Saturday, June 27, 2009

Children...and Parents.

I was in a department store yesterday, and witnessed something that I haven't been able to forget - a small incident in daily life, but the gratutitous cruelty of it was, and is, disturbing to me.

A mother and small girl, maybe 5-6, were waiting in line at the top of the down escalator. When it was their turn, the mother stepped on, but the little girl hesitated, she was afraid. She called to her mother, but the mother wouldn't even turn to look at her, just said "Oh well, I'm going, I'll see you at home."
The little girl cried out with the beginning of fear in her voice, her mother responded "You'll have to find your own way home," and the child fell to her knees weeping, real terror in her face and voice.
A woman waiting in line behind her knelt down, introduced herself and comforted her, saying she would help the girl go down the stairs if she could do that, and help her find her mummy? Meanwhile, the mother wouldn't even turn to look, just kept going, reached the bottom, and walked away, leaving her child weeping in the compassionate arms of a stranger.

Seeing a child in that place of anxiety and fear, saddens me. I had so much of those two emotions when I was a small child. Panic in a child's voice slams me in my chest, and catches in my throat, with a power that never seems to dim, no matter how far I get away from my own childhood in time.

Little vignettes such as this, bring home to me a truth I'd rather not face - there are many more children struggling through their childhood in the same terror and sorrow that I experienced.

I say a prayer for that little girl, in the hope she has someone with loving arms to gather her up when she is feeling most abandoned by those who should protect her. Sometimes the only way I can deal with this sort of thing is to do that, pray for the child, and then say the first two lines of the Serenity Prayer, to calm my own distress.


  1. This breaks my heart too. If I had been that woman who leaned down to help, I think I would have called 911 to report an abandoned child.
    However, in this day and age, I am afraid in the end no one would really do anything about it even though neglect of a child is against the law.

    This is something that stirs up my sense of powerlessness and the only remedy I know for that is prayer.

  2. That is cruel. I agree with PG that this is neglect. The woman who helped is a good person. I wish that there weren't little children hurting as this one was. Sad.