I write (wrote) this from the comfort of my still standing home. safe, sitting in my underwear and sweater. contemplating children. not so much having them, but somehow figuring out where I fit in in the 'it takes a village' idiom, er, maxim sense.
exhibit a – on my walk to work, I glanced up once from my book to check that the kids' screaming and running was indeed fun based, my eyes taking note of random dude walking opposite direction on opposite side of the street who was also taking in the same scene. I looked back down to read a paragraph to glance up a second time as I passed the two kids to see exactly what could possibly be so fun and realized that had not their screams attracted my attention, the smell of burning would have for sure. the 2 kids (age 9?) were standing on the cement sidewalk in front of their front door around what looked to be a notebook (the paper loose leaf made of trees kind) all aflame. their gigantic smiles and laughter indicated to me that they A) were the ones to set it on fire, and B) probs no one was home. I took note of the 1/3 liquid remaining in the plastic soda bottle by the girl's feet and figured that would be enough to squelch any rouge flames and did not slow my pace down one bit. tho my brain got going. thought #1 was that I did not want to be the old fuddy duddy figure of authority ruining all the fun when things were obviously fine. thought #2: that other adult dude also walked by sans comment of concern, thereby making it permissible for me to do same. thought #3: their mom/parent/caretaker was probably inside and could see them (at least it wasn't in the house!). thought #4: what kind of community member/responsible adult walks past two kids playing with fire and says nothing? thought #5: where was I in my book?
hours have passed and I have heard no sirens. while this lays some concern to rest, I am left to contemplate what, exactly, is my role when it comes to accidental care taking. beyond the borderline negligent basics of sending out a passing hope that the neighbor kids don't burn the house down after school.