No Brownie Points For This Pack Leader…and Maybe Mom And Dad, Too

by admin on January 12, 2011

Here’s one that I’ve never forgotten.  Here’s the scene:  I’m a little girl living in Hawaii.  I am a Brownie, and kids from all the other islands are flying over to my island for a jamboree.  My parents drop me off at the venue, which is a football field in another town, about 15 miles from home.  The jamboree is a blast-everything a young Brownie or Girl Scout would love.  The problem occurred after the event ended.  It’s over, and the kids from the other islands all pile into their buses to go wherever they are going.  Parents are picking up their children from my troop, but my parents haven’t shown up yet.  Apparently the jamboree ended a little earlier than expected or my parents were running a few minutes late-I don’t know which.  So, there I am in the parking lot in this unfamiliar town in my little Brownie uniform.  All alone.  Yes-that’s correct.  My troop leader left me there unattended.  She told me just to wait and she was sure my parents would be along shortly.  Is it just me, or do you think she should have waited with me until she knew I was safely with my parents?  I did then and I do now.

Being a dumb kid, I waited for a few minutes but then decided I might as well try walking home.  I was scared and I remember I was crying.  I started walking and probably got a mile or so down the road when I ran across an old man mowing his lawn.  He stopped me and asked if I was alright.  I told him what happened and told him where I was going and asked him if I was going in the right direction.  He was shocked!  He called for his wife and told her about it.  Luckily these were kindly people and not perverts!  They gave me a cola and called my parents, who by now were frantic with worry…in the interim, they had shown up and found that I wasn’t there and no one else was either.  Mom was home staying by the phone and dad was out looking for me.  This kind couple got directions from my mom and actually drove me home.  We got there right about the same time as my dad, who was absolutely frantic (remember, he’d been out looking for me and didn’t know I’d been “found”).  Needless to say, my parents were extremely grateful and all’s well that ends well, right?

Well, except for one thing.  My quiet, calm, super-polite mother lost it.  She has never told me exactly what happened but she went to that troop leader’s house and made some sort of scene.  All I know is that mom was the new troop leader and remained so until I finished with scouting.

I agree my mom & dad should have been on time, but come one-who leaves a little kid alone in a strange town?  This woman was supposed to be responsible for all of the kids in her troop and she should have stayed with me or at least found a phone somewhere to check up on my parents and make sure they were on their way.  I’m fortunate that the couple that helped me were so kind…when you think of the things some people do to unattended little girls, I could have become a statistic.  It gives me chills to think about sometimes. 0111-11

{ 91 comments… read them below or add one }

Giles January 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm

My daughters go to private school (well, oldest one used to) so they’re not bused, and you wouldn’t believe the parents who leave their kids there. I picked up my oldest one day when she was nine from after school soccer and her friend, who wasn’t in soccer, had been waiting for his mother to show up for two hours. I drove the kid home, where his mother (who was at home) promptly screamed at him for getting in the car with a pervert in front of me and my daughter. I contacted the principal to let her know that he’d been left there and apparently she’d done it a few other times simply because she’d forgotten.

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Catwhisperer January 13, 2011 at 1:06 am

Reading the accounts here brought back a memory. One of my college roommates told me about how she got left behind at a service station when she was four years old.

“Mary” was the youngest of three kids, and her brother and sister were inclined to gang up against her sometimes. Mary told me that they were going on a vacation, driving in their car. They stopped at service stations every so often so the kids could take a bathroom break and parents could get gas or directions or whatever. The parents rode in the front seat and the kids in the back.

Mary told me that her sister and brother got into the car while she was still in the bathroom, and her mom and dad just piled into the car and away they went without looking to see if all the kids were in the car. She said she came out of the bathroom just in time to see the car driving away from the gas station!

She didn’t know what to do, and just hung around by the bathroom hoping someone would notice her or her parents would come back. After about fifteen minutes or so, she started to cry; and that’s when one of the guys who worked at the station noticed her.

She was pretty well hysterical by that time, and they couldn’t get information they needed from her, like the car license plate or make or model. It was blue, that was all she knew.

They’d called the police and were waiting for the police to show up when Mary’s parents came hot-rodding back to the station. Turns out that her brother and sister had decided to keep quiet to see how long it would take for the parents to notice Mary wasn’t in the car!

