MUST READ! “The Day I Caved Into Peer Pressure And Dragged My Kids Out of the Car for a Very Short Errand”

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From my mailbox, two neatly twinned items. First, a Facebook rant sent in by a mom disgusted by it:

Dear eiehdbysyn
“Nana” – It was selfish to leave your Grandchildren strapped in their car seats in the sun today as you bought your Subway. I was in Subway with you and continued to 7 11, on my way to my car your precious grandchildren yelled for me and I stopped, they pointed where “Nana” was, still in Subway.

Nana appeared at the Subway door and I asked her why the children were left in the hot car? Her answer was: The windows are all down, I’ve only been gone a minute and I should mind my own business. I called your bluff Nana and you decided to call me every name in the book. I didn’t care. I stood my ground and told her I was not leaving until the children were removed from the vehicle. Eventually angry Nana left the comfort of the Subway door and removed them.

Naturally, the Facebook scold proceeded to call 911, but seems to have left before anyone arrived.  What does it mean for society when parents (and grandparents) face possible legal action for making a decision about their kids that some onlooker doesn’t like?

Here’s what. It’s scary. Please read and share:

Regulars on this site already know that a small child faces more danger crossing a parking lot than waiting in the car for a short period.  So how do we convince society at large of this basic truth?  Statistics don’t seem to convince people, but scary anecdotes do.  So, I will share my own scary anecdote, and you are free to pass it along:

I have three small children, who sit in the back seat as follows:  The baby sits in the middle car seat, the safest spot, facing backward.  The 2-year-old and 4-year-old sit in carseats on either side. To get the baby out, I have to lean into the car with my whole body and use both hands.  But I can’t get him out without getting one of the two older kids out first, because there isn’t enough room to reach across them and pull a baby out.  Whichever older child I take out first, will be unattended in the parking lot for the solid 15-20 seconds it takes me to get the baby out.

I learned quickly that I cannot take the 2-year-old out first, because she cannot be trusted to stay still next to the car while I lean in with my whole body to get the baby out.  Despite constant admonishment, she’s just too young to reliably behave.  So I follow this very specific process any time I take them *anywhere*:  I unbuckle the 4-year-old, help her out, and have her hold my pocket while I lean in and take out the baby.  I then carry the baby and hold the 4-year-old’s hand while we walk around the car to let the 2-year-old out.  While my 4-year-old holds my pocket and while I hold my very heavy baby using only my right arm, I unbuckle my 2-year-old using only my left hand.  While still holding the baby in my right arm, I use my left arm to help swing the 2-year-old out of the car.  I then hold the 2-year-old’s hand, the baby in my one arm, and the 4-year-old holds my pocket or the baby’s foot while we cross the parking lot.

All of the above still depends upon some moderate level of good behavior from everyone.  If the baby starts to squirm and writhe, I have to break my hold on the 2-year-old’s hand in order to secure the baby.  If either kid recklessly darts off, I’m helpless to catch them.  Every day, multiple times a day, my heart is in my throat until we make it to the threshold of our destination.

Every weekday I drop them off at day care on my way to work.  I follow the above ritual to get them across the parking lot.  Day care parking lots are especially dangerous.  Cars are constantly coming and going, everyone is in a hurry to get to work, and all the kids are tiny, unpredictable, and hard to see.

One day, my 2-year-old was having a rough morning and was particularly defiant.  I knew she wouldn’t behave in the parking lot, despite repeated warnings.  The weather was 60 degrees and overcast.  I knew the safest action was to bring only my baby and 4-year-old into the day care, sign them in, kiss them goodbye, and then come back for the 2-year-old.  But my inner lawyer got the better of me:  I thought about how day cares are “Mandatory Reporters,” and how all it would take was one parent seeing my 2-year-old in the car, reporting it to the front desk, them calling the cops, and me ending up in a legal nightmare that I didn’t have the time, energy, or money for.

