Why Is This National News?

Hi Readers: It’s not like I advocate, “Take our 2-year-olds to the park and leave them there.” But why is this story national news? A day care center took its kids to a park that is a 10 minute walk away. On the way back the workers realized they’d left a 2-year-old behind. They went and got him.  Meantime, neighbors heard the boy crying and came and took care of him, which is exactly what you’d hope would happen — and a lot more normal than neighbors coming and killing him for the heck of it.

So why is this non-event news? It’s not presented as a happy story, or even a, “Stuff happens,” story. It’s presented as an, “Oh my God!” story. In other words: It is only newsworthy if we imagine that in just a few minutes, “anything” could have happened to the kid, instead of what DID happen: A dumb but non-fatal mistake was quickly rectified, and community was kind to a kid.

Not to flog a dead horse, but it also plays into the idea that any mistake of any kind when it comes to caring for kids is absolutely unheard of, and that we must expect utter PERFECTION on the part of anyone looking after children, be it day care workers, teachers or parents. One slip and we are shocked.

Yes, it IS pretty shocking to forget a kid at the park. But can we please get back to not obsessing about every little adverse thing that ever happens in the course of childrearing? It’s driving us nuts. — Lenore

79 Responses

  1. It surprises me because all of the daycare workers I know do triple head counts whenever they move from place to place.

    What is more upsetting to me is that it was against daycare policy to take kids on outings. I think it would be awful for a daycare to not be able to engage with the community!!

  2. The only news I read these days is from fark.com. All the newspapers are depressing, and CNN just covers crap stories. And newspapers wonder why their readership is down…

    In fact, out of all my neighbors, everybody has canceled their newspaper subscriptions for the reason mention above, too.

  3. Oh dear. All’s well that ends well, and you are right in that making this into national news serves only to feed the hysteria over non-events. I suppose those day care workers will lose their jobs now, which is unfortunate because, even though they clearly made a mistake, day care workers who take kids to the park sound great to me. Plus, you can be sure they will be hyper-vigilant from now on. 🙂

  4. Yep, stories like this feed parents’ neuroses and make being a teacher almost intolerable. “What do you MEAN Johnny fell down and scraped his knee on the playground!!? Weren’t you watching him??? It’s all your fault!” Poor day care workers, it’s bad enough having to deal with children who don’t have a responsible bone in their bodies because they’ve never had to think about being responsible… (yes, even at 2 children can show a level of responsibility and awareness, I see it every day).

  5. Wow. National news. You’d think there wasn’t anything happening in the world.

    I do wonder about the bit that says the day care workers noticed as they started to walk back, but that local residents looked after the kid until police arrived. Makes it sound like the kid had wandered quite a way from the group. Still, not a major problem because *most people are good*.

    Thankfully most of the comments on the article seem to take the same view – that it’s something that shouldn’t have happened but going to the park is good for two year olds and it’s good that no harm was done. That’s the sort of ideal reaction, except it should be at a neighborhood level – with maybe a story shared on some day care professional development forum so workers can brainstorm common sense ways to be better at keeping track.

  6. A few years ago at summer camp, my son (then 6) accidentally was left behind at the movie theater after an outing. They’d counted in the lobby and then my son ducked into the bathroom. They neglected to count again on the bus, and off they went. The poor director called me (after having gone back to get ds) terrified. You could tell she’d been crying. She was abjectly apologetic and you could practically hear her chanting “please don’t sue” in her head.

    Imagine her surprise when I turned to my son and said, “When you realized that the bus accidentally left without you, what did you do?” He said he’d wandered a little bit, cried a little bit, and then went to one of the people who worked there and asked for help. He was able to tell them which camp he went to and the theater manager called the director to alert her to the missing child.

    I praised my son for doing exactly the right thing and thanked the director for her help. She offered to fire the person who’d been in charge of the outing and nearly fainted when I told her that there was no need; it had been a learning experience for her employee AND my son and I suspected that neither one would make a mistake like that again.

    Mistakes happen. And yes, occasionally someone will get hurt. That’s simply a fact of life. The tragedy is when people either a) refuse to learn from their mistakes, b) refuse to admit a mistake happened, or c) blame someone else for their mistake…all of which dooms us to repeating the same mistakes over and over and never learning from them.

  7. Can we get some more coverage on he oil Disaster in the gulf?Internet Media? Phisical Media? Is this really more important?

  8. Slightly offtopic, but I saw montessorimatters post: “What do you MEAN Johnny fell down and scraped his knee on the playground!!? Weren’t you watching him??? It’s all your fault!” ”

    A couple months ago, we go to pick up our 18 month old from daycare, and he’s got a massive scrape on his forehead. He looks like a little cyclops. He was running on the playground after one of those big, red, rubber balls, grabbed it, went over the top of it, and hit the cement on the sidewalk. He apparently was more upset at them making him come in. My husband and I laughed, and called him the Little Cyclops for a few weeks.

    Anyways, my parents were in town the week after that, and saw him. My dad’s first thought was “why was there cement at the daycare? There shouldn’t be cement there.” I was like, “uh, ok, dad, it’s a sidewalk.” He responds with, “it doesn’t matter, kids could get hurt.”

    And no, he wasn’t like this when I was growing up, otherwise I would be completely scarred and paranoid probably…

  9. The sad part is, that something like this is newsworthy at all.

    But look at most of the comments — they are in favor of the day care center and sorry that the trips to the park will stop.

    Personally I loved the comment of the mom who said, that was why she would never ever leave her kids with other people to look after them — well, I’m a Stay at Home Mom, and when my daughter was about five and my son half a year, she got on the tram while I was still chatting with a friend (thinking there was time) — and off goes the tram with my daughter but without me… My daughter thought that was a great adventure, got off at the next station and walked back.

