By: Laura Burton/Scary Mommy I am sure most of you have heard the expression, it takes a village to raise a child. Sitting underfoot of my mom and her friends, I would often hear this saying. It was easy for me to understand because my mom had a tribe. While she and my dad were our primary caregivers, they looked to neighbors and friends to watch us when they were in need.
Now that I am a mom myself, 30 years later than my own mom, I have realized that the village no longer exists. Where has the village gone? Every once in a while, I will have an older person (usually a woman) help me with a crying or tantruming child, but most people just stare at me in disgust and walk away. It seems people have forgotten what it was like to shop with a little one, or they just don’t care to help anymore, or they are worried that getting involved may upset the parent.
This has been a recent topic of conversation between my husband and me. I am frustrated with the looks and stares I get when I am out with my children and they misbehave even a little bit. He, on the other hand, has a very different experience as a male. People look at him and smile because they are amazed that he is out with his children alone. Being hopeful, I commented to him that maybe I have just had some bad experiences. Then I told myself that I had to have faith that if I was really in need, someone would stop and help. But about a month ago, when I found myself in desperate need of help, no one came. There were no other villagers in my village. I now realize that when I am out with my children (sans family or close friends), I am truly alone. And it’s frightening.
On this day, our “safe” store was too long of a drive to fit into our schedule. We were lucky to make it through the mini-cart store with minimal drama, but while checking out, the little one decided to take off. I was trapped behind my own cart, a little cart, a bagger, and two patrons with carts full of groceries. My youngest son took his cart and zoomed past seven checkout lines, the customer service desk, and straight out two sliding double doors — into the parking lot. Not one single person tried to stop him. He ran by multiple cashiers, the customer service counter with people waiting in line, an employee rounding up carts, and multiple shoppers. And not one person attempted to stop the tiny little 2-year-old with his mini-cart. Thankfully, my oldest is used to his brother’s antics and immediately jumped into action and chased after him. By the time I got unstuck and could catch up, he was dragging his (kicking and screaming) brother back in from the parking lot.
Now a lot of you reading this may be judging me. Why didn’t she leave her kids at home with a babysitter? Why doesn’t she have control of her children? How has her child gotten to be so out of control? Let me tell you that I do my best, and my children are safe (and well-behaved 90% of the time). But things happen sometimes that are out of our control. My youngest is fiercely independent, and sometimes he is too quick for me.
But please, if you see a child in a precarious situation, don’t just stand there. Step in. Even if the parent gets mad at you, it’s better that the child is safe. Please help bring the villagers back to the village. A village is a lonely place without them.