I Ran into the Store and Came Out to Find a Lady at My Car. Here’s Why:

A surprise!

Dear Free-Range Kids: Ran across this “article” on Facebook: https://www.romper.com/p/15-things-parents-did-in-the-90s-that-no-parent-would-do-today-9192?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=pro&utm_campaign=fbpro&sr_source=lift_facebook

I grew up in the ’90s in suburbia MI and remember this stuff. Now as a mother of an infant, I wish parenting wasn’t such a monumental, risk adverse task. Just last week I left my (overtired, recently screaming, just picked up from daycare) sleeping 8-month-old in a warm, remote-started, brand new, locked, electric car on a 50 degree day with a dog as backup for no more than THREE MINUTES as I ran into the corner store to buy a block of organic, locally produced cheese for my  made-from-scratch vegetarian dinner (clearly, I’m a careless mother).

When I came out there was a woman standing next to my car with her arms crossed. She told me she stood by the car to keep an eye on my kid. Not for predators, mind you, but to protect me from other adults or cops that may interfere.

We went on to have a 20 minute conversation about how she LOST her 3 kids to CPS for leaving them (aged 5 to 1 at the time) in the car while she went into a gas station to buy cigarettes. I was heartbroken and dumbfounded. Granted, I don’t know her whole story (I got the vibe there was more to it), but I am thankful for her goodwill for preventing that from happening to another mom as well.

Going to start doing some research on getting my town to adopt the kids’ bill of rights and become Free-Range. A couple years ago Wausau, WI was identified to be one of the safest small cities in the USA. As such, it should be a no-brainer to allow kids and parents to act as if their neighbors are not out to destroy their lives at any opportunity.

— Lisa

Yes — adopt that bill! Make it illegal to arrest parents who are not putting their kids in immediate, egregious and statistically likely danger!

Meantime, I am happy for this note reminding us that we are all so much better, kinder and more forgiving than the current culture expects us to be — a culture exhorting us to squeal on our neighbors instead of supporting them. 

Let’s hear it for the moms — parents! people! — who understand that most of us are doing our best and simply cannot, and need not, be perfect.

Next time you see a child waiting in the car, channel this lovely lady and show your support for your fellow man — and woman. Humanity will thank you. – L.

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I want YOU…to be like the lady in this story.

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28 Responses to I Ran into the Store and Came Out to Find a Lady at My Car. Here’s Why:

  1. Erin March 15, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    Did you mean statistically UNlikely danger?

  2. ChicagoDad March 15, 2017 at 9:04 am #

    Love it! Look out for each other. Great concept.

  3. Workshop March 15, 2017 at 9:44 am #

    Erin, no, Lenore’s language is correct.

    Why would we want to arrest people for something that won’t likely happen?

  4. M March 15, 2017 at 10:19 am #

    I love it!

  5. Susan March 15, 2017 at 12:29 pm #

    Sorry, but that woman should have been arrested. She didn’t leave an 8 year old in the car with a dog, she left an infant…all to buy some cheese? I gave up doing errands after work when I had a baby and toddler. I did errands on weekends when my husband could watch my son. Getting a food item is not more important than your baby. Plan better on your time off so this won’t happen again. The next person who sees a baby in the car will call the cops.

  6. James Pollock March 15, 2017 at 12:35 pm #

    “Sorry, but that woman should have been arrested.”

    For what? Robbery? Murder? Fraud? Dumping toxic chemicals in a stream or tributary without conducting an environmental impact survey and filing with the appropriate bureaucratic entity in that particular jurisdiction? What?

    Before you have an arrest, you have to have a crime. What crime are you seeing?

  7. James Pollock March 15, 2017 at 12:43 pm #

    While it’s nice to find support for one’s beliefs, I’d be a bit put off to find out that my beliefs align with someone whose parenting was of sufficiently poor quality to have kids taken away. Yes, it’s POSSIBLE that “kids taken away” came about because of reasons unrelated to poor parenting, but, speaking of “statistically unlikely”…

  8. Betsy in Michigan March 15, 2017 at 12:45 pm #

    Susan, apparently you don’t understand what the Free Range Kids movement is about (it’s pretty down on Worst Case Scenario thinking, and removing good parents from their children)? You are trolling on the wrong blog – go over to Scary Mommy or someplace. Thanks.