    So, these things happen — it’s only unfortunate that it was a two year old kid who isn’t yet able to see the adventure in it.

    (Here in Austria, the neighbor would have taken the kid’s hand and walked aroung to look for the group before calling the police).

    So long,

  10. To your “why” question, I feel this sort of story feeds the bias against putting children in daycare – and by extension, against moms working “unless they have no choice.” I can just hear the self-righteous “that’s why I’ll never let anyone else care for my child, it’s selfish and irresponsible and anything can happen.” Ugh.

    Most of the time, nothing “happens,” even when mistakes are made. Oh, and of course moms (and dads and grannies) never, ever make mistakes.

    I feel sorry for my kids’ daycare teachers because every time a child gets a little bump or scrape, they have to fill out this long, detailed “incident report.” Then they apologetically, nervously tell me about it like I’m going to shoot them because my toddler had a normal, age-appropriate accident/collision. The only time I got irritated (after thinking about it) was when they set eight 2&3-year-olds loose and told them not to touch the newly-painted trikes, and then went ballistic on whoever couldn’t resist. That was a matter of teacher inexperience, but how else are teachers going to learn if they never have opportunity to make decisions?

  11. I don’t know that it’s newsworthy, but as free range as I am, I would be disturbed if this were my child. These weren’t 8 year olds.

    Something similar actually happened at a daycare near my house. A child was forgotten in their play yard and a stranger brought the child in. I happened to know the parents of the child and they warned me against using that daycare. After an exhaustive search, I eventually chose that very daycare. It was honestly a mistake (they had an extra child on campus that particular day so their count was “normal”). It shouldn’t have happened and I think they learned from the error, which is what I would hope would happen at the daycare in the article.

    I don’t equate what happened with a child falling and scraping themselves (or even breaking an arm). You pay good money for a daycare to care for your child and forgetting them – especially off campus – is a serious lack of judgement. But I do think they should be given another chance – perhaps monitored by authorities a little closer.

    Most times, this would end without incident. I wouldn’t actually worry about a 2 year old being taken, but I would worry about them walking into traffic and the like.

    Is it newsworthy – probably not. But then, neither are Lindsay Lohan’s antics, yet they seem to pop up on the screen every day.

  12. We have stories like this on our news all the time. They always leave you with the feeling that something awful did happen, not that something awful could possibly have happened if the worst possible scenario occurred.

    I bet the teasers all day long for that news story hinted at some horror that befell a local two year old.

  13. Things like that happen. It’s just too bad that the day care people will probably be canned and no more outings to the park. 😦

  14. This is the local story: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/nova-scotia/story/2010/05/04/ns-toddler-daycare-left-behind.html#socialcomments

    It is common to see day care groups all around the city at parks, libraries, etc.

    I think this is one of the only chain, for-profit company in the city, but my information may be out of date.

  15. Ugh. “And now, in national news, a logistical error was made at a child-care facility!”

    Of course I’d be afraid if it were my child but I agree that we simply can’t expect perfection. We have to expect them to react appropriately. I just wonder how on earth the news channels heard about this. Ugh.

    “CNN just covers crap stories”

    Compared to, say, Al Jazeera, the BBC, and PBS, or what? I would say CNN is probably the only non-government sponsored news channel I can tolerate at all. Don’t watch it often but I’m not sure what this means. As someone with a vested interest in say, the political situation in Kyrgyzstan, this kind of comment is even more depressing to me than the actual news.

  16. Yes, if I had forgotten a young child – be him mine, or a relative’s, or a friend’s- at a park (mind you that would be highly unlikely, but if I did), I would be a little distraught. A little worry for the safety and mental well being of the child (not knowing where your parent is can be harrowing for a young child), and a little freaked knowing I’m going to get an earful, but always in the back of my mind, is that I know there is still much good in the world, that I would find the child, upset but ok. And when I do find him, the only thing on my mind would be relief. But it wouldn’t make me apprehensive, or become overly protective and paranoid.

    People make mistakes. I’ve seen it, I’ve been that guy that sees a child in a department store crying and no parent(s) around, and I stayed with the child till I can find the parent(s), or flag down an employee. We learn from these mistakes and let it help us become better individuals, not more panicked and fearful.

  17. Well…

    If you can whip people in hysterical anger against a daycare teacher who made a simple mistake, it means they aren’t looking at news about oil rigs and porantially getting angry at petroleum companies about what they are doing out of greed and stupidity, or looking at the potential hazards of taking yout kids in the car.

    This is purely soincitental, as is the fact that petroleum companies and car companies pay $xxxxxxx for advertising space on media outlets.

  18. Well…

    If you can whip people in hysterical anger against a daycare teacher who made a simple mistake, it means they aren’t looking at news about oil rigs and porantially getting angry at petroleum companies about what they are doing out of greed and stupidity, or looking at the potential hazards of taking yout kids in the car.

    This is purely coincitental, as is the fact that petroleum companies and car companies pay $xxxxxxx for advertising space on media outlets.

  19. @Michele: My in-laws are the exact same way… well, they were for a while. I believe it’s because at their age, they’ve not had to be parents to a living-breathing-child (i.e. not a dog) for so long and they’re caught up in the television hype.

    For example, these people had my husband walking to school on his own, playing outside on his own, etc during the 70’s-80’s, but when I told them my kids were outside they were asking all KINDS of questions, “What about xxx,” “Do they know to watch for cars?” “Do they know not to talk to strangers?” To that last one I simply explained the statistics and proudly explained that my kids know more neighbors than I do… in fact – I’ve met more of my neighbors through my children!

