I had just got back late Sunday afternoon after a day of running around spending money like it was, well, money, when a knock came at the door. A man and his wife were asking if I knew anything about the child who lived next door with her grandmother.
I admitted that I didn’t know them well. They kept to themselves mostly. The man then told me that the five-year-old girl was apparently abandoned by her granny for most of the day. The man and his wife were driving in the area when they happened to see the little girl walking alone about a block or so away from where she lived. They thought something was amiss, a child walking by herself in the hot weather. They decided to check it out. The little girl told the couple where she lived and was even smart enough to bring them right to the apartment door, three flights up the apartment complex.
The little girl had indeed been left alone. The man’s wife got as much information from the girl as possible. Her daddy was in the military, serving in Iraq as it were. Her mother was an “actress” who wasn’t married to daddy anymore. So she lived with her dad’s mom. Grandma. The grandma from hell.
Police were eventually called. They weren’t suprised when they arrived. Apparently they had been at this scene before, although they didn’t go into detail as to why.
California’s finest talked to the child and told her they were going to take her some place safe where she wouldn’t be alone — Children’s Services. Until she could be reunited with her grandma. The child wasn’t told what the police informed us adults: grandma was incarcerated for drunk driving.
It’s a crime that this precious little girl lives in a secure and safe apartment complex and her guardian made her environment a lot less safe for her.
No five-year-old should be left alone for five minutes let alone an entire day.
The girl told us that when she awoke she was alone. That means she had to fend for herself for at least several hours. Thankfully a family of strangers took quick action when they spotted that a child was endangered (she had crossed at least one street ,which is dangerous because of the crazy drivers out there, especially on a hot summer-like day.) The child, not expected to know any better, did get into that car. One could only wonder, briefly, had the child got into another car with other people who looked like they wanted to help, but had more sinister ideas.
Thankfully it turned out all right for the little neighbor girl — who, damn the cliches, is pure sugar and spice. The smile on her face was priceless when I brought her a can of soda. I later wondered, had she even had anything to eat that day.
But it was the look on her face when the nice policemen took her from her apartment. It would make any cynic turn to Jell-O. She was holding back the tears. Someone handed her her little umbrella and a smile returned to her pretty little face. If everyone there, including the policemen, shared one thought it might have been “what a brave little girl.”
I don’t know what is going to happen to her. I like to think that somehow she can be reunited with her parents. Or find a family that wouldn’t ever let it enter their minds that she should be left by herself without any companionship to speak of.
And to the strangers, that husband and wife and their young kids who took the time out of their day to help a child in distress, thanks again. We talked and shared our concern for the kid and our disappointment over someone who could show such disregard for a child. But we never exchanged names, or talked about ourselves. We were just concerned about the kid. Strangers who came together for an hour to protect a child from any possible harm. We stayed with her until we were sure she was safe.
At least for this day — and who knows how many others before it — she didn’t have to be ignored by a grandmother who had told the police that the little girl was supposed to be watched by neighbors. Oh, ya, she forgot one little detail: when you think a neighbor is watching a child, make sure you bring that child to the neighbor’s house and they take her in.
It’s not sure whether alcohol is clouding this guardian’s thinking. It doesn’t matter. She’s unfit.
Every child is sacred. Every child deserves to count their blessings.
Somebody up there was watching over the little neighbor girl. Somebody down here was chosen to watch out for her, too.
The kindness of strangers. Works every time.