It Takes a Village, Not a Yenta
I have been a victim of the drive-by (breathes there a parent who hasn't?). SG, at age four, told off a woman who scolded me for not using one of the straps on the stroller to belt her in (the kid, not the woman). Generally I try to be noncommittal to someone who aims a drive-by comment in my direction, but really: I'm insecure enough about my parenting skills: I know I'm doing it wrong, dammit! Even if I disagree with you about what it is I'm screwing up.
But before I get all self-righteous about people who scold and run, let be be honest. I harbor unworthy thoughts in my heart. I have watched a fat child scarfing down a large McDonalds fries and wondered what the kid's mother is thinking. I just don't say anything, because it's not my place. I have watched two parents so involved in quarrelling that they weren't watching their kids drift too close to the edge of a BART platform, and I didn't say anything, because it's not my place (actually, in that case, I chatted up the kids and lured them back to the center of the platform. My heart can only take so much). Would I keep still if I thought a child was in danger? I don't think so. There have been a couple of times I wondered if I should be intervene. But then I have to remember that there were a whole lot of people on Columbus Avenue the day I had to sling a 3-year-old YG over my shoulder as she kicked and screamed at me, who did not report me to Children's Services. A twenty-second window into someone else's life is not much to base a judgement on.
I try, when I can, to be helpful to other parents. Hold the Post Office door for the woman with the huge stroller; play peek-a-boo with a toddler while her dad is occupied looking for his credit card at the checkout; stop a baby who's lurched out of his mom's reach and is about to hit the street. Granted, I'm not Supergirl, whizzing around the city from parent to parent making it all better. But I know I like it when someone holds a door or catches something for me; it makes me feel like this parenting thing is possible.