What Can Happen if You DO Take Your Kids Out of the Car for Every Errand

Hi Readers! Just yesterday I was being interviewed by a reporter who admitted she had let her kids, ages 5 and 2, wait in the car while she ran into UPS to drop off a package. This took all of a minute or two, but when she told her husband about it, he said, “That was so dangerous! Promise me you’ll never do that again!”
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Why was it “so dangerous”? Answer: It wasn’t. It was only dangerous if some very strange, unpredictable thing happened, like a predator passing by UPS at just that instant who was eagle-eyed, lightening quick, and desperate for two kids at once. Need I remind anyone here how rare — nay, almost unheard of that scenario is? (60,000,000 children age 15 and under in America, about 115 kidnapped by strangers/year.)  
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As unlikely as that scenario is, it plays out in a lot of folks’ heads. So maybe  we should try to get them playing the FOLLOWING scenario instead. After all: Unpredictable is unpredicatble. — L.
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Dear Free-Range Kids: Here in Auckland, NZ we had a tornado this week — nothing on the devastating scale in the US, but a very unusual thing here, and with no warning.  Tragically one man was killed, but this article is about the narrow escape of three small kids whose mum left them in the car for a moment while she popped into a shop…only to have a practically unheard of tornado strike that carpark at that moment, throw the car in the air and dump it on its roof!!  NOT in the realm of predictable risks  I would say!
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Great thing — the kids, being secure in their carseats, were only scratched and shocked. Because of the way the car fell, if mum had been in the car with them she probably would have been killed. Second great thing – NO criticism of the mum in the article, just praise for her great use of secure carseats.  And it occurred to me, that given the extra time it would have taken for her to get all three out of the car, they would probably all have been standing by the car when the twister struck, and…probably not such a great outcome. — A Kiwi Mum
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Let’s all try to remember that we can never predict an unpredictable occurrence. It’s pretty much up to fate, not “good parenting” what happens.  — L

We would be a less blame-obsessed society if we remembered the role of fate.

A Boy, A Dad, A Tragedy and A Big Question

Readers — I just read this story and am sick to my heart. A dad brought his 5 year old son to the park then crossed the street to talk to some friends. The boy ran after him. He got struck by a car and died. Now the father is in jail and the charge has just been upgraded from “felony cruelty to children, reckless conduct and simple battery” to involuntary manslaughter.

I cannot imagine how that father would feel even if he weren’t in jail. It’s boggling. This is a tragedy pure and simple. But the issues are not so simple at all.

We live in a society that does not believe in accidents any more, or bad luck, or fate, or even, when it comes to children’s safety, “God’s will.” That’s good, in the sense that it makes us strap our kids into car seats, and take some basic precautions. But it’s corrosive in that when anything bad does happen to a child, we almost always blame the parents. The media does it, the DA does it (perhaps for political gain), and the neighbors may well do it, too. Sometimes we do it almost reflexively, as if to protect ourselves. “Well I would never do that so nothing bad will ever happen to my family.”

As if none of us has ever lost track of our kids for a sec.

Now, certainly, it makes sense to keep watch over a young child at the park. But if we slip up for a minute, if we do something human and not  intended to hurt anyone, especially our beloved child,   should that count as “cruelty”? What if it’s something that normally is NOT particularly dangerous? What if we go to the basement to put in a load of laundry and our child follows us and falls down the stairs? What if throw a ball to our child and, trying to catch it, he runs into a tree? What if we go across the street to say hi to a neighbor and unbeknownst to us our child follows and is hit, like this boy, by a car?

Is there no split-second that a parent is legally allowed to not be physically protecting his kindergartener from every possible danger? That’s a tough precedent to set. Think about even a child on a swing. Can we watch him there, knowing he COULD fall off? Or must we sit on the swing and hold him on our lap?

And didn’t a lot of us walk to school on our OWN, starting in kindergarten? I did. My husband and his siblings did. If we’d been hit by a car, no one would have arrested our parents. They would have grieved with them.

Right now, I am grieving for that boy and his family. And I am grieving for a society that is so convinced nothing bad ever happens to the children of GOOD parents that it is willing to put this man on trial.  A man who is already in hell. — Lenore

 

It's hard to think of any kid dying.

 

The Babyproofing Industrial Complex

Hi Readers — Here’s a New York Times piece about a reporter’s adventures in babyproofing. She sort of laments the idea that parents hire pricey professional babyproofers as a way to feel “officially” safe.

I’d go a step further and say that in addition to safety, what parents are really hiring the babyproofers for  is insurance against guilt, should a household accident actually occur. In our blame-crazed culture, we know that no one believes in “accidents” or “fate” anymore. Anything bad that happens to a child is ALL THE PARENT’S FAULT. Hire a babyproofer and no it’s not. Whew! — Lenore

Experts agree: Do not store farm equipment in nursery. PHOTO: Darren Copley.