The other day at Dollar Tree (why do so many of my stories begin like this? Don't judge.), while wandering the frozen food aisle (did you know there's a frozen food aisle there now? It's mostly freezie pops and sour "creme"....but still...very exciting), I heard the shrill yell of a child.
This, of course, is not at all unusual in Dollar Tree. For example, on my last trip, the four year old diva hurtling herself headfirst from of a pair of still-wired-together plastic high heels....straight into the Laffy Taffy.
I can't say if that was a complete accident on her part, however, if you know what I mean.
But this yell was different. I could hear real pain in the boy's voice, and I could hear his father's (presumably) voice, low and menacing. Eventually I caught a good look at what was transpiring.
It was sickening.
The father had jerked the boy up off the ground. The boy was all of 6 years old or so. The father was a good 6 foot 4. With one fell swoop he jerked the boy up into the air by one arm, nearly dislocating it. The child screamed in pain, crying hysterically. The father put him down roughly and threatened to pull him up again, "if you don't shut up that cryin', boy!"
The boy, needless to say, couldn't stop crying. I mean what living being could after that sort of pain, and surely enough the father (I use the term loosely) jerked him back up again by the arm. He did this a total of 4 times. I swear it looked like he had dislocated the boy's shoulder.
All the while the mother (a term I use just as loosely) was wheeling yet a younger child around in the cart, also screaming, and a middle child, a girl, followed behind sullenly. The mother never said a word, watching her son be tortured.
I felt so impotent at that moment I was shaking with anger. I didn't know what to do. I glared at the guy, and kept my distance, but followed them around the store...keeping my eyes on him for the while. We made eye contact and this seemed to keep him from doing it again ...in the store at least.
God help the poor boy when he got home. I could see the manager looking at him too, but she never said anything either. I wish I hadn't been so intimidated by this guy, but he was frightening, let me be blunt. I didn't know what to do.
I mean, how could one report this, and to whom? "Hi Officer, yes, I see a guy. No, I don't know his name, but he's abusing a child right now. They'll be gone soon. No, I don't know where they live."
What does one do in this sort of situation? It left me frustrated and angry and just plain sad for this poor child. I'm still frustrated and angry and sad in fact.