Friday, April 11, 2008

Do you leave them alone in the car?

Earlier this week, I mentioned leaving my kids in the car when I went in to Edaleen's Dairy. They were both asleep. I managed to get the first parking spot, the one right in front of the big glass windows, so I could see them. As I wrote it out, though, I realized that the issue of leaving your kids in the car alone is a big one. It is one of those things, as a parent, that you have to make a decision about at some point or another. You probably contemplate it all the time, if you're anything like me. If there is any possible way that I can just run in and get it done, without unloading and reloading the Rubes, it's worth a shot.

I've driven around and around the parking lot or the street awaiting the right spot. I've waited for hours for the gas pump that is visible at the till. I could have unloaded and reloaded the Rubes about fives times over in the time that it takes me to get that spot.

There are some grave and serious concerns about leaving your kids in the car, granted:

Extreme weather - hot or cold
Kid gets out of seat and puts car in gear, gets window down, gets stuck in window, gets out of car, car rolls, God-forbid-the-car-is-running!, drives car
Car spontaneously catches fire
Arrested and charged with child abuse/neglect
Dirty stares from everyone around you

All of the above-mentioned has happened. There have been horrifying and tragic events that have unfolded with people leaving their children in the car.

Many states and countries have laws that prohibit children from being left in the car.
I found this website for my American friends: Check what the law is in your state, if there is one.
In North Carolina, for example, it is illegal to leave a child under the age of 8 alone in a car for even a minute. Other places have 6 as the magic age.

A current poll on has telling results. Of over 17000 people who have voted, 78% believe that there should be a law prohibiting you from being more than 10 feet from the car and out of view of your child.

Ironically though, in another poll also on babycenter that has 120000 voting, just over 70% of people have left their kids in the car alone before. Fortunately nobody responded with the selection of having done their grocery shopping, nor did anyone report leaving their kids in the car for more than a half hour alone. phew. We got us some standards.

Part of that same poll had me having to select the reason why I had left my children in the car alone. The reasons were:
I ran back into the house for a moment
I went into a store to run a quick errand
I picked up my older child
I used the ATM machine at the bank
I dropped off a video
I went grocery shopping
I let her finish her nap in the driveway

I started to check off the ones that apply. But, it would only let me select one. As if I've only done it once. I certainly have never done my grocery shopping, but everything else applies.
Plus a few more like: running into the post office/package place, paying for gasoline, picking up hay/feed.

I have two groups of wonderful, smart and opinionated women in my life. One is my online group of friends that I've made mention of all over the place, the Chawbacons (or Chaws, for short). They are all American girls, spread out across the country.
The others are my IRL (in-real-life) friends, the Ma-Mas. They all live locally here. (except for darlin' Peg, who moved back to NJ)

I posed this question to them both today.

The award for the funniest line goes to A.Chaw, my friend in Texas:
"For me, only if it is very very quick (less than 5 minutes) and only if I can still see them. I need to be able to run out and scream "Get the fuck back in your seat, little boy! Mama is buying her beers!" :-) "

.....with a close runner-up by R.Chaw from Arizona:
"I have done it before at a convenience store when I had really bad diarrhea. But seriously, that's the only time."

What's your stance?


AppleTree 43 said...

Awh -- you think I'm "darlin'".
right back at ya babe!

Andrea said...

I have left my son in the car to run in the house and grab something, only to hear the car start up. To my complete horror the little weasel had climbed out of his car seat, got into my seat and turned my keys. I guess they do watch everything we do like hawks. Thank god I was already on my way out when this happened otherwise who knows what he would've done.
I learned my lesson thats foresure

AppleTree 43 said...

OMG -- Andrea -- how old is your son??

Magnolia said...

After standing in the freezing cold, in the middle of the parking lot, with a running car that had a baby (about 8mths old) inside..while I waited for the police, for nearly a half hour..and then blasting the mother when she came back to the car...I am pretty clear on how I feel about it. When I asked her what she was thinking?...she said the baby was sick and it was too cold to take her into the drug store. I said, "better a sick baby than a car jacked one". THE FREAKING CAR WAS RUNNING!!! and it wasn't parked anywhere near the drug store. The police let her off with a warning.
Have I ever done it? Not to my recallection...have I considered it in a pinch for time...sure have.

Anonymous said...

I have left Baby M in the car to run back in the house and to use the ATM (but only if I can park right next to it). However, my widows are tinted so dark that I could have a dead carcass in there and no one would notice!


Andrea said...

He is 2. Very determined little man

slacker mom said...

omg... I never even thought that running into the house to get the togo coffee I forgot on the counter counted... ok... I think it counted when the oldest was a baby. I was a 'good' mom back then, would never have considered it. In fact, I remember taking her in the baby seat into the gas station to pay for gas because damn earth friendly Mohawk doesn't have pay at the pump. But... now that there are two, I run into places all the time. Back into the house (but I always fast forward the commercials when it's to watch survivor or paint my toes ;), bank machine, pick up one or two things at a convenience store... even thought about it at Costco the other day but what's left of my conscience reeled me in, at school to drop off the older kid, I go half way between the two of them to see one stay in the car and the other into the classroom... hmmm... I guess my offical online name is slacker mom!

Magnolia said...

I have had more time to "recall" and thought I should share and admit to breaking my own rule.
My kids are now 11 and 7. The 11 year old is mature beyond his years. (I am justifying- can you tell?)
Occasionally I will leave them in the locked van...NOT running...take the keys...instruct them to ignore any passers by and do NOT unlock the door...upon their request to stay in the van...while I run into the grocery store to get one or two items. Any more than that and they must come with me even if it is kicking and screaming.
So...I guess we do what we gotta do.

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