Mary told me that for a long time afterwards, she wouldn’t leave the car without one of her parents coming with her. She also told me that her brother and sister got “grounded forever” for not speaking up that Mary wasn’t in the car.

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Louise January 13, 2011 at 2:22 am

I don’t think the OP lucked out because the nice couple weren’t paedophiles, I think she lucked out that strangers took it upon themselves to help her. She walked about a mile on her own; how many adults saw her and didn’t do anything? Leaving out predators, she could have gotten very lost, hit by a car or befallen some other accident.

I don’t have any statistics about how how many people stop to help strangers in need, but there are plenty of people who wouldn’t and, judging by how far the OP went, didn’t in this instance.

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lkb January 13, 2011 at 5:17 am

Wow Giles! I’d love to know what, if anything, the principal said in response.

It is quite possible that you could have threatened to sue the mother for slander. I can’t imagine calling anyone a pervert to his face, especially with children in the room. (Of course, when I was nine, I would not have known what a pervert was, anyway.)

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Ginger January 13, 2011 at 7:01 am

Absolutely you do NOT leave a child alone. Ever. Likewise, you do not leave supervision of your children to others once an event is finished. 10 -1 5 mins late is the maximum that anyone should be. Remember that most of the adults involved in extracurricular activities are unpaid volunteers who have already gone out of their way to give your children the opportunity to participate in an activity.

My husband is a teacher who helps out with extracurricular sports. He’s not paid for it – it is time away from our family (two young kids) so that the teenage kids at his school can have an opportunity to do sport. It is infuriating that it is not uncommon for parents to be 30 mins to 2 hours late in picking up their kids. That’s an extra 30mins to 2 hours that my husband has to be away from us on top of all the extra time he has already devoted because a parent can’t organise themself – and this is in the era of mobile phones! He even gives the kids his phone to ring and it still doesn’t help! And then there are the times that we have plans that we end up having to cancel or be obscenely late to because he has had to stay back for two hours. And the worse part is, they aren’t even apologetic! If a parent is unable to pick their child up on time or arrange for someone else to do so, then their child really shouldn’t be participating in the sport. It’s not up to my husband to be free babysitting for them – especially when he has his own little family to care for.

Still, you NEVER leave a child. You both stay put. There are times that a parent just cannot help being genuinely late and you can’t really fault the parent that forgets their child isn’t with them on one occasion.

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Anonymous January 13, 2011 at 8:49 am

I had this happen too, except it was after a week-long band trip my last year of high school. It wasn’t REALLY anyone’s fault (since we’d arrived back at the school earlier than planned), and I was eighteen, and I knew my way home (so I took the city bus, which was a bit inconvenient with my suitcase, but I still got home okay). But, the thing was, I’d tried to call my parents from one of the pay phones at school, and tell them what had happened, but the phone was off the hook at home (old-school Internet), and my mom was at the gym, and my parents don’t keep their cell phones on–they use them for “outgoing calls only, for THEIR convenience, and nobody else’s.” So, I waited 30-45 minutes, everyone else had left, and it was kind of chilly out…..so, I went home. When I arrived at home, my mom had a conniption fit because “YOU cannot UNILATERALLY change the plan!!! You should have WAITED!!!”

Anyway…….that was a special circumstance, because it was broad daylight when we got back, but after regular band practices, which were in the evenings, I don’t think my teachers would have left anyone alone to wait in the dark, especially not a female student. They would have either stayed with us, driven us, or made sure we were going with someone else.

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Anon January 13, 2011 at 9:44 am

My dad once forgot to pick up me and my twin brother from soccer practice (pre mobile phone era). He was coaching my older brother’s team at another field and just drove home afterward. I guess my older brother spoke up at some point, but he had to have been at least 1/2 hour late. My coach patiently waited with us until my dad showed up. We were furious at him and still joke with him about it to this day. Everyone makes mistakes. But in today’s world of instant communication, there is really no excuse.

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Librarylady January 13, 2011 at 11:35 am

This is for Ginger’s husband and all the unpaid volunteers:

You wait fifteent minutes, then you call the police to report an abandoned child. I would imagine this would cut down on the “left” children. Also – always, always have two adults waiting with the student or child that is left.

