Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Babies Sitting Babies
For those parents who have older kids, babysitting pretty much comes as often as you like. The question is, what is the cutoff age for being too young to babysit? Peoples opinions on this vary, however, I think most would agree that some kids are just too young.
My wife was walking down a Jewish block in Midwood when she came upon a little girl sitting on her front stoop (front door closed), not older than 5 years old, crying her eyes out with a 1 year old in her lap. Naturally, she approached the child and asked "Are you okay? Where is your mommy?" and got nothing but endless sobbing. After standing there for a minute or so, her Mom comes back. Before she could even being to exprience relief my wife was astounded.
Mom started yelling at her child. "Why are you crying!? I was only away for 2 minutes?!" then grabbed the keys, opened the front door and said "Get inside!". Later we discovered that this is a Mom of 8+ kids. The exact number is uncertain but it is definitely more than 8. If this is how she treats her 5 year old, I shudder to think what kind of experience the older ones had growing up.
Besides this being illegal reckless endangerment that could put all your kids in foster homes and you in prison, and besides the obvious danger and utter stupidity of leaving 2 children susceptible to being kidnapped, what about the possibility of your kids getting hurt on their own? What was this woman thinking? That her 5 year old could handle the situation if faced with something dangerous? How does she rationalize this in her mind? The answer is, she probably doesn't, or maybe she has this whole "Hashem will watch my kids while I'm gone" thing in her head. Is it really so difficult to bring your kids along with you wherever you're going for 2 minutes?
Albeit an extreme example, this is not by any means an isolated situation. I see girls as young as 8 years old babysitting more than two kids younger than 3 on a regular basis. I see them walking on commercial streets and across 4 lane parkways. Everywhere. All the time. Whats to stop some pervert from kidnapping these kids never to be seen again? What about accidents? G-d forbid some of these kids get run over, or one has some other kind of sudden medical problem. Whats to be done then? I don't think these meidelach are trained in CPR or Jiu-Jitsu in case of emergencies.
This trend of leaving babies to watch other babies is dangerous and unfortunately commonplace. My rule is, if you're not old enough to sign for the UPS package, you're not old enough to babysit. Call me crazy, but I'd rather see my kids watched by a responsible adult than watched by all of New York on the 10 o'clock news' "have you seen this person" segment.