I was at a local mall the other day. It's a little mall with a Borders bookstore and a few other stores within walking distance from the Tae Kwon Do studio Chase uses. I was about ready to leave, doing a final browse in the Educational Warehouse before going back to feed the parking meter, when a man came into the store. He asked the store clerks if they had seen a little boy with curly blond hair. When they said no, he rushed back into the lobby area calling for the boy. I empathized with him as I recalled my own frantic search several months ago. Since there were some people helping him and my meter was expiring, I headed to the exit. That was when I heard it. A loud angry voice near the exit.
I was taken aback. I knew she was talking about the man searching for the lost child.
"Stupid idiot! He should have had that child at his side the whole time! Now he's running around yelling like an idiot!"
Wow. There have been times when I have been the "stupid idiot." I remember when Marina and Chase were little and I passed a woman on the street who glared at me because I was walking with Chase in front of me and Marina behind me. She was another proponent of having children glued to the parent's side. (Hehe. Maybe I should pull out the Krazy glue.)
I wonder about these adults. They seem so sad. They scowl and point and practice armchair parenting. Do they have children? Did they suffer some terrible loss? Are they very lonely? How do I respond to such anger? I honestly thought she was the mom at first because she was so emotionally involved, loudly hurling her insults at the man. I wanted to say something, but I haven't reached the point where I know how to react in such a situation. When someone speaks with such venom my instinct is to protect myself. I tend to think about the incident. Turn it over in my mind. She was actually very cordial to me as I left. I think she was hoping I would approve of her rant.
What I would have liked to say, now that I've had time to think, is this: You are entitled to be annoyed with him and critical of his parenting, but is it so important to do that while he is upset and still looking for the child? What good does it do to call him names? If that man is a stupid idiot, so am I.
I know how easy it is to lose a child. I am thankful that mine have always been found. It is horrible to call them and not have them come to you. Years ago, I had a friend who lost her daughter in a department store. Security was called, minutes passed, she almost fainted in her fear. It turned out her daughter had slipped away under a jewelry counter close by. They are so quick, our little ones. We must look out for each other. When I see a child wandering, I try to stay near until I'm sure there is an adult with them. It is what I would want another parent to do for me.