That is the policy, approved by my superiors, and they and I have no problem in doing this.

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Samantha January 13, 2011 at 12:08 pm

My Dad was so late for my sixteenth birthday dinner that it got cancelled because of a situation like this. He had been at a Scout Camp all weekend, and it was supposed to end at 2, giving him plenty of time to do a final clean-up and be home with time to recover and get ready for the dinner at 6:30. There were always a few kids whose parents were a little late (normally first-timers who had a bit of trouble finding the camp) so he usually enlisted those kids in the 30 minutes of clean-up and so had them under his eye while waiting for their parents. This time, all but one kid had been picked up by their parents. This kid said that his Mom had said she’d pick him up and so they waited another 30 minutes. My Dad then tried calling both of the kid’s parents, first at home, then on their cellphones and then, as a final resort, at work. After almost two hours of trying, he finally got the Mom on her cellphone: she had been at a spa and left her cellphone in the car and had only just retrieved it. She then said that she still had some errands to run so wouldn’t be able to leave for the camp for another half hour! My Dad at that point asked if she would like him to bring her son home. She said yes to that and he told her in no uncertain terms that he would be there in an hour and she said that she’d be done her errands by then so that would be fine. Well, my Dad brought the kid home and there was nobody there and the kid didn’t have a key. The two of them ended up waiting another hour for the Mom to finally get home: turns out she had gone for coffee with a friend she had run into once she finished her errands. That’s right: she couldn’t even get to her own house until five hours AFTER she was supposed to pick her son up at camp! The next week, his Dad came to the meeting and apologized sincerely to my Dad: he’d been away on work all weekend and had only found out about what happened from his son a few days after the fact. He dropped his son off and picked him up for the only remaining camp that year and was prompt, as he had been for the preceding camps, so the kid didn’t end up having to miss out at all and was welcomed back the next year.

All that is to say that however late the parents were, the Brownie leader was entirely wrong in leaving the kid there alone. Even with something (relatively) important to get to and the parent being ridiculously late, my Dad stayed with a kid until he was sure that he was safe with his parent.

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Kara January 13, 2011 at 12:59 pm

When I was working on my MLS degree, there were always a handful of kids whose parents still hadn’t picked them up by closing time at the library that I worked at. (And usually it was the same group of kids *sigh*) I never stayed. I was a librarian, not a babysitter, and I usually had my night classes that I needed to get to. On my way out I would pick up the phone, call the local police station, and say “This is X library (again) and there are kids without pickups sitting on the front steps”, and they would sigh and agree to send a patrol car by, and I would lock up and be on my way. If anyone didn’t like the way that I handled the situation, I never heard about it. This was years ago, but I don’t think that I would do anything different today, if faced with a similar situation.

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Michelle P January 13, 2011 at 1:17 pm

@Margaret, yes, it is statistically unlikely that a stranger will abduct a child, but it’s nowhere near as unlikely as your post makes out, and that has nothing to do with pedophiles out there. When it’s your child that’s the one, it doesn’t matter that there are so many others who weren’t. Better safe than sorry. No, there isn’t a pedophile or kidnapper around every corner, but there are enough that no child should ever be left alone anywhere.

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Cindy T. January 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm

When my kids were teenagers, they met with a church youth group one evening a week. It was usually held at the church, but occasionally there would be an activity that would take them to another location. I was constantly trying to get the leaders to make it clear ahead of time whether parents were to wait for them at the church or pick them up at the other location. Sometimes they would do it one way, and sometimes the other, and I was really frustrated.

On one occasion, the girls were at the park for an event, and I was about two minutes late picking them up because the leaders, once again, hadn’t made it clear that that was to be the pick up location. My girls were about 14 and 16 at the time, but I was still upset when I got there and found that the last leader had just pulled out of the parking lot, leaving them there alone. Yeah, they were only alone for 30 seconds, but in those days before cell phones, how were they to be sure I was on may way? That was the last straw, and after that I made sure everyone who worked with the church youth agreed on a pick up policy and stuck to it. And no child of any age, even the high school seniors, were to be left alone to wait for a ride.

Now I work with teenaged girls in a community organization. Many of them drive, and all of them have cell phones. We don’t always know when an event is going to end, and sometimes they have to call their parents for rides. I NEVER leave one of them — even the ones who are legal adults — by themselves to wait for their parents. Often, I’ve told a girl, “Just call your mom and tell her I’m giving you a ride home,” because I’d rather drive her home than wait around for her parents.

