August 14th, 2013

Falling Child

Just got back from taking Hazel to the park. There is a  little retaining wall she walks along the top of to get in past the fence. The wall goes along the edge of the stone steps, it stays level while they go down. At the bottom there is about a 4.5 foot drop. I can stand on the stairs and rest my chin on the wall-- and I am 5'4.

Little children like to walk along the wall too-- and jump down at the bottom. (When there are kids on the wall Hazel waits.)

Today there was a woman coming down the steps with a stroller, and a little girl of about 3 on the wall. They are part of the family that runs the bodega across the street. They are from Yemen. I know the men to speak to, but the women don't have much English. This was a young mother I know only to smile at. She had a baby in the stroller, and the little girl. I hesitated at the bottom of the steps because I have the feeling the mom is a little scared of Hazel. (Hazel has to be stopped from kissing stroller babies. I think they smell like food.)

So the little girl was walking along the wall. There is a fence to hold onto, and she was doing fine for a while, but suddenly she missed her footing and fell. She struck her head on the stones which were maybe four feet below. And she just lay there-- silent, unmoving. Did not cry. Her hands were limp.

There were two men standing on the other side of the steps. They went over, and leaned over, not touching, but asking, 'Are you ok?' I did not hustle forward because of Hazel. The mom was only steps away, anyway. She parked the stroller, and picked the child up, brushed her off, gave her a big kiss. The girls eyes were open, she seemed a little stunned, but she moved away well enough. She could walk.

I said 'She looks a little stunned.' The men said 'Yeah, that was a terrible drop.' I said to the mom, 'She is a brave little girl.' (I think what I really meant was I am worried, she ought to be shrieking.)

After they left the young men (Hipster Williamsburg types,) said that they felt they could not pick up and comfort a small hurt child. They were afraid of being misunderstood. Maybe the black robe and hijab adds another layer of distance.

I did not think to put Hazel in sit-stay, and go lift the little girl. And anyway, the mom was right there.

I know that one time a Hasidic boy about 11 or 12 took a terrible fall off his bike in the park. He was lying there stunned and bleeding. I went over and asked 'are you ok?' and he shouted 'don't touch me!' Not like I'm hurt don't touch me, but hostile. I backed off, men came and helped him, so he was ok.

I think as I get older I notice young kids and families more and more. Children seem familiar. I have spent so much time in their company. I like them, usually.  But I hope I am not a busybody.

I think I got about 5 years as a hot young thing-- and then at about 25 I became Molly Weasley. I have been Molly Weasley ever since, and that is just fine.

But should I, could I have been more help in this instance?