Friday, September 01, 2006

Hallmark doesn't make a mother's day card for this...

There is no one more judgmental than a mother. Mother’s that have nothing in common with each other will instantly bond over any incident which demonstrates to them that they might not be perfect, but at least they aren’t doing _______ like________’s mother.

Now, there are varying degrees of judgment. There are mothers that will turn you into child protective services if you don’t breast feed your child until three weeks before the senior prom, there are mothers that will berate you for working outside the home, there are mothers that will condemn you for not working outside the home, and there are mothers that are firmly convinced that if you send your child to the public schools, you might just as well fingerprint and book them on the first day of kindergarten because they’re just going to grow up to be jail bait.

Now, my philosophy on all of this judgmental goodness/badness is, you are probably doing the best you can but if you put your child in harm’s way by your blatant neglect, I would like to take you out back and bitch slap you. I agree that “harm’s way” can be interpreted in a variety of ways. If you refuse to get your child vaccinated, does this qualify as putting your child in harm’s way? Or is the reverse true? I certainly have my opinions on this and I am happy to share them, with my physician, husband, and children that is… No, when it comes to bitch slapping mothers, it comes down to this criteria: If, by your actions or inactions in this current situation, could your child be injured?

My ideas were brought about by working in emergency medicine back when my kids were toddlers. I have seen babies go through windshields when the parent was sitting with the sick child NEXT TO THE EMPTY CARSEAT and the other parent was speeding to the hospital. I have seen children run over by lawn mowers that the senile grandpa thought they should ride on. I have seen a baby die because she was left in a van while the mother went into the boy friends house for a little afternoon delight (this happened down south and the daytime temperature was over 100 degrees and the van windows were up). I had an instructor that said that children rarely were injured or died of accidents. Children were injured or died due to negligence. It might be a harsh thing to say but when you see things like this day in and day out, it rings pretty true.

Now, what are all of these happy observations leading up to? Do you perceive a rant coming up? Congratulations! You are correct!

The following is an incident that I witnessed lately that still bother me:

While walking past the bus stop in downtown Duluth, I walked past a small child who was about three years old. He was screaming at the top of his lungs and had tears running down his face. Now, I’ve been around a lot of screaming kids while working on an ambulance, in an E.R, and on a peds ward. There are mad screams, there are lonely screams, there are attention getting screams, and there are pain screams. This child was in pain. I looked down to see that his hand was clenched in a fist and dripping blood. This child was utterly alone with no adult in the immediate vicinity. I stopped and asked him who he was with and a woman who was busy talking to someone a few feet away with her back turned to this child, turned around and walked up to him in a totally annoyed huff and grabbed his hand in order to pull him over to where she was. It wasn’t for a moment or two that she even got the fact that he was covered in blood. She did, however, give me a nasty look and then turn to the child and demand “Now what the hell did you do?”

I don’t know why the urge to grab this woman by the hair and jerk her down to the child’s eye level was so strong but I had to stop myself and just walk away. It might have come from the frustration of having no say in the matter. At least when you show up to a situation in uniform and it’s your job to meddle, you can at least do something.

It makes me contemplate the whole nature/nurture business. If no one ever comforts you when you are sick or injured, and if you get the idea that no one is really protecting you when you need it, what does this do to you as an adult?

Once while waiting at the bus station I was witness to the strangest thing I have ever seen when it comes to bone headed child care. A small boy, probably just learning to walk from the looks of him, was surrounded by his teen aged mother and her friends who were mostly male. The child would toddle a couple steps over to one person who would reach down and push him over onto his back on the hard concrete. The child began to cry and stood up and walked over to his mother who did the exact same thing. He fell down again, cried harder, and got up and walked over to someone else who did the exact same thing. I swear it looked like a romper room version of a gang hazing. All the adults were laughing like it was the funniest thing they had ever seen.

For me, it recalled a line in a book that I had read a long time ago. “The only thing life had taught him was that it was a constant struggle between the powerful and the powerless.” Twenty years from now when he’s beating his girlfriend and his life can be summed up by a clenched fist, will there be anyone there who even cares to ask why he is so angry?

1 comment:

Rebecca Hartong said...

Thanks for the very well-written entry. It's truly horrifying, the things you see people doing (or not doing) to small children. One that I see far too often -- especially in grocery stores -- is women who are completely ignoring the cries of an infant in their "care". I understand that older babies and toddlers may cry because they're tired or because they're not being given the candy they want or whatever. That kind of crying can often be safely ignored (for a little bit.) What I'm talking about, though, are teeny tiny infants -- babies only a month or two old, perhaps. When a baby that age cries, it needs to be immediately picked up and comforted. Hell, it's all I can do to stop myself from picking the little thing up and rocking it. That's when it begins, I think -- that's the beginning of the abuse.