I’ll never forget the day I was left sitting on the grass in front of the high school for three hours. I had called home and asked my sister to tell my mom to come and get me. She said ok, then didn’t bother to tell Mom. Meanwhile, several people offered me rides but I turned them all down because I was sure Mom was on her way. No cell phones in those days, and I didn’t have enough money to call from the pay phone again. I don’t know which made me redder — the sunburn I got from sitting there for three hours, or my irritation at my older sister, who, incidentally, had a car and could have come and pick me up herself!

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FunkyMunky January 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm

@Ginger My BIL often helps out at my niece’s preschool with concert and big assemblies. They had such a problem with late parents that they sent a letter home saying any parent who was more than 15 minutes late who hadn’t called would be able to collect their child from the police station as thy would be reported as abandoned. It stopped the hour-late parents, but amazingly heaps of them still push the 15 minutes.

And don’t get me started on the parents who leave their children in stores…

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RP January 13, 2011 at 6:21 pm

The Troop Leader did a terrible thing and frankly, the parents of the other Brownies in the OP’s troop should have stepped up too

QueenofAllThings – Quoted for Truth!

Honestly, the only excuse the other parents have is if the troop leader left last, meaning that they thought the leader was going to stay until all the kids were picked up.

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Asteria January 13, 2011 at 8:50 pm

This post reminded me of two incidents from my childhood, one involving me and another involving a classmate.
The first: My school had an after school program, staffed by teachers and high school students, that ran until 6pm. When I was very young, maybe 6 or 7, my dad was late picking me up. I remember being in tears because it was after 6 and I didn’t know what was going on (this was in the early 90s, so cell phones were still really rare.) The teacher who ran the after school program stayed with me and even let me stay in the building until my dad showed up, very apologetic because he’d gotten held up at work. I wish I could remember who that teacher was.
The second: My middle school softball team had a game that was called because of a thunderstorm. One of the girls on the team was supposed to be picked up at the field by her stepfather, so our coach had the bus driver hold the bus, containing the entire team, until this girls stepfather arrived (this was in 1998, so, again, cell phones were uncommon, at least among kids.) None of us wanted to sit around on the bus, but, looking back, our coach made the right decision.

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Ally January 13, 2011 at 11:16 pm

One of the most wonderful (and scary) things that ever happened to me was a few years ago when I was a young aussie girl living in Vancouver. I had just finished my shift at my job and was heading home, it must have been about 10 at night, I had to make the decision to either make my trip about 30 mins and get off at E.Hastings and Main st (a very, very, very dangerous street corner, high crime, prositution, drugs, you name it, happens on that street) or avoid that and go the long way around which would have taken an extra hour or more and I may have even had to walk home (in a relatively safe area, but I still would have been scared). So I decided on the short trip, when i told my bus driver that I would be getting off there, he was very upset and tried to talk me out of it, when it came time for me to get off the bus, he actually stopped away from the bus stop to a safer area and sat and waited and watched me until I was safely on my connecting bus on the other side of the street.
I have never been more grateful for anyone in my life, he quite possibly saved me from all kinds of horrors and made me feel safe, and proved that there is goodness in people.

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anotherloginname January 13, 2011 at 11:17 pm

Absolutely children should not be left alone like that, yes, stuff happens. But for the “think of all the bad things that could happen” crowd, remember, statistically speaking children (and adults) are more likely to be abused by a known person (parents, cousins, family friend, scout leader) than by a stranger. Incidentally, I think the same goes for abductions.

So while possible (and horrific when it does happen) my concern in these situations isn’t what could happen, but that some poor little kid is scared.

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Kelbel January 14, 2011 at 12:40 am

My daughters day care has a policy that if you are late you will be charged for the first 15 minuets at full rate (an hours rate) for every 5 minuets after that you will be charged double time and if you are more then 30 minutes late the authorities will have been called. Needless to say I am never late, neither are many other parents.