    When my kids started walking to school and it was cold outside (now – I live in NM. They live in OH. Cold here and cold there are two completely different things – so think 45 degrees, not 20…) they were feeling so sorry for the kids that suddenly couldn’t get a ride to school. We simply joked with them about walking a mile barefoot in the snow uphill in a burlap sack in our day. Seemed to get the point across in a very fun and non-combative way.

    Point after all that – your parents and mine too are just a little out of touch and relying on the news to get info. After all, if you don’t have kids and the news is telling you that the earth is finally a living hell crawling with perverts – with no balancing opinion you’re going to believe it.

    Best of luck with your parents. 😉

  20. When my grandmother was younger, she once got co-opted into chaperoning the third grade trip to the Empire State Building. It was her, two teachers, and the combined population of two third-grade classes, some 50-odd children. And that’s it, nobody else.

    So she brought the kids UP the stairs and DOWN the stairs, and they kept doing their headcounts and were CONVINCED they’d lost a child somewhere because they kept coming up one short.

    Turns out he’d stayed home that day. Whew!

    If it’s so easy to think you don’t have a kid you have….

    Heck, I once lost my younger niece at the age of two when, swear-to-god, I only looked down for half a minute while I put my bag on the ground. She’d wandered all the way to the gate of the playground where a nanny stopped her until I showed up. Funny, I never figured out how the woman knew we were together…! (Maybe it was my scream of “THERE YOU ARE!” that did it?)

    But yeah, if the daycare were in the habit of making these mistakes, that’d be a problem. If it happened once out of a successful 10-year run of no accidents, well… nobody was hurt.

  21. I’m so glad people seem to support this day care worker! I work at a day care and trust me, It’s not easy to keep your eyes on 6 or 7 kids by yourself at all times.

    Working in a day care is a terrifying job, parents expect perfection, little sSusie trips over a toy that she had been playing with and bruises her knee and I have to fill out several pages of explanations of what and how it happened (while still watching 6 or 7 kids under the age of 3)
    Then the parents get there and treat me like I pushed their little angel down the stairs and broke every bone in her body.
    Give your day care workers and babysitters a break, this is not a job we do for the money, we do it because we LOVE your kids and want to make sure they get the best care possible.

  22. I could be on the news everyday if they knew how often I lose track of my son when watching his sisters’ soccer games. The boy can be playing happily right next to me one minute and 200 yards away the next minute.

  23. As a quiet, daydreaming, middle child in a large family, I was often accidently left behind at restaurants, rest stops, amusement parks… And the same thing always happened. I would sit on a bench and look sad, and within minutes a kind mother or grandparent would come along and figure out what happened. My family would come back for me within the hour, to find me happily munching cookies and chatting with kindly strangers. Not a big deal. Most people are good people! Really!

  24. The more I think of this story, the more I think of all of the stories I hear all the time from moms’ about losing their kids.

    When I was 7, I got lost at Six Flags in St. Louis for six hours. I was not one bit scared (although bummed because I did not have my shoes on when I got lost and could not go on any rides). I wasn’t scared because of all the times I had lost track of my mom in stores. I knew I would find them eventually.

    When my older two were toddlers, my niece and nephew came to visit me. I lost my 8 year old niece for almost ten minutes at the mall.

    My mom was once watching my cousin’s young children at a park and suddenly lost track of her 2 year old son. Every mom and nanny at the park helped look for him and one of them finally found him hiding under the play equipment.

    I’m glad moms and grandmothers aren’t held to the same standards as daycare workers.

  25. Amen.

  26. Oh, wait, one more. When I was a baby in the 60’s, my grandmother was visiting and decided to take me for a walk in my stroller. Unbeknownst to my parents, she was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s, and became lost and confused. She began asking people if they knew where we lived, but in her confused state, she was calling us by the last name of one of her other daughters, instead of our last name.

    A kindly lady finally took her and me in her car and drove her around our neighborhood until she recognized our house.

    The media was never notified of the event. 🙂

  27. My kids wander out of my sight sometimes, and I see that as part of their learning about the world. How will they ever figure out how to find their way around if they never have any practice? As long as the separation time is age-appropriate, I don’t see the problem – assuming they are not the type to get into stuff they shouldn’t.

    I’m not saying the daycare wasn’t way negligent. I don’t have enough facts to decide that. All I’m saying is that the standard to which we hold daycares needs to be reasonable. Otherwise they will have no choice but to stifle the kids.

    I do think most parents tend to have reasonable expectations of caregivers.

  28. Email sent to CBC:


    Re: Headline: “Separated toddler reunited with family”

    Slow news day? This may be the most trivial story I’ve ever read on national news. It’s even too trivial for local news. It’s one thing to fill up a local rag, it’s quite another to amplify it at CBC.

    Missing for TEN minutes – oh my!!

    Slow Editor?

    Really, this serious lack of judgement contributes to the safety-hysteria that pollutes American and British news – and now, it seems, Canadian news as well.

    With No Regard Whatsoever

    Jahn Ghalt

  29. Ayyyy, Dios mio! Come on now, don’t we all have a “I can’t believe I left/lost ____ at/in the ____” story? We all have a doozy or two we may not want to admit, but we’re human and kids, like my Nana Herminia would say, “Are like vapor”. This “Chicken Little Fear” is tiring, mind numbing drivel.

  30. Everyone who’s on about the oil rig thing — I really do think that news outlets CAN cover more than one story at a time. It’s fallacious to assume that because they cover this non-story, they CAN’T be covering more important stuff. Granted there is limited time, but I wouldn’t be interested in ANY news program that covered only ONE STORY regardless of how important, unless it was an impending direct attack on my country, or something.

