Saturday, November 15, 2008

WHAT WOULD YOU DO?


My neighbour ... a lovely young woman.. has three gorgeous wee girls. Two go to school, the youngest is 18 months old or so. Yesterday while walking home with my kids I met up with her on her way to school to pick up her two girls. She did not have her 18 month old with her.. and I asked her where she was? The mum said "at home in her cot asleep" and I asked who was watching her? Her answer was to whip out of her bag a baby monitor and say... "she's ok, I will hear her if she wakes up"! (Baby monitors only work for about 100 metres)

Um... so I said "Do you mean she's home alone?"... and she said "Yep, but it's ok, I'm only going up to the school".

Now our school is about an 8 minute brisk walk away from our homes....and I think what she is doing is downright DANGEROUS. And illegal. And downright irresponsible.

QUESTION: should I express my concerns to her and maybe risk getting off side with our new neighbours? I would hate to do that, yet I am gobsmacked that anyone with half a brain would leave a baby alone in the house for over 20 minutes and go so far away from the house (about 1.5 kms).
Stew thinks I should leave well alone, it's none of our business, as obviously they think it's OK to do this. I'm torn. What can I do? Should I just leave it and hope nothing happens to that baby? Does it make me just as bad as her if I say nothing?

Now that's off me chest.... Today: some grocery shopping, some sunbathing, some housework, you know... just the usual weekend stuff. NICE.

ABOVE: We went to the Plant Barn... got some new fruit trees.. feijoas and Ugli Fruit (like a Tangerine)... and a new hose and reel.

ABOVE: Stew doing the gardening.... and removing old trees so we can plant the new ones. In this photo he's having a meaningful conversation with Teddy...

I have finally finished putting all the tiles on the mosaic table, now waiting for it to be totally dry before tackling the grouting. Nervous about doing the grouting! Hope I do it right.

Thanks for all your suggestions/comments about my neighbour... I think I will talk to her about how concerned I am ... and suggest if baby is asleep she rings me and I can pick up her bigger girls for her. Hope it goes well.

End of Day: been doing some more fart arsing around in the yard this afternoon/evening. Had a wonderful day really. nite nite.

34 comments:

  1. That is SO irresponsible! I would never contemplate leaving a baby home alone like that!!
    How about asking her if she would like you to pick up her 2 girls for her while you are there picking up your kids so that she can stay home with the Baby if she is napping? A diplomatic way of saying you don't think the baby should be alone but in a helpful, non-judgemental way?

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  2. OH boy...

    I can't believe she did that...

    back when I was a little girl in Virginia...

    a house around the corner burned to the ground w/ a baby in the high chair while the mom ran across the street for a minute to get something...

    a paper towel caught fire on the stove..

    so..
    I'll never forget that...

    I would say something to her...
    and tell her a story like that!!!

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  3. Good grief I am so with you... My neighbors are notorious for drinking A LOT and one moring I was sitting on the front porch with Martha texting with my girlfriend in Au and Martha let out a scream a baby was walking up our driveway (we live on a busy dirt road and there is a BAD curve that htis baby had come walking around) she was in nothing but a diaper...she was about 18 months old I jumped up and ran down the drive to the baby who threw up her arms to me when I got to her... I walked back up to the house and the front door was wide open and a teen boy was passed out on the couch... I woke him up and told him where The baby had been... later the woman who owns the house Was out in the yard so I stopped and asked her whos baby and told her what had happened... she was livid as the boy was supposed to be watching the baby. She had been asleep in her bed room. Mike and I debated and finally decided that if we eve rsaw that baby unattended again we would call the department of family and childrens services... that baby is 4 now and I have never seen her outside with out a grown up since... I honestly think I would risk making the lady mad to express my fears that something could happen to her baby.
    HUGS Laura
    ps... when she whipped that monitor out I probablly would have already blurted out without thinking what i thought...and made and offer to take turns walking the kids home while the other adult stays with the baby.

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  4. !!!

    Just tell her you HAVE heard of babies who have died in fires while Mom was next door and the like, and you're concerned.

    This freaks me out to hear, Chris.

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  5. LOL THE FIRE STORY got told while I left the comment box up and attended to lunch n stuff.

    There is more than one story out there like that that is true.

    :[

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  6. I really like the idea put forward by others Chris that perhaps you could offer to pick up the other kids if the baby was sleeping?

    I'm stunned that she'd do it. I once left my sleeping, sick 4 year old asleep on the couch at home while I walked the whole 50 metres to the corner bus stop to collect kids off the bus when I was doing family day care. I felt sick the whole time and damn near broke the minute mile pace to get back home once the bus has been.

    Good luck with it.

    Nat

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  7. Your right it is bad and to do nothing is out of the question. If you don't want to get involved personally you must have child protection agencies out there that could provide some parenting classes at the very least. Maybe she is ignorant and overwhelmed. If you want to you could offer to help. Find out more.