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Anonymous January 14, 2011 at 6:07 am

Oh yeah, I was forgotten at the YMCA once (for about three hours) when I was maybe twelve or thirteen……except, that was more funny than anything, because my parents and I knew that I was perfectly safe there, and it was kind of a “duh” moment on their part–I think what happened was, each of them assumed that the other would be picking me up, and then they went off on separate errands, both thinking that I’d gotten home after swimming/volunteering/whatever it was I was doing that day.

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LonelyHound January 14, 2011 at 9:45 am

#14 Karma (Jan 12th)-

I have to disagree with you. I think the troop leader was completely out of line for leaving a child alone regardless of how long she had to stay. I have two examples to this effect:

1. I was in the Girl Scouts and our usual hour long meeting let out twenty minutes early because so few girls had shown up (most of the parents had stayed, mine could not). My mother had left me there early after the Troop leader and her assistant arrived so I could help set up. At these functions the Troop leader IS responsible for all children and KNOWS that they assume that responsibility when they become Troop leader. My parents were on time to pick me up, so no problem there; but even though the troop meeting let out early and the Troop leader had her own family to get home she stayed with me.

2. This time around I was not so lucky. In middle school I ran track. School ended at 4:15 pm and track lasted until 5:00 pm. My dad was responsible for picking me up after track and bringing me home (and this is in the day of cell phones). One time he was very late and arrived about 5:30 pm. No one was at the school, the doors were locked, all the track team members were gone and the coach had left. I was left all alone and since the doors to the school were locked I had no way to contact my parents. Needless to say my dad was furious at the coach and the school for leaving me there with no way to get a hold of a parent and unsupervised. My dad’s reason for being late? He was stuck in court and was the only chair (meaning he had no assistant for this case, at the time, to run out and call anyone). He was not at fault.

My point, although rather long, is that there could have been traffic or, worse, a crash. That could explain their delay. The OP also states that the event let out early. Even if they had verified the time the actual time the event let out is still a mystery. It could have let out five minutes early or a half an hour early. Either way it was the Troop leaders responsibility.

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Miss Raven January 14, 2011 at 2:21 pm

For those who believe the police should be called, a question. Isn’t this more or less teaching the parents a lesson at the expense of the children? Maybe I’m picturing a different situation in my head, but if you have younger kid(s) whose parents are very late, wouldn’t it be incredibly alarming and upsetting for them to have to go to the police station?

It seems at best they’ll think they did something wrong and at worst believe that their parents really have abandoned them… after all, don’t you call it in as “abandoned children”? Potentially traumatizing.

I think the better course of action is, like the day care, to charge exorbitantly when the parents are late. For sports and activities, I think a nice letter should go out at the beginning of the season along with the rest of the materials, noting that the coach/leader is volunteering their time (or getting paid next to nothing) and their services end when practice/meeting/whatever ends. And therefore, if the parents end up utilizing the leader as a babysitter by being more than 15 minutes late, they will be charged a babysitting fee. A big one.

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karma January 14, 2011 at 5:16 pm

@Lonelyhound:

Actually you and I don’t disagree. We both agree that the troop leader was incredibly out of line. I never said otherwise. I just said the parents got no free pass. You must be thinking of someone else’s post.

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Cat January 14, 2011 at 10:34 pm

The troop leader should never have been a troop leader if she was that irresponsible. I once took a college class to reup my teaching certificate (I was well into my forties) and one of the young women (early twenties) in my class found she had locked her keys in her car. It was 10 pm in the college parking lot and there was no way I was leaving her alone to wait for AAA. She kept telling me I didn’t have to wait as it was late and I told her I was going to do exactly what her mother would have done and stay right there. I’m not very big and I don’t know what I would have done if there had been a problem, but there are times when you stand your ground and do what is right.

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Lexie January 15, 2011 at 3:01 am

I’ve got many similar stories to that, and I think the general formula is an idiot adult, a serious lack of communication combined with a parent/caregiver running late. The potentially-worst one involved my sister.

When I was 12 and my sister was 9, my sister was always hopelessly late walking to the gate from her classroom – it took her at least twenty minutes every day, and she’d throw a tantrum if I waited for her at her classroom to help her pack her stuff so we were out of there before 3:30. And since my mother rarely picked us up – we lived just over the top of the hill, a ten minute walk at the most – my sister refused to behave for me and would take he sweet time (I should mention here that we had a militant after-school program – anyone on campus after 3:30 was escorted inside and promptly charged for being there, for not signing up in advance and for the phone call to the parents.) So at 3:30, I was angry at my sister for taking so long and not wanting to get into trouble with my mother for getting dragged into after-school care, so I walked home without my sister.

