Thursday, March 29, 2007

Oh. My. God.

This post starts all sweetness and light but don't worry. You'll get the title in a little bit.
Offspring #2 and I have begun attending story-time at the local library. #1 and I went for about two years at home and just loved it. I have a couple of scrapbooks of his creations in his memory box. Of course, being a former English teacher we all know how much I love books and I really want my kids to love them too.
Story-time is fabulous. It's aimed at pre-schoolers so there are a bunch of toddler-aged kids and their mums. It goes for about 45 minutes, which is just perfect for weeny ones. One of the lovely kid-friendly library ladies takes the session and you can see how much she loves both the books and the kids. We listen to a couple of stories - usually decent sized picture books with lovely illustrations - on a topic or theme and then do some sort of craft activity based around that theme. Today's topic was toys and games and after the stories the kids all got to make their own jigsaw. The creations varied a great deal depending upon age and ability but they were all gorgeous. One of the nice things about story-time is that no-one looks at you funny if your kid chucks a wobbly or talks through the story or interrupts the story to tell the librarian something totally unrelated. It's just a lovely, comfortable environment that lets the kids learn about books, encourages early literacy development and gives them something fun to do at the end.
Anyway, we had finished the session and, after checking out the books I was borrowing this week #2 and I headed outside to the car. The library is actually in a little complex with the theatre and you have to walk out the libray sliding doory into the foyer, out another set of doors and then through one final set before you eventually get to the outside world. I was holding the library bag in one hand and #2's hand in the other when we quite literally tripped over a little girl climbing down the set of 10 or so steps to the car-park proper. She was a little bit younger than #2, maybe by a couple of months so I guess she was about 16 months old. I recognised her from the story-time session and she was making great progress down the steps. I looked around for her mum thinking that maybe she was getting a drink at the water foutain or was waiting in the shade at the bottom of the steps but I couldn't see her anywhere. I kind of hovered for a minute or two waiting for someone to come flying over and snatch their precious baby away but nothing happened. I did a quick scan of the carpark to check that, God forbid, her Mum wasn't lying on the road or something terrible like that but couldn't see anything untoward. Finally I decided to take the little girl inside to the librarians and see if they knew anything. To make a long story short, her Mum was happily browsing the shelves and chatting with some other mums on the far side of the library and didn't even know her child was missing. When I handed the little girl to her I said (trying so hard not to be a complete bitch or totally patronising or any of the horrible things I would hate if I'd lost #2 and was in a panic), "I found her in the carpark." The mum replied, " Oh? You're joking, aren't you?" She didn't even seem overly concerned. It wasn't a big horrified "You're joking?" or a relieved "You're joking". She said it the way I might say it to #1 when he tells me something totally farfetched like that he had lunch on Mars and stopped at the Moon on the way home from school. I was horrified, terrrified, gob-smacked and pretty much so angry I was speechless. Yes, it was probably a total over-reaction on my part. I'm a control freak and I want to know where my kids are every second of the day. I expect that will lessen with time but at the moment they are way too little to be anywhere I don't know about.
The thing that made me maddest, beside the fact this tiny little child was wandering around totally unsupervised, was that the child's stroller was sitting right there next to the mother. If she wasn't going to watch her child could she not have strapped her into the the stroller to keep her safe?
Like I said.
Oh. My. God.

4 comments:

The Cookbook Junkie said...

That's outrageous! Not to defend her but I would be so completely mortified that I let something like that happen, I'm not sure what my outward reaction would be in the same situation.

Claire said...

Okay...that is aweful! I mean, I don't even have kids and I would have been terrified if a child I was with had been found away from me, much less in the parking lot along, MUCH LESS at age 16 months!

Ellie said...

I find this utterly infuriating. I see these kinds of mothers all the time at my gym. There's a free creche offered and so these mothers turn up, wearing ridiculous amounts of gold jewelry, nike everything and painted on make-up, and they don't even sign them into the creche properly, just leave the kid to wander around while they go chat with their friends or start their workouts.

And people wonder why I think there should psychological testing done on people before they're allowed to have children.

Anonymous said...

I am the "high anxiety" grandma and I can completely relate to your horror of finding that tiny child out on the steps of the library. Oh, that just infuriates me so. And thank God you were there to safely return her to her stupid mom. Thank God, thank God, you were doing your job. Jancd, Houston