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  8. Have a great weekend Chris!!!
    Jeff

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  9. 18mth olds are so active too!! One minute they can be asleep the next climbing over the sides of the cot! I like what janey has said....offer to pick her kids up for her if the toddler is sleeping. Also, tell her it has been playing on your mind because you know of the fire incident or whatever and how does she feel about the above idea. She will probably be very receptive to the idea and welome your concern and support.....if she isn't.....well, you can sleep with a clear mind you did what you could.

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  10. Anonymous9:36 AM

    Now you know something close to what I felt when I found out my ex SIL was leaving her 18 month old TWINS at home sleeping while she drove around town stalking my brother for God knows what amount of time! Great feeling, isn't it?

    :(

    In one way I was lucky - my brother took matters into his own hands and reported her to DOCS and the Police...

    The problem you have here is I doubt you can change the mother's behaviour. Who knows why she thinks it's ok to leave the baby at home but the fact remains she does. The only thing you can do is offer to get her other kids if the youngest is asleep (I mean you don't want to be walking home with a big old convoy of sorry arse kids dragging their feet everyday). Give her your mobile number, tell her to call you if she needs help, tell her you've raised 8 kids and invent some reason that you are concerned that the baby is being left home alone...she already knows you are concerned because you asked for confirmation that the youngest was home alone. Maybe you could say you used to do that occassionally but it all ended in tears when your baby fell out the cot and broke it's arm or something similar. You may think it's dumb to say this, but at least then you won't be alienating her and appear to be judging her. After that, keep up the big smiles everytime you see her - maybe invite her over for a BBQ. YOu don't want to get her offside - that baby's life might depend on it.

    Stew is just like Chops - he'd say the same thing! BLOKE ALERT! But if that baby dies or hurts itself you will never forgive yourself...just like me.

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  11. You have to say something. God what a fool she could just as eaisly put her baby into a push chair and take her with her while she sleeps.

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  12. mmmm, I know it sounds awful as I think the shock of her going so far from the house seems extremely irresponible but we live in a culture and society where there are laws and guidelines for just about everything so our thinking is geared towards seeing something like this as outrageous. When I lived in a third world county I soon came to realise that what I thought was irresponible parenting was often perfectly normal in other socieities. For instance it was considered perfectly fine for a couple of 8 or 9 year olds to babysit toddlers if the parents needed to pop out for an hour or two.

    One of my sisters is married to a guy from a different culture and in the Islands (where they live) they let their three children aged 4,6 and 7 go swimming at the beach alone. (about a 5min walk from their actual house) but it seems to bs part of what everyone just does there.

    Personally I would never leave an 18mth home alone and if it meant waking them and popping them in a stroller and taking them with me then that is what I would , but your neighbour obviously feels what she is doing is fine so be careful how you bring the subject up. I would say that I was a bit worried about th 18mth being left alone as at that age they can wake and probably even get themselves out of their cot if they wanted to. Also say that the monitor will probably be out of range as they normally only have a range of ? whatever metres.

    I think that there are ways to say most things in a way where the person can see that your saying things out of concern, not out of judgement. Explain your concerns and tell her that you couldn't forgive yourself if something happened and you hadn't told her you were worried.

    I also like the other suggestions regarding collecting all four children on the days when her 18mth is sleeping at that time but realise this could be quite a tie and may not be practical.

    Oh, one more thing regarding how we see things. As you know my parents were dairy farmers. For quite a number of years my parents had to both get up and go to the shed early to milk the cows. They would leave all us kids sleeping and at around 6.45 - 7am my mother would come back to the house to start breakfast but I remember having to 'watch' my younger siblings when I was only about 5 or 6 (and my older brother watched us all) until she got back home, so in many ways it is similar and I know many farmers wives often juggle how to handle sleeping children when they are in the shed. One friend puts them in the car at 5 in the morning and drives them to the shed where they sleep until she and her hubby are finished milking.

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  13. Now that you know it goes on, it is your responsibility to do something.
    You could try speaking with her or offering to pick up the other kids. You worry about getting her upset but really thats small fry compared to the fear that that child would experience if she were to wake up and find herself all alone.
    If you can't get any sense into the mother, I would ring the authorities. Someone has to speak up on behalf of the child. You are that childs voice so make sure you get heard.
    Joanne.

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  14. Holy crap! That's just awful!

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  15. Oh how horrible! I'd leave well enough alone, but wouldn't let your kiddos anywhere near her house for her to watch them...

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  16. I have to agree with the others - very irresponsible of your neighbour. I would probably let her know of my concern, and offer to pick up her children from school at the same time as picking up mine. Is this an option? I would be worried that I would feel so bad if I had ignored the situation and something terrible happened when perhaps I could have done something to remedy the situation.

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  18. That is crazy. You've got to bring it up again Chris. If anything happened it would end up playing on your conscious too. Good luck!

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  19. hmmmm i agree chris that is just plain stupidity like the offer of you collecting the kids at the same time as you get yours if the baby is sleeping .
    Some people are just strange.
    Glad you had a nice dinner at the park even if it was naughty lol
    have a good weekend
    bfn
    donna

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  20. Anonymous12:46 PM

    Oh my... two of my kids were crawling out of their cribs at that age!

