Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Would You Do?

This evening, Miracle Man and I took Em out for ice cream after dropping El off at Girl Scouts. In the parking lot of our local Rita's, we witnessed an altercation between two very large adults and their very small preschool aged daughter. The little girl had taken off across the parking lot, looking behind her and giggling the whole time.

Let me stop here to say I know how maddening it can be when a little kid decides to play "chase me, chase me" in a busy parking lot. First your heart stops as you imagine your little sweetie getting flattened by a car, then when she makes it to the safety of the sidewalk you're not sure if you should hug her in relief or wring her darling little neck. NOTE: Most parents understand that you're not supposed to actually harm the child, whether by neck-wringing or any other method. It's pretty much a universal understanding.

When Large Dad caught up to Little Girl, he spun her around, whacked her bottom a couple of times, and picked her up to carry her to their car. Ok, I get that too. I'm fairly laid back, and still am no stranger to whacking a little bottom a couple of times when they do something that could have gotten them seriously injured or killed. Had the altercation ended there, I would not have thought twice about it.

Then Large Mom caught up to them. That's when shit got real.

Large Mom, unsatisfied with the tears already streaming down Little Girl's face, grabbed Little Girl by the arm and yanked her out of Large Dad's arms, whereupon Little Girl landed on the sidewalk. Large Mom, clearly not understanding that her point had been made, then yelled at Little Girl for falling down. Obviously it was Little Girl's fault - she should know how to defy the laws of physics by the age of three.

Large Mom She then picked Little Girl up by the arm and then carried/dragged Little Girl to their truck, cussing up a storm. When they made it to the truck, Large Mom yanked Little Girl up and threw her into the car. As her profanity-filled tirade continued, she gave Little Girl a few good shakes for good measure. At this point, Little Girl more closely resembled a big rag doll rather than a living child with limbs and muscle control. I could tell by her cries that she was at least alive, but the disturbing image of seeing a small child yanked around like that by the person who is supposed to protect her fiercely from harm is burned into my brain.

I wish I could say I tapped Large Mom on the shoulder and sucker punched her in the face when she turned around. I wish I could say I had at least said something to grab her attention and given Little Girl a reprieve from the onslaught. I wish I could say I had called 911 and reported a description of their truck and tag number to the police so that someone with actual authority and resources could help that kid. I wish I could say I had done something.

Instead I stopped in my tracks. I gave these model parents a hard stare until Large Dad noticed. When his eyes met mine, he had the common decency to look ashamed. He turned and said something to Large Mom. I heard Large Mom say something to the effect of, "I don't effing care!!" At least Large Dad knew there was at least one witness to the gross mistreatment of his defenseless child. Unfortunately, the witness did nothing to help ensure the mistreatment would stop.

The goal of correcting a child is to help them learn not to repeat a certain behavior. Did Little Girl learn not to run across a parking lot? Doubtful. Did Little Girl learn that her mommy is a dangerous fucking nut job? I'd say yes. No wonder the kid ran in the first place.

After my blood pressure returned to normal, I said a prayer for Little Girl's protection. That's about all I could do at that point, as the model parents were in their truck and on their way out of the parking lot. I'm still kicking myself for not doing more. I'm not sure what I realistically could have done. But still. That feeling of helplessness is hard to shake. I'm sure Little Girl knows that feeling all too well.

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