Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Selfish Parents

Yesterday I drove down to the bus stop to pick up my girls from school. Because of the layout of our neighborhood our closest bus stop is 4 blocks down an incline and I end up driving in order to not hear the complaints of walking home uphill with heavy backpacks. Anyway, the bus technically is scheduled to arrive at 3:20 but always comes at 3:30. However, I always head to the bus early because of my paranoia at the thought of being late to pick up my kids. Turns out that yesterday the bus came extra early and when I arrived at the bus stop, I could see the bus pulling away and leaving a large group of little kids UNATTENDED.

Legally, the bus driver is not allowed to leave kids at a bus stop alone, especially since there are kindergartners in this mix. So when I pulled up and saw ten little kids, including my own two, with no parents anywhere around, I got mad. I asked the kids if there had been any parents at the bus stop when the bus arrived. They said yes, there had been a few parents who had picked up their kids and left in their cars and one who lived in the apartment building behind the stop. I was astounded. It explained why the bus driver left. He saw parents there so he left to keep his schedule. But it doesn't explain why the other parents would have left too. I parked my car and waited 15 minutes for their parents to show up because the thought of leaving little kids unattended is unthinkable to me. This is a particularly busy corner with alot of traffic. I never leave the bus stop until I see that all the kids have been accounted for and I would hope that someone would do the same for my own kids. To see that a bunch of parents had not done this simple and important courtesy makes my blood boil over. I am grateful that I happened to arrive when I did but I wonder what would have happened if yesterday had been one of those days I decided to pick the girls up from school instead of the bus stop? When I showed up, the 6 and 7 year olds had already thrown down there backpacks and were running around wild in the grass and into the parking lot below. I shudder to think what might have happened if they had run unattended into the street.

So I am going to have some choice words to say to the parents of the kids that left. One of them is a nanny, but that is no excuse. All adults have a responsibility to keep children from harm. This could have been a dangerous situation and for the adults to abandon the children was irresponsible and selfish. I can only imagine their thoughts. Hey I was here early to pick up my kid, they should have been too. That's just wrong. Maybe they didn't think that, maybe they were too engrossed in their own schedules to even look around to see or care about someone else. Honestly I think that is just as bad. I am disappointed. I am mad. They should have known better.

41 comments:

Aerin said...

Yeah, I'd be pissed off too. Good luck talking to the parents - I hope they're receptive.

And if they're not, you know where they live. Go puncture their tires.

Travis Erwin said...

You can't fix stupid.

Precie said...

I'll bet the parents who were there early all figured one of the other adults would stay and wait.

Perhaps it's time for the school to send out reminders about the school bus policy.

I can't bring myself to consider what might have happened to any of those kids, especially the little ones, if you hadn't arrived. Grr.

The Quoibler said...

In our society today, this is how children get abducted or killed. Seriously.

It ticks me off when I see kids unattended at our park. I won't leave if it's just us and one little kid (under the age of five or six) just wandering, waiting for his lazy ass dad to pick him up.

Pisses me off, too. Now I'm on the rant! Grrrroooowwwlll!

Angelique

Patti said...

i am a mommy of your ilk. these kiddos needed an adult. period.

Charles Gramlich said...

It's a shame we have to worry about kids this way, but we truly do. A shame ALL adults don't have concern for children, but many of them are actually predators on kids. Sickening.

March to the Sea said...

nice to know their are people you can count on eh?

Mom In Scrubs said...

What else can I add? It's this self-absorbed society. Always thinking someone else should pick up the slack. Always thinking someone else is to blame? I can just hear it now: "Well it's not MY fault if people don't show up on time to pick up their kids..."
Do these people even stop for a nanosecond to consider the reality of the consequences to their indifference?

Obviously no. 'Cause I refuse to believe that any parent of a child would truly be that callous if they were in touch with reality.

Go get 'em, Ello. Kick some ass.

Ello said...

It's good to see that my reaction wasn't over the top! I am still mad and Precie - you are right, I will definitely be talking to the school administration about this. In fact, I think they should send a notice home to all parents about this.

Everyone - thanks for listening to me rant! Grrr, I am still mad!

JaneyV said...

