My neighbor Trudi is killing her fifteen-year old daughter. Trudi's daughter - whom we'll call Britney - is a chain-smoking, obese girl who is drawn to all the shady neighborhood characters; her boyfriend, equally corpulent, dresses all in black even in 103 degree weather. I don't really have a problem with him, though I don't think Trudi would approve of his visits when she's away from home. My issue is most certainly with Trudi.
The way I see it, Britney is too young to purchase ciggies and mom knows Britney's a smoker, so whether mom purchases Britneys ciggies or not is a moot point. Mom is still complicit in her daughter's dead-woman's float down cancer creek; I can already hear strains of the tell-tale smoker's cough coming from Britney's room.
And, Britney's weight. My goodness! Britney is all of five-foot three and has easily pushed past 200 pounds. All that weight cannot be good for her heart! So, I worry and I ponder and I pick up the phone to dial CPS, but then I stop because is it really my concern? Is it really my business? I am not Britney's mother. I have my own three children to parent and to keep on the straight and narrow. My own three children from whose hands I wrench cookies and replace them with fresh fruit in an effort to stave off the fat. But...still...not my child and not my problem? That's not too accurate an assessment of my feelings, but, nevertheless, aren't my hands tied or at least seriously proscribed by my classification as stranger, instead of as family?