I’ve witnessed some bad parenting before, but I watched a dad on Saturday night who comes pretty close to the top of that list. It’s not every day that I see a father lose a child and then not really care all that much about the loss.
Casey, the girls and I went to one of the local malls so that Casey could do some shopping. We went shopping the week before so that Casey could find some gym clothes. That trip took a few hours as Casey went from store to store looking for something that would fit. As Casey tried on yoga top after yoga top, I chased Vivi around the store.
Vivi has learned how to run, so keeping up with the little 2 foot toddler is getting more and more difficult. Vivi decided to turn her running away from me into a game, and that game eventually gravitated into her ducking under Casey’s dressing room door. She would pause a few seconds and then she’d duck back under the door and take off on a dead run to the exit of the store. I would catch her and divert her back towards Casey’s dressing room door.
Eventually Vivi got the bright idea to bolt under someone else’s dressing room door and that was pretty much the end of our shopping trip.
For this last trip to the mall I decided I’d take Vivi to the dreaded mall playground. Yeah, the playground where some parents go to let their 12 year old kids loose to run wild so they can surf on their phones. This trip to the mall’s playground wasn’t any different.
As Vivi ran around going down the slide, a girl who was just as tall as me was sprinting through the overcrowded play area and jumping off the playground equipment. I watched as the girl jumped onto other 2 or 3 year old kids and then just ran off. The kids one by one went back crying to their parents after they were smashed by this pre-teen who shouldn’t have been playing in the playground.
Eventually that girl almost smashed Vivi’s head into a piece of the playground equipment and I had had enough. Luckily, Vivi was able to slip away as her head was getting shoved against the playground equipment. I started looking around the benches outlining the playground area searching for the parent of the pre-teen girl. The only parent who looked like he could be the father of the child was sitting back on the couch surfing on his cellphone completely oblivious to what his child was doing.
I kept watching the guy and I caught him glancing up once in a while to look around at what was going on outside the play area. As I watched I saw about four or five kids go up to him and talk to him. He never looked up from his phone to answer the kids’ questions, but instead focused on his phone. Those 4 or 5 kids were his kids.
About an hour passed and then I noticed him stand up and start to look around. He walked about 2 feet in each direction and then he just stood there. He put his phone in his pocket and he just stood there and watched the playground equipment. Ten minutes later a security guard walked into the playground area holding a child who looked younger than Vivi.
That father’s 18 month or so old daughter had left the playground area and was found wandering around the other end of the mall. The father realized he was missing his child when he stood up, but that was pretty much the end of his efforts to find his missing kid.
Once the child was returned the guy sat back down and pulled out his phone and went back to doing whatever he had been doing before. No change in behavior. No worry that he may lose his kid again. Just there to take advantage of the free babysitting provided by other kids’ parents and the security guards patrolling the mall.
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