I'm one of those Moms who scans the street, when she sees a kid walking on its own ,to see where the adult is who's supposed to be in charge. Invariably the adult in question is 15 yards ahead with a cell phone to his/her ear oblivious to the fact that their toddler is miles behind. The number of parents that walk along the street leaving a very young child to walk on the edge of the pavement and not holding their hand astonishes me. I once was walking away from the schoolgate when, ahead of me, a two-year-old, on her little tricycle and on her own wandered out onto the road as a car came around the corner. Luckily the driver was going very slowly and my frantic waving and yelling slowed it to a stop while I coaxed the little girl in. Her Dad then appeared on the scene, scratching his head saying "Well she's never done that before." To which I threw my hands in the air and said "X (I'll protect the identity of the moron) she's TWO! YOU CAN"T TRUST A TWO-YEAR -OLD WITH TRAFFIC!! EVER. Honestly you can't trust any primary school age kid with traffic because sometimes they forget - or they're daydreaming - or their bloody ball rolls out. Kids need to be watched near traffic. Always!"

I still feel that our kids are in far more danger from traffic than from predatory paedophiles. I say that as a parent, as a pedestrian and as a driver. In this case the fault was with the bus driver. S/he had a duty of care to those kids to ensure that they were supervised. Even if there were adults present s/he should've made sure that the children would be watched. Personally I don't think the kids should be allowed off the bus till their next carer is present. But I totally agree that the parents who left those kids alone were irresponsible in the extreme! I have waited with a kid for 45 minutes in freezing temperatures when her Dad was delayed. He was grateful but added that there was really no need as she knew he might be late. Surely the point is that he should've made alternative arrangements if he knew being delayed was a possibility. Surely every parent should see it as their responsibility never to leave a kid unattended and therefore vulnerable.

I must drink a calming cuppa tea now.

Aine said...

Whatever happened to the village? You know, the one that is required to raise a child...

I'm glad you were there!!

pjd said...

All those other parents who left figure that someone like you will be along any minute. Hey, they were right. :-)

Seriously, some obligations can't be missed for some other lazy parent. I can imagine having to pick my kid up in time for an important meeting. If there's another kid unattended, do I miss my meeting because of the other parent? Maybe the other guy is lazy, or stuck in traffic, or dead of a heart attack. I don't know. But if I'm not on that meeting, my own reputation, job, perhaps even career may suffer. Selfish? It's all relative.

Is the parent who arrives on time and leaves with her kid any more selfish than the parent who shows up late? I tend to be very wary of painting someone's entire character with the brush of a single event.

That said, a large number of parents are selfish. I volunteer as crossing guard twice a week at our school, and I can't believe the kind of selfish behavior parents exhibit. Block traffic in a no-stopping zone to pick up your kid illegally. Make an illegal U-turn in the middle of the block. Drive 40 mph through the school zone during drop-off or pick-up. It's remarkable how otherwise intelligent, educated parents decide they can make up their own rules if the real rules don't fit their schedules.

As a coach and scout leader, I personally tend never to leave a child alone if I can help it. Sometimes, though, I just can't help it.

Demon Hunter said...

Yes, that's terrible, Ello. I would have waited too. I have and I don't even have children yet. I love kids and think it's so terrible that they are constantly taken for granted.

pacatrue said...

Interesting topic. We're just starting kindergarten this year, so it's the first I might have to deal with it. I could only think, however, that I don't remember ever having an adult waiting at the bus stop with me when I was a kid. And I don't remember parents as we drove through town at the other stops either. Has this changed, or is it an age thing, because I didn't start riding the bus until I was 9 or so.

But, yeah, I'd never let my 5 year old hang out at the stop by himself.

Lana Gramlich said...

I'm with Travis!

pjd said...

pacatrue's comments reminded me of my childhood. I remember in third grade walking to and from school sometimes when the weather was nice or if I'd missed the bus. It was about a mile, and I mostly walked it alone.

My kids walk home from school alone now (or together), but it's only about 100 yards, and we can see them out our window for 80 of those 100 yards.

My kids look at me like I've sprouted roses from my eyeballs when I tell them that I never rode in a car seat or booster. When I was a baby, my mom put me in a laundry basket on the back seat.

Times have really changed.

Mary Witzl said...

If you compare the traffic now with what it was back in the fifties, sixties or even seventies, it is a whole new world. I would never have left those kids unattended at the bus stop.