So I took all three out at once.  We were almost across the lot when my 2-year-old broke free and ran toward the door, just as a car came whipping around the corner into the lot, not watching.  I screamed “STOP!”

Although my 2-year-old didn’t stop, the car mercifully did, just about 6 inches from my sweet toddler.  The mom apologized profusely, admitted she wasn’t looking because she was busy looking for an empty space to park.  I didn’t know what to say.  This is a woman I know and like, ordinarily a very good mom, who made a terrible, almost fatal mistake and almost killed my kid.  I couldn’t say it was “okay.”  I knew she felt terrible.  And I was so relieved my child was safe that I didn’t want to waste time being angry.

But mostly, I was angry at myself for not trusting my own mommy gut.  I *knew* the safest thing to do that morning was leave my kid in the car alone.  But I let the judgment of *other people* trump my own judgment about the best interests of my child.  That day, I vowed never to do that again.  If my child had died that day, I would have never forgiven myself.  My maternal judgment is the best tool I have.  I am an intelligent and moral person, no one loves my children more than me, and no one can predict their behavior better than me.  How can I possibly let anything other than my own judgment govern how I raise my kids and keep them safe?

From that day forward, any time I believe it’s safer for my kids to wait in the car, I have them wait in the car: At the dry cleaners, the bank, the gas station (when pay-at-the pump is broken), and even(!) the day care.

If it helps anyone defend their own parenting choices, feel free to use my story.

You can bet I’ll use this story. It reminds us in a heart-stopping way that parents must not live in fear of being second-guessed for making rational decisions about their own kids. It is demonstrably safe to let your kid wait in the car a few minutes. If anyone doesn’t believe me, try it for the length of time it takes to walk a child into daycare, or to order a submarine sandwich.

What we are really criminalizing is any parent who, for one reason or another, refuses to conform to some stranger’s idea of perfect parenting. That includes good parents like the mom of three above, who loves her kids and knows what works for her and her family.

This shaming and criminalizing must end. While it might take a while to stop folks like the Facebook scold from calling 911, in the meantime we CAN fight the laws that criminalize perfectly fine parents making perfectly fine decisions. Let’s let our lawmakers know that we the parents care more about our kids than anyone, and unless we are putting those kids in immediate, egregious and indisputable harm, it is up to us how we raise them. – L

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Most of all, I was mad at myself for

“I let the judgement of other people trump my own judgment abut the best interests of my child.” 

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121 Responses to MUST READ! “The Day I Caved Into Peer Pressure And Dragged My Kids Out of the Car for a Very Short Errand”

  1. TheOtherAnna June 8, 2016 at 2:09 am #

    Yes, sometimes it’s wiser to leave your child(ren) in the car. But when that’s not the case, there are options that could make the whole procedure much less risky. Before getting any of the kids out you could put on a baby-wearing device; then you’ll at least have both hands free to deal with your two-year-old and won’t have to worry about the baby squirming out of your arms. For extra security, and depending on where you’re going, you can keep an umbrella stroller in your car (mine fits easily on the floor in the back, so I don’t even need to open the trunk to get it out). You can unfold the stroller and get your two-year-old out first (after you put on that baby-wearing device so that you won’t have to push the stroller one-handed), strap her in, then proceed with the remaining two. A bit of a hassle, sure, but your current arrangement is obviously not always safe or reliable.

  2. James Pollock June 8, 2016 at 4:13 am #

    “Let’s let our lawmakers know that we the parents care more about our kids than anyone, and unless we are putting those kids in immediate, egregious and indisputable harm, it is up to us how we raise them.”

    That’s the challenge… there are parents who do not care more about their kids than anyone, and who do put those kids in immediate, egregious, and indisputable danger, and the kids are harmed as a result. (Substance abuse is frequently, but not always, a factor.)

