In a thrift store the other day I watched as a mother reined in her three children, a boy about ten years old and two girls, one in the front of her cart. This mother was loudly verbal with her warnings for her children to behave. At one point I saw her go into a fitting room, apparently not to try something on but to bring her message home to her son; when the two came out the boy was crying. I furtively watched them because the mother made it hard not to. I looked at the tearful little boy, in my mind hoping that he was okay. That was two days ago and that child’s face still haunts me. Should I have done something? Could I have? If so, what? Perhaps I should have followed them outside and gotten the license plate number of the mother’s car, called it in to non-emergency police and asked them to do a welfare check on the family.Am I butting my nose in where it doesn’t belong? Am I making something out of nothing? What business is it of mine? Aren’t we living in a society of children that don’t have enough discipline, who have no sense of consequence for bad behavior? When does the Village that helps to raise the children interfere?
Because I keep thinking about the little boy I tell myself that my instincts to be concerned were right, but now I can’t do anything about it. Trying to alleviate my anxiety is not easy; when I think about it and say, “There’s nothing I could have done,” I am reminded of a story in our local paper not too long ago about another little boy who lost his life at the hands of a mother who DID not protect her son from an abuser. That seven year old boy’s smiling face haunts me as well. Did I ignore something I should have paid attention to and will my thrift store boy be on the front page of my paper next?I stopped watching televised news a long time ago, my heart just can’t take the pain of watching people suffer: starving children in Africa, kidnapped kids, genocide; just a few of the topics these programs inundate us with on a continuous reel.
For me watching programs like this is like window shopping: if I can’t buy something, why am I looking? If I can’t fix the problem, world hunger for instance, I shouldn’t watch because I lose sleep, I worry, I agonize to the point of depression. Perhaps that is why I overdo it in the animal rescue department; if I see a problem in front of me and I can do something about it, I do. It relieves some of the anxiety because I did something. When I save a frightened dog from the dangerous streets or trap a starving, mangy cat and get them the help they need, my heart warms.
|"Lucky" rescued in 2010|
I didn’t do anything for that little boy and I don’t open my window or my wallet to the guy holding the sign on the street corner, so I suffer the consequences of my inaction and say a little prayer for both that things will get better. Maybe that, at least, will help me sleep at night.