When I got home, Mum wanted to know where my sister was and I told her I left her at school. Mum went ballistic and we instantly returned to the near-empty school. We checked with every adult on the campus, after-school care, every building. Nope, she was gone. By that time I had been yelled at by my mother and TWO of the teachers for leaving my baby sister behind, and I was so upset. And then, at 5 pm, a friend of my mother’s – J, who had a son (H) in my sister’s class – found us at the school, with my sister in tow. Apparently J just took my sister with her and H to go on some errands. Didn’t tell anyone, just took her. No apology, just returned my sister and swanned away. Even now, at 23, I’m stunned at that level of rudeness, self-absorption and stupidity in an adult.

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Enna January 15, 2011 at 7:57 am

That was shocking. How irresponsible!

When I first went to Girl Guides Mum thought it ended half an hour later than it did, she got the wrong end of the stick. The guide leader actually took me home in her car and along my road we saw my Mum running towards the school! One of the parents had told her that I was still waiting. Mum made an honest mistake after all no one is perfect but the Guide Leader did the right thing she didn’t leave me behind on my own – something could’ve cropped up at home which could’ve prevented my parents from collecting me – thankfully it wasn’t but as the Guide Leader wanted to get home too dropping me off on the way was a good idea.

When I was a unit helper at Brownies we always waited for the girls to be picked up. One of the girls lives near to my house and her Mum was late. The Brownie leader said I could walk her home if her Mum didn’t come soon (they might have seen us if it did come to that) plus the Brownie leader had all parents’ contact details so I could’ve called the girl’s Mum. Luckily the Mum did turn up she was running late.

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whoop January 15, 2011 at 4:28 pm

Shame on that woman. You never leave a little kid alone.

Reminds me why I personally left girlscouts – I similarly had knuckle-headed leader at one point. I had had great scout leaders up until I became a junior, when I got a new leader whose daughter bullied me and who was just plain unable to handle kids. Example: during a camping trip, I got injured. It was only a bruise, but the leader than had to fill out an incident report. She hadn’t seen what had happened, so of course she had to ask me some questions, but this lady decided to turn it into an interrogation. She even yelled “BULL****” when I told her that her daughter was partly at fault and she thought I was lying. I was only in 4th grade and didn’t even know what that word meant, but I did feel very scared and started crying. At that point an assistant leader (my old brownie leader, in fact) thankfully stepped in on my behalf. Some very dull people slip through cracks and get into leadership positions sometimes.

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Elenor January 15, 2011 at 8:34 pm

When I taught tai chi, one of my students ran a day care in the next town (where she lived.) There should have been ample time for any late-running parent to get their kids and let her still make class — but one night, one of her ‘usual late-runners’ wasn’t there by the time she needed to leave to come to my town for class. So she brought the two kids to the park with her. The parent had to come to the next town to pick up the kids — and funny thing, those parents were less often later after that! (At least on class night!)

I don’t support leaving kids behind — but I DO support the troop leader or day care owner or whomever TAKING the kids with her if she has to leave. These people don’t give up their lives when they take on either paid or unpaid care for kids. And rather than inconvenience the person providing some experience or care for your kids, inconvenience the parent. (In today’s cell phone world, it can either be dealt with after the fact, or beforehand in the agreement about picking up kids.)

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Michelle P January 16, 2011 at 12:50 am

@Lexie, I have to respectfully disagree with your post that the other mother was in the wrong. You and your mother were in the wrong, although at twelve I don’t blame you. The other mother believed she was doing the right thing by not leaving a nine year old at school by herself. Your mother should not have made you responsible for your sister at age twelve, especially after you told her about your sister’s dawdling. No offense to you or your mother, but her friend did the right thing.

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Jessyy January 16, 2011 at 1:58 pm

@ Michelle P

I agree with you that the OP’s mother and OP are in the wrong, however, you do not just take someone else’s child without telling them! Or telling ANYONE in fact!
That is actually worse; had the OP and OP’s mother not met them back at school, who knows when the friend would have decided to tell them that she had OP’s sister?

