For Real Friday: Gas Stations and Shopping Carts

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not my child, photo credit from pixabay

So I had a thing happen the other day. I was at the gas station and prepaid. There was no line, took all of two seconds to walk in, hand my money to the cashier, and walk out. Or it would of. If I hadn’t had to get my daughter out of the car, walk her in to the store full of candy, pay, walk her out, have a heart attack when she narrowly being missed getting hit by a truck rushing through the parking lot, and buckle her back in before pumping gas.

I didn’t do it for her safety. I did it for mine. And when a police officer pulled into the parking lot, I went, oh, thank goodness I didn’t leave her in the car, because people have literally been arrested for leaving achild in the car for an observed time of two minutes on a cool day. 

It’s a mental debate I have with myself every time I take the grocery cart from my car to the cart return. “Should I bring her? But people are backing out, pulling it, it’s so dangerous. If I don’t, am I going to lose her?”

Let’s be clear, I’m not talking extreme heat. I’m not talking about extreme cold. I’m not talking about walking into a store, searching the aisles and checking out. I’m so sick of these “Awareness”campaigns and slanted statistics creating this massive danger where there’s not one. I’m tired of literally putting my child’s life in more danger than she would have been in in the car to protect her from an imaginary threat that has almost no chance of happening if any logic is used whatsoever.

“Oh, but Kaitlin, I heard from a friend of a friend of a friend that one time someone jumped into one of those cars and drove off, not realizing there was a child in the backseat.”

Yeah, you know whose fault that is? THE PERSON WHO STOLE THE CAR. And by the way, that completely fictitious scenario has only a .0002% change of happening at all, ever.

If that is parental neglect, so is letting your child sleep in their own bedroom because a home invader COULD come and kill them while they sleep but bypass your room completely. It’s possible. It’s happened before in the entire history of the world (actually it happens a lot more frequently than children die from getting left in a car. Just sayin’).

Let’s break down the statistics. About 24 children died last year from being left in the car.

“Wow, those horrible parents,” you might be thinking. Not so fast.

 

Only four of those children were intentionally left in the car. 13 Were left in the car by accident.

HOW CAN YOU FORGET YOUR CHILD IN THE CAR?

Easily. Every driven somewhere and realized you can’t remember the drive? Driving has a way of making people zone out. There’s science behind it but I’m too lazy to look it up. But here’s what happens.

Mom or Dad drove past the daycare on autopilot. When they got to work they walked right in because they remembered dropping their kid off at daycare. They didn’t realize they were remembering yesterday. The same thing happened to them that happens to non-parents all the time. They left point a, arrived at point b, and somewhere in the middle spaced out and don’t remember the drive. Mom or Dad drives back to daycare at the end of the day to pick up their kid, and only when they realize their child isn’t at daycare do they remember they are in the car. The child died hours ago. It’s horrible, it’s tragic, it was a mistake. And I promise, nothing you can do to those parents will touch them inside because they will carry the guilt with them forever.

What should we outlaw? Oh, oh! I know! We should make it illegal to get out of your car without checking the backseat. Any parent seen getting out of their car without looking in the backseat will be fined or thrown in jail for neglect. That’s reasonable, right?

Wait, no, it’s ridiculous.

Seven of those children weren’t left in the car at all. They snuck in. Yup. That’s a thing. Kids want to play taxi driver, so while mom is in the shower, they grab the car keys and run to play with the steering wheel. Sometimes they accidentally turn on the car in their garage. Sometimes it’s a million degrees. Sometimes they get in but can’t figure out how to get themselves out. Should we outlaw showers? Car keys? Cars in general?

Compared to the number of children who died because they were shot (555 in 2015) or in car accidents (THE leading cause of death for children in the US  so why not outlaw cars? That’s reasonable, right? ) it’s not much.

“One death is too many Kaitlin.”

True, so let’s not compare apples and oranges.

How many children were hit by cars in 2015, like how I’m scared of my daughter getting backed over in a parking lot? 44.

Oh, well, thats not so–

A day.

Oh.

The entire debate is ridiculous and I really don’t get why our society gets off on keeping parents chained to their children 24/7 and blaming parents for absolutely every potential thing that could ever go wrong, ever. Our world is not more dangerous now than it once was. Statistically, it’s actually less. So can we give parents some breathing room here? Not much. Just enough to return their grocery carts without the very real possibility their child will be traumatized by being sent to a foster home for months on end while the legal system tries to determine whether or not the kid was in danger? It’s not much to ask.

 

 

 

 

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