  9. Donna March 15, 2017 at 12:53 pm #

    “While it’s nice to find support for one’s beliefs, I’d be a bit put off to find out that my beliefs align with someone whose parenting was of sufficiently poor quality to have kids taken away. ”

    As someone who spends some 50 hours a week with people whose children are in foster care, I assure you with 100% certainty that many of your beliefs align with someone whose parenting was of sufficiently poor quality to have their kids taken away. Complete and utter inability to formulate a decent parenting idea is not a requirement to have children removed and I have yet to meet a single parent who didn’t have some positive parenting beliefs.

  10. Emily March 15, 2017 at 12:56 pm #

    >>Sorry, but that woman should have been arrested. She didn’t leave an 8 year old in the car with a dog, she left an infant…all to buy some cheese? I gave up doing errands after work when I had a baby and toddler. I did errands on weekends when my husband could watch my son. Getting a food item is not more important than your baby. Plan better on your time off so this won’t happen again. The next person who sees a baby in the car will call the cops.<<

    A sleeping baby, in a locked car, for three minutes? What danger could possibly have come of that, besides some busybody calling the cops? And, the reason for the errand wasn't important–even if picking up a block of cheese was non-essential, what if the woman in the story had run out of gas, or had to go to the bathroom, and she was gone for about the same amount of time; less than five minutes? If anything, I'd say that a sleeping baby left in a locked car for a short time, is safer than an older child who could get curious and, say, use the gear shift lever to shift the car into neutral and make it roll uncontrollably. So, I'd say that, in that case, taking the baby inside would fall into the category of "security theatre" to appease the busybodies, and not for the safety of the child.

  11. Peter March 15, 2017 at 1:03 pm #

    Erin, I noticed it too. It’s correct. It’s saying, “Let’s make it legal to arrest parents who are putting their kids in immediate, egregious and statistically likely danger.” The phrasing is a bit odd because of the negative.

  12. James Pollock March 15, 2017 at 1:04 pm #

    “I assure you with 100% certainty that many of your beliefs align with someone whose parenting was of sufficiently poor quality to have their kids taken away.”

    And, I’m a bit put off by that.

  13. Workshop March 15, 2017 at 1:08 pm #

    Susan is probably new ’round these parts, and I’d bet a nickel she doesn’t come back.

    Susan, if you’re still reading, you’re welcome to come back. I would suggest that you spend a few minutes perusing this site before condemning decisions you don’t agree with. Don’t get me wrong, I love condemning people who make really bad decisions, but that’s usually reserved for people who find themselves upside down in a river after an illicit pharmaceutical transaction goes bad, or someone who puts kale in their cheesecake.

  14. Ivy March 15, 2017 at 1:40 pm #

    2 weeks ago I had left my kids in the car in the Costco parking lot. 10 minutes in and out to grab a rotisserie chicken for lunch.They are 6 and 8 and were engrossed in their books, didn’t feel like running after me for a simple errand. Weather was spring-like and I put the windows slightly down.

    So, I am coming back and my daughter tells me a man took pictures of them and asked them where I was. Luckily I have them coached on such situations (thanks to this blog:-) – she explained that they are both responsible kids, the weather is not hot and they have fresh air through the window and are perfectly able to keep themselves entertained while waiting.

    This seems to have worked as the man went somewhere, and I didn’t wait around to see if he will show up again. But I added to the coaching that they should emphasize how I am gone just for a few minutes. This being Costco, a quick errand is not the typical shopping experience 🙂

    Frankly so far in my experience New Jersey folks (or at least those in my corner of it) seems to be OK with free range approach. I’ve had a few near runs with strangers or even the neighborhood police officer (e.g. kids playing the river by themselves, kids riding bikes on our street without helmets, kids on top of the tree) and never a serious problem.

