Say Something

This time of Covid is a terrible time for everyone. It’s hard on families, it’s hard on children, it’s hard on the police and the fire department, it’s also hard on all the medical personnel that work so hard to keep everyone healthy and alive.I have compassion for everyone working in law enforcement but I do think more attention can be paid to what’s happening in small ways in our community.

I did something this morning that I am very proud of. I can’t see any reason not to have done it. I live near a playground and I heard a child crying this morning. Not crying in the way a child sometimes cries when they’re tired or want something, but crying in a way that says I am desperately unhappy and in pain.

The crying was so faint at first I thought I must be imagining it because I was on a zoom call taking care of business. When I was done I went downstairs and asked a friend who had been using my wireless if she had heard the crying. She said I was just going to come and get you because it’s been going on for at least 20 or 25 minutes.

I went outside and walked across the street to the park where I found two young women talking to themselves and four children all apparently under the age of two. One of the children was over by himself in the corner and  was sobbing. I called out to the two young women saying that the crying has been going on for 20 to 25 minutes at this point and I was very concerned about the child. I asked why he was crying and why they weren’t comforting him.

Both women became very aggressive and said that little children needed to cry and it was because his mother had just left him for a short period of time. I said no child should be left to cry for this long period of time and they should attempt to comfort the child. They told me to basically mind my own business.

The child continued to cry and looked incredibly forlorn so I told them I was going to call the police unless they did something. I called the nonemergency number of the Sausalito Police Department and made my report and I was called back by the dispatch person who basically said to me that this was not child abuse and there was nothing that they could do. I explained to them that it may not be child abuse but it was child neglect which was just as bad. The young woman on the phone said that I should understand the police department doesn’t concern themselves with such matters.

At this point a car pulled up in front of the playground and a young woman got out and it was clear to me that this must be the mother. The child went running to her and stopped crying immediately. I went over to the mother and reported to her what had been going on and the two young women who were there denied everything saying who are you going to believe the two of us or her? They went on to say that they were running a child care business and they knew how to take care of children.

Despite all of this I was happy to see that the mom was sitting on the ground holding her child who had stopped crying and was so peaceful and happy after what was now 45 minutes of hysteria.

I am hoping that in my being an upstander rather than a bystander this mom will think twice about putting her child in the care of someone she doesn’t know well. I still can’t get over the fact that this child had to suffer for such a long time. It was shocking to watch these two young women chatting away while this child was over in the corner completely hysterical and ignored.

I’m sure the Sausalito police have their rules and regulations but sending a patrol car to the park which is three minutes from their station might have made a big difference not only in this child’s life but in the lives of other children  in the future who are left with these two women.

Everyone needs to be more compassionate in today’s world but I firmly believe we also need to look out for those who can’t look out for themselves.

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One response to “Say Something”

  1. Elizabeth Delmonico Avatar
    Elizabeth Delmonico

    I love your “Covert Covid” piece: duels with tongues as weapons–YES. This one is also lovely. We should intervene if a child is being abused or neglected; parents need to know what’s happened. But something’s missing in the solution. Women often trade child care with neighbors because they can’t afford licensed care. That’s been the case since Eve left little Cain and Able with Grendel’s mother. (Sorry.) What am I really trying to say? Licensing doesn’t guarantee gentle wisdom in caretakers? You did your duty when you told the mom her boy had cried for 45 minutes.

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