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gramma dishes January 16, 2011 at 4:08 pm

Lexie ~~ I agree with Michelle P.

Not to be disrespectful to your Mother, but she was totally in the wrong in this instance.

You seem to be the one who got blamed if you and your sister got dragged into daycare and your parents had to pay, even though you weren’t the one who was late. Why should you be penalized because your sister wouldn’t cooperate with you in getting out of school on time? And a nine year old is old enough to be responsible for getting where she needs to be on time. A nine year old is also likely to rebel at being in the “care” of her twelve year old sister.

Your Mom should have been mad at your sister whose dawdling caused all this mess, not you, not the teachers (who also should not have yelled at YOU), and not the other Mother who at least was providing some degree of supervision for your sister although I agree that she shouldn’t have taken her without telling anyone.

The only person you mother had reason to be angry with was your sister, but apparently nothing at all was said to her! Interesting dynamics at play there.

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Nyx January 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

@Ginger : did you not notice the LW said the event finished early? Her parents were not late. The event finished early and they were not aware of it. That said, it does suck big time when parents show up several hours late to pick up their kid. Its rude and inconsiderate of the waitees involved. It gives a message that their time isn’t worth as much as yours. I know I certainly HATED when my mom was late picking me up for anything. She always had an excuse that amounted to “I was thinking of myself, my needs, my wants and didn’t stop to consider that you, my child, may be anxious and scared that me, you parent, can’t be bothered to be there on time for you.” Needless to say, this has turned me into a very time neurotic adult. I cannot be late for anything without having an anxious meltdown and feeling bad about wasting other peoples’ time. I am always at least 10 minutes early for any apointment. To this day, my mother still has not managed to art of time management and will show up hours late with a bagfull of excuses and reasons and narry a sorry.

@Anonumous (January 13th): I’m sorry, your parents sound so selfish. Good thing you were sa ressourceful young woman and able to see to yourself.

@Samantha : OMG, that is just unbelievable. The gall of that woman! Poor kid, being stuck with a careless and selfish parent like that.

@Cat : That was awesome of you. Very often, its not size that matters but numbers. Two women together do not make for an easy mark.

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Nyx January 17, 2011 at 2:52 pm

@FunkyMunky : aww, that really sucks. Who punishes a blames a child for something that was not her fault and out of her control? You didn’t know your mom was going to pick you up and you mom couldn’t be bothere to show up on time even if she got off early from work.

@Sandy : that was increadibly irresponsible on the teacher’s part considering his decision would have very adverse effects in leaving kids stranded without a way home. Kudos to your mom on giving the school a wake up call though.

@EveLGenius : I share your feelings :( my mom was the same way when I was a kid. Still is actually.

@pheonix : come again?! The staff left 2 5 year-olds in the middle of the woods alone with nothing but a quarter and pointing you to a phone?! serious lack of common sense here!

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Lovesmydogs January 17, 2011 at 8:30 pm

To those who respond that places should charge extra to prevent this and not call the police-sometimes, that isn’t possible.

DH is a public school teacher. They do one extended day field trip a year and make it very clear to parents that they are responsible for pick up. (No late buses.)

Every year, there is at least 1 student who is not picked up until an hour after return-this year it was 3 hours. (They returned at 5. Child was picked up a 8.) Why? Because they were do back at 4:30 but his massive traffic. All parents were called (cell phones, etc.) This mother was annoyed that she might be late to her 5:00 mani/pedi appointment that she decided to not show up and have boyfriend pick up her child instead. Boyfriend did not have clearance to pick up child and mother wasn’t answering the phone. (Story came from boyfriend.)

Child did not recognize boyfriend.

Mom showed up screaming at 8 pm at the teachers (they wait in pairs) and the child.

Without getting into a cultural debate, though DH has a very diverse class, his very late ones are routinely of the same ethnicity, which seems to hold a lesser value on end times then do other cultures.

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Maryann January 18, 2011 at 10:41 am

I don’t see that the parents did anything wrong. Things happen; they were a little late. The fault belongs with the adult in charge and no one else.

I was left behind by the adult in charge of me, once. I’m not going to go into it, but suffice it to say I went to a daycare that should have been shut down long before it actually was, but my mom ignored the problems and continued to send me to that hateful hole (a fact I resent to this day.)

