Happy Earth Day everyone! It’s a blustery, sunny morning on the Blue Ridge, and life is almost back to normal. Bob left late for the hospital, so we had lots of time to discuss that five year old boy, you know the one. The parents “allowed” him to identify as a boy since the ripe old age of two, even though biologically he’s a girl. Mia or Jacob, you decide. It seems we have different opinions on that one, but I’ll just let you guess. Because I hate judging parents, I really really do.
Then before I had a chance to head outdoors and plant a rhododendron, the Bride sent me this Salon article because all her friends were talking about it: “What a Horrible Mother” by Kim Brooks:
So many touchy issues here. First of all,, I don’t believe this is an absolutist argument. There are many shades of grey, so if you’re of the opinion that one should never, and I mean ever, leave a kid in the car, you should stop reading. Same goes for those of you who believe, like the Scandinavians, you can always just plop your child alone, in public, while you run into a coffee house. Grandma Ada’s generation believed that fresh air was essential for a child, so they parked the pram on the porch and went about their housework every single day.
Today, if you run into the dry cleaners and leave your sleeping, sick child in his carseat, windows cracked open, parked and locked in the shade for a few minutes, on a 50-60 degree day, you may come back to your car and find yourself arrested!
For Dawn, a young mother in New England, it was the same: a moment of convenience followed by one of shock. She had just picked up her daughter from daycare when she remembered she was out of toilet paper. Her daughter, worn out after the day, was strapped into her car seat and busily enjoying what was her first ever Happy Meal to boot. Dawn pulled up in front of a Rite Aid, locked the doors, and sprinted inside. By the time she returned to the vehicle, three minutes later, a woman was standing by the window, beside Dawn’s daughter, who was still waiting comfortably.
“You’re disgusting,” the stranger said. “What a horrible mother. I’ve called the police on you. I have your license plate number. I’m waiting here to make sure they arrest you.”
There is a kind of moral vigilantism that has resulted from our “See something, say something” culture of fear. Perfectly normal, educated women are being arrested for a judgement call. The kind of thing I, and my generation, did all the time. Yes, I left my babies sleeping in the car in the garage when we got home from a long morning. The garage door was open and i could see them through the family room and hear when they started to stir awake. I’m pretty sure I left them in a locked car for a few minutes while running into a store, in fact it was such a commonplace thing, we didn’t think twice about it.
I remember feeling good that I had never actually locked the keys inside the car with the baby, something a few of my friends did. But when that happened to them, bystanders would help pop the lock, not call 911.
This was over 30 years ago, and in New England. But have stranger kidnappings increased since then, NO – only sensational media stories of car-jackings, and sleep-deprived parents forgetting their child in the car while they spent the day at work. Yes, we hear about the parent who walks into Walmart, leaving the baby in a car that quickly heats up over 100 degrees, resulting in death. That is ignorance, that is depravity, and it is a crime. Just like the parent who leaves guns around for that toddler to pick up…these are not accidents. I can get pretty judgmental about it.
Instead of pointing a finger, I would hope that I would react more like the woman at the end of the article. The one who helps a young mom empty her cart and plays peek-a-boo. Because the oceans are rising and mother earth needs all the help she can get, here are some free Earth Day games for your children. http://www.primarygames.com/holidays/earth_day/earthday.php