Leaving Your Kids In One Social Service, Ending Up In Another

, , , , , , , | Right | May 17, 2020

Connecticut state law prohibits leaving any children under the age of twelve alone in public places. There has to be an adult, eighteen or older, with them. It continues to stun my colleagues and me, even in this day and age, that parents don’t think twice about literally abandoning their kids in a big room filled with people they don’t know.

I work in a library. A mother and seven children, approximately nine years to twelve months, come to the children’s department. Then, the mother turns on her heel and prepares to leave. My boss sees her and runs after her.

Boss: “Ma’am, you cannot leave your children here. You need to stay with them or take them with you. We are not babysitters.”

Mother: “No hablo inglés.”

My boss repeats everything she just said in Spanish. The mother stares at her and shrugs, coming back inside.

We go about our work and things are peaceful until we catch two of the kids with a very large stuffed animal that is our library mascot. One child has found a hole in a seam — which has been stitched over many time —  and is digging the stuffing out. The other child is trying to put the next to the youngest ON the animal.

My boss steps in before any of us can say anything and asks where their mother is. The kids, who had been shouting at one another in perfect English, suddenly cannot speak ANY language.

My boss realizes that ALL seven children are also sick and the baby is the worst. He has thrown up in a corner. Oh, joy.

She goes looking for the mother and finds her in a faraway part of the library where she is holding court with her friends and our security guard, who seems to know her. My boss heads to the guard and says:

Boss: “Hi, [Guard], I’m going to need your help. Someone abandoned seven kids in my department.”

The mother is looking smug because she thinks she got away with something, as my boss is pretending not to know who she is.  

Boss: “All seven kids are very sick, sneezing and coughing, and at least one of them has vomited all over himself. As you know, protocol says I have to ask you to call the police since they are clearly abandoned and are all sick. They need to be taken to Social Services and—”

She doesn’t get any further as, suddenly, Mom speaks perfect English, too.

Mother: “Those are my kids! You can’t call the police!”

Boss: “Well, I will, if you are not down there with them to stay in the next thirty seconds, and yes, I can call the police and I will if you ever do something like that again.”

The mother tore back to the children’s department and dragged all her kids off, but not before they had wiped their noses on our mascot and coughed on all of us and the baby had tossed his cookies again.

We were all sick within the week, but we never saw the mother or her kids again. My boss said later that she wished she could have called the police, but at the time, we weren’t supposed to call the police for anything but people having violent altercations or stumbling about in drunken stupors.

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