We were notorious for being over-protective in Japan. Why? Because we insisted on always having an adult present in the house up until our eldest was almost ten. We never left them alone, even at home. Japanese parents think this is overly protective. As for kids being out on their own, in some schools there is actually a policy that kids HAVE to walk to school on their own. Parents are prohibited from accompanying their kids to or from school -- I kid you not. Before our eldest started school, we'd heard about this policy. We went down to the school to let them know we planned to ignore it, and the principal told us he agreed that it ought to be up to the parents. But every day we saw six-year-olds walking on their own down crowded, narrow streets with no sidewalks and furious traffic. We also found out that a six-year-old boy had killed on that road, struck by a car. And an exhibitionist worked the road too -- our eldest and a friend ended up meeting him one day.

Dozens of times I walked my daughter's little friend home in the evening after her grandfather refused to come pick her up because he was watching television. Talk about selfish.

cindy said...

a painting classmate says that parents at her school lets kindy kids walk home! or they will drop them off like at 7am before the school is officially open and let them wander around the school ground by themselves. the school had to send a letter out to the parents.

just thinking about it gives me a heartattack. of course, my mom was pretty protective--but i think you need to strike a balance. little kids are too young to leave at a bus stop!

Ello said...

Ok I have to respond to PJD because he makes really good points but I still don't agree.

I actually have chanced being late. Since I teach it is imperative that I make it to class on a timely basis. It is unacceptable for me to be late. The students pay for my time and I have a responsibility to be timely. But one day a little boy came off the bus. He was supposed to take my bus on Wednesdays and another parent was to take him with her child to an after school activity. But she wasn't there and neither was her child. This 6 year old was all alone and didn't know what to do. I had to drive him all the way back to school and nearly was late to my class. But it was a risk I was willing to take. I was the last parent, as usual and therefore the only one left to see his dilemma. But this is why I always wait. To me it doesn't matter how busy you are, you've got to take a moment to care. This is very important to me.

And yes the bus driver is at fault also. We had a tornado and bad thunderstorm right at dismissal so I haven't been able to talk to anyone today, but I will be talking to the school about the bus driver and the parents tomorrow.

Larramie said...

You have a right to be angry, Ello, but you're also one terrific and responsible adult.

Sarah Hina said...

A prickly situation, Ello, and one that I have honestly never considered, as my daughter is still in pre-school and doesn't take the bus.

But there does need to be some kind of protocol here. And your outrage is well placed in addressing it. Good luck!

Robin S. said...

Those kids are too small to be alone at a bus stop in this metro area.

That, and times have changed. A lot. I walked home and got on and off busses at a very young age - with my group of neighbor kids, and no parents in sight -but it was a different time, in a neighborhood where at each house - there was someone who knew you- and everyone watched out for one another. And people were oustide - not insulated from sight and sound inside their houses.

I'd be pissed off too, El. I really would.

Vesper said...

Yes, people can be incredibly selfish. It's scary. I suppose each of them assumed that somebody else would stay behind with the kids.
But were you able to discipline a bit or, at least, watch those kids who were running in the parking lot?

Erica Orloff said...

Ello:
I agree. I see selfish stuff all around me, all the time. As a volunteer (ESL, unwed teen moms, Christmas Mother, etc.), I get to see people who do so much unsung good in the world. And get to see the worst of how people can be callous.

I do have to agree a little bit with pjd in that . . . the "last man standing" was the one most responsible, in a sense. I.e., if there were three parents or four parents, and one by one they left, they left knowing other parents were still there, and assuming parents were on the way. It was the last person who left and left knowing no parents had arrived yet who really has to answer for the situation.

Which points to our hurried society. I.e., we don't TALK to each other!!! My guess is, had parents spoken to each other, "Hi . . . can you wait until other parents get here? I have a meeting, but I'm uncomfortable with this because the driver came early, and what if I leave and kids are unattended?" that sort of thing. But people don't talk to each other.

E

laughingwolf said...

i'm with you, too... so many kids get abducted, raped and murdered... what the HELL are these 'parents' thinking, if at all? grrrrrrrrrr

Chris Eldin said...

These parents are selfish assholes.

jason evans said...

That kind of attention and patience are in short supply today.

pjd said...

