Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Annals of parenthood

While filling the car with gas this morning, I happened across a scene that saddened me immensely. I was taking our youngest, Noah, to a dentist's appointment when I realized two things: we were running ahead of schedule (frightening...I'm never early for anything) and the gas tank was approaching empty.

Cheapskate that I am, I also noticed the station up ahead was selling its horrifically polluting petrochemical product for around 4 cents/litre less than anyone else. I did the time/cost math in my head and pulled in.

Noah bantered to me through the open window as I topped off the tank. As I finished with the pump and went around the car to fetch him so we could go inside and pay, I heard a commotion as a father emerged from the little store/cashier's building. It played out like this:

Crying young daughter (around 5, I guess): "I want a toy."
Father: "We don't have time. Next time I might buy you one."
Daughter (not moving from her spot in front of the building): "You promised."
Father (walks briskly, alone, to the car. Calls another driver a 'shmuck' for accidentally opening his car door in his path. Other driver apologizes; shmuck statement hangs in the air): "If you don't come here right now, I'll let all these cars run you over."
Daughter: Waaaaaaaa.....

After a few seconds of this little standoff, the father walked back to the girl, abruptly grabbed her, walked her back to the car, deposited her roughly through the open front passenger window into the front seat, and went around to his side. No child seat, no booster, no seat belt.

I am ashamed that I did nothing. But my instinct to protect my own child won over my wish to possibly get involved with a clear-cut nutcase.

I held my little guy closer as we went inside. He hugged me back and kissed me. The cashier smiled broadly at us and commented about how sweet he was. Some blessings just can't be understated.


JJ said...

That guy sounds like an ass. Poor kid.

Slap-Happy said...

I'm not sure how to feel about this. On the down side, a human is being needlessly traumatized. This reduces the likely realized potential of the tiny human. That hurts society.

On the up, it's less likely that said human will become an adult and damage/drain society. Such is a neutral outcome.

Total sum is negative. I must concur: Poor kid.

Gina said...

Well, I was trying to give the guy the benefit of the doubt until you wrote about the lack of car seat. That is premeditated neglect.

Does Canada have a car seat law?

Ella said...

I will never get people like this. To have a child and then wilfully neglect it, emotionally and physically, no I will never understand it.

Melonie said...

Yeah, he sounds like a world class father of the year candidate. Poor little girl. Here's hoping she has a good mother in her life.

Christine said...

It just breaks my heart when I see children who obviously still need to be in a carseat climbing around the backseat, or sitting on a passenger's lap. I also think talking that way to a child (I'll let these cars run over you) is horrible! A child should always feel safe and protected and loved with their parents without fail or exception.

It breaks my heart how many children are hurt by the ones who are suppose to love them the most. I wish I could protect them all. The best I can do is love and protect my own.

Ms Mac said...

That's horrendous.

VW said...

Wow... I believe I would have done the same. Just to keep my children safe. You never know how someone like that would react. Thanks for stopping by my blog, it helped me find yours and I like your blog!

Steve said...


I work with a troubled youth with impulse-control issues. Many of his stories conclude with this phrase:

"...and so I told him to go f*ck himself".

My response is always the same. I ask him "do you think that helped the situation? Did it make things any better for you?"

Because of this relationship, I'm questioning my own anger responses. I'd want to sarcastically remark "nice parenting", but I'm not convinced it would improve the situation in any way. It might me feel better, but I doubt that he'd respond to this constructive criticism by engaging in earnest introspection.

mike said...

That clown is sick. Another reason to have a licence to be a parent.

jadedprimadonna said...

Very sad! One of the reasons I got burned out when I was teaching public high school was seeing things like that and not being able to do anything to help. (Later I realized being there to listen to the kids probably DID help, and I probably did a lot of damage when I quit.)

Moogie said...

The car seat issue alone bothers me. But there are so many issues in this post that are troubling. It's really hard not to do, but I try not to judge (again, lack of time is no excuse for not putting child in a car seat). Perhaps the father was in a hurry. Or his mind was on something else. There are surely better ways he could have handled the situation. The idea of grabbing your child and sticking them through the window does not give me warm tinglies. Besides all of that, the way he handled having a door opened in front of him was fairly bad. What does this teach the little girl?

I understand you not getting involved, and I fully support that. For what it's worth, I doubt it would have done any good anyway.

In the end, you got a hug and a kiss. And to top it off, you were AHEAD of schedule.

L said...

some people should not be having children...

Carmi said...

JJ: He most definitely is an ass. It was embarrassing to watch him.

SLAP-HAPPY: It's when it trickles down on a child whose only sin was being in this particular household that I get upset.

GINA: Car seat and belt laws are mandated on a province-by-province basis. Ontario has one, and this guy would have been pulled over if a cop had been around (and not eating donuts).

ELLA: Me neither. I don't get how people can dismiss their children in such a blatantly cruel manner.

MELONIE: I was wondering about the Mom as well - and hoping she was better. Sadly, so many families like this are fractured.

CHRISTINE: I'm still upset by it. My child had a happy day. This girl did not. And all because mine was lucky enough to be my and my wife's kid. Luck of the draw.

VW: Same here. I'm always happy to find a great read online!

STEVE: That's a great perspective. I guess the answers really aren't all that clear.

MIKE: You need a license to sell potato chips on the street, but not to have kids. Go figure.

JADEDPRIMADONNA: The system is rife with examples of good people being beaten down. I'm sorry to hear you were one of them: your students must have been lucky indeed to have had you.

MOOGIE: Some days, the schedule gods simply align for me. Doesn't happen often, but when it does...

L: I can think of a whole lot of folks who should have been kept out of the parental pool.

mommy d said...

Sad, very sad!