Last week, I was outside readying a larger fish tank for our resident goldfish, “Goldie”. I’d been given a hand-me-down 20 gallon tank that needed to have some hard water deposits scraped, and a rustic dark pine stand made out of 2x4’s that needed to be painted. I went outside where I soaked the tank with vinegar and then scraped it best I could with a razor. I was priming the stand when I heard Sweet Daughter talking to someone. There was a little girl in our yard, about 2 or 3 years old. Out by the bench we use while waiting for the school bus, were a teenage female and a woman (probably around 40) talking to each other, nineteen to the dozen. I told the visiting girl to be careful, and to stay away from the razor blade (yes, I was keeping an eye on it) and the wet paint. SD continued to carry on a very on-sided conversation while the other two were absolutely oblivious as to the whereabouts of the youngest. After awhile, Shorter Half came outside and I said “Tag. You’re it. I’ve got to get dinner started.”
About 15 minutes later, SD ran in to say that the little girl needed to use the bathroom. SH was right behind her, and I said “Oh, no. She lives two houses away. She can go home and use the bathroom. That camel and its nose aren’t getting anywhere near this tent!” Shortly thereafter, I saw SH at the end of the driveway talking to the other two, who were now firmly ensconced on the bench. He’d gone out to ask if they were okay, seeing as how they were sitting in someone else’s yard on their bench (for over an hour), without so much as a greeting, or introduction. Oh, they were just fine! And he mentioned that the little one had to use the bathroom. Oh, she could go on into the house, no problem!
Not. When he told all this to me, I said it was a good thing I wasn’t out there, or they would have gotten an earful.
Fast forward to yesterday. SD was outside playing, and I was inside putting some stuff away when she ran in the house to tell me the little girl was back, and her mom had gone walking down the hill without her. I went outside, saw the girl, but the mom was out of sight. Michael W. was visiting and offered to keep an eye on things while I went in search of the mom, who was apparently out walking the dogs.
I caught up with her and asked, “Is that your little girl in our yard?”
I said, “You can’t just walk away leaving your child in some stranger’s yard. Do you understand?”
“We’re trying to teach our daughter that it isn’t safe to talk to strangers, or go in a strange yard without a grown-up she knows, and it’s certainly not okay to go in a stranger’s house. You walking away, leaving your child in our yard is not helping. And a six-year-old should not be responsible for a younger child. Do you understand why this is a bad idea?”
At this point the mom (who is the teenager, BTW) is continuing to give me the blank “if I just agree with her maybe she’ll shut up and leave me alone” stare, when I decided to make it short and sweet. With great conviction, I said, “You MAY NOT leave your child in our yard. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”
Buy then, we were almost back to the house. I walked up and told SD that she had done exactly the right thing in coming to get me to tell me what was going on, and that I was proud of her. During this exchange, the little girl left with her mom. I felt a little bad – the little girl can’t help that her mom is clueless. In her culture, maybe it takes a village to raise a child, but I’m not it.