Monday, 5 September 2011

Little Boy Lost

I found a child in the park yesterday.

There he was, snot bubbling, blotchy teary eyes, clutching his scooter as he wandered aimlessly around the park café saying “Mummy? …There must be somebody here!”

He was about four and totally terrified.

Other mums looked on - and did nothing.  But were they sharing my thoughts?  Should I get involved?  Would it make me look like a paedophile?  In an age where even female nursery assistants are involved in child abuse, what if the mother suddenly appeared and thought I was trying to grab him?

When he made to leave the balcony area of the café mumbling “I go look for her”, I decided I had to do something.  I wouldn’t be one of those people too weak to step in and take action.

As I did so, you could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from the other mothers.  “Phew, I don’t have to get involved,” it said.

He explained to me that his little brother had been naughty and run away and his mum had gone to look for him.  This meant that she’d obviously return to the café for the ‘Lost One’.

He kept insisting that he go across the park and look for her and I knew this wouldn’t be a good move - it’s a huge park and there was a big charity event going on.  He would have become totally lost or worse.

Through his tears, he kept saying “I don’t know why she’d leave me here!”  It was heartbreaking.  I told him that his mummy hadn’t meant to leave him there and that she’d definitely be back for him soon.  He needed to know that she’d return to the place she’d left him and he must stay put.

Thankfully he held my hand (and relinquished his scooter!) so I knew he wasn’t going to dash off anywhere.

Eventually a frantic mum appeared in the distance, dragging along ‘The Naughty One’. The relief on both mother and son’s faces said it all.  She thanked me and made a hasty retreat, clearly wanting to get home for a stiff G&T.

This event left me questioning why we’re so reluctant to make a move in situations where we know help is needed.  I’m always telling my husband and son never to get involved in ‘have a go hero’ actions.  My advice is always, if you see trouble, move away and call the police.  Your one ‘good citizen’ move could see you with a knife in the back.

But where children are concerned, and the only danger is to them, why are we so tentative?  It would be my worst nightmare to have ever lost my son in a park (never happened, as I’m the No: 1 paranoid mother!) but if I had, I would have hoped that a caring parent would have taken him under their wing and reassured him until we were reunited.
Those mothers who just looked on and then looked away would surely want someone to step in if it were their child?

What would you have done?  Did I do the right thing or should I have turned a blind eye?  A friend’s mother got a good telling off for interfering a few years back - child wasn’t lost, just distraught.  But how was she to know?

To finish on a lighter note, we were stuck in traffic a few days ago and we saw an elderly lady leave McDonald’s with her skirt tucked in her knickers - all on show to the world, she tottered down the high street.  Suddenly a young girl came running out of McD’s and obviously told her of her faux pas - she sheltered her from behind as the old lady sorted herself out.

This simple act restored my faith in human kindness.

It also had me questioning, would I have done the same thing?  Because you just never know if you’re going to be on the receiving end of a black eye for your troubles!

Diary of a Mummy Misfit is available at Amazon for Kindle.  Now also in paperback at Lulu.


  1. It's terrifying for both parent and child - I lost BOTH of mine for a full 10 minutes at Camp Bestival - they'd gone for a bounce while we looked on, there were so many people that we soon lost sight - they'd decided to go to the loo without telling me which was in a different direction - the fear is indescribable and I was lucky there were lots of other mums who helped us - thank god for them. Well done for helping him, you were clearly his guardian angel that day x

  2. Well done you & what a sad indictment if as you say other adults were looking on? I feel we should always respond to other people's distress. If that means we are occasionally on the receiving end of a tongue lashing so be it. I do understand the reluctance when violence is involved as you say the police advise caution - but a child? I thought of the Bulger case when if someone like you had got involved - well....

  3. Glad you stepped in and helped him, I too would have done the same thing. People just don't step in to help anymore, you see so many just watch and walk away.

  4. So difficult these days.

    I saw a little one lost, just told her to stay still and her grandparents would find her. I stayed with her. Grandparents did look at me and never spoke when they found her. Years ago I would take her to look for them.

    There was a time when a tot would fall in the playpark and you could pick them up to help them on their way. These days I dare not.