From my point of view, the letter writer was lucky for more than being safe. She had parents who put a stop to all contact after the first incident, instead of a dozen unpleasant-to-traumatic incidents down the road, like me.

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Ginya January 18, 2011 at 2:57 pm

The scout leader should have definitely stayed to make sure you were picked up. Your parents had no way of knowing the event would be let out early.

@Catwhisperer tell “Mary” I know exactly how she feels. My parents took my step-sister and I (both about age 12) out to dinner. My sister locked me out of the car, and my parents drove all the way home before they realized I wasn’t there. The part that still makes me upset is, when my sister slammed the door on me and locked it, I knocked on the window for someone to let me in. I literally ran next to the car as long as I could and apparently my Mom just told me to be quiet because my sister was telling a story. I was left alone in the dark of a nearly empty parking lot for half an hour and I was upset when they finally picked me up, my mom told me I was being dramatic, and my sister? Never punished.

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Lexie January 18, 2011 at 6:43 pm

@ Michelle P & gramma dishes
I absolutely agree that I shouldn’t have been the one that got into trouble – my sister is kind of the golden girl, even more than ten years later. I always thought as a child that I’d understand the way adults reacted when I grew up. I’m 23 now and I still shake my head at something of the things that were said and done to me. Rereading your comments, it hit me that this seemed to happen to my sister a lot and that she needed a kick up the butt. But I digress.

What I don’t think I communicated in the first post was the fact that J didn’t take my sister after I’d left, when the school was deserted, but rather invited her along whilst I was still waiting and there were a lot of people milling around. This was before the era of mobile phones, and the whole thing could have been diffused simply by running a message to me. My mother absolutely should have been supervising my sister better, knowing what a rat bag she was, but J should have realized that taking a child off the campus without informing anything was a one way ticket to stupid.

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Anonymous January 18, 2011 at 8:49 pm

@Nyx–my parents aren’t THAT selfish. The reason why they don’t keep their cell phones on isn’t so they can block out their offspring, it’s to keep their clients from bothering them outside of work. Before they got their cell phones, clients would call our HOUSE when we were eating dinner, running out the door, having family time, or otherwise engaged. So, since we couldn’t realistically have kept the phone off the hook 24 hours a day (except for the fact that we effectively did when Internet service was in its infancy), and we also couldn’t realistically “return to a simpler time” and get rid of the phone altogether, the next best thing for my parents to do was to keep their cell phones turned off. But, it still wasn’t ideal, because it meant that my brother and I were inconvenienced by the intrusive behaviour of people we didn’t even know.

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Asharah January 19, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Ginya, I kinda wish a cop picked you up and drove you home. He could have given your parents a lecture about what kind of parent drives off without making sure all the kids are in the car and put a scare in your sister for pulling such a stupid stunt.

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Emziepie January 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm

I remember when I was about 12 years old, I was at a fundraiser for my softball team at a bowling alley. After it was over I wandered into the arcade (I think I got bored waiting for my parents). I remember my coach finding me and really scolding me for wandering off because he “could have accidentally left, not knowing there was someone else still there.” I started crying because I always got upset if someone was harsh with me.

Now, as a teacher and responsible for students in similar situations, I realize where he was coming from. As a teacher, sponsor, whatever, you should ALWAYS ensure everyone is safely where they need to be, no matter what.

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LittleRed August 4, 2011 at 2:18 am

For a couple summers during college, I was a camp counselor at a sleepaway camp. Parents ran late picking up their kids at the end of the week all the time. Any time you are dealing with parents picking up a group of kids, you should ALWAYS plan on staying a half hour- an hour extra because of these types of situations. The scout leader was in the wrong here. You never leave a child alone because you don’t want to wait on their parents… end of story.

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AD October 10, 2013 at 9:52 pm

This reminds me of the time I was left alone while I was in college. Normally, I walked home, but this was midwinter and my father had offered to pick me up afterwards. We didn’t live very far away and the roads weren’t bad yet. I called home to say I was done for the day, and my older brother told dad he’d tell him. Two hours came and went, and I called dad again. In the background, I could hear my brother ranting about how I was perfectly able to walk home on my own. Walking anywhere seemed to be beneath his dignity, though…

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