Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Mother of the Year

A toddler trundled out of a coffee shop and headed, wobbling, for the street as Flip and I passed by.

I stopped and looked around.

"Wait a minute! I don't see an adult with this child," I said.

I planted myself in front of her and squatted, "Where's your mama?"

She tried to continue her lemming-like trajectory toward the nice moving cars.

I placed my hand on her shoulder and said, "Let's find your parents" as I guided her gently toward the restaurant. We met an angry woman with a stroller coming out who glared at me and said, "Get away from her!"

"She was nearly in the street," I said.

She snatched the child roughly, shoved her into the stroller and strode off in the other direction.

Point taken, lady. You would rather see your baby become roadkill than accept help from a stranger. It takes a village indeed.

Quick! Get the license number on that stroller.

(And you thought this was going to be about Sarah Palin, didn't you?)


Anonymous said...

I had a near-identical interaction who'd left her two young children in a car with the windows closed on a hot day. As we knocked on the window (because it wasn't even clear if they were dozing, unconscious or dead), she approached us screaming. Nut job.

thailandchani said...

(sigh) Just more benefits of the culture of fear. People are afraid to help other people's children because of the potential blowback. It's really awful!


Wanderlust Scarlett said...


well, the first question I have is, why wasn't the child in the stroller -before- they went outside?

Regardless of the grouchy, irresponsible mom, the little one was lucky to have a guardian angel like you watch over her for a few lucky moments.

And, I think people should have to go through a rigorous application and approval process before they are allowed to procreate. Is that on the ballot this year?

Scarlett & Viaggiatore

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I've called the police on people who left dogs in closed cars on hot days with the sun pouring down.

I really do believe there should be qualifying exams before people are allowed to breed.


I think anyone would have done what I did IF THEY NOTICED. I think that's the bigger issue, being our brothers' keepers.


Excellent question. Why wasn't she?

As you know, I endorse the idea of exams for parenthood, and hope I would have passed them before I had my children.

Nick said...

It sounds draconian, but I'm also inclined towards the idea of parenting tests before you're allowed to look after a vulnerable child. The crazy things some parents do are incredible. If there are stringent tests for adoption and fostering, why not for your own children?

And yes, I did notice that one lemming was wearing a lifebelt!

Anonymous said...

This is beautiful. I can only imagine the vast amount of love this woman shows that child at home, behind closed doors.

RED MOJO said...

As you probably know by now "No good deed goes unpunished." I have learned this lesson over and over again, but I will keep doing them just the same. I'm sure you will too!

meno said...

It's not like you had any choice.

"Gee, i think i'll let this kid get squashed in front of me because her mom might get angry if i stop her."

I don't think so.

So, because the mom was too stupid to say so, thank you.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I could not agree more. After all, those who adopt children REALLY want them while some people who have them thoughtlessly do not, and are bound to be unfit parents.

That one lemming was the breeding stock.


I had the same thought. She could have been a nanny, too. It wasn't clear, but she didn't seem to have a lot of love for that child.


We are definitely a messed-up species.


Maybe she was hoping "something" would happen to the child. With mothering skills like hers, it seems almost inevitable, unfortunately.

Los Angelista said...

I feel so sad for that child. I'm glad you were there but that child has to go home with that woman and that's awful. What's in store for that little girl with such a cruel mother?

Kapuananiokalaniakea said...

Sounds as though that mother was consumed with overactive stranger danger angst! So sorry that she could not recognize the gift of kindness. Thank you for being there.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


More likely a case of mental illness, but her child is in for a very rough ride.

It's very sad.


Stranger danger indeed. It should have been obvious that I wasn't kidnapping or harming the child.

I'm glad I was there, too, even if the mom wasn't.

Echomouse said...

LOL I've been coming here JUST for that reason....to see what you thought of Palin!

MsLittlePea said...

OH!! That happened to me! At the laundry mat about 7 years ago. I was there by myself until a woman came in with a toddler, put some stuff in the washer and then went to the back door to smoke and flirt with a repairman. Without her toddler! He ran out the front door towards the busy street. I ran out after him and grabbed him right before he stepped off the side walk and brought him to her and told her what happened. Did I get a thank you? NOPE I got a dirty look and smoke in my face. @#$%!

comfortandjoy said...


I used to be that kid, left to run out in the road.

So on behalf of the small and forgotten, thank you.


On a limb with Claudia said...

Another unbelievable story. It's like the British parents in paraguay. You want me to look for your daughter when you didn't give a crap about her for 3 hours while you drank with your buds? What? Yes, she's cute, but why wasn't that enough for you to be a real parent in the first place?

Parents... sigh.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I was just referring to the title of my post since everyone seems to be conjecturing about Palin's mothering capabilities.

Sweet Pea,

Well, it was rude of you to interrupt her smoke and flirting with a matter as trivial as her baby's safety.

I once met a woman who was a chain smoker although her 5-year old daughter had emphysema and had to be in an oxygen tank for 12 hours every day and was unable to attend school.

The mother told me, "I've invested 20 years in my smokes and nobody's gonna tell ME what to do."


I'm so sorry, but so glad you didn't run out in the road despite the lack of care you received.

Another good case for guardian angels.


Yeah, can you spell "irresponsible," children? I knew you could.

seventh sister said...

I think a lot of us have had similar experiences. I don't understand it at all. I was in the coffee shop section of a bookstore the other day and to young mothers came it to order coffee. They had toys for their little ones to play with..toy cars and things that the kids were running all over the place making noise with. In a bookstore. Those kids will grow up not knowing how to behave in public and the parents won't have a clue as to why.

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I've seen those same people bring their completely feral children into LIBRARIES which I grew up thinking were sacred, like churches only more literate.

Those parents won't notice that their kids have no manners and will be highly offended if anyone else does.

Eastcoastdweller said...

Ugh, how do You keep meeting these horrible people?

heartinsanfrancisco said...


I am blessed.

Anonymous said...

I had a similar incident at an amusement park, before I had kids of my own. My husband (then boyfriend) happened across a little girl, 5 or 6 yrs. old, crying her eyes out. We asked what's wrong and she said her mom was lost and she didn't know where she could be. She asked if we would stay with her until she found her mom. We hung out for about 15 minutes until I noticed that from where we were standing we could see the "Lost Children" kiosk, so I took her hand and said, "Let's go over here and see if they know where your mom is". We walked about 10 steps when this horrible woman screamed "Get away from her!" and snatched her away. She wouldn't listen as I tried to explain and just kept walking. Freak!

heartinsanfrancisco said...


Wow. It's sad and scary when people's egos are more important than their children, and they would rather something happened to them than let someone else save them.

Thank you for your visit.