There are stray cats in my neighborhood.
They eat other cats’ food and roam in our neighborhood, but I am pretty sure they are not part of the neighborhood watch program. They use everyone’s grass as a dumping ground. It’s a big concern and my neighbor has thought about calling the humane society or SPCA to take these cats away. We think they belong to someone, but we can’t be sure.
There are stray cats in our neighborhood, but there are no stray toddlers. Interesting segue, right?
Yes, stray toddlers have been a problem lately in this country. You go online and read about a 2-year-old walking into a convenience store or roaming the streets of their neighborhood with just a diaper on. It seems to be common these days.
I slap my head and wonder how this could happen. I have my eyes on my kids like a hawk. I don’t even let them play in the neighborhood with other kids by themselves. I can’t imagine if one of them escaped my eyesight.
But then I witnessed one afternoon how this could happen. I couldn’t believe it and then I slapped my head again.
My husband and I were at a restaurant and there was a family of four eating a couple of tables away. They had two little kids who may have been twins – they were no more than 3 years old. Mom and Dad were talking, catching up on their day and the kids were finished with dinner. Mom and Dad let the kids stretch their legs so they were walking in circles around the table. The restaurant wasn’t busy and they weren’t running around causing commotion so it was no big deal.
But then the kids started playing with the door (the family’s table was right next to the exit door). The kids thought it was funny to go in and out of the door and see if their parents would stop them. The parents didn’t. They weren’t paying attention. They were caught up in their own conversation.
The little girl walked out of the door while her brother watched and walked around the corner of the restaurant (all the walls were glass), saw her parents and waved “Hi” through the glass. Mom immediately jumped up and told her to come back inside. Upon the girl’s return to the restaurant, the mom slapped her hand and told her never to do that again.
Now, I am not a perfect parent, but I wanted to slap that mom’s hand and tell her never to do that again! Don’t take your eye off your kid in a busy strip mall and just let her walk out of a restaurant. I told my husband that it was time for us to leave before I exploded.
I can see how kids can escape. They are curious, they are kids. They are just like the cats in my neighborhood. But we are responsible parents who need to have our eye on them and reel their curiosity back in.
I am glad nothing bad happened to this little girl that day at the restaurant. If I had witnessed a kidnapping, I don’t know what I would’ve done . . . I probably would’ve frozen in shock. Sometimes we take for granted that our kids will always be at our sides, never stray from us. I learned that day that’s not the case.
Angela Borchert is a freelance writer who lives in Vacaville. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.