Ello, your example of the six year old being all alone if you left is probably one of those situations where I would also stay or at least try to make some calls on behalf of the kid. But that's not the situation you described originally, where there were a number of children still at the bus stop. Traffic is no doubt a concern, but as I've observed in five years as a crossing guard, children run into the street whether supervised or unsupervised. Sometimes parents actually encourage the children to run across the street in the middle of the block because they don't want to wait for the kid to walk a hundred feet to the crosswalk. Anyway, the situation I was referring to involved several kids there together, which I think is very different from the last kid being left alone.

In a situation where there is one remaining six year old, I am sure I would stay. That's why I carry a cell phone, and I could easily make an excuse for being late for my next obligation. I have done this for cub scouts and soccer games even when the kid is not my responsibility (though usually at these times I'm not on a tight schedule).

Ello said...

Ok perhaps you are right that there is a different level of concern when seeing a group of kids without a parent versus seeing one kid come off with no one waiting for them. I do agree with that but I should have clarified the situation a little more. I should mention that these are the very same parents who see me and the other parents every single day. We know them by sight, say hi to them. This is not a case of absolute strangers. When I asked which parents were there, all the kids mentioned a parent and one nanny of children they see every day. We know all of them by sight! Because I drove down, my car was the fifth car from the bus and I couldn't move until the bus pulled away. So none of the parents knew I was there. And there were 4 other parents who were late. There are 8 families at this bus stop regularly and we all chit chat and say hello. I should have clarified this more. ONe of the moms who took off that day was one who called me on my cell phone when she was stuck in traffic and asked me to wait with her kid which I did. The unspoken rule is that we look out for each others kids cause you never know what might happen in life. I expected more from these parents, many who I have seen at this bus stop for 4 years now. but I agree that the last man there syndrome applies - but since I was stuck behind the bus they didn't know I was there to be last man. I also think I'm pissed at the bus driver and that is a different issue I need to address.

And yeah I've seen the people letting their kids run out in the street and it gives me a heart attack all the time!

pjd said...

You win. :-)

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Irresponsible and selfish about sums it up. But then isn't that just the way of the world today - we look after our own and blow the rest? Sad indictment and reflection, isn't it.
Good for you for staying until the other parents arrived!

Merry Monteleone said...

First of all, I'd be pissed too, Ello, but I'd first be aggravated with the bus driver. If they were earlier than usual, it should have occurred to them that all of the children's parents weren't there yet.

I'm the same way - I'm not going to leave a kid wandering alone because his or her parent hasn't shown up yet - I would have a coronary if that happend with one of mine.

Probably, some of those parents were late because the bus always comes later, so they thought they had more time than they did. But I have to say, some parents are late because they're lazy and stupid. I have more than once sat around waiting with a kid whose parent wasn't even sorry about it when they got there. They didn't think it was a big deal.

This year my kids were in two different schools, and oldest's bus lets her off down the block at the same time I had to pick up the two younger ones. I couldn't have waited at a bus stop with my current schedule - it would mean leaving my oldest alone on a street... what do you do then? when you're trying to stay on schedule so that your own kids aren't left unattended? Probably in that situation I would've paced back and forth, dying because my own kid was waiting for me, until the first parent showed up and I would've asked them to stay... and not all of them will.

Now, about that 'it takes a village' thing. I think it's a shame that more parents don't look out for all of the kids around them... but that whole attitude of 'it takes a village' is one of the reasons so many parents take less responsibility for their own kids. I'm sorry. It doesn't take a village. It takes a parent. Moral decensy should dictate that you look out for any kid in your vacinity... but it doesn't negate your responsibility to your own children. And too many parents think it's the schools job to teach them. the community's job to look out for them. The police department's job to protect them. It's great when you have a solid community, but they don't raise the child and it's the parents who relinquish their responsibilities to everyone else who create the most problems for everyone - most especially their own children.

Robin S. said...

Oh- I didn't see the part about the bus driver being earlier than the schedule.

That's the biggest issue that needs addressing, in my opinion.
That bus driver's butt sits there until the time he/she normally drives off. Period.

Sustenance Scout said...

