Friday, January 29, 2010

"I would never do that"

I think we've all been in a situation where we've witnessed some questionable choices by parents. Maybe a parent overreacted with their discipline and spanked when you wouldn't (if you spank, I'm not judging one way or the other), or - more commonly - let a behavior go uncorrected. One time at the zoo, I saw a parent straddle their small child on the canopy on top of the stroller. I thought about saying something about the safety of the situation, but decided it wasn't my place. Sure enough, 4 minutes later, kiddo got wicked excited over a giraffe and down went both toddler and stroller. That was a moment when I thought "I would never do that." Last night, I had another of those moments.

After a delicious dinner of sushi and some sake (not on the meal plan, but I'm not one to turn down my husband for a dinner date), Dan and I headed to the mall. We made a pit stop, and when I left the ladies' room, I found Mr. Kingston trying repeatedly to stuff a $1 bill into a vending machine. As I was waiting, a family approached the restrooms. A little bitty girl was racing toward the men's room and her father scooped her up and took her in with him while the girl's mother took her older brother into the women's room.

Thanks to the vending machine being as equally stubborn as my husband and refusing to take his dollar, we were still outside when the little girl and her dad exited the restroom. The girl said, "Mama" and pointed to the ladies' room and then the father scooted her toward the ladies' room and said "yep, she's in there, go find your momma." Uh, what? I would never do that. The kid was like 18 months old, toddling off to find her mom alone (the restrooms at this mall don't have doors, just a twisted pathway in so you can't look into them), so I grabbed her hand and escorted her in and told her that we were going to wait for her mommy. She didn't resist me or even seem to acknowledge that I was completely unknown to her. It dawned on me in that moment that this father had just allowed a complete stranger (as friendly looking as I am) to take his child into a public restroom. WTF?! I would never do that.

I had to wait with the girl for about a minute for her mother to exit the stall with her brother and when she saw me there holding her daughter's hand, the look on her face was one of complete shock. She asked if the girl had wandered in alone and I replied, "not exactly" and walked out. She didn't thank me, but I have a feeling I'd be pretty speechless in a moment like that, too. Outside the restroom, I told Dan (who was STILL trying to feed his dollar into the machine - you have to admire his determination) that I would buy him a soda and we were leaving. He asked why, because he already had a dollar "invested" and I whispered, "because that father just let a complete stranger take his kid into a bathroom and the mom doesn't look too happy, so I'd prefer not to be here for that." Seriously, if Dan had done something like that, I'd be completely livid, and I had no desire to see whatever would ensue when Momma Bear confronted Daddy Dumb-Dumb.

I'm kind of still a little shocked, when I think about it. I feel thankful that I was there instead of some kid-diddling predator lurking in the second-to-last stall. At the same time, I wonder if I did the right thing or if I overreacted. But I feel confident that I would feel worse today if I'd watched a baby girl wander through that doorway alone. It's eerie to think that maybe the soda machine didn't take Dan's dollar right away for a reason - that I was supposed to be there. Okay, maybe that's going too far. Perhaps I'm way over-thinking all of it. But I do know for sure that never in a million years would I ever do that.

Any great moments in bad parenting you've witnessed?


BrownEyedGirlsMom said...

You did the right thing and that dad was a dumbass! My question is why didn't the boy go with the dad originally and the girl with the mom? That would have made the most sense. There are too many weirdos out there.

I think the bad parenting moments I witnessed are overshadowed by my own at times! We all make mistakes but my big thing is you need to discipline your child as to how far that discipline goes is another story.

I can't help but laugh thinking of Dan and his dollar! Too funny!

KingstonsQueen said...

I think because she was already making her way to the men's restroom and when the dad picked her up, the mom said something along the lines of "you take her, I'll take hi." It didn't make much sense to me either. But then, none of it made any sense to me.

I still owe Dan a soda.

Kelly @ Dare to be Domestic said...

My jaw is on the floor. What on earth was that father thinking? If I was the mother I would have been so annoyed. My first thought was though - why did the father take the girl into the mens room and the mother take the boy into the women's room. Just seems ODD to me. But him letting her first go in there alone and then with you. What if you were the baby snatcher ya know? I hope his wife gave him an ear full.

I always see kids running around walmart and places unattended. It's crazy. When I was young my biggest fear in life was being taken. I guess it was all the info we learned at school. When I was young child abduction was a huge thing they had seminars about it. I think they might need to do this more often so the parents AND the children are aware of the dangers of strangers or your friendly neighbors. I don't think fear is always the best policy but some knowledge never hurt anyone.

I think it was nice of you - you were put at ease knowing that little girl entered the bathroom to find her mom, not another person that might harm her. I do hope the mom lit up the dad when she exited the restroom.