I took little man to the mall tonight to play at the park. We left the house at about 7:45pm. Which was bad enough in itself considering the mall we went to was at least 20 minutes away. But I love the little guy so I went ahead and took him and spent some time with him...indoors...where it was at least 80 or so instead of 95.
Anyway, at one point I was helping Logan be good and play with the other kids (read: stopping him from pushing the little girls down the slide) and saw a dad put his little girl over the rail and into the play area. Of course he could have walked her to the entrance...but that is the least of my worries.
She was all of 4 or 5, maybe. As he lifted her over the rail he cautioned her to stay in the play area and not go out or else someone might take her and she needed to be safe. I thought that was odd, but was busy keeping an eye on Logan, so eventually got distracted enough to forget about it. Probably 20 minutes later or so the girl went up to another one of the mom's, crying her eyes out, because she couldn't find her daddy and her daddy was missing. I leaned over and told her that he had left her there by herself after realizing she was alone.
At that point I thought about calling the police, figuring they could maybe scare the parents into not doing it again, but realized that there was a very real possibility they would have to take the daughter away and I wasn't ready to make that call when it could have been a dad just making a stupid mistake. So I consolled the girl and kept an eye on her, watching to see if I could find a security guard to do the scaring for me. It was probably 10 minutes before the mom returned with an arm full of shopping bags. When I finally got to the security guard and pointed out the family, thinking maybe he could at least say something, he said he had already had a discussion with him earlier in the day for doing the same thing and he had a bad attitude, but since they had picked up their daughter and the mall closed in 7 minutes, there really wasn't a point in saying anything more.
So, what would you do in that situation? Hindsight being what it is, I wish I would have called the cops right away and let them handle it...how could a parent do that over and over again, leaving their child with people they don't know at all and hoping their child won't walk away looking for them or that another adult will realize that the child is alone and take them away. I just can't understand that. I believe we all make mistakes and I know I am not a perfect parent, but still...I just can't imagine doing that. Next time, maybe I would take the girl away to the security desk, "looking for her parents", and then let the police handle it that way with the parents panicking when the return to look for her and she's not there...then they would learn while she's in safe hands? ...I don't know what would be right in that situation...then, would you say something when the parents return? What about if you saw the parents dropping the kid off and leaving...would you say something then?