    That said, it definitely IS a non-story for all the reasons Lenore and everyone else has cited. But really, covering this does NOT mean they are certainly not covering more important things.

    And SKL most of the SAHMs I know realize that mistakes happen. I don’t think I’ve ever heard someone say something like this proves that kids shouldn’t be in daycare, unless that person was clearly of the type who would flip out at stuff like this regardless of where she chose to work and chose to have her kids spend the day.

  31. Wonder if I’ll get an email back on this one?


    Re: Headline: “Separated toddler reunited with family”

    It occurs to me that I might help you, and perhaps gain a measure of fame – a win/win for us both!

    The next time my child goes out of my sight for more than 10 minutes, I offer to contact the Anchorage police, the local newspaper, and you.

    If this is desirable to you, please email back with all particulars.

    Jahn Ghalt

  32. Stuff happens. Like sometimes parents forget they have the baby in the car seat that day and leave them there.


  33. My sister asks me sometimes if she should freak out about stuff that happens to her infant at day care. Apparently there have been a few “incidents” involving an older, mobile baby doing something “unintentional” to her baby. My comment is: ask yourself whether this is the sort of thing that would happen at home if your child had a sibling around that age. If so, then it’s nothing to worry about. It’s probably preferable to the infant never having contact with older kids.

  34. Just had one of these in town this week. Grandma accidently left her grandbaby in the car at the grocery store. She doesn’t usually babysit the baby and he was asleep when she got to the store so she forgot she had him. She was gone less than 10 minutes and ran out to the car hysterical once she realized what happened. Police were at that time trying to get the baby out of the car. I don’t know if she was arrested but she was reported to child services.

    Clearly, this could have been a horrible situation. It’s Georgia. IT’S HOT. But the comments from the readers are horrible. They think this woman should be crucified and then imprisoned for life and the executed again. And although this happens occasionally – kids are probably forgotten in cars more than they’re kidnapped by strangers – everyone insists that there is no possible way that a person could ever forget a sleeping child in the car. Considering my coworker got most of the way to work one morning before she remembered that she forgot to drop the kid off at school and he was still in the car, I’m sure it happens.

  35. We had a family buy our school a whole play ground for our school so the kids did not need to walk across the street to the park. They were horrified that their child might 1. need to cross the street and 2. come in contact with “other” children even though we had used the park with only one bee sting in three years. Our head of school went for it. Ugg.

    So many skills were being learned:
    1. How to carefully cross a street.
    2. How to share with others (not from our school).
    3. That “other” people aren’t bad, unseemly or “dirty”
    4. That people should not lock themselves in their little enclave but be out in the community just being – not serving, not fixing, not criticizing but living.

    Not any more. We just stay in our “safe” (yes this was the parents word) play area.

  36. My daughter’s daycare teachers are kind, loving and all-around wonderful ladies who do a very good job. Mistakes happen, but hysteria doesn’t have to happen over every mistake. Was I thrilled when my toddler wandered into the “big kid” classroom? No. Was she safe and found quickly? Yes. Were the big kids hugging her and singing songs to her during the minute she spent in their classroom? Yes.

    Sometimes I think the problem is that many adults have had very little experience with small children before having any small children of their own. Some of the things that seem to drive my fellow parents into crisis mode – pushing, young toddlers not sharing toys, scraped knees – are par for the course. I never thought my years of babysitting had any intrinsic value (it was the only job I could get), but apparently I was wrong.

  37. My son is in a very Free Range preschool. One of the teachers was giving a talk about the school at a conference. She was asked “Are the children required to clean up?” From the slides, it was pretty obvious there was a lot of cleanup to do.

    Her response: “We feel that there will be plenty of opportunity for them to clean up when they’re older”.

  38. I work as a youth services librarian in a public library, and the other day a little boy couldn’t find his mom. I imagine many people would immediately think, ohmygod, what kind of mother does that!
    It’s a fairly large section for a 3 year old, which is what I think was his age. Did he panic a bit? Yes, he kept calling for her. I’d seen her walk over to the movie section, while he stayed in the play area, (clearly she was a horrible mom! sarcasm) but he started walking around calling for her. Then he saw me, smiled, and said, I can’t find my mom. I walked around the children’s section with him, all the while having a pretty good conversation about his favorite types of books, found the mom, who thanked me, and there were no tears.
    Somehow, this didn’t make the news. And I was even glad of it, as I had been staring at a computer screen for an hour and this gave me a break and a chance to get to know a little patron!

  39. everyone insists that there is no possible way that a person could ever forget a sleeping child in the car. Considering my coworker got most of the way to work one morning before she remembered that she forgot to drop the kid off at school and he was still in the car, I’m sure it happens.

    Everybody is wrong. THIS is how children die in cars. Not because somebody knowingly left them there, whatever the laws might state, but because somebody was overtired, there was a change in routine, and they forgot the child was there at all.

    It happens more often than we know, because most of these cases turn out just fine, but it kills 30 – 40 children a year in the US. (Which is tragic for those 30 – 40 children, but hardly the epidemic news reports make it out to be every time it happens. However, there are a few things you can do to lessen the odds of this happening, if it’s a concern to you.)

  40. Hmmmm. I hardly thinking that the expectation that a toddler won’t be left alone, crying in a public park is chasing “perfection.” I think that it’s pretty much the bare minimum that I’d expect from a daycare. It’s not really a “parenting” story either. Or a free range story. Maybe not news, but a real wake-up call that the daycare workers need to be more diligent about keeping track of young children, which is, after all. their job.

  41. “Staff members realized the boy was missing as they started to walk back to the centre on Barrington Street.”

