Why do I share this? Because once in a while I feel that my parenting techniques are less than sound. We laugh at Athena's temper tantrums (which only pisses her off more... but hey... they are FUNNY!). We allow her to meander around downstairs and try things that might hurt her. We do stop short of letting her put her finger in a socket, but generally we feel that exploration is good. So of course, like any parent worth a damn, I often wonder if we're doing it right.
This is when it's good to work in a public place. Especially a place where people bring children. To date, I have witnessed the following:
- A boy waited for his mom to come get him for 4 hours (from 5pm to 9pm). When we closed at nine, he alerted me that he had been unable to reach his mom and didn't know where she was. I called the police (our standard policy) and when they arrived, they knew his name. Apparently, his mom reported him missing several hours ago. She had made no attempts to call the library and she was not answering her home phone as her son was trying to call her.
- A mother was browsing for books and letting her young girls (maybe 5 and 9) roam freely about the library. The youngest wasn't feeling well and sat down in one of our comfy chairs. She threw up in it. Her older sister came to tell me, then went to get her mother. Her mother said, "Okay, I'm almost done..." finished pulling books from the shelf, then checked out and LEFT. No apologies, and no apparent concern for the fact that her daughter had vomited or that we would have to clean it up. (I came down with a nasty stomach virus about 4 hours after cleaning it up).
- A man came in and asked Jen (one of my loyal commenters) where he could leave his child so he could "get some work done." Apparently, he expected us to have a daycare service like his gym.
- A woman came in with three kids (at least I think they were all hers... it was really hard to tell), one of whom had a project to do. The girl with the project asked for my assistance with the computer while the mother roamed aimlessly about with a baby who was absolutely screaming. From time to time, she popped the baby and told him to shut up. Her toddler was sucking on a lollipop and indicating he wanted me to pick him up. She was popping him regularly as well, telling him not to be a pain (he wasn't even old enough to be talking yet). When the daughter sat at her computer, her toddler brother came up and started playing with the mouse. She hit him twice... quite hard... and told him to quit it. He then turned off her computer. I almost hugged him. Unfortunately, she hit him on the head first.
- I have spoken to several parents on Sunday afternoons who are at the library to gather materials for their child's report (due Monday) while their child is at work or otherwise occupied. Often these parents do not have the assignment sheet and only have what the kid said. These inquiries frequently sound like "I need everything you have on Chemistry." When I discover that they are actually gathering materials for their son or daughter, I ask if they can be reached to get more details. I am told "Oh, they can't be bothered. They are at work." I have twice been told, "just give me a few books and we'll make something up." I have to take a shower when I get home after situations like that.
- A 13-year-old boy brought his 3-year-old sister to the libary one day before noon. He promptly got on a computer and started playing Runescape. He provided no food or beverage for his sister and left her talking with strangers (one of whom actually went out and got her a sandwich -- this is a regular patron we know well who homeschools her kids). Twice, a librarian had to take her into the bathroom to help her potty. He stayed on the computers all day. We asked him several times about his sister and where his mother was. "At work." He told us she was coming to get him at 5:30. At 5:45 I called the police. When they arrived, he was on his cell phone (which he had not produced all day) talking to his mom, and he told the police she was on her way. When she arrived, she berated me for calling the police. After all, "He is old enough to take care of his sister, and I was just down the street. He could have called me anytime."
So, in case you are wondering, I am Parent of the Year, my friends.