Just saw a boy (not too young, maybe nine) cross a road with no apparent understanding of how quickly the cars (including mine) were traveling toward him. Luckily all the drivers involved slowed down and paused to let him cross, but what if someone had been distracted? Kids can't judge distance and speed; little ones especially should never be alone near traffic. Now I'm going to hug my sleepy little one, who just woke up and is just too darn cute. :)

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Ello,

The "Tyranny of the Urgent" comes to mind.

Unfortunately this picture of a single street corner in America reveals an even greater picture of a degrading society. Our own schedule and purpose is SO much more important than the well-being of others.

This is played out on many levels...schools, healthcare, government, etc...the players just wear different costumes and take on different roles. It's really all the same.

Busy could very well be the downfall of America.

Stand up for your AWESOME children--and all the others. One stance can make a huge difference. May we all check out own motives and schedules and sense of URGENCY for the sake of others...for the sake of humanity.

Blessings, girl.

Barbara Martin said...

It's not only unkindness, but a type of madness. What caring parent leaves their child at the bus stop to go home on their own, especially in these times? I hope you gave the parents a piece of your mind: I would have.

Great post.

Diesel said...

True, but I'm sure those parents had places to be. Seems like a bad system to me. There needs to be somebody designated to be there. Maybe you could set up some kind of rotation schedule with the other parents.

Merry said...

"Unfortunately this picture of a single street corner in America reveals an even greater picture of a degrading society. Our own schedule and purpose is SO much more important than the well-being of others.

This is played out on many levels...schools, healthcare, government, etc...the players just wear different costumes and take on different roles. It's really all the same.

Busy could very well be the downfall of America."

I'm sorry, but this is both an innaccurate picture of today and a very whitewashed picture of yesteryear. As little as thirty years ago, it was commonplace to send your toddler of three or four outside to play - it was rare if ever that the parent went with them. I walked home from school on my own in first grade. So did all of my friends. There were crossing guards at the busy corners and there were no parents. Lest anyone think I'm talking about an age so long gone by it should be discounted, I'm only 35 - it wasn't that long ago.

Busy is not the downfall of America. In overwhelming percentages parents are taking a far more hands on approach to parenting than they ever did in years gone by. My mother's generation could keep a clean house, laundry done, and dinner on the table because they sent their children out the door and had time to work. Today's stay at home mom spends a majority of her time with and caring for her child. Parents that work have taken a great deal of time to find suitable caregivers for their children when they can't be there.

In yesteryear, that bus stop would have been commonplace and no one would've batted an eye.

And here's the really sad fact, our inability to allow our children the freedom to make some of these judgements and mistakes through the course of small tasks, like walking home, is not doing them any favors. Ask Ello how many spoiled college students she's run across that can't take responsibility for themselves. The world is scary and most of us have found that, even besides the protection factor, we want to raise our children, spend these moments with them before they're gone forever... but don't think the rare parent who doesn't pull their weight signals the downfall of society... if anything, our own overprotectiveness is doing them far more harm than a walk home would.

Merry said...

"Unfortunately this picture of a single street corner in America reveals an even greater picture of a degrading society. Our own schedule and purpose is SO much more important than the well-being of others.

This is played out on many levels...schools, healthcare, government, etc...the players just wear different costumes and take on different roles. It's really all the same.

Busy could very well be the downfall of America."

I'm sorry, but this is both an innaccurate picture of today and a very whitewashed picture of yesteryear. As little as thirty years ago, it was commonplace to send your toddler of three or four outside to play - it was rare if ever that the parent went with them. I walked home from school on my own in first grade. So did all of my friends. There were crossing guards at the busy corners and there were no parents. Lest anyone think I'm talking about an age so long gone by it should be discounted, I'm only 35 - it wasn't that long ago.

Busy is not the downfall of America. In overwhelming percentages parents are taking a far more hands on approach to parenting than they ever did in years gone by. My mother's generation could keep a clean house, laundry done, and dinner on the table because they sent their children out the door and had time to work. Today's stay at home mom spends a majority of her time with and caring for her child. Parents that work have taken a great deal of time to find suitable caregivers for their children when they can't be there.

In yesteryear, that bus stop would have been commonplace and no one would've batted an eye.