    Hmmm – it seems to me that they discovered him missing as they were counting to return back to the daycare – which means the kid wandered off…..far enough to have adults care for him but not notice a nearby school of kids…which would bother me with my 2 year old if roads were involved.

    I guess I’m not sufficiently clear on the details. on this one.

    My kids (2.5) go to the park at their daycare all the time, and my son just came home with a rather nasty scrape/gouge on his nose -the workers were more upset than I was -he’s a a daredevil and the way he runs -it was bound to happen -I was not too concerned.

  42. “My son is in a very Free Range preschool. One of the teachers was giving a talk about the school at a conference. She was asked ‘Are the children required to clean up?’ From the slides, it was pretty obvious there was a lot of cleanup to do. Her response: ‘We feel that there will be plenty of opportunity for them to clean up when they’re older.’”

    I wasn’t aware that failing to teach children to clean up after themselves was a free range principle. Or were you being sarcastic?

  43. I had the same question Sky

  44. I agree with Sky and Mika – picking up after oneself is a free range skill, in my opinion. Putting things in their places means they can be found later and the area can remain a pleasant/safe place to play/work without an unnecessary level of adult intervention.

    That said, it would be pretty laborious to make tots rearrange every thing they touched all day. Moderation in all things, right?

  45. I agree with dmd (“I would be disturbed if this were my child.”) Linda Lou (“I hardly thinking that the expectation that a toddler won’t be left alone, crying in a public park is chasing “perfection.”). While this shouldn’t make make national headlines, I do think that leaving a two year old behind is a big deal and it is more than just a simple “mistake.”

    There are certain mistakes that are acceptable and others that are not and if I were the parent of the child in question, I would be very livid. I don’t know that ratio of kids to adults, but usually its one adult to 4-6 preschoolers. So it’s not like 2 people were responsible for 30 kids.

    The fact the the day care workers didn’t have enough common sense and/or didn’t care enough to simply count the children before they left the park disturbs me.

  46. Sky, Mika, SKL: “Cleanup, a Free Range value”

    Let them do what they’re ready for, but don’t force them to do things they’re not ready for.

    I think ‘age appropriate’ is just as important as ‘self sufficiency’. I also think the best way to teach a lesson is by modeling behavior. I try not to push my son to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’, but I make sure I say them. Which has made me realize how poor MY manners are!

    When it comes to clean up, I don’t think a child will be forever damaged if they aren’t forced to clean up every mess they make. I encourage him to help, sure. But I don’t see any point in discouraging his play in the first place with the threat of cleanup afterwards. Heck, I did my own laundry when I was a kid, but not until I was 11 or 12.

  47. @Donna: Have you ever stayed in a car when it was all hot outside and you had your windows closed and the air conditioner turned off? I was once, and it was a matter of less than two minutes, until I broke out in a heavy sweat and the air heated up really fast — and I was an adult at the time.

    I am all for free range, but really: if it’s hot, and I happened to see a child in a car all by himself and all windows closed — I would call the police immediately. And maybe even break into the car myself. Kids die from dehydration faster than you would think, it may be a matter of minutes.

    So in that case I wouldn’t want to downplay the risk by saying oh well, it happens.

    So long,

  48. “When it comes to clean up, I don’t think a child will be forever damaged if they aren’t forced to clean up every mess they make. I encourage him to help, sure. But I don’t see any point in discouraging his play in the first place with the threat of cleanup afterwards. Heck, I did my own laundry when I was a kid, but not until I was 11 or 12.”

    The “threat” of cleanup afterwards never discouraged my children from playing, that’s for sure. I don’t know…my MIL didn’t believe in making her sons cleanup, and I really have seen the after effects. It may not apply in every case of children of parents who clean up after their kids, but at least in this case, it’s been a serious struggle to get him to clean up after himself. So I finally just gave up and do it myself, sort of like you do with your kids. Yesterday my 6-year old said, “Why did daddy just leave stuff all over the place? He should be old enough to know better!” Yeah, but…when you’ve had it done for you for years…I suppose if you suddenly crack down at a certain age and make them clean up after themsleves, but it seems to me habits can die hard. I mean, a two year old can obviously only do so much, but at what age do you think clean up is age appropriate? Certainly by preschool age I would think. They’re learning their shapes and colors and ABC’s. Surely they can learn to put a toy in a box when they are done playing with it?

  49. How timely. Just yesterday, my babysitter was all upset when I came to pick up my 8 year old. Apparently, she threw all the kids in the van to go pick up her daughter at school and my son hid and wasn’t in the car. She came back 10 minutes later and he was just standing on the stoop, waiting for her. She was all worried, I think, that I was going to be so upset. I just looked at her and said, “Well, I bet it taught him something, huh.” It wasn’ta big deal to me at all, but I felt so badly for her, because it was just a mistake and frankly, it was engineered by my own kid. But I bet another kind of parent could have gotten her in all kinds of trouble with her licensing place, etc. It’s so sad 😦

  50. 2-year-olds can pick up, but they can’t pick up after themselves a high % of the time. At least, not in the material world my kids are growing up in. I think I subconsciously go for a % of time spent in setup/cleanup versus play. Maybe up to 20%. A 2-year-old can’t accomplish much in that much time. But, in my opinion, it’s best to start them doing it. I don’t see cleanup as a “threat,” but rather an essential part of the activity, just like taking the toys out of the box in the first place. I try to keep it positive, e.g., “isn’t it nice to be in such a neat room?” I have one kid who has been a neat-nick since age 1, and the other still needs reminding, but neither of them gives me a hard time about cleaning up. At 3, they are to the point where they can do about 80%-90% of their own clean-up. I probably enforce about 70%-ish.

