Wednesday, February 25, 2009

my parents used to have dinner IN A RESTAURANT with me sleeping in the car, and I turned out okay...

I just heard that a woman in my town parked her car in front of Starbucks, with her kids strapped into car seats, locked the doors and went in to grab a coffee. She was supposedly in and out in 2 minutes and could see the kids through the windows at all times, but someone called the police, and she was arrested for child endangerment. I have to say that I was a little bit surprised. I was surprised that someone would call the police over those 2 minutes she was gone, and I was also surprised she was arrested. I haven't, and don't think I ever would, run into Starbucks and leave the kids in the car, but I also wouldn't call the police on someone else who did do it, unless they were gone for 20 minutes or went into a bar or something crazy like that.

It has definitely made me reconsider some of the decisions I've made to leave or not leave Gabe and Josie in the car, and I even went so far as to call our State Police headquarters to ask them specifically what the laws are for unattended children in cars. In the interest of full disclosure, I have left Gabe strapped into the car in front of the dry cleaner during snow storms, with the doors locked, and the front of the dry cleaner is glass, and I am exactly 10 feet away from my door. It makes me a little nervous, but there is no way I can manage the dry cleaning and him and the snow at the same time (he's a sprinter) and he is certainly safer in the car than running through the parking lot without me. I have also left Josie in the car when I run up the stairs to pick up Gabe at his toddler program, but I'm thinking that I may not be doing it anymore. Not because I think anything would happen to her on our safe suburb street in broad daylight with all the other parents running in and out of their cars, but because now I'm nervous someone might call the cops on me!

What do you think? Would you get money out of the ATM? Mail a letter? What about putting your shopping cart away in the cart corral (apparently that is illegal in some states)? What about weather and time of day? Sleeping child? More than one child? Are we taking things too far?

14 comments:

Questing Parson said...

Back in the last century when my kids were growing up, they would have stayed by the car until the parent returned.

My Wombinations said...

Wow. Just wow. I totally would do what this woman did (where is the story by the way? I can't find it). This freaks me out being in my hometown and all. WTF? I am sorry, but if it really went down the way you described, the cops need to get a grip. That angers me so much.

halloweenlover said...

Oh, and it gets so much worse. When I started googling stuff, apparently some people called the police because a mom walked across the street and waited for one of her children coming out of school and left her other kids in the car. ACROSS THE STREET! I think that is ridiculous. And when I called the police they were very vague about what they would arrest someone for- they said "common sense" but it is at the discretion of the officer.

Lasha said...

I haven't left my daughter in the car - yet - but I have considered it on more than one occasion. Sometimes I've actually forfeited getting a Starbucks because she's fallen asleep and I'm nervous about leaving her - I guess getting arrested is something to be nervous about!

Anonymous said...

I've left the kids in the car for dry cleaning. I leave my daughter in the house when I go out to the bus stop to drop off or pick up my son from the bus. it's across a street in a dead end culdesac neighborhood. I can see the house clearly and see any cars turning down our dead end street. The house is 100% in my view. My friend said she'd be concerned with my daughter harming herself or the house but she would never do that. She usually glued to the tv while I go. I have no plans to stop this behavior but I'm now super paranoid about it, even before this post.

Beth said...

My sister had the same thing happen to her - she left the kids in the car while she ran into a shop to pick something up (she has twin boys as well as a little girl) someone called the police on her. She was devastated and FURIOUS that someone would do that. She was running around like a mad thing and was 2 minutes. She almost lost it all together - it was like a breaking point where she was just like I have nothing else to give and I am still a bad mother. It was awful.

But I have done it. I have paid for petrol, I have ran into a shop (for like 2 mins) and I was nervous but the effort required to get a sleeping babe out of a car to do something as simple as pick something up wasn't worth it. I feel SO bad for that poor woman - she probably needed the coffee from being up all night with the kids and then that happens. Honestly, how awful.

Angry Pregnant Lawyer said...

That is crazynuts. I've left my oldest in the car when I go into the dry cleaners, which sounds a lot like yours (huge glass front, car parked right in front). I've left my youngest in the car in my driveway when, say, BOTH of my kids have fallen asleep on the car ride home and I need to carry them both inside, one at a time.

I have such fond memories of sitting in the car when my mom went grocery shopping or running errands. I remember doing that as young as 5 or 6. How old do my kids have to be for people not to call the cops on me??

wordnerd said...

I also think it's "crazynuts" (great expression)...I've done almost all of those things before...ok maybe not drycleaning because I'm mostly too cheap to have anything dry-cleaned. But everything else....

