....I think I would have wanted to hold the boy's hand while his mom changed the diaper, but what I would have REALLY done, I'm not sure.


Pom Pom said...

Yikes. When I hear some of the rings on parents' cell phones - I begin to understand some kids' non-school behavior. You wouldn't believe it - sometimes I have to listen to an entire vulgar song before I can leave my teacher message. The world needs more grown ups! Glad to hear you say you were exhausted after four days. I am exhausted after four hours! Today was ONE of THOSE days. Sigh.

Tracy said...

Somes days I gain energy from the kids...sometimes they zap me of it completely. It does take practise to spend long periods of time with kids and not be exhausted. Good to hear you survived and are well.

I think if I'd been parked next to that Mum I'd have stopped to chat with the little boy (to keep him off the road) until she finished changing the baby. I work with kids and it kinda comes naturally with the littlest ones because they're the most willing to chat. I don't know that I'd say much to the Mum though. You usually don't have much authority to speak into someone else's parenting, even it if's dangerous.

Heather said...

Welcome back! I wouldn't have said a word to the mom since it would be a waste of breath, but I would have warned the boy not to scooter there because of all the cars pulling out. He is the one who needs to learn the lesson and he'd at least listen.

What is that old quote about teaching children to look for cars and not at the stop lights because a light never killed anyone?

Ali said...

I am never secure enough in my own parenting to out and out criticize somebody elses, but I think I would have stopped and chatted with the little lad, just to be on the safe side.

victoria said...

I guess she relied on the good will of everyone. Who wants to run over a little kid?
I wouldn't intervene, I'd be too scared of the mum!

Angela said...

Frances, please do check out my blog - I too have a cornmeal dining room now!!