  51. One day I was picking my niece up at daycare. They were very upset. She had a huge round bruise on her shin. They didn’t know how she got it, she hadn’t complained about hurting herself or they would have iced it.

    I literally laughed out loud. I pointed to a couple of climbing structures in the playground and said she probably bumped it on there and didn’t notice. Don’t worry about it she has my sister’s coloring. Sis gets the exact same bruises from bumping into things. I swear I think both of them have an unusually high pain threshold.

    Sis went from Friday evening to Monday evening with an untreated broken wrist. Every adult – the father of the girl that pushed her out of the tree, Mom (Medical background), Dad, Aunt (medical background), teacher, school nurse, Pediatrician, Hospital Doc, X-ray techs said it wasn’t broken because she could use it and move her fingers. It was broken clear through.

  52. at the day care i work at 2 year-olds help clean, heck even in the infant room they help clean. in the infant room we put a bin on the floor and the babies help put the toys in it. they don’t have to but when they do we clap and do they yay your helping thing they like it so they continue to do it. the toddlers have to put things on the shelves and there is no right or wrong spot. it’s not a case of are they old enough to clean but how you do it that makes it appropriate or not.

    Regarding the story i don’t think it is news worthy but it is something that should never have happened. where i work our kids wear a harness things fits 10 kids on the line anytime we leave the property they wear it . hopefully something like this won’t make it so they can’t go places, but they need a better system in place.

  53. Growing up in a family with 7 kids, you can imagine what it took for a mom (Dad’s weren’t as likely to help in those days) to get ready for a road trip. My baby sister (4 at the time) got to play at the neighbors (as we did back then) while the older kids helped manage the chaos. . It wasn’t until we were an hour away on the highway that my other sister called out “We forgot Karen!”. After that heart-sinking second, we searched the station wagon (crammed with the luggage, cooler, pillows and blankets and kids) and determined it was true. We’d forgotten Karen. My mom called the neighbor, admitted the mistake, and we turned around to get her. There aren’t too many people I could admit to making such with my kids. Talk of incompetence or negligent parenting would spread like wild-fire! Those were the days.

  54. I’m going to give the alternate view here. The very fact that this could have resulted in a tragedy for this very young child and the family, is the reason this should make the news. More emphasis needs to be placed on child safety, not less. More emphasis needs to be placed on making our children our priority, nothing else. They are our gifts. To trivialize what could happen to them does no one good, especially our children. We need to remain focused on them and their well-being, which did not happen in this case. Daycare workers especially, need to be extra vigilent when caring for someone else’s child; it is their responsibility, and it is ours. Doesn’t it scare anyone that this child could have walked into traffic, gotten hit by a car, stolen by child molestors, been attacked by a dog, the list goes on. I would much prefer a guardian or parent be a bit worried or concerned and have a safe child, than the alternative. That’s why it should be national news.

  55. Cheryll – Every time you put your kids in a car it could end in tragedy. I don’t think anyone is saying it’s good that this happened. Or that the workers shouldn’t have been more careful. And certainly the risk of a traffic accident is scary – though child molester is highly unlikely. I would hope the day care workers were worried and concerned. But that really doesn’t make it national news worthy.

    I really disagree that children should be our only priority as you state. We have children as part of the continuity of life not the end of it. I’m focused on making family life a priority, so that all our family have long and fulfilling lives. But I’m really dead set against this martyrdom of (almost always) women to the fantasy of some perfect risk free childhood for our offspring. It’s not useful for the children or us.

  56. helenquine,
    Are you a parent? Because most parents I know would become martyrs for the sake of their child. Not that anyone but you used the word marytr. I believe it was prioritize. Little children are helpless and depend on us to protect, care and yes, try to make their lives as risk-free as possilbe. That is if we love them.
    Speaking of car-safety, I fully agree, cars are dangerous for kids. Head to kidsandcars.org, harrisonshope.org or forgetmenot.com for more info on how to keep kids safe in and around cars. From parents who have dedicated their lives to keeping children safe. And don’t feel as if they’re martyrs.

  57. I reread my post and realize I sound a tad harsh. I apologize, I do become a bit heated when it comes to the safety of children. There are so many who are uncared for, it makes me mad and sad.

  58. Might point about cars isn’t that you can’t do a lot to make them safer. Just that it shouldn’t be national news every time we put our children in one, no matter what we do to make it safer, to some extent it puts them at risk. And that is what the post here was about. Not that it was OK for a two year old to be left. But that it really isn’t national news. Because the risks aren’t that high and nothing happened – other than that we got to see, yet again, that most people are basically good.

    And, yes Cheryll, I am a parent. I know several parents who are martyrs for their kids but I stay away from them. The parents I try to socialize with would, like me, put their children’s lives before their own, but they won’t make big sacrifices for a small or negligible gain. I have a life too, and I’m not totally fulfilled by bringing up children. My life has always been too rich and varied not to have other interests too.

    I disagree that children benefit from having their lives made as risk free as possible. To develop and live a full life they will need experience, some of which can only be gained at the cost of some risk. the younger the kid the more that risk is limited, but there is *nothing* that is risk free, and there are many things where greater risk is balanced by greater reward. Where that line lies needs to be a decision for each parent. Pretending otherwise does not help people make rational decisions about what is worthwhile for their children.

    By the way, those websites are not very compelling if you’re really interested in your kids being safe. Not leaving them in or near the car or having safer electric windows are not the big deal. Crashes are what kill the most kids in cars. If you *really* wanted them to be safe you’d get rid of your car (not something I advocate).

