To Some, Parenting Is A Game

, , , , | Right | February 7, 2019

In the 1980s, I managed a small video game arcade in a mall. We were mad busy on Saturdays. On one Saturday afternoon, when I was on alone, a woman came in and started shrieking at me. She demanded to know where her child was. When I could get a word in edgewise, I told her I did not know and had never seen him. She stormed off looking for him.

When she came back to shout at me some more, I managed to sort out what had happened. The little boy — whom she had with her at that point — was about five. She’d dumped him in the arcade, given him two quarters, and gone off to do her shopping. He was too little even to see the screens. After he stuffed his quarters in coin slots and couldn’t play the games — i.e., about five minutes later — he wandered over to the toy store catty-corner from us to start tearing apart the toys, instead. Nearly an hour later she came back to find — or not find —  him. I told her to leave. Sadly, it was only afterward that I thought of what I really should have said: that if I’d found her son in the arcade without her holding his hand, I’d have called the cops to pick up an abandoned child.

I would not have left a bag of groceries on a bench in the mall, and she just went off and left a child? I kept the known perverts out, but there are always ones you don’t know, and I’m sure a sicko cruising for kids would start with either the arcade or the toy store. She just went off shopping and decided that it was somehow my responsibility to do what she was incapable of, namely taking care of her child.

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