And here's the really sad fact, our inability to allow our children the freedom to make some of these judgements and mistakes through the course of small tasks, like walking home, is not doing them any favors. Ask Ello how many spoiled college students she's run across that can't take responsibility for themselves. The world is scary and most of us have found that, even besides the protection factor, we want to raise our children, spend these moments with them before they're gone forever... but don't think the rare parent who doesn't pull their weight signals the downfall of society... if anything, our own overprotectiveness is doing them far more harm than a walk home would.

Jennifer L. Griffith said...

Wow, Merry, yikes!! I believe you misunderstood the point I was trying to make here...maybe.

How many people pass by a car that's gone off the road, or someone with a flat, or you name it, because they are in a hurry to get to their own destination? (Now, I know fear could be a deterrent in some situations, but lets really be honest--our schedules are important than someone else's problems.) When I lived in the "busy" place where I grew up and started my career, I biked to work. There were times that I had to walk 5 miles or more to home when I had a flat tire that I couldn't repair with no offers for a ride. Where I live now in Small-town-USA, I wouldn't make it a block without someone stopping to ask if I needed assistance or a ride. Many people who visit here say, "This is 'such-n-such place' where no one is in a hurry." That's partially true, but people here tend to look out for each other more than where I lived most of my life. Life can get jaded as it gets busy. I was and still can be just as guilty, letting my own personal schedule dictate whether I stopped to help someone in need. But God is working on me with that as well.

Look at the situation in Conn. that was shown all over the news yesterday. A car hit a man. Others drove around him and/or just stared at him. Now, I realize other factors came into play, but the gut reaction is another picture of what??? Possibly a jaded society blinded by our need to make more, have more, be more--when really less is so much more!! Have we lost the value of the simplicity of living? But this situation to me is no different than the adults leaving little children at a bus stop alone. But that's my humble opinion, for what it's worth.

As I continue to journey through a recent health crisis, it was no doubt exacerbated by an over-worked, too-busy-to-hear-the patient routine that has consumed the medical field by many accounts. (A generalization I know, but personal experience and the resulting physical agony speaks louder to me than you could convince me otherwise--and I'll stop there, as I'm sure I could step on even more toes.)

I, too, ran through the neighborhood as a child, carefree as my mother stayed home. That was not my point. I think each person needs to take a deep breath and evaluate what is really important in life. Is it rushing off to make more money, or to watch a favorite TV show, or get your workout in, or not be late with dinner, or get-togethers, etc that keep us from helping another? Or what is it? Gut checks are good for all—including me. That's all I'm trying to say, Merry.

Busy is quite the subtle tyrannt of life...I used to live it, breath it...die for it--and almost did. Praise God I don't anymore...praise God!!

Erica Orloff said...

Merry:
No offense, and maybe I'm reading something into what you wrote that you didn't intend . . . but the way I read your comment is that today's "overprotective" parents are why we don't allow our kids to play unattended and so on. Not that society has changed somehow and it's not SAFE to allow them to do so. I.e., it's US holding them back versus it's just no longer appropriate to send toddlers out to play unattended.

My kids make their own mistakes. I have never--and I mean never--gone over their homework with them. I have never helped them prep for a test. I have never done a project for them. They are responsible for their grades, their homework. My oldest son has come close to flunking science this year. Oh well. It's not that he can't do the work (he's got a genius IQ). It's he's too disorganized to turn it in. Well, at SOME point the disorganization (which I have tried to help him with) will become uncomfortable enough to him that he will change. So I allow my kids to make mistakes. Most of us change through discomfort. We go on diets when we find it too painful to be overweight. We exercise when we have our first health crisis. We . . . whatever. Make our changes through pain (most people). I wish people weren't like that, but it is what it is.

But my kids are not allowed . . . to go to friends' homes where there are firearms in the house (and yes, I ask). Where the parents have ever had a cocktail and driven with their kids in the car (and I watch people at neighbrohood barbeques and things to see . . . I drink, but I would never drive after a cocktail). I don't let them go to homes where no one is home and the Internet is available. And they don't walk long distances without a cellphone. I don't think of it as being overprotective. I look at it as the looming reality that we are an overpopulated, overburdened society, and there are a lot of SICK people out there. And irresponsible people. And I will do whatever it takes to make sure my kids aren't going to fall victim to someone who isn't responsible enough to own a cat (sorry cat lovers) let alone raise a child. Or fall prey to the countless predators out there.
E

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