I sat outside tonight on the steps so my boy could play in the yard. He is a little over two years old and loves the outdoors. So I gave in tonight and played outside with him while his little sister (10 months old) took a nap. 'Mommy time' as we call it. As my boy was playing with his trucks my mind wandered to the kids playing across the street. The oldest was maybe 7 and was going back and forth between inside the house and the back yard, the middle girl, who was looking after her younger sister, was maybe 4 and the youngest was under 2 years old. The middle girl was walking with the youngest back and forth across the street and telling her to look out as cars passed by. Then the oldest and the middle girl went inside and the 'baby' was in the back yard crying while laying in the grass. I watched stunned not knowing what to do. What am I suppose to do? I wanted to run over and pick her up and hug her and tell her it was o.k. and take her to her mom. Grand idea huh? Then I looked at my boy who is too young to be left alone in the yard or near the street while I ran over to help this little girl. And lets be honest after I knocked on the door holding the neighbors baby I have a feeling she wouldn't have smiled and thanked me but probably knocked me out for picking up her baby while she had things under control.
Still I sat paralyzed feeling like something was terribly wrong. This comes on the heels of seeing a little boy, maybe in first grade, running across a four way stop street to then take off down the side walk running far from the direction in which he came. I went thru the stop turned around and drove in the direction the boy was running but I had lost him and could not find him. I felt sick. Truth be told he was probably o.k. and running home for dinner but still I could not fathom an instance where I would let Samuel, at 7 or 8 years old, run thru a busy intersection and around the block to come home. I hope the boy is o.k. I didn't know what to do when I couldn't find where he went. Just like I didn't know what to do about the young little girl crying with her face in the grass across the street from me.
So I looked at my little boy who took the book I was no longer reading out of my hand, put it on the ground and pulled me up to play with him. So I played with him. For the next hour I played. The parents of the kids across the street, both who had the kids at very young ages themselves, finally came outside to yell at the kids about how they wanted to leave and the kids better get their stuff together then yelled at the baby for taking her shoes off, packed the kids into the cars and drove off. Thats when I felt really sick. This is their life. For the next 15-18 + years this is their family. Maybe that is a leap but this is not just based off of one afternoon sitting on the steps out front. This is from observation since the 'kids' got pregnant a few years ago soon after I moved in. So I sit here tonight thinking what should I have done? What could I have actually done? What can I do know? Do I just let all of this ruminate?
I firmly believe that we have a community responsibility, that it takes a village to raise a child and all that stuff. But I have no clue how that practically works out and where the lines are to be drawn.
Anyone who can help me with this please feel free to chime in.