In Which I’m Trusted Not to Be a Psycho
Today a stranger asked me to watch her two year old daughter for “just a second” while she ran inside her apartment with her other daughter, an infant.
I was just walking down a street in Back Bay (a very nice area if you’re not familiar) when this woman called out this request over her shoulder while she was already half way back in the building. She left her toddler out on the sidewalk and just assumed I would watch her. In a matter of seconds I went from my own little dream world to being in charge of the welfare of a child.
She started to wander down the sidewalk. I hesitated whether or not to touch her in order to keep her still. Not knowing her name, I just told her to come back here and wait for mommy in the softest voice I could. When she continued to totter away I realized I’d have to physically bring her back.
I have my theories as to why this scared me so much. I immediately didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I could be accused of something. Here some woman left her kid with a stranger and I’m worried that I’m the one that’s going to get in trouble!
I lightly grabbed her little hand and did my best to keep her quiet and in one place. I think she was more curious about me than anything else. She didn’t say anything but she liked to point and giggle. I looked at my watch and five minutes had passed by, which is certainly longer than “just a sec”.
I didn’t know how long to wait. I started to go into Law & Order: SVU mode thinking that the mother had left with the infant through a back door and now the little girl laughing at flowers was abandoned. I wondered what kind of person, what kind of mother, would trust a stranger like me to look after their kid.
Do I look that trustworthy? Is it my small stature? Is it because I’m a woman? Is it because I’m young? What about all those crazy women that kidnap kids because they want one to raise as their own? It happens. People who look, talk and act just like me do bad things to kids. You never know. This woman took a huge chance with her daughter’s well being. Why?
After about another five minutes the mother came back out with the infant in her arms. The baby had a new outfit on, my guess is that she made a mess and needed to be changed and the mother didn’t feel like bringing her other kid inside. Still doesn’t make sense to me really.
The woman thanked me for watching her daughter. The kid ran to her mom and wrapped her arms around the mom’s legs. I heard myself saying no problem and felt myself walking away before I even realized what I was doing.
Part of me expected George Quiñones from the hidden camera show What Would You Do? to pop up and tell me the whole thing had been staged. But no such luck. This happened and I just let this woman off the hook.
What if the next person this woman asks to watch her kid for “just a sec” is a psycho? What then?
I know I should’ve said something but I just wanted to get out of there.
When I got to the corner of this side street and the main road I looked back and the mom was pushing a stroller with one hand and holding her daughter’s hand with the other. They were walking away from me.
I wondered if the mother was cluelessly smiling or if, like me, she was frowning finally realizing the risk she had taken.