  15. Jessica March 15, 2017 at 1:44 pm #

    Thank heavens for that woman– she had a concern, and instead of dialing 911, she stood there to TALK to the parent about it. 100% correct thing to do (even though the baby was obviously fine and I wouldn’t have been concerned about it, I respect that she was).

  16. JTW March 15, 2017 at 1:53 pm #

    “Why would we want to arrest people for something that won’t likely happen?”

    Why would we arrest people for something that’s not actually happened at all? Ever read the Minority Report?
    Are we now in an age where we arrest people for precrime? To prevent them possibly committing a crime at some point in the future?

  17. Emily March 15, 2017 at 2:27 pm #

    >>Don’t get me wrong, I love condemning people who make really bad decisions, but that’s usually reserved for people who find themselves upside down in a river after an illicit pharmaceutical transaction goes bad, or someone who puts kale in their cheesecake.<<

    Or for people who use HopSkipDrive. Just saying.

  18. James Pollock March 15, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    “Are we now in an age where we arrest people for precrime? To prevent them possibly committing a crime at some point in the future?”

    Well, yes, in the sense that we have (and have always had) some crimes which are crimes because of what might happen (or might have happened) rather than because we object to the exact activity proscribed.
    For example, it’s a crime to race automobiles on public roadways. Not because we are against racing, but because people who are racing are more dangerous to people around them who are not.

    If someone is waving a firearm and firing indiscriminately, we don’t want to wait until someone is hurt or killed before making that a crime and making them stop.

    (Note: No, I am not making the case that leaving a sleeping infant in a car is the same thing as shooting a firearm towards a crowd of people. But child endangerment, like reckless endangerment, do share the property of being illegal because of what MIGHT happen, not what HAS happened.)
    (Note: No, I am also not making the case leaving a sleeping infant in a car is child endangerment. Multiple Choice: Choose one: A) leaving an infant in a car is ALWAYS child endangerment, regardless of circumstances B) leaving an infant in a car is NEVER child endangerment, regardless of circumstances, or C) leaving an infant in a car MAY or MAY NOT be child endangerment, depending on circumstances.)

  19. donald March 15, 2017 at 4:11 pm #

    “I love condemning people who make really bad decisions”

    This supports what I have been saying for years. Doing your part to help enforce laws or having genuine concern is only part of it. It’s also an opportunity to engage in a fun activity.

  20. SteveS March 15, 2017 at 4:12 pm #

    Wow, an actual Good Samaritan, as opposed to some busybody.

    JP is right…no actual crime was committed. Leaving your child in a locked car, for a very brief period of time, on a mild day, is not child endangerment.

  21. James March 15, 2017 at 4:29 pm #

    “Thank heavens for that woman– she had a concern, and instead of dialing 911, she stood there to TALK to the parent about it.”

    Exactly! She acted like an adult, and treated the mother like an adult. That’s what should be expected of society, and it’s really depressing that this action is so rare that it’s worthy of praise (not to diminish the praise she’s getting!!). You settle problems at the lowest level possible, and if possible you settle them by talking it out.

    “I gave up doing errands after work when I had a baby and toddler. I did errands on weekends when my husband could watch my son.”

    That’s nice for you, Susan. No sarcasm here–if you can live that lifestyle, fantastic for you! Many of us, however, are not so fortunate. Many of us have no option but to run errands with the children, often alone. And many of us ENJOY running errands with our kids, which sometimes results in the kid falling asleep in the car.

    The thing you don’t seem to realize (and I’m not attacking you, I’m explaining how you come across in your post) is that just because you make a choice, doesn’t mean that everyone else can–or even should. Your life is not the standard by which all others should be measured. We all have unique situations, and need to respond appropriately. Sometimes that means making choices that seem ridiculous if not insane to you. And you know what? That’s okay.