  59. As a preschool teacher, I understand what these teachers must be going through. If I allowed myself, I could live in pretty much constant terror that one small mistake could cause me to loose my job and/or ruin my career. Parents can be crazy, directors can be crazy, and all of the regulations can be crazy, and many times all of these have totally different expectations. Trying to mange all thses expectations is a full time job, much less trying to actually care for kids!

    Also let me say how much we appreciate parents like most of you here who are willing to give us the benefit of the doubt. You make our lives so much less stressful when we know that if your kid falls down, you aren’t going to freak out! We do love your kids and want the best for them, but with 6 one year olds per teacher, we can’t watch them all the time.

  60. One of my favorite “mom” stories is when my friend Deb had three under the age of 4. She got the older two up, fed, dressed for pre-school, in the car and ON TIME. She was at the bottom of her hill in the car when she realized she’d left the baby at home in his crib. Guess what? NOTHING HAPPENED.

  61. Re: the cleaning up discussion. I don’t make my kids clean up toys and clutter, but I do ask that they pitch in. However, they do have to help with chores -and watching a 20min video is their reward. They are expected to clear their dishes from the table and help carry laundry to the washer and from the dryer to their room where I fold and they put away. I have twins that are 2.5 years old and my son loves to do all his chores. My daughter used to but now she doesn’t. My son and I get most of the laundry, but she has to do her a little bit at least.

  62. Doesn’t it scare anyone that this child could have walked into traffic, gotten hit by a car, stolen by child molestors, been attacked by a dog, the list goes on.

    See, this is the problem here. It’s not that something could have happened, it’s what you think might have happened. Let’s write this out bit by bit.

    Walked into traffic

    I suppose this might happen, although most two year olds I’m familiar with are inclined to the rule that We Stay On Sidewalks. Still, this is a distinct possibility.

    Hit by a car

    Only if he walked into traffic. Cars don’t regularly travel on the sidewalk. You still have only one point, because this one is the same as the first.

    Stolen by child molesters


    There are fewer than, what, 300 stranger abductions a year? And very few of those are of toddlers – people tend to go for preteens and teens, actually.

    The vast majority of molested children are harmed by their own family and by other people known to the child. Strangers are a negligible risk.

    There was a virtually 0% chance that this kid could’ve been kidnapped by a child molester. You might as well have said “Attacked by rabid squirrels” or “Caught in a freak blizzard” or even “Struck by lightning”.

    Been attacked by a dog

    How likely is this? When do you see unaccompanied dogs around? There’s leash laws for dogs, and even where dogs are off-leash in public (like in parks) there’s usually a responsible person with them.

    Even if the kiddo had been attacked by a dog, that would’ve been a dog that was out of control. Being with his class would not make this less likely. It’s not like the dog would go “Hey, I’ll attack that kid… oh, wait, there’s a preschool TEACHER, I’ll stay over here.”

    The list goes on

    Well, since your list consists of one and only one actual risk, something that’s actually likely to happen (and that having an adult would prevent), I’m not so sure it does.

  63. The fact the the day care workers didn’t have enough common sense and/or didn’t care enough to simply count the children before they left the park disturbs me.

    Do we know they didn’t? It’s possible they did a headcount and the kid got misplaced afterwards.

  64. @Corrina – I’m not advocating leaving children in cars on hot days, anymore than anyone else posting is advocating that a daycare should choose to leave a toddler behind in the park just for the adventure of it. I don’t believe that there is anything in the free-range philosophy that says that it’s okay to leave a child locked in a car with all the windows rolled up in hot weather. Nor am I advocating walking by and ignoring the child locked in a car. If I saw a child locked in a closed up car, I’d go into the grocery store and page the owner of the car to come out. (Why go to the police – who’d have to travel through town and then find a way into the car – first when the person with the keys is a few yards away?) If the owner failed to show up within a very short period of time, I’d call the police or find something to smash the window myself. And, for the record, it actually wasn’t even hot that day, we just have the potential of very hot days this time of year.

    The issue with both stories is that there can be no accidents in the world anymore. If people caring for children make a mistake, they were at best negligent to the level that child services needs to be involved or, at worst maliciously harming their child. This was clearly an accident. Accidents happen, just like kids accidently get left in parks. Something horrible could have happened in either situation. IT DIDN’T. The child was 100% fine. And Grandma will probably spend the rest of her life checking her backseat every time she gets out of the car, even when she knows that she is alone.

    The problem with this, in either case, is that the situations have been blown way out of proportion. Both may very well result in criminal charges. And the public wants to crucify them for an accident that anyone could make.

  65. This story does disturb me. I don’t care what the excuse was: THEY LEFT A TWO YEAR OLD BEHIND AT A PARK! If it were my two year old, I would have called the police, sued the daycare and called CNN. When you pay someone to watch your child this includes making sure they don’t get left at a park. Thank goodness this story had a happy ending.

  66. Neighbors helping neighbors. This should be expected and routine, not a news story.

  67. “and called CNN”

    You’re aware that CNN is a nationally broadcast network that reports international news, right?

    Do you SERIOUSLY think that your child being left somewhere and NOT GETTING HURT is a matter equivalent to international news?

    Sue who you think you need to sue (and may your judge jury be blessed with common sense and reward you only if there was genuine neglect) but PLEASE have a sense of proportion about the place of an incident involving a child safely returning from a minor misadventure on the international scene.

  68. “>>>>A 2-year-old can’t accomplish much in that much time. But, in my opinion, it’s best to start them doing it.” SKL

    Hear, hear! At age two it’s not so much about how effectively a child can clean up, but their inate willingness to want to help and be a part of the family (or community, if it’s at school.) If you wait until that window has passed, IME, you’re going to have trouble and have kids with the expectation that it’s other people’s job to clean up after them. Um, no thanks. In our family, we’re all responsible for the upkeep of the house. Mom is not the maid. Do your part.

