Today when waiting to pick my son up from school there was a nanny who apparently yelled at a little boy in her charge to not do something. It seems he must've gone ahead and done it and she reprimanded him or said something, leading him to go prostrate in the middle of the sidewalk, tears streaming down his face as he uttered silent sobs of pain.
One of the mothers looked at the boy, and then at the nanny and said, "he's crying." The nanny said, basically, "I don't care. He didn't listen. Don't pick him up. Don't interfere." The mother, and many others now were all watching and all empathizing with this boy...and the mother who wanted to help him. She went a second time to pick him up...he was in the middle of the sidewalk and there were a lot of people coming and going and arriving at the school.
The nanny yelled again saying "leave him there. He has to learn." The other mother (a friend of mine) has been looking at me and all I can do is give the French pursed-lips "I don't know what to say" kind of expression. I am not going to get involved. This is definitely out of my territory and I know this is a situation that I definitely do not have all the cultural codes and finesse to deal with. (Although there are other times when I don't care and go about asserting myself, codes my bum!)
Finally the other mother can't take it anymore and to, I would say, everyone except the nanny's relief, she picks up the boy who then just stands there and shuffles his way to the nanny who reprimands him again.
Thankfully the double-doors of the school opened up at that instant so no one had to feel more uncomfortable than we already did. (Another very French thing.)