A recent news story about a couple who left their children in a shopping cart at Wal-Mart so they could shop on black Friday had me shaking my head and asking "what the hell?" The couple said the children would slow them down. Really? This is a reason to abandon your children in a store on the busiest shopping day of the year.
As an aside, it was a nice change of pace that the children were unharmed, as most stories do not have such a happy ending.
Last night we were at our local Kmart store. It was around 8:00 in the evening, and it was starting to get pretty chilly out. As we were getting in our car, Maddy said "Mom, there's a baby in the backseat of that car." I looked in the car window and sure enough, there was indeed a child in the carseat, sound asleep.
I wasn't sure who to call. Should I call 911? Is this an emergency, would the parents be gone before they got there? The fire department is across the street, should we go there?
One thing I did know for sure is that I did not want to be around when the parents came out. Maybe I'm a chicken but as much as I would like to get all over them, you never know how people will react. And quite frankly, if you are callous enough to leave a small child unattended in the back seat of a car in a shopping mall parking lot when it is 40 degrees outside, how are you going to react to me telling you how to parent?
I decided to go back in the store and tell the cashier at the service desk. I gave him the make and model and license plate of the car, told him where it was parked, and he immediately picked up the phone to call the police.
As we left, I kept looking back. I felt bad leaving the child, but had faith that the police would come quickly or at the very least, the driver would return. I still feel that I should have done more.
When Jessica was about 9 months old, I accidentally locked her in the car. While putting her in the car seat, I sat my purse in the floorboard. I hit the door lock, shut the door and said Oh Holy Crap my keys are in there. Of course, I did this in the parking lot of the commissary of an Air Force base. Leaving your kids in the car on base is a serious offense. I ran back to the store, babbling incoherently about keys and babies and needing a phone. I called her dad to come up with the extra key (thank God we lived on base then) and then raced back out the car to talk to her through the window. Luckily it was a mild day and she seemed perfectly content to sit there and wave at me. I just knew a base cop was going to drive by and arrest me for leaving her in the car.
Maddy told me that she routinely looks in car windows, and if she sees a baby seat she makes sure no one has left a child in the car. I'm so proud of her for being so watchful, but also saddens that she feels that she has to do that.