I have recently read an article by author Kim Brooks titled “The Day I Left My Son in the Car.” And then I read a response by a blogger who raked her over the coals for her thoughts. (Read that here.) I found myself writing a long response to her response (hoping she wouldn’t then feel the need to rake ME over the coals with another response), when I decided, “Why don’t I just say this on my own blog?” It’s a little scary to me to do so, because this is a very emotional subject about which people feel very strongly. But here goes.
Long story short (in case you decide not to read her original article, which is kind of long, but well worth the time): One cool day (50 degrees and overcast, by her account), Kim made the decision to leave her recalcitrant 4-year-old son in her car with the windows cracked, the car locked and the alarm set, for a few minutes while she ran into a store to pick up a pair of kids headphones for an airplane trip on which they were about to embark. She was running late, her son, who wanted to go with her in the first place, was suddenly unwilling to accompany her into the store, so she made the decision. Someone in the parking lot saw her do it, recorded the incident on their smartphone, and called the police. She was arrested, charged, and sentenced, in the end, to community service and taking a parenting course.
Frumpy Mommy argues that Kim Brook is trying to justify her actions in her article by talking about the epidemic of helicopter parenting in our society today. I think Mrs. Brook knew she was wrong. I read the entire article. It was a lapse in judgement. I don’t agree that the person who saw her do it should have waited, recorded and called police. I think right then they should have said, “Hey, it’s probably not a good idea to leave your kid alone!” If she ignored/was rude to/cursed out that person, then maybe matters should have been taken further. Why not nip the problem in the bud instead of watching someone fail?
I had a friend who recently lost track of their 3-year-old child at the beach. One minute he was playing with his brother, the next minute he was gone. They searched for 30 minutes for that little guy, panicked all the while. Turns out, a couple down the beach thought to themselves, “This child probably shouldn’t be wandering by himself.” But did they call the police and accuse the mom of being a terrible parent? No, they followed to make sure he wasn’t harmed by someone, they contacted beach patrol, and mother and child were happily reunited. Do children wander away in public places? Yes.
I lost my son for a terror-filled 5 minutes once at Sea World. Was I a bad parent because I took my eyes off of him for a minute? Granted, Mrs. Brook left her son in a locked, alarm-set car on a cool day. She made the decision. It’s different; I know that. And I’m not in any way, shape or form advocating that anyone leave their small child in their car for any reason. I didn’t even go into a convenience store to get my receipt if it failed to print at the gas pump if I had my babies with me. But no parent is perfect. I think we’ve probably all put our children at risk at some point. I think her point was not to excuse herself—I think she learned her lesson—I think her point was to say that judgement of others has gone way too far.
There is so much more to say. Don’t judge me until my thoughts are all out there (like yes, she’s the parent and should have taken control of the situation instead of letting her 4-year-old have control. And no, I’m not saying she was right in what she did.) In my next post, I’ll share more thoughts on this subject.
I’m willing to engage in polite debate on the subject. Leave your comments below.
image from eriesense.com