I think this goes to the point of the pendulum swinging a little too far to one side in the name of "child protection"...personally, I think it is a little misguided. It is not the kid that is left in a car for 2 minutes that should be taking up so much of our time, worry and resources...let's concentrate on the parents who truly CANNOT provide for the basic necessities of life...they are the ones we should be worried about and they are the ones who should benefit from our resources and efforts.

The world is a little crazy sometimes...Funny to think about the fact that I could be arrested for leaving my kid in his stroller sleeping, on my back deck....or the fact that I could run to my neighbors at 8pm (while my kid sleeps) with my baby monitor on....

My how times HAVE changed....I too remember how AWESOME it was to have 5 minutes to myself (as a big kid) when my parents went to get an errand done!

Summer said...

When my son was younger, I often left him sleeping in the car, in the driveway, if he fell asleep on the way home. (He was a terrible napper, and the car to bed transfer never, EVER worked.) I felt more comfortable having him on my own private property, just because nosy people couldn't easily see him and report my negligence. I can't remember a time I ever left him in the car in public, unless of course an adult was in the car sitting with him.

Re: Angry Pregnant Lawyer's comment, I think leaving a child of 5 or 6 in a car is very different than leaving an infant or toddler. My son is 6 now, and for the last year he's easily been able to unbuckle his seat belt and unlock the car door. There was a news story not long ago about a 6 year old boy who drove himself to school when his mom overslept and he missed the bus! I still wouldn't be comfortable leaving my son in the car while I dashed into the store, but that's more because I'm afraid he'd decide to get out and wander off to find me... and also because I'd be afraid someone would report me.

Coasting Anon said...

I know in Florida it is a HUGE no-no to leave your kid in the car at all, because it gets so incredibly hot in even just one minute in the car...HOWEVER, that's Florida. I hate, hate, HATE black and white blaketing rules that completly disregard the many gray areas of life. What makes me feel even more sick to my stomach is that they arrested her. I live where you live and if that happened to me, I don't think I would handle it well at all. Where do I write my angry letter, because this, in my opinion, is just as ridiculous as not allowing breast feeding in public.

Meika said...

I would also like to know where to write my angry letter, because HELL YES this goes too far. Of course I've done this. I do this every time I stop to pick up a Hot 'n' Ready pizza, because I have no idea how I'd manage a two-year-old, newborn/carseat, and pizza, but why should I even have to think about it? I return carts to the cart corral. I remember asking my mom what she did with us when she went inside to pay for gas in the days before credit cards, and (duh) she left us in the car. What exactly is the danger? Temperature extremes, sure - but don't we all use common sense? Abduction? The nightly news aside, rates of stranger abduction haven't changed in 30 years, and it's only something like 150 kids a year who are abducted by strangers - devastating if it's your kid, but statistically ridiculously unlikely. The only endangerment I see here is that she had the kid in a car to begin with - doesn't she know that she could have been in an ACCIDENT and been KILLED???

Okay. I should really stop ranting now. But as a cultural note, these laws don't exist in Japan. It's expected that a new mom will go around the corner to the convenience store and pick up something for dinner while the baby naps, and kids go to school on their own - subway and all - in kindergarten. A lot healthier for all involved, I should say.

Rev Dr Mom said...

When I lived in Iceland, mothers would leave babies in their prams sitting outside shops while they went in to get whatever they were after. Most of the shops were too small for the prams to fit. And the babies always seemed perfectly content..and safe. I wonder if they still do that.

one day in the life of me said...

This is so absurd. IT's not right that law abiding parents have to live in fear if we leave our kids in the car to do something so minor and take saftey percautions if we do leave them in the car. I have left my girls in the car to return a cart. It's easier to put them in the car right out of the cart than try to return it rather than carry an infant with a toddler in hand. However that's the only time I have left them other than if I have forgotten something in the house after I have strapped them into their seats.

I think this is one of those situations when the police are over stepping their boundaries.

Lisanne said...

One winter, when it was *freezing* outside, I left our kids in the car for literally five minutes while I went inside our local Dunkin' Donuts to buy a bag of coffee for my parents (because they were about to visit, and that's the kind of coffee that they LOVE). No one was in line, and I'm not exaggerating ~ I was in and back in FIVE minutes. I could see my car and the kids from the window. I was a few feet away. But someone who happened to be standing outside called the cops. So I'm driving back home, leisurely, when a cop pulls me over. I wasn't speeding. Couldn't figure out what was wrong. He said that I seemed like a "decent" person so he would just give me a warning.