    Look at it the other way around: Your choices seem ridiculous and insane to us some of the time. Would YOU want to be arrested every time you make a choice I disagree with? If not, why should I accept being arrested for making choices you disagree with? If 2016 taught us anything, it’s that sometimes people you disagree with gain power–and we need to think VERY hard about what we use political/police power for, because if we use it to enforce our worldview the other side will do the same as soon as they gain power.

  22. JP Merzetti March 15, 2017 at 4:30 pm #

    Wow.
    Hats off to that arm-folding lady. A true angel.
    But seriously, a sensible adult human being. Imagine that (in our continuously and forever infantilizing society.)

    The point is well taken.
    We have become master artists at punitivity.
    To solve our problems, we don’t throw money at them (we’re all broke, apparently.)
    We throw litigation by the metric tonnage.
    (and more often than not, we don’t solve anything, really)

    Reading this gives me hope. Rebellion. Getting off our collective behinds and fighting back.
    But it’s for the kids, um? We should do no less.

  23. lollipoplover March 15, 2017 at 4:35 pm #

    It speaks volumes to the type of town you live in when fellow parents look out for one another instead of speed dialing police for *concern*.
    It would help us all to be a little more understanding and less judgmental.

    We flew on a 10 hour overnight flight a few days ago. My husband took an Ambien hoping to sleep through and we sat down next to a screaming toddler and his flustered mom who also has a small dog in tow. My husband was prepared for an awful flight and I totally have been this mom…and know kids melt down at the worst times. So I offered to hold her dog so she could settle her toddler. It was late, the boy was overtired and she rocked him while I held the dog (Bella, she was adorable). It was a peaceful, quiet flight and everyone slept. I think everything runs better when we help other parents instead of shaking our heads and talking badly about one another.
    We’ve all been there.

  24. SKL March 15, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

    Yep, trust me, I would rather find a well-meaning mom of any background standing by my car than have a busybody call the cops over a couple minutes of non-neglect.

    Though, I’m not sure standing there would have prevented a cop from bugging the mom. (And if it was a guy standing there – forget it.)

  25. donald March 15, 2017 at 6:36 pm #

    When my son was that age, I remember when there were times when I was sleep deprived. (a big understatement)

    During this semi-conscious state, I didn’t always make the best decisions. I’m glad that I wasn’t jailed for those times. I’m also glad that I didn’t have to wear a scarlet letter ‘A’ on my shirt for the rest of my life.

    (‘A’ for Atrocious parenting skills, not ‘A’ for Adulterous)

  26. international reader March 16, 2017 at 5:30 am #

    the last story and this one reminded me of when i spotted a child looking lost at the bottom of a skilift in a ski resort. It turned out he had gone down the wrong side of the mountain and did not know how to reconnect with his parents. I (a helfpul white male) offered to give a call to his parents and would have if needed kept an eye on said kid until re-united or re-directed. This was the right and appropriate thing to do to solve the issue.

    In return, i would expect any well-meaning adult (most of them are) to help one of my kids making a call to me if their phone would be not operating. Safer stranger if possible.

    Police in European countries does not get involved with everyday life situations. Well-meaning helfpul adults (most othem are) do.

  27. dancing on thin ice March 16, 2017 at 11:10 am #

    The progress made since colonial times towards “innocent until proven guilty” seems to have gone from “She’s a witch, burn her” to “she’s a child abuser, lock her up”.
    On the positive side more people are willing to speak up for those unjustly accused.

  28. James Pollock March 17, 2017 at 12:16 pm #

    “The progress made since colonial times towards “innocent until proven guilty” seems to have gone from “She’s a witch, burn her” to “she’s a child abuser, lock her up”.”

    Well, I think it is and always has been “She’s unpopular, lock her up!”. If you listen to the audio from last year’s Republican Convention, there was an awful lot of “lock her up”… Although, come to think of it, they DID circulate a bit of “she’s a child abuser”, too, with sufficient details that some poor loser got worked up enough about it to go shoot the place up while “investigating”.