Fayetteville, N.C. — There’s a lot of talk of kids in hot cars this summer, and it just makes the heart heavy.
I don’t know if there are actually more kids being left in hot cars this year, or if we’re just hearing more about it because of social media. At any rate, if you’re like me, you’ve seen/heard some lively discussions on the topic — and you’ve done a bit of soul-searching on the subject.
Here’s my take: don’t ever leave your kids in the car, period. Ever. Warm weather, cool weather, windows up, windows down, running into the store for just 2 minutes …. just never, ever do it.
Is it easy? No, but things concerning the care of our children rarely are.
Certainly no one would argue it’s fun to haul the baby carrier into the gas station when the pay-at-the-pump isn’t working, nor does anyone relish the thought of taking two cranky toddlers into the quiet post office to simply drop off a package. I’ve been there, and indeed, it stinks to have to do it.
But I did then, and I still do now, even with my kids firmly planted in the elementary school years, because of this: Anything can happen.
Those two minutes in the gas station could stretch into 5 or 10, dropping off the package at the post office could turn into standing in line at the post office, and all it takes is one nefarious criminal, curious child, or act of nature to cause disaster in your brief absence. We, as parents, can’t afford to take that chance.
Now, could your child still be harmed while in your care? Absolutely. Is there more danger in actually transporting your child in the car than leaving them in the vehicle for a moment or two? Could be. But, at the end of the day, I think we owe it to our kids to do everything we can in our power to protect them, period.
But Jennifer, you say, when I was little my parents left me in the car all the time! Nothing ever happened to me!
Indeed, I can recall being left in the car many times while my parents when into the store. Heck, I remember sitting in the car with other kids while my mom’s friend went inside the hospital to visit a sick relative. We must have been in that car, alone, for an hour or more, and we were fine.
But you know what? I also never wore a bicycle helmet and my mom never strapped me into a car seat …. but that doesn’t mean I’m going to copy those practices, too. We study, we learn, and now we know better. It’s the way things are supposed to work.
If you know of a single parent, ask them if you can watch their kids while they run their errands. Offer to go to the store for them, even. I’m certainly going to do what I can to help, because we all know how tough it is. But I ask you, please, don’t ever leave your child in the car alone. And I promise, I won’t either.
Jennifer is a mom of two and WRAL-TV assignment editor in Fayetteville. Her food obsession memoir, “Designated Fat Girl,” came out in 2010. Read more about Jennifer and her book on her website. She writes about motherhood and family-friendly events in Fayetteville here on Go Ask Mom.