Closeup portrait of a cute adorable little boy toddler tired and sleeping belted in car seat on his trip, safety protection concept; Shutterstock ID 283664960; PO: today-david-150710

Parents of current times seem to have generated an important check-list question when leaving home with the kids in tow.

Back in the day (an expression which was frequently used when the elders, folks my age, started talking about yesteryear) – when parents were living life with less stress – not counting the kids didn’t create the deadly problems we frequently hear on the news.

“How could they leave their child in a hot car while they attended a church meeting?” has been the on-going criticism directed at the Dallas, Texas parents of the 3-year-old boy who died last week in the back seat of the family car.

The parents had their other four kids in tow and reports say they didn’t realize the fifth one was missing.

How could that happen?

“Pure negligence,” said one very self-righteous mom who declared that anyone who would be the cause of any child’s death should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

I’m not so sure of that nor am I self-righteous.

“Oh, so you don’t think it’s child abuse?” asked Ms Do-Right Mom.

They forgot the toddler. They will pay forever with the guilt of forgetting. Their lives will never be the same knowing that their child died because of them.

“So, you’re gonna let ‘em off the hook based on forgetfulness?

Yes, l am and maybe it has something to do with when back in 1947 my mother left my baby sister parked in her buggy in the Ralph’s Store on Vermont Ave. in Los Angeles.

It wasn’t a 90-degree day and baby sister Angela didn’t die. Halfway down the block, as we walked home from the store, Mom remembered the baby – but she hadn’t had one in ten years so I suspect she wasn’t used to having a kid with her who wasn’t walking.

Someone might well have taken our new family treasure. We had no guarantee that when we rushed back into the store, the baby would be there.

Yup, if my mother had counted how many kids she left home with and counted again when it was time to leave the store, I wouldn’t have this story to tell.

If the churchgoing parents had counted how many they left home with and counted again when they reached the church and started helping their kids out of their vehicle, their toddler would not have been left behind.

For Ms Do-Right Mom, may she broaden her views of neglect, abuse and irresponsibility and may she recognize that parents are under more stress in 2016 than my mother was back in 1947.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. Jean C. Troy

    The parents will pay with the rest of their lives that there baby died because they forgot. I forgot my toddler son at the park, If my Daughter had not asked me where He was I probably would not have noticed he was missing, but she did and I ran back to find Him watching a baseball game never knowing his Bad Mom had left Him. Shirlee you are right it is not neglect or not loving it is all the pressures put on parents that sometimes causes the safety brain to malfunction. Some times these incidents are stories we tell at dinner and sometimes they bring heart ache. My prayers are with the family. they will pay more than we can imagine.

    1. Shirlee smith

      I’ve heard from more than a dozen parents, who don’t want it broadcast to the public so they told me rather than comment, here; they’ve all left kids behind somewhere. Thanks Ms Troy for being brave enough to tell the truth.

  2. Laura Monteros

    The parents did not intentionally leave their child in the car. They didn’t go into church thinking, “We don’t want to bother with him, so he’ll be fine in the car.”

    My folks left my brother at a gas station in the early ’40s while they were on a road trip. My sister knew, but didn’t mention it until they were a ways down the road, and they promptly turned around.

    I left my toddler in the car when I was busy with a church event, only for maybe 10 minutes, and was horrified when I remembered. He was fine.

    It happens. We are human. We are overbusy and undersupported. I’m not saying parents shouldn’t be more careful, but mistakes happen. Sometimes, they don’t cause any harm. Sometimes they do.

    And two notes on car locks:

    1.) The car I drive automatically locks the doors after a certain period of time, whether I am in the car or not, or have the keys with me or left in the car. A while back, a woman had to smash the window of her car when that happened with her child inside. It costs $250 or more and a special appointment with the computer tech at the dealer to change this “feature.”

    2.) In our zeal for safetly, many caregivers fix the doors so they cannot be opened from the inside. All it takes is a turn of the key in the door panel. This is good for kids who can reach the door handle when you’re driving, but it can also result in children and adults being accidentally locked in.

  3. Greta Pruitt

    Certainly, the pain associated with this incident will last forever for this family. The child who wandered into the water in Florida and was grabbed by the alligator was another horribly painful death. Children deserve 100% of our attention when we are taking them places where incidents can happen. In hot weather it is even more important to be watchful and be “counting heads”. But mistakes do happen and some with dreadful results. We cannot ease the family’s pain or ours by simply assigning blame. Tragedies do not always have to have a person or set of persons to blame. We simply have to learn from them to be even more careful and attentive.

  4. Bill

    Dear Shirlee,

    This is a heart-piercing tragedy, to say the least. Unfortunately, we human beings are NOT perfect. Never have been and never will be. Sadly,many times we have to accept the tragedy and deal with the healing process as best as we possibly can. Many times we want to castigate, rage and blame someone…for whatever the misfortune that has transpired. But also unfortunately, this would be for naught. Life is what happens…in all of its various forms, twists and turns…when we’re living it. I am so sorry for the anguished pain that this family will have to endure for the rest of their lives. I’m also sorry for the families that lost their children concerning the alligator and gorilla tragedies as well. The break-neck pace of our society also attributes to some of our “accidents” and memory losses We were not created to be on sensory/emotional/stress overload 24/7. THAT has become the “norm” and it’s just NOT HUMAN.
    —-Bill Allen, Jr.

  5. Edie

    I heard about that, it was so sad. I can’t believe, with all the publicity about children in cars, that parents still do such stupid, terrible things. They should be prosecuted and it should be publicized so that others will learn from this tragedy.

    1. Jean C. Troy

      What will this prosecution bring to the family. The other children will loose their parents and the children if no relative are willing to care for them they will go into the system which would punish them when the guilt is not theirs. Maybe they were STUPID but I go back to Jesus who is going to cast the first stone for stupidity? We have all been there but we were saved by faith. Nothing more. What will others learn from the sorrow of others. Seeing the grieveing Mother and Father is more than enough.

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