    You are in a bit of a dilemma and I can tell you that I'd be just as torn... and have been.

    I have a friend that has eight children. She is currently pregnant with number 9. Numbers 7 & 8 are twins and my gift to her was to do the twins laundry for their first year. I provided her with a laundry bag and I picked it up once a week and then delivered the clothes folded in a basket a day or two later. I didn't always call before I went over because they were almost always home and did not always answer the phone.

    Well... one day I drove up and their then 3 year old was out front alone with the end of their Christmas lights that were hanging from the house in his mouth. I most definitely said something! She reprimanded him in front of me by telling him he knew better. Uh... I was appalled.

    Well... a couple weeks after that I drove up and their van was in their driveway with one of the twins in a car seat inside screaming. I went to him and he was all red and sweaty which told me he'd been at it for awhile. I took him from the van and went to the door. No one was answering. I had to go in and find the mom. She told me they had just gotten home and that she didn't want to wake him. I had to tell her that what she'd done was very dangerous...

    Well... less than two weeks later she told me that she didn't need me to do the boys laundry any longer (they were six months old). We don't really have much of a relationship anymore. It makes me sad.

    My goodness. That gal is taking a huge risk.

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  21. I think I'd have to say something...but then, I kind of have a problem with being TOO honest sometimes. We have a kid on our street who is barely supervised. One morning, when he was about four years old, he ran in front of my car as I was driving to work. Luckily, I didn't hit him. I saw the look on his face as he ran in front of me: pure mischief and glee. I SCREAMED (the adrenaline was pumping, I tell ya) at him to get in his house, and then banged on the front door of the house 'til his grandfather peeked through the window. I SCREAMED at him that the kid ran in front of my car, and to watch their kid or I'd call the police.

    Well, I ended up calling the police anyway. I don't know if they visited the family, but I never saw that kid running around by himself outside again.

    Ultimately, it's the safety of the child you have to worry about. You'd be devastated if something happened to the baby. I like the idea of offering to walk her other two home so she doesn't have to leave.

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  22. Did you give birth to 8 kids? Wow!

    You've got some great friends to lean on when you need advice. That's a good feeling, isn't it!

    I'm glad it wasn't me. I am very short-tempered. I would have called 911 and told them to get down here and drag her butt off to jail. Then Children Services would make sure the kids were okay. But...then there is the "neighbor" thing...especially if they are new.

    Expressing your concern in a very non-threatening way and offering to help out are really good suggestions. I like the BBQ idea, or make some cookies to take over if you don't want to have them over to your house. This would give you a chance to talk.

    Your concern shows what a decent person you are. Kudos to you!

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  23. http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/news/queensland/mum-charged-over-kids-left-home-alone/2008/11/14/1226318904601.html?s_rid=smh:top5

    Not only is it neglectful but its also a criminal offence. You should talk to her!!!

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  24. Thanks for the updates. I feel better knowing you will say something. What an interesting little garden/yard you have. I've never seen anything like it!!

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  25. i know i don't comment often. But definitely offering to get her girls is a good idea. And if your still concerned ring CYF's and ask them to keep your concerns confidential.
    Its a good option for concerned neighbours and i know I have done it also.

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  26. Hi Chris,

    Although I feel that offering to pick her kids up is also an option, personally, I wouldn't want to take on that responsibility.

    I think if it were me, I'd go to the headmaster one day after school (leave it a good week or so) and explain what happened. Ask if perhaps her child's teacher could make a similar enquiry about the younger sibling and have the school follow it up.

    Love reading your blog and am always grateful for your comments too :) Sorry I am such a slack blogger these days ;)

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  27. I would have to say something, and offereing to pick up her children is a good way to broach it.
    Good luck!

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  28. Oh dear, I can see why your so concerned, I would have to say something as well.

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  29. I agree you should have a chat to your neighbour about your concerns.

    It might be a bad angle but Stew's getting a bit of a tummy on him. Maybe your feeding him too much... LOL...

    All the best with the grouting on the table

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  30. Talk to her, mention the possibility of fire. Offer to pick up her other kids for her. Or to stay with the baby while she does pick up.

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  31. I just hate these kinds of situations. If you don't say anyting there is a risk that the child could be in danger. If you do say something you risk messing up a possible friendship. I guess you just have to decide what is the more acceptable risk. Personally, I think the risk of losing a friendship is something you could live with.

    If something happened to the child and you knew she was home alone . . . that is something that would be hard to live with.

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  32. Not sure what you've decided, but I would definitely say something. I wouldn't even leave Lachie asleep and go next door, never mind 10 mins down the road. This is the most ridiculous thing for a mother to do. I hope you can talk sense to her.

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  33. At the very least, tell her the monitors don't work that far!

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  34. It's one of those things, if anything does happen to that baby - my guilt would be ridiculous.

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