Editor’s Note: Is it OK to leave your child in a car unattended? While you might think the answer should be a resounding, “no,” many moms say the answer is not so cut and dry. Most moms “know” it’s wrong — and in some states even illegal — to leave children in a car unattended. Click here to read about Nebraska’s law. Yet many moms are sympathetic to the New Zealand mother who recently left her infant alone in the car with a handwritten message.
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A picture of a New Zealand infant who was recently left alone in a car has gone viral. People walking by saw the child and a note on his chest that read, “My mum’s in doing the shopping, call her if I need anything.” The handwritten note also had the mom’s cell phone number underneath the message.
Many of the discussions about the incident and the above photo are disapproving. The people who spotted the baby in the car also felt that way, staying by the car’s side until the mom was reached and had returned to the vehicle.
I understand why people feel strongly about this. Although the baby looks very young and well-cared-for (young babies sleep a lot), who knows how long the mom would have been in the store. Some people have called the mom lazy, wrong and neglectful.
But I’ll admit that I’ve done this.
Hear me out.
My baby is 8 months old. I pick her up before I pick up my preschooler. Most of the time, she is awake when I get to my daughter’s preschool, so I lug her in her car seat into the preschool, jostling to hold her and enter my code at the same time. I then round up my daughter, her coat and papers and get us all back into the car safely, careful not to drop all the tiny scraps of paper and “artwork” my daughter made that day.
One day several weeks ago, however, I pulled into the parking stall on a snowy day, turned around and saw my baby was sound asleep. I poked her. Still asleep. Coughed loudly. Snoring. Opened my door and shut it. Asleep.
I sat and thought about my next steps for probably five minutes. I could be in and out of the building in under two minutes. I imagined my steps and thought through any hiccups in my plan, but came to the conclusion that I could be in and out in no time.
So, I locked the doors, started the car with my remote start and peeked in one more time to make sure she was asleep. Then ran. I literally ran to the door, ran down the hall and hurried my daughter to the car to find the baby still sleeping soundly.
I also must admit that I have done it again a handful of times again when she’s sound asleep as we pull into the lot. Not every day. Not every week. But, once in awhile. And, each time I come back to find her still asleep.
I understand that my plan isn’t foolproof. I understand something could go wrong, even in those short two minutes. But, in a very busy preschool parking lot during pick-up time, it’s pretty unlikely.
Am I lazy? Maybe. Am I wrong? Probably. But, am I neglectful. I don’t think so.
Melissa Cruickshank is married with two children. She works full-time. Read her here on momaha.com
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