12/30/2010

A Lump of Fear: Differences in Children or in Parents?

Wal-mart is always an adventure, especially when I take the girls. They did well, today, but we saw something today that just kind of struck all three of us as odd, and it was interesting in trying to keep the girls from speaking out.

In the produce section, a little boy of about four was carrying a food item and crying, calling for his mother. No parents were looking frantically, and the boy was growing more upset by the moment. I went and got someone who worked at Wal-mart while another woman stopped to talk to the child. The Wal-mart worker was really sweet with the boy, got down on his level, talked with him, soothed him. Some minutes went by; the girls and I went on with our shopping and were in line checking out when a family of four got in line behind us. You guessed it: the family with the little boy who had been separated from them.

The girls immediately noticed and recognized the child, but I shushed them and kept them focused on the little dolls they were purchasing. The boy was calm now and wandering far and wide from his parents who were canoodled against the cart, the husband's hands in the wife's back pockets, as they ignored their son. There was no sign of distress, no sense that just a few minutes earlier their child had been nowhere near them (they weren't anywhere near the produce section), that he had been distraught and weeping.

They were oblivious. Maybe it's because they were young. Maybe it's because their sexdrive was in hyperdrive. Maybe it was something else. But it struck my girlies as really weird behavior that they weren't paying any attention to the boy, especially after he'd just wandered away and been lost from them minutes before. For me, losing one of my kids, even for a moment, is my worst nightmare. I know they often aren't focused, and I make sure that they hold onto the cart, that they stay near me, that I keep my eyes on them. It still scares the crap out of me to let Bobby at 21 walk to another part of the store without me, but he's got a cellphone and he needs to be able to do these things, so I loosen my grip and let him. Maybe it's the difference in raising special needs children and neurotypical? Or maybe it's the difference in the way those parents view the world and the way it works? I can't help but play out the worst possible scenarios, and I'm a bit highstrung, so I watch more carefully maybe?

I don't know, but I'd bet you anything that incident today left more of an impact on me and my girls than it did on that family of four. And I don't know whether that's a good thing or not.

6 comments:

Aspergirl Maybe said...

Seeing the parents acting like that would definitely make me even more afraid than seeing the little boy all alone.

farmwifetwo said...

My youngest has gone missing 3 times now on the farm over the years. I have listed him with the OPP incase it happens at school. This is the 2nd school and the 2nd fence the board has put up.

1. We were putting up the canopy, and I turned my back... luckily with all the sand Dh tracked him to the E woods. Thing is, the kid isn't lost he knows he way around most of the 300+ acres, but he's gone wandering.

2. I went to the bathroom and he went out the door naked instead of getting dressed. I heard the door squeak - Dad wanted to oil them and I said "how am I to know if he wanders outside??" - Luckily, that time Dh and his Father saw him around the barn. How he got through the granary unhurt - hasn't been used in forever - and was standing in the middle naked...

3. I went to the library for a moment - 2min away in the village - Dh got a call and.... This time he'd wandered across the road to check out the crop. I watched him return completely unperturbed as I searched buildings and Dh ran around with the gator following footprints.

This last summer was the first I dared to turn my back for a moment. He's good about staying in the play yard btwn the houses. Longer than a couple of moments, farther than my garden across the lane... No... But it's coming.

As for those parents.... normal child or not... you have to watch them. Makes you wonder where he ranks on their care list most days.

KWombles said...

Aspergirl Maybe,

It was a bit odd, to say the least.

Farmwifetwo,

Those had to be terrifying experiences.

We put alarms on the doors so that if the girls get out we'll hear; that takes some of the worry off. Some, but not all, because the alarms only work if you turn them on.

Yeah, I wondered the same about that family. I hope it's higher than it appeared.

Anonymous said...

Kim,
I'm with you. We have chimes on our doors that are hooked into our alarm system. I also had child proof knobs on all the door handles when my kids were small. The sliding door in the back has a lock at the top and bottom. Thankfully, my children are now old enough that worrying about them wandering off is no longer an issue, but like you I still stay in touch by cell phone if they aren't right by me in a store.

Maybe I'm overprotective, but I don't care. Better safe than sorry! I'm afraid the example you saw goes back to parental apathy which also contributes to bullying in our schools.

mamafog said...

Fear of my daughter going missing is my number one fear. It is interesting that your girls picked up on that so keenly.
Is it too nosy of me to ask what little dolls your girls picked?

KWombles said...

Anonymous,

Absolutely, better safe than sorry. We can't undo what's been done, so I'd rather be overcautious and prepared.

Mamafog,

Not at all! Both girls picked little flower petal dolls that are about 7-8 inches tall. Lily's had orange hair and Rosie's had yellow hair.