I called child services this morning: my neighbours are neglecting their infant child.
It’s something I have thought about for a while and this morning enough was enough. I don’t know this child, or the circumstances of its suffering, or what is wrong with the family — but it doesn’t matter. Here’s why.
At 3 am, the cries woke me from my sleep, like it had so many times before. My bedroom window is diagonally below the room where the toddler sleeps — or “not sleeps” as it were. I swore, drowsily closed the window and all the other windows in the apartment. I then went back to bed: surely, this will fade and I will fall asleep once more.
Five minutes pass.
Ten minutes. The crying gets louder and more desperate.
Twenty minutes. Won’t the child eventually exhaust itself?
Even though I’m a full floor below and separated by thick walls, the crying is as loud as if it were in my kitchen. When the crying happens during the day — as it so often does — it cuts through my noise-cancelling ear-phones, through closed triple-glazed windows, right into the spine of my very being. On a still night, with windows open, it’s nigh impossible for anyone to sleep through.
This night, after half an hour of agonizing twisting and turning, I had had enough. I got dressed and stepped onto the balcony to gauge how loud the crying was from outside. It was unbearable. The night was still and perfectly quiet, and the toddler’s hysteric, uninterrupted yells blasted from the open window above, down onto the parking lot of my apartment complex. You would have heard it from across the street. God, probably from across town.
Curious, mad, frustrated, and confused, I stood there listening for any actions by the parents. Surely, if the cries wake me up through concrete walls thick enough to disrupt WiFi signals, the parents must be wide awake and busy soothing their inconsolably crying child. Food, kisses, physical touch — I don’t know: the stuff parents do.
Nothing. Not a peep. For a full twenty minutes I listened and looked for any kind of movement — lights flickering on or off, parents picking up the child, soothing it, hushing it, trying to feed it. For any interruption in the painful rhythm of the child. Nothing.
At this point the child had cried non-stop for almost an hour. And there seems to be no actions taken by the parents (or guardians) whatsoever. The toddler keeps crying very loudly for hours at a time. When I finally feel asleep around 5 am or so, I must have been as exhausted as the child; but I was wrong — he woke me again at 7.45, for another round of endless screams.
Several times a week, this child does this and nobody seems to do anything about it.