Disclaimer: I swear I’m not going to make a habit of this. But you guys, I did it again. Not in the same way, with an angry lady in the Starbucks drive-thru. This time it was someone’s grandpa. And it wasn’t so magical.
I was driving through my parents’ neighborhood. I had to make a quick stop at their house to borrow their umbrella because the kids and I had to run some errands and it was raining and Justin took the umbrella out of my car at some point and legit question, why doesn’t a family of four have more than one tiny, multicolored polka dot umbrella?
Anyway, picked up the gigantic Ikea umbrella from my parents (which was a savior, by the way, thanks Mom) and went on my way, weaving through the neighborhood. At my last turn, I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. At the house on the corner, there was a little girl, probably about two years old, standing alone on the front porch, about to walk down the steps. She looked lost and like she had wandered out there on their own. The front door of the house was cracked and she was just standing there, you guys! I swear my heart stopped for a second. The night before, I had just read a horrible news article about a little girl and I was still very much raw to the mama bear rage that bubbles up every time I hear that some psycho has hurt a child. I can’t.
With Jake and the Neverland Pirates blaring in the background and my kids happily singing along while eating their Teddy Grahams, I stopped in the middle of the street. I was going back and forth in my head, waiting for an adult to step outside with the girl and prove my instincts wrong. No one came out. She just stood there, alone.
“Okay, guys. Mommy’s going to get out for a minute. You can see me the whole time, so –”
“YO HO, LET’S GO! Arghhh! — okay, Mom!”
I pulled in front of the house and walked up the sidewalk. I knew my approach here was critical. Don’t look like a child predator, Morgan. Stay 15 feet away. Talk loud enough for a nearby adult to hear. DON’T BE CREEPY.
I stood in the middle of the walkway, far enough away so she could hear me, but not EVEN close enough to look like I was about to do anything shady. “Sweetie, go inside and find your Mommy.” It was the only thing I could think of to say. Quick and to the point. She immediately ran inside and I stood there for a second, kind of like, “Okay, now what? Close the door so I know you’re safe, kid!” But the door opened wider. A man in his late 50′s-early 60′s barreled out and stood on the porch, glaring down at me. Well at least there was SOMEONE around.
“Hi, I was driving by and saw her standing outside by herself and wanted to make sure her parents knew and that she didn’t just wander out–” I don’t know exactly what I said, but it was something panicky, along those lines, because HOLY CRAP, there was an angry man looking like he was about to smack me!
With complete attitude, he said, “Uhh, WE’RE FINE.” and looked at me like he expected me to explain myself.
Me, still trying to plead my case that I’m not a child abductor, just a friendly neighborhood watch mom, looking out for the TWO YEAR OLD STANDING ALONE IN THE FRONT YARD, LOOKING LOST AND SCARED, finally decided on a simple, “Okay, good.”
As I was driving away, I was so shaken up by what had happened. I know I know, I’m dramatic, but I promise you I wasn’t trying to create another life changing scenario on my own, just for the sake of writing about it. I just saw a kid alone and could not continue driving away with a clear conscience without making sure her parents knew she was out there. I would have wanted to know. If they were aware and were okay with the fact that she was in the front yard without any adults around, that’s extremely upsetting to me and something I would never be okay with letting my own children do, but that’s their territory. I think? Is a child, standing alone, off limits to talk to at all times if you think they could be in danger? I mean, it was their front yard and all, but it was “out” and “alone”. Two factors I am never okay with when my kids are involved.
Bear with me as I talk through this.
I have a hard time being defensive toward “Grandpa” about his anger toward me because I was talking to his little loved one and bottom line: I am a stranger. I completely get that. It’s just a weird situation, you know? She shouldn’t have been out there in the first place and my motives were absolutely 110% pure, but what if the first person who came up to her wasn’t me? Gah, I can’t handle even going down that path right now.
I’m sure there are some people who would think I was overstepping my bounds as “the stranger” and should have driven on without a thought. Grandpa probably thought that, by the look on his face. If I were him, my immediate reaction would have been close to the same thing. Then I would have thought it over and been relieved that someone had noticed and cared and then would have promptly DEADBOLTED MY FRIGGIN FRONT DOOR. Maybe she did wander out there alone and he didn’t realize it and was freaked out by the sound of an adult’s voice talking to her outside. SEE, I GET IT. I can keep analyzing this over and over, but the thing is, I don’t regret what I did for a second. I didn’t expect to be thanked. I’m actually okay with the territorial Grandpa approach. The whole thing just sort of makes me sick to my stomach.
What would you have done if you were me? What would you have done if “Grandpa” was you?
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