highs and lows

| 6 Comments

A day of contrasts.

I had a nice workout with my girlfriends, followed by a wonderful lunch with my grandmother at Fox's Deli (matzo ball soup and latkes and pastrami sandwiches...yum!). She recently moved here to Rochester, where she's in a wonderful assisted living facility called Wolk Manor. I feel so lucky to stil have her in my life, and even luckier that my kids are now getting the chance to get to know her. Very few people are able to talk with and learn from their great-grandparents. It's truly a gift for her to get to know them, and even more of a gift for them to get to know her.

I left lunch and went to the elementary school to pick up my kids (they're in a town-sponsored day camp held at their school). Walking in, I noticed one of Alex's friends standing by himself near the door, looking distraught. I asked him if he was okay, and while his words said "yes," his quivering lip and glistening eyes said "no." I happen to know his parents are going through an unpleasant divorce, so I asked him who was picking him up from camp, and he told me his grandma and grandpa were coming. Concerned, I talked to the head counselor, and when I left I saw him sitting with her on the grass with the other kids who hadn't been picked up.

Two hours later, my maternal spidey-sense was proven right. I got a call from the head counselor, asking if I had working phone numbers for either of the parents. (I didn't...the mom's number is disconnected, and the father's number is blocked on our caller ID.) Apparently nobody had shown up for him, and they'd taken him to the after-camp care program at the town park (he's not enrolled in it), and were trying to track a parent down. I offered to come wait with him (taking him home with me would have made it impossible for them to find him if/when they showed up), bring him dinner, etc. They promised to call me if the mom didn't show up. Since they didn't call back, I assume she did. But I'm haunted by the sight of his face, full of doubt and fear and loneliness. What does it do to a 7-year-old to not know if anyone's there for him? To wonder if he's been forgotten by the adults who are supposed to be his support? Yes, I know, there are far worse tragedies in the world. But that doesn't mean this one didn't touch me, and make me hug my children a little closer tonight.

I ended the day on a cheerier note. My mother needed network connectivity for her G3 Powerbook in her brand-new attic study, and my stepfather's been fighting with the wiring process. I took matters into my own hands, and stopped by CompUSA, where they had a great deal on a NetGear wireless router--$29.99 (after $30 in rebates). I grabbed the old WaveLAN card I'd used before I got my TiBook, and headed over to her house. Twenty minutes after I arrived, the router was up and running, and I was online with my TiBook. An hour after that, I finally solved the OS9/airport/wavelan/tcp/ip configuration problems, and she was online as well. The minor hassles and expense were more than offset by the look on her face when I carried her untethered computer out to the front porch and told her to check her email.

Came home, put the kids to bed, and found that all the URL-changing surrounding the blog had managed to land me on Blogdex and Popdex. So welcome to all of you who landed here because you were surfing "the popular sites." Guess this is my 10 minutes of fame.

6 Comments

I say screw the parents, they should have let you take the kid home so he could feel safe and cared for and you could have distracted him with video games and dinner in the meantime.

They could have left a note there for whoever eventually showed up. Irresponsible people like that deserve to worry, anyway.

This is an awful thing to do to a child.

In legal terms, the school might have been on shaky grounds in letting the boy go home with another parent. In practical terms, of course this doesn't make sense: better he go with friendly people who will look after him than have to stay by himself. But without permission from the boy's parents, they're probably not allowed to let him leave the premises with someone else.

IA, that's exactly what happened. While technically this is a "playground program" where the kids are free to leave (walk home, etc) at 3pm, they're really cautious about making sure kids go home with the designated caregivers--particularly in this case, where there's an unpleasant divorce in progress.

I'm going to talk to the mother, who's a clueless but well-meaning young (very young) Asian woman dealing with a real jerk of a husband. I'm going to ask her to tell the program that if for any reason the child is not picked up at the regular time, that they can allow me to take him to our house.

I spoke with the head counselor this morning when I dropped my boys off, and she was beside herself over the matter. The grandparents finally showed up at the school at 5:45, claiming their car had broken down, and that they'd "called the fire department" to try to contact someone. (Which is implausible, since if they had, the FD would certainly have gotten word to the recreation dept.)

"I�m going to ask her to tell the program that if for any reason the child is not picked up at the regular time, that they can allow me to take him to our house."

That sounds like a good idea. Of course the child would be safe and sound with you, but it's understandable that the program would be reluctant to let a child go home with another adult without prior parental permission.

My mother was a grade school teacher: she encountered many situations like the one you describe.

Yet another young, innocent victim of irresponsiblity... You say the mother is well-meaning, but she must be extremely young and clueless not to at least provide a way to reach her should something happen to her child, if not be there for him at times like this. I won't even start on the father because he sounds like someone who does not deserve to be called a man - no father is if they are not supportive of their children (they do not deserve to be called father either for that matter).

I'm sorry if I sound condescending, I know I'm not involved and know nothing about what is happening but I feel very strongly about such issues. I realize that divorce is an extremely difficult situation itself, but when there's a child involved they come first, end of story. There is no excuse for something like that happening.

I applaud you for trying to help out, that is wonderful. I hope everything will eventually be okay for him.

Who says men are heartless. I was choking when I read the story. You are right, who can tell what damage was done to the boy. His world was shaken, and it will impact him the rest of his life.

After 20 years of marriage, I finally have a child, and I can not imagine him not being the center of my universe. Shame to those parents for destroying something in their son they can never get back.

 

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This page contains a single entry by Liz Lawley published on July 28, 2003 10:33 PM.

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