    “>>>>However, they do have to help with chores -and watching a 20min video is their reward.” Mika

    You might want to consider how that’s going to play out in the future and what expectation you’re setting up. Personally, my goal was to have kids who help out because it’s expected and it’s the right thing to do. I’m very against rewarding kids for just doing normal, everyday things that every human on earth has to do as a matter of course. What’s next? Rewarding them for breathing? 😉

    “>>>>And, yes Cheryll, I am a parent. I know several parents who are martyrs for their kids but I stay away from them.” Pentamom

    LOL. That just tickled me. So funny. I stay away from them too.

  69. Actually, credit for that goes to helenquine. I don’t stay away from those people — some of them are my friends, regardless — but I certainly don’t take them for models.

  70. And another shout-out to making very young kids begin to learn to clean up after themselves, even though we don’t expect them to be fully responsible for it until they’re older. “They’ll have enough of it when they got older” is a pernicious approach, IMO.

  71. I swore I was going to leave ‘cleanup’ as just a very poorly placed comment on my part. It was kind of a “funny if you were there” thing. Some important context is that the preschool session is only 2.5 hours. If you were to add cleanup, it would be more like 1.5 hours of play and 1hr of cleanup. Nobody thinks kids should be taught to be inconsiderate irresponsible slobs. But it also doesn’t hurt to let kids have a time and place to just be kids and have fun. There are no lessons, no drills, no exercises. There’s just tons of stuff for kids to do. They aren’t so much taught respect and responsibility as they learn respect and responsibility.

    What are NOT Free Range IMO are a) Don’t let your kid walk to school (or heaven forbid ride the subway!) and b) If your kid hasn’t learned two languages, an instrument and how to use a computer by the time she’s three, YOU’VE FAILED!’

    “There will be plenty of time for that later” is meant as a counter to b).

  72. Pentamom is absolutely correct. The argument isn’t how much the daycare screwed up, the argument is whether or not the whole country should know about it. The county? Sure! The country? Really? There’s NOTHING more important to report?

  73. Rich,
    We belong to a very unstructured co-op preschool and a 10 minutes group clean up (parent voulnteers and kids) happens every day before circle time. It’s not a big deal to clean up. It’s part of life. I think your preschool is doing the kids a disservice to expect nothing in that regard.

  74. I don’t get the big deal on insisting that kids have to clean up in *every* situation. I don’t think, for instance, that if I take my kids to a restaurant they are going to be worse at cleaning up their dishes at home just because we have a waitress at a restaurant. Kids seem to get that things depend on the situation pretty quickly (except for flashing underwear in public – why is that?).

    There are lots of situations where we go somewhere and someone else does some of the work. So long as you’re consistent at home I don’t think these things have to be all or nothing. That sort of thinking seems like the opposite of free-ranging.

    Having said that, I don’t think there’s a problem with them cleaning up at preschool. I’d probably be more impressed with a place that did include them since that’s more variety and they might learn cleanup tricks I haven’t thought of (pre-school teachers seem good that way 🙂 ).

  75. @donna: I’m not saying you advocate leaving kids in the car –. I am saying that leaving a kid in the car is no “oh sh.it happens” thing, as here the danger is _real_ and _immediate_ — going into the grocery store and waiting even for a small amount of time if the owner shows up, in that case may be too late — in these cases it might be a matter of minutes.

    (And I would want to inform the police to make sure that the baby is taken care of, and, of course, to explain to them that I didn’t break into the car for the mere fun of it or to vandalize or steal or whatever).

    Of course, if it’s a cool day, and the baby is fine — no sweat. I know parents who leave their kids in the car when they are asleep and the parents just have to run a quick errand — but they take precautions.

    So I do think that we really need to distinguish here between a risk that’s okay to take and a _real_ danger. Forgetting a kid in the car is a _real_ danger.

    (Now, the case you describe is debatable, but still for me there is a line where I can’t just shrug it off — although I would be far from crucifying the grandmother).

    So long,

  76. SMH: so, of your partner or parent had taken a trip to the park and left or lost your two year old there — would you have called the police, sued your partner and called CNN?

    The thing is, we all make mistakes, even the best of parents, and even if a teacher is payed for looking after the kids, he/she is human.

    And as somebody else said: should the case be discussed on a county level? Yes! (In order to learn from it and do better the next time). Should it be national news? Certainly not.

    So long,

  77. When I was about 3 1/2, my pre-school teachers lost me for about half an hour. They actually didn’t notice I was missing. Now, I was in the same building, I was just locked out of the room where the rest of the group was (and the teachers were.) I headed back to the empty classroom, found the custodian’s office on the way and asked if he could open the door. He couldn’t either, and was bringing me to the locked room through the back stairs where we met the class returning. I remember apologizing for forgetting the back stairs. I don’t remember the experience as scary at all, but as empowering. It left me with a real feeling of independence and self- efficacy. Don’t remember what my parents thought.

  78. I have worked in day care. We inadvertently left a 6 year old boy behind at the library on one particular outing. We got all the way back (about a three mile drive) and the library actually called to come get him. We did head counts and no one knows how or why we missed him.
    I am really glad it didn’t make any sort of news. Day cares can be crowded or not, but the work is no less than exhausting. Mistakes are made every day. I’m not saying that is a good thing, but rather, reality.

  79. This reminds me of a local story of a kindergartner who was dropped off at the beginning of the day and before school had started he wandered off down the street- and the mom was on the news crying and the school implemented “strict measures” to make sure it would happen again. It was absolutely over the top.

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