It was a warm autumn afternoon. I had dropped Meg off at her dance class, leaving me with about an hour to kill before she was done. I didn’t quite have long enough time to drive home and come back again, so I decided to go on a walk in the neighborhood around the dance studio to enjoy the warm October sun.
I changed my shoes to the sneakers I had brought along in anticipation for this little jaunt, and I punched up my favorite music on my iPod as I began my walk.
The area around the dance studio, though safe, is not exactly quiet. Being a mix of businesses, apartment complexes, and detached homes, there are a lot of cars whizzing by constantly. I decided to walk the few city blocks in a big rectangle on the left side of the road, always facing traffic and, for the most part, on sidewalks. The big loop usually takes me about 30 minutes to complete.
As I rounded one corner, I noticed some cars coming off of the tollway up ahead and waiting to turn right towards my direction. I saw a dark blue sedan with a man in the passenger seat. The car was still about 50 yards away, but I gasped at the sight of something I could clearly see on his lap.
It was unmistakable. A guy was holding a tiny baby on his lap! I could see a small, delicate, but perfectly shaped back of a baby’s head and its wispy blond hair. The infant was most certainly not in a car seat! And in the front seat!
Oh my gosh — what if the air bag goes off? What if they crash and the baby goes flying out of this guy’s hands and out the window? This is child abuse!
I thought of calling 911 to report this crime. My pace quickened as I raced toward the car before it could turn and take off. I wanted to bang on his window and wag my finger at this terribly irresponsible act.
As I got closer, I could see this passenger laughing and talking with the driver, another male. They both looked too young to be responsible dads. In fact, they looked more like college-age surfer dudes. Babysitting? Kidnapping? What could possibly be the situation under which a mother would entrust the life of her newborn to such reckless young men? I was starting to feel indignant. The only thought running through my mind was, “I have to rescue this little child!”
I began to run. Too late — the light turned green, and the car proceeded to turn right. The car began to speed towards my direction. When it was within a couple of yards, I was starting to flail my arms wildly to try to stop them and was almost ready to lurch onto the path of this car. That’s when I got a much clearer view of this poor little blond kid. I did a double take.
It turned out not to be a baby at all.
It was the guy’s knee.
A hairy, perfectly round knee propped up against the side window.
As the car sped past me, I kept waving my arms, pretending to be saying hello to a non-existent person a block ahead. The two guys were having a great time talking and laughing that they never even noticed me. Good thing. They wouldn’t understand mama bear instinct.
After my red face turned back to normal, I began to think that there must surely be a life lesson in what had just transpired. Don’t jump to conclusions? Wait to get the whole picture before judging someone? Things are often not as they appear? Some Californians still wear shorts in October? I’m not sure.
Meg finished her dance class and met me outside. On the drive home, I told her about my goofy experience on my walk, and we had a good laugh. I’m glad she has a sense of humor.
Have you ever jumped to conclusions like this, even with the best of intentions? Let’s not completely waste a good life lesson, dear reader. Let me know in the comments below!