Kim Brooks left her child in the car for 5 minutes to run into a store and get her child a pair of ear phones. Her four year old son stayed in the locked car, the windows cracked on a mild day because he didn’t want to go in with her. It seemed harmless enough but someone was watching– and taping– the incident. The video footage was turned into the police and Kim’s world was turned upside down for a while. She was charged with a misdemeanor.
We see this happen all the time — parents leaving children in cars. Thank God it wasn’t a bad outcome for the child. What’s your take on this?
First of all, I feel for this woman. As parents, we juggle so much and we all have lapses in judgment but they are not all caught on tape. So we can debate whether we are too overprotective and how we were all left in the car when we were little and came out just fine but the truth is, we are under surveillance by everyone with a camera on their phone- welcome big brother, 1984. Since we have laws in many states that say it’s not ok to leave a child under 6 in a car alone, that means no matter what your personal view, even if you know in your heart it will be just fine, we have to follow it. It may just be caught on tape.
We also have to realize that while it may seem silly to have to take your child into a store for a 2 minute errand even if the car is only 10 yards away, we need a definitive line. As Dan Abrams says in the piece, and I agree, how can we be arbitrary? We can’t say it’s OK to go into a store for 5 minutes but not twelve or to be 10 yards away from the car but not 17.
I think this strikes a cord because so many of us have been in this situation– some may have even left their children in a car when they’ve run in to get their dry cleaning. This could have happened to a lot of people– this woman is not unusual.
What do you suggest the mother should have done?
I’m a busy mom of a 4 and a 5 year old and believe me, it’s not always fun to bring them into stores. So there is no judgment from me. But here’s the thing: (1) we have to be able to tell our children, “I know you don’t like this, but it’s not a choice. You have to come with me.” And (2) as I’ve done before with a sick child, I left the doctor’s office and went to my local Pink’s pharmacy and had a sick, sleeping child in my back seat- I called them up from right in front of their door and said; can I give you my credit card over the phone and is it possible for you to meet me by my car, my child is sick.
As much as we live in these crazy times, we also live in times when people will help us out. I encourage parents to seek out their help.
*Remember; this is not a bad parent, this was just a lapse in judgment. And really? We’ve all had those. Let’s wish her the best.