December 17, 2008

Parenting 101

I'm on my way to work today at a little after 8. If you're not in Calgary, it's cold.
As I was crossing 8th Street at Royal Ave., out of the corner of my eye I spotted a girl, a little girl. I sized her up at my son's age - about 7. I suppose I heard her wimpering first, which is why I turned around.

J: "Are you OK?"
G: "I'm waiting for my bus."
J: "Oh, can I come talk to you? You shouldn't be out here by yourself."

It's 15
°C below, windy, not quite light yet, and this little girl (I would soon learn her name was Lionella and that she was in fact 7) was waiting for a bus to school (French school - her petit accent gave it away).

J: "I don't think your bus is going to come."
L: "Are you a stranger?"
J: "Yes, but I'm a 'good' stranger. I'd like to help you. Do you know your phone number?"
So, I call her Mom - no answer.
J: "Do you live close to here and is anyone home?"
L: "Yes, I just go this way, and then that way..."
J: "Lionella, I'm going to take you home safe."
L: "But I'll miss my dicte!" (that's a spelling test for those reading along in English).

So, I hold onto her elbow as we cross a very slippery and dangerous street. I fell in the same intersection the day before and damn near brained myself. She knew exactly where her house was and knew the route intimately - which suggested to me that she does this almost every day.
I get her home. "Hello!", I holler as we pass the threshold. The papa is in the livingroom with a toddler. He's confused and not enough wary.

J: "I brought your daughter home. It's too cold and I don't think her bus is going to show."
D: "I called the bus company. They told me they were only 10 minutes behind."
J: , "Have you been outside? It's nasty and traffic is crazy."
D: "Oh, thanks."

He was almost annoyed. And, thankfully, a little paranoid. At least he had enough papa bear instinct to think that I might be dangerous. I did introduce myself and told him that I lived around the corner so that the cops don't come looking for me.

Here comes the rant. We're talking about Lower Mount Royal. These people have money. Even if they didn't have it, common sense dictates that you bundle up the 2 yo and walk across treacherous streets and wait with your daughter for the bus...

A 7 yo girl by herself on a well traveled street...Well, you can do the math. She could have gotten snatched or hit by a bus. Or, two minutes after I passed her... she could have gotten on her bus and that would have been have that. But I wasn't prepared to take that chance.


Since this incident, I often walk past her (and her Father) waiting for the bus in the morning. I suppose I might have put the FOG into them, but a least there is one less child in harm's way.

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