Sunday, October 20, 2013

My Crappy Parenting < Your Crappy Parenting

If you're reading this, chances are you've been reading other things of mine, and I hope for your sake that you know me.  Chances are also that through one or both of those things you should know how often I admit my shortcomings as a parent.  I will preface this tale by saying this is not my reaction to a news story, which I realize the media often skews to fit an agenda or leaves out important facts.

That is why I am fully disclosing the events as they occurred.  You see, it's not my intention to simply highlight one person's shitty behavior if I can't put it in context with my own shitty behavior.  It wouldn't be fair to anyone, and you, my friends, are smarter than that.

So.  I had just left PetCo.

Wait, you say?  The Lees don't have any animals?  Yes.  True.  I was at PetCo to inquire about a 28 by 39 inch foam dog bed that they advertised on their website but I'm too impatient to wait for the FedEx guy to deliver.  I tend to want things NOW.  Also, our cute little hamlet has twelve hundred options locally to purchase flat foam dog beds with durable, removable, washable covers, and has ZERO options for any equivalent BABY products for use in the bottom of Chunka Monka's pack-n-play, which we use as his full-time bed, and which he doesn't get very good sleep in, so therefore mommy doesn't get very good sleep either.  I'm trying to make him more comfy, which parenting safety "experts" say I should not do.

I'm not a complete monster. I had also, in this same shopping trip, picked up a new carseat for him for our 2nd car because he's....growing.

PetCo did not have the particular size I required but suggested I check Ross, which was just across the parking lot, as they regularly carry dog beds in miscellaneous sizes.

So I buckled my fat baby into all 5 points of his harness to go across the parking lot.  When I got out and began into the store, I could hear crying.  I stopped several times, looked around, and finally saw a lady talking to someone next to a car.  In the store I went, straight back to the dog beds, immediately saw that they only had things suitable for Yorkies to snuggle, and headed back out, but heard over the speakers, "will the owner of the red Explorer please come to Customer Service."

No. They. Didn't.

See, I've long warned the hubs of this: I will be an unapologetic cop calling window breaker outer, so...FYI.

I'm not the person who's gonna fiddle fart around running from store to store in a strip mall trying to have a kid's parents paged.  No sir.

So I marched out to that car.  There were a couple people standing there in a panic.  They literally did not know what to do.  I told them I'd break the window out if it needed to be.  One guy told the lady she should call the cops, but not to call 911, to call their business line because it wasn't an emergency.  He rattled off their business line to them and indicated he'd had "previous dealings" with them.

Great.  THIS should give you an indication of the group of folks we have here.

Then the guy started trying to engage the girl, a little too aggressively, and she wouldn't look at him at all.  He was concerned.  The windows were cracked but was she ignoring him or non responsive because there was a problem?  He pounded on the window like it was a fish tank.

"Is she Chinese or Native? I can't tell."  He smashed his face against the window, his stocking hat made him look like a bank robber.

"She's Native.  And you should knock it off.  That's why she's not looking at you or responding to you.  It's a little bit cultural.  She's never GOING to start interacting with you."  I stood there with my own baby on my hip, who was happy and giggling at the little girl who looked at nobody, then intermittently at his own reflection.

StockingHat tried to set off the car alarm by reaching down through the cracked open window and unlocking the front passenger door.  No alarm.

"Great, no alarm.  Now what?" he said.

I reached out and opened the door.  "NOW she can get some good air circulating, thanks."

"Jesus, I wouldn't do that.  That's trespassing."

"I think I'll take my chances, I'm really just not worried about it.  I have pants on with no pockets, a tiny purse, a baby, and ten witnesses.  I'd invite anyone who just left their baby in the car to make that accusation that I trespassed into their vehicle and/or stole ANYTHING from them.  I AM happy to see, however, the Coach purse she left on the driver's seat.  Substandard individuals usually take their valuables when they leave their offspring, so at least she's consistent."

So we waited, and waited, and waited.  All the while the lady was still on the phone with PD dispatch.  Describing the girl, describing the situation, explaining what we did, waiting for the officer to arrive so that we could pass along our info and safely deposit this being with someone who cared about her.

This little who, on October 19 was in a spaghetti strap tank top.  This little who looked like she had awaken from a nap with her blanket and her Hairdresser Barbie head in the back seat and was disoriented as to where she was and where her bigs had gone and was scared and crying.  This little who was in a car that was devoid of a carseat or booster of any kind.

Finally a man emerged from the store.  He casually approached his car, this vehicle swarming with strangers like flies on a pile of manure, like it was NO. BIG. DEAL.  He said NOTHING to ANYONE.  Especially me, the lady standing with the door open.  He opened the back driver's side door, and that sweet girl leaped out at him like a spider monkey.  She clung to his neck like he was a life preserver and she was drowning, like he was saving her from all these scary strangers.

And all of them held their tongues because they were dumbstruck that someone would have the balls to do something like that.

And I held my tongue because I'm not in the business of calling someone a lowlife piece of shit in front of children, especially their own.

And I didn't want to assume that he was the dad.  In my heart I didn't want to believe that anyone could live life with a piece of themselves walking around outside their body and leave her LOCKED in a car in a parking lot regardless of the temperature because shopping is just THAT much more important.  That doesn't even earn you the title of Shitty Parent, that earns you the title of Shitty PERSON.  It was obvious that HE was important to HER.  It was obvious that HE made HER feel safe.  Which is the real kick in the balls irony to this.

After he sauntered BACK into the store (I was still standing there with his door open, HI!!) the cop showed up.  We each gave our information, I disclosed that I had opened the door, etc. and StockingHat showed the officer a picture he had snapped of the guy on his cell phone so none of us had to give a run down of the description.  As our little crowd dispersed there were grumbles that they all generally felt that nothing would happen to this guy, that by the tone of his reaction that there just would be no consequence to what had gone on, and I got the feeling it would have some impact on whether they'd stick around to do the right thing next time.

"You know they can't let that guy leave here with her in that car now because there's no carseat or booster, right?  They'll either make her stay here until they get one and install it properly, or they'll get CPS up here to remedy this."

I was PRETTY sure that was true, and I was going to have to validate it when I got home, but it needed to be said so I made the command decision at the time.  I have a pretty strict facts-only policy, but at the time....facts-probably in THAT crowd was necessary.  They all immediately felt better thinking they knew how that officer was going to handle things and were off to finish out their respective days with a little less worry on their minds.

I had to go home and confess to the hubs preemptively about getting "tangled up" with the cops that day (but not having to break a window) and I never did find that dog bed.

I think I'm gonna be stuck waiting for FedEx after all.