Auto Service Center, July 2015
While giving my car key to the attendant I noticed an African American baby drinking a bottle in her carrier. She looked anywhere between 5 and 7 months old. Her diaper bag was on a chair near a Caucasian man reading a newspaper. He gave no indication of being the child’s caregiver and I wondered where the child’s parent had gone. The restroom was empty.
I went outside the building to wait for my son to arrive to take me home since my car wouldn’t be ready for several hours. After a couple of minutes, an African American man got out of a car parked about 20 feet to my left, walked passed me and entered the office. I looked over at the car and saw another African American man sitting in the driver’s seat. I attempted to ignore the stereotypical thoughts that came to my mind. Looks like they’re up to no good. I looked into the window and saw him check on the baby girl. A few minutes later, he passed me again with a soft drink in his hand …and no baby.
Me: “Excuse me, sir, but uh, is that your baby in there?”
Neglectful Dad: “Yeah”
Me: (a pause) “So…you are just gonna leave her in there by herself?”
Neglectful Dad: (shrugs and points to the window) “I’m just out here on the other side of the window.”
Me: (shocked, annoyed and a bit nervous at the challenge that I was ready to make to him) “You know all that it takes is for someone to see her and call Social Services, because what you are doing is technically neglect.”
Neglectful Dad: (rolls his eyes and walks back towards the office) “It’s no big deal, I’m just outside.”
Me: (heart pounding) “It only takes a phone call. I’m just looking out for your daughter and even you.”
I turn back around in a daze. A few seconds later he walks past me with the child in the baby carrier.
Me: “You know, we need good, strong, faithful black fathers.”
Dad: (putting the child in the back seat) “I am!”
He gets in the car.
I shared this event and vented my dismay to my mother a few days later and she encouraged me. She reminded me that we’ve got to plant seeds and that father may not change immediately but at least there is a seed in there that may cause him to think twice the next time.
A seed, a prayer and trust in my God who is a father to the fatherless comforts my heart as I write about this. It’s not just the little girl who needs a dad who loves well. Her father needs to know how much he is loved by God the Father in order to learn how to love well.
Join me…let’s plant some more seeds.
Father, please turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. Amen