would you like a baby?

So I was with the kids at my parents house in the burbs today, and we went down to the park to spend some time on the play structure and just hang out.

As we were about to leave, I turned and saw a baby crawling down the hill.

By herself.

With no adult following behind.

Anywhere.

This is every parent’s nightmare. Warning bells are going off in my head. I looked around to see if anyone was coming, but there wasn’t. I turned to the other parents at the playground and asked if the baby belonged to any of them, but they all looked as confused as I was. As she reached the bottom of the hill, she stopped, and sat down. And then she started to cry. So I bent down and tried to soothe her with some comforting words, at which point she decided I was ok and lifted her arms up in the universal baby body language which means, “Pick me up!!”

She seemed to settle down, and I again looked around the playground to see if anyone was missing a baby. Nope. I headed up the hill in the direction from which she had crawled, and I noticed a flurry of activity in the backyard of one of the houses that backs onto the park. Hmm, I thought… does it look like they’re looking for a baby? I felt like the kid in “Murmel Murmel Murmel” who finds a baby and goes looking for someone to take care of it.

I walk towards the house. I think to myself that the house is a good 100 feet away, at least. As I get closer to the house, I see a large-ish man come hurrying out of the backyard gate and come towards me. I don’t remember exactly what I said, something to the effect of, “Is this your baby?”. He looked relieved.

Then he called out to a teenage kid, well, more like yelled at him, to come over and get the baby. As the man got closer to me, he said that the boy had left the gate open. The boy didn’t seem to see me, and was walking around aimlessly. The man yelled at him again, and as he reached me I passed the baby off to him. As he took her, he thanked me (I think, now that I’m writing this I can’t remember) and just kept berating and yelling at this kid as they walked back towards the house.

I wish I could say it was a story with a happy ending, but it really is kind of just unsettling. I mean, it’s happy in that the baby is back where she’s supposed to be, and not lost or abducted. I’m glad that I found her and not some ‘bad person’. I’m glad she crawled down to the playground and not out to the street.

But that baby must have been motoring, to have gotten that far out the gate without anyone noticing. When I first saw her she seemed pretty cheerful, crawling down the hill. But when she saw all the unfamiliar faces, I think she realized that she may have gone a little too far from home, and that’s when she started to cry.

I don’t know if the man was the father, grandfather, caregiver, foster parent, or what. And I handed a baby off to him, not really knowing.

I hope that this teaches that family to be a bit more careful in future. I hope that the kid learns from this and matures as a result, and that it isn’t just one more thing in a long list of things to get yelled at for. I hope that the yelling at the kid from the man was just a result of the panic of the whole situation, and not an everyday occurrence. I hope the baby is taken care of.

I hope that I don’t yell at my kids like that.

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