Today, as I left yoga, I was passing by a pharmacy when I heard a girl begin bawling. I glanced in the direction of her cries, then paused and looked back in surprise.
A lot of bikes in Japan have a back seat bolted on for toddlers.
A little girl no older than two was strapped into one of these seats and covered by a plastic rain tarp. She was bawling and kicking and wailing in her seat. There was no parent in sight.
The bike was propped on its kick stand and left beside the stone wall of the pharmacy with several others. In her attempt to wiggle out of the seat buckles her foot would bump agains the wall and cause the bike to wobble and totter.
She had been left unsupervised by the stoplight of a busy intersection. Concerned I glanced around for any sign of the mother or father. It was clear the parent had left this poor sweet child on the baby seat of a bike where she was likely about to tip it over in her attempt to escape the sweet.
Luckily, the girl’s antics and loud sobbing attracted the attention of several concerned Japanese women who began to surround her and ask, “Where is your mother?”
The child sobbed, “Left! Left! Mama left!”
The woman all exchanged worried looks, and one rushed into the pharmacy to try and find help. I waited there, wanting to be sure the child was being helped. Soon others onlookers began to notice what was happening.
One of the women unzipped the plastic tarp and tried to calm the child down as her she became more and more hysterical. Soon store staff were coming outside, being led by the woman who ran in earlier.
At this point, confident the child was being helped, I started back on my way. What I saw though sickened and angered me.
Who leaves a two year old strapped into the seat of a bike like that?
Her kicks against the wall had nearly tipped the bike. Plus, given how busy that intersection was, it would have been easy for someone to kidnap her. That mother put her own child at risk and likely traumatized her.
She probably thought she’d just run in real quick to the pharmacy, but that’s no excuse to endanger a child like that. The girl looked terrified and upset. She was trapped in that seat by the straps.
I hope the store staff and women scolded that woman thoroughly. Although I doubt a mother who could leave her child in that situation would ever listen.