Janet sat on the porch swing in front of her house with a frown on her face. She was deep in thought and deep in her judgments. Through the window of the house next door, she could see the little boy who lived there. He was in the kitchen, standing on a chair to reach the bowls. For a second he swayed but quickly righted himself. He climbed back down and brought the cereal, bowl, and spoon to the table. Once he had poured cereal, he got milk out and carefully poured it on top of the cereal before sitting down to eat. He had a look of satisfaction on his face and his hair was mussed from sleep. Janet watched this little boy, so grown and yet so little, eating all by himself. Patrick? She thought that was what she had heard the mom yell.
Where is that mom? Janet wondered. A boy should not be taking care of himself and spending so much time alone outside at 5 or 6. She knew there was a little girl as well. This family had been so quiet since they moved in last year. As Janet went about her daily routine, she had gotten in the habit of looking out the window to see what they were up to. She had never seen the dad. She quite often saw Patrick in the yard with his toys. Anyone could come up and grab him and be gone in a second. That poor boy. She could never imagine having neglected her own children when they were young. What kind of mother does that?
“A mother who doesn’t care,” responded Janet out loud to her own question. She startled herself when she heard her voice. For a second she looked around at who could have talked before she realized the voice was her own. Slightly embarrassed, Janet turned away from the house next door. She had to stop having conversations with herself, but sometimes she just couldn’t help it. Who else was going to talk to her?