“Do not be too moral. You may cheat yourself out of much life. Aim above morality. Be not simply good; be good for something.” –Thoreau

30 March 2010

The answer, in short, is "No!"


You have to read the above article first. Then, if you choose, you can proceed to my short rant.

Let me begin by saying that I firmly believe in all that "takes a village to raise a child" claptrap. I really do. I believe we are responsible for each other. When we see a possibly homeless man passed out on a street corner, we should check on him. When the person in line in front of us at Starbucks is a dollar short, we should hand him the cash. When a child looks lost or scared or simply lonely, we should do what we can to help.

That being said, I think the writer of this article is only looking at this issue from one side. What about the responsibility the mother had toward the librarian? Why did the mother think it would be no big deal to entrust the welfare of her child to the librarian, who was at work and likely had work-related tasks to accomplish? What if she (the librarian) had intended to step out a moment later for her break? What if she was supposed to move to another section? What if, god forbid, she had to pee?

I sincerely doubt the mother would have felt comfortable with the librarian taking the child with her to the washroom while she urinated, so she could continue to keep an eye on her. And yet that's what a babysitter would have done... and isn't the librarian a de facto babysitter in this scenario?

Parents of small children have to understand that public servants, retail employees, waiters, and other members of "service staff" simply do not have the time to unexpectedly care for someone else's child. News flash: We're busy. It's not like I'm refusing to watch your child out of spite, or because I expect to be paid. The librarian was telling the mother, in no uncertain terms, that she did not feel she could devote the necessary attention to the child if the mother stepped out. Oughtn't the mother thank her for the warning?