DEAR ABBY: We are a retired couple. During a recent heat wave, we mostly stayed in the house. My husband kept saying, "Do you hear a baby crying?" (Our neighbor across the street heard it, too.) I walked around our back yard, and a couple of houses down, I saw a baby sitting in a stroller, screaming! The sun was beating down on that poor little thing while the mother watered the yard. She never even looked at the baby.
I felt so sorry for that child, I walked over there and said, "Excuse me, but it's too hot for that baby to be out in this heat with no bonnet for 20 minutes."
She said, "B----, I work at a children's hospital and I know what I'm doing -- besides, he's been out only five minutes!"
I said, "Don't call me a b----. He's been screaming for 20 minutes, and what you're doing is child abuse!" Then she called me a name you couldn't print, and aimed the water hose right at my face! As I walked away, she aimed the hose at my behind!
I am not a person who calls the police or children's services, but what should I have done? Covered my ears, eyes and mouth like those three monkeys? -- UPSET IN OHIO
DEAR UPSET: Your neighbor has an ugly temper and a mouth to match.
You were right to speak up when you learned why the child was screaming. Although your neighbor's "abuse" was more due to ignorance than deliberate cruelty, the woman could certainly benefit from some instruction in parenting. Being an employee of a children's hospital doesn't automatically make one a good parent.