Nov 30, 2006

The Baby I Found Alone Today

Oh me, oh my. How do I always get myself into these things? This is how my day was supposed to go today (Wednesday)

~Drive Amanda to mall for her to pick up some job forms and such

~Go to Target and get some of my groceries and stuff.

~Go to library for science project and book report books for the kids.

~Go to pharmacy to pick up my medicine (I'm using a new pharmacy now after yet another horrible, horrible debacle with CVS that I won't even bore you with, but believe me, it was so bad the district manager was apologizing all over the place and I got my $40 script for free. I'm still never going back there again, though.)

So that I wouldn't miss a day out of our homeschool curriculum, I packed up our school books, brought my brand new FREE laptop (Rob got it for me from work and it's loaded, baby!!!) for Matthew to play his class DVD's on, etc.

BUT, Rob called me from Ohio (he was on a business trip) and said his flight was delayed. He was switching flights and needed me to drive to DC to pick him up at Reagan National Airport and then drive him to Dulles Airport where his car was parked.

So....that meant I had to hurry through Target, rush home, scrap the pharmacy and library, get directions to the airport, then head out to pick him up.

This all started to go down when I was in the mall parking lot reading math flashcards to Natalie while waiting for Amanda. As I'm getting the bad news from Rob about having to pick him up, I look over at the car across from me and....

THERE'S A BABY SLEEPING ALONE IN THE CAR IN HIS CAR SEAT!!!!!!!!. In the middle of the freakin' mall parking lot!!!

I told Rob I needed to hang up immediately and call 911. We had been sitting there for at least 20 minutes and the car had been there when I pulled up, so who knows how long that baby was in there by himself!!!

Just as I hang up with the police, a lady pulls into the space in front of me, which is next to this car, gets out, sees the baby, looks around and her jaw drops. I roll down my window and tell her that I've already called the police. She said, "Good, because that's what I was about to do."

She started jotting down the license plate anyway (I don't know why) and I proceeded to pull into another row of cars to park so that if this mother came out, she wouldn't know I was the one who reported her. The 911 operator said that I could remain anonymous...something Rob was very adamant about.

An undercover car got there in less than two minutes. It turns out there was a bank robbery going on and they were in the area looking for the suspect! Think about that....there are freakin' bank robbers wandering around and this baby is in the car by himself!!!!!!!!!

Finally, an officer from the Sherriff's department arrived and started taking my statement. (Amanda had gotten back and was sitting in the locked van less than ten feet away)

The mother still had not come out of the mall. At this point, the baby, who I would guess was about 2-years-old, wakes up and starts crying. You could see that he was confused, sweating, and frantic.

I asked if I should go get Natalie, my 6-year-old, to talk to him through the window to see if it would calm him down.

"No," the officer said. "Usually they will respond to a woman. Try to talk to him and see if you can calm him down."

So I went to the window, and was trying to keep from crying myself, and I told him it was okay....that everything was going to be alright. But he screamed even more and kept yelling "Mommy! Mommy!"

It was all I could do to hold it together in front of everyone. I wanted to burst into tears.

I did get Natalie and it caught his attention for about one second, and then he got frantic again. So I took her back to the van where I felt better about her being anyway.

The police said they were sending a locksmith to unlock the car. The undercover officers suggested paging the mother over the loudspeaker at the store that we were parked in front of.

That did the trick. She came running out of the mall...ONLY BECAUSE SHE WAS PAGED!!!! Who knows how long she would've kept on shopping if she hadn't been called.

The officer asked her why she did it. She said, "I'm sorry. I had to return something."

SHE HAD TO RETURN SOMETHING?!!! The woman that was with me shook her head in disgust and the officer started ripping into the mother.

"How could you do that?!! Do you know what you've done?!! Do you know what a pedophile is?!"

The kid was calm in her arms at that point, and as wrong as she was, I felt so much guilt because I was the one that caused all of this commmotion by calling the police. I was the one that has now brought social services into this mother's life and I'm the one that got her in trouble.

I know I did the right thing. I know she deserves it and it was her fault, really. But I still couldn't help feeling soooo guilty. But, God forbid, if I hadn't called today and she left that baby alone one time and it wasn't me who found him, but a pedophile or bank robber.

Now, the scary thing for me is, I cannot remain anonymous. The officer said I may have to testify in court and that I can't do it anonymously. And when he took down her information on his legal pad, there was my full name, address, phone number, etc. right at the top for her to see.

All I need is some crazy father coming to kill me before I can appear as a witness for them to have their child taken away from them or something. I know that sounds paranoid, but it happens all the time!

The officer gave me his card, said I could call for updates on the case whenever I wanted to, and that it might not even make it to court. It all depends on what child protective services decides to do.

I don't know why I feel bad for this mother. I guess I think about all of the mistakes I've made as a mom over the years (nothing like that, though!) and I keep picturing her at home now, crying and holding her baby, worried about what's to come. Because of me.

This may sound stereotypical, but she was Indian. And the thought crossed my mind, what if she goes home and her husband beats her over this. Now don't judge me by saying that, please!!!! It's just that some cultures believe that that is okay, and I may be wrong, but I think India is one of them. So, I tortured myself with visions of that which just added to my guilt. (And let me be really, really clear here...I do NOT believe if you're an Indian man, you automatically beat your wife...honestly I don't!)

I called my mom and she reassured me. "You did the right thing," she said. "That mother deserves whatever punishment is coming to her. (I didn't tell my mom about the beating scenario, so she didn't mean that!) If she hadn't come out when she did, and the lock smith had opened the car before she arrived, the child would've been taken away from her, so she's lucky that didn't happen."

I guess I need to think of that precious little guy when I feel guilty, and not the mother. I need to think about how vulnerable he was. I mean, what if I had been a bad guy with bad intentions? THAT'S what I should consider. That she was LUCKY it was me and that I called and protected her child. Instead of one day, her coming back from a shopping spree to find him gone.

And if something happens to me because I came forward, well, then it was meant to be. Let go...let God. I can't worry myself over all of the "what if's."

Needless to say, we bagged school for the rest of the day, rushed through Target, got to the airport safely, then came home to celebrate Amanda's birthday (what a birthday for her, huh?!!)

And then I hugged all of my children closely and counted my blessings, and tonight, I will pray for that mother and that child.