Tuesdays are my ‘head to the library and cozy-up in the little book nook corner by the window overlooking the flower garden’ respite. This has been my faithful stress-reducing routine for the past year.
In recent weeks a middle-aged woman with three young children in tow had also become a regular attending the ‘Read to Me’ program in the play area. She would not have been in my purview had she not constantly been scolding one or all of the children in a loud and condescending and crass manner. Castigating them for running or throwing bookmarks at each other or jumping up and down in the little wooden boat.
In essence she was furious that they were acting like children.
At one point she grabbed the eldest by the hair when he refused to pick up a book that fell to the floor. Other Moms appeared to notice and chose to ignore her or engage in their ‘eye rolls’ in that knowing way.
On this particular day the woman was immersed in a cell phone call while three little ones ran amuck. When the smallest (who appeared to be no more than two) made it all the way to the front exit, I dropped my reading material and retrieved him.
My intervention went unnoticed or deliberately disregarded.
“You look like you’re having a really rough day!” Is there something I can do to help?” I asked interrupting her conversation.
She ignored me.
I repeated my question.
She told the person on the other end to hold.
“I can’t stand this job!” These kids don’t listen and I’m not paid enough to do this!”
I offered to watch them while she finished her call and asked if she needed a restroom break. She declined saying they needed to head home because the 4th child was due back from pre-school in an hour. I followed her to the car and learned that she had been hired as a Nanny three months prior and was responsible for the children from 8:30-4:00 Monday through Friday.
I was too restless to return to my cozy corner. The mood had been irreparably damaged.
All night those little babies weighed heavily in my thoughts. My husband encouraged me (gently) to mind my own affairs. My friends chided that it was my overly good nature to care about strangers, however they too recommended I let it go.
I decided that was not possible.
Sometimes and I believe we determine for ourselves when those sometimes are, it is not only right but essential that we butt our noses into someone else’s business.
This was one of those times!
I had to pray that she returned to the library.
She was there the following week along with her impatience and frustration and total dismissal of her charges. Laying up each night had allowed me to craft a plan for how I might proceed. My ultimate goal was to alert the parents. I had more than a few reservations.
What if this woman was a relative or friend of a friend?
What if the parents did not believe me?
What if they didn’t care?
What if there were no other options for this family?
What if my meddling made it worse?
I approached the children’s librarian and asked to speak with a supervisor. She informed me that they could not release information about their patrons.
It was all confidential.
I thought about contacting C.P.S. Hesitation set in. Was I going too far? I wrote a fourteen-word note with my name and phone number at the bottom. I looked directly into the supervisor’s eyes.
“Are you a Mom?”
“Do the children over there (pointing) have library cards?”
She nodded again.
“So you must have an address on file. I’d appreciate it if you would mail this for me.”
I handed her my note.
She walked over to her desk and looked something up on her computer. I accompanied her to the mailbox and watched her drop my note inside. One small gesture that spoke volumes.
She was my accomplice. Tribes have to stick together most notably when our children are involved.
I never received acknowledgement of my note.
I didn’t have to.
The following week while cozying up in my corner the little boy who had made it to the front door was holding hands with a sweet old man while the oldest yelled “Grandpa Look at Me!”
P.S. The contents of my note?
‘Please contact the Supervisor at the Library. She has serious concerns about your children.’