    If you think PARENTS get second-guessed a lot, bureaucrats and social workers get a pretty much constant dose of it, and from both sides. “Why didn’t you take those kids, before they got hurt?” and “Why are you hassling those parents, investigating them?” Everybody has 20/20 hindsight… why, it’s OBVIOUS those were unfit parents… look what happened to the kids! Why, it’s OBVIOUS that there was no reason to bother that family, they’ve done nothing wrong!

    There’s a lot of otherwise rational people with an irrational fear of dealing with CPS. When you start making decisions based on irrational fear(s), you get bad decisions.

  3. Jim June 8, 2016 at 5:26 am #

    I agree with theOtherAnna. Not sure why the author has failed to realize that there are safer ways of managing multiple kids. In the author’s situation, perhaps leaving her child unattended in the car would be safer than crossing the street, but safer doesn’t mean safe. Not trying to shame anyone here, just trying to point out that there are safer alternatives out there – stroller, baby carrier, even those toddler leashes!

  4. Heather June 8, 2016 at 6:10 am #

    @James
    You are so right. I am in the process to become a foster parent, and it is obvious that the social workers are simply over-burdened. They are well-trained and definitely caring, but there is simply no way for them to handle caseloads of hundreds of children and do a good job of it. Not to mention that social workers are not psychics– they have to make decisions based on very limited observations of each family. And then anytime a child is injured or dies because of their parents (which unfortunately is not uncommon), out come the pitchforks: “This child should have been removed ages ago! Why didn’t you DO something??”

  5. Paul June 8, 2016 at 7:05 am #

    TheOtherAnna, that umbrella stroller is going to give a false sense of security with a two year old. We stopped using one with my kid after the number of times he walked around with it strapped to his back. It felt like it nearly gave me a heart attack a few times. Those are best for giving rides, not stopping mobility.

  6. Jen June 8, 2016 at 7:19 am #

    But there is no reason why anyone MUST bring their children in when doing an errand. A child is not going to die from heat stroke while Nana is buying subs for everyone’s lunch (maybe so they could picnic at the park as long as we’re imagining what will happen next). Children die in cars when they are forgotten. Presumably, if there was a horrifically long line at the subway (which I have never seen) and nana looked out the window and saw the kids were in distress, she would abort the lunch mission to rescue them.

    Perhaps if the sanctimonious stranger had not started by calling Nana selfish the issue would not have been an issue. “Excuse me ma’am. Are those your children waving frantically? Perhaps you want to check on them.”

    Children who learn to wait patiently while adults take care of things are much easier to live with and less entitled. They are better able to wait for things, less demanding, and I would venture to guess will be happier adults for having gained the ability to entertain themselves.

  7. Jen June 8, 2016 at 7:21 am #

    …and, it seems that Nana was aware of her surroundings and those of her grandchildren as she “appeared at the door” when the stranger approached the car and was interacting with her grandchildren.

  8. Marie June 8, 2016 at 7:26 am #

    “…there are options that could make the whole procedure much less risky. Before getting any of the kids out you could put on a baby-wearing device…”

    I suppose that is meant to be helpful so why does it feel so unsympathetic to a mom who already has decided to leave the kids in the car? Sure, she could use a baby-carrying device ir she could travel with an assistant or she could hog-tie the toddler…OR she could just do things the way she wants to, without anyone weighing in on her choice. Leaving kids in the car isn’t a safe option when you have no other choice, it is a safe option, period.

  9. Jo June 8, 2016 at 7:48 am #

    Leaving kids in the car for a few minutes is a safe option. And I applaud the mother for making that decision in a busy daycare parking lot vs putting her kids in danger. However, there are times when you have to manage a group of kids across a parking lot for longer errands, family gatherings, etc. In those cases, may I suggest another almost as convenient option: Take the two year old out of the car first, put a leash/harness on him and clip the end to your belt. That way, even when the two year old is being difficult, he is still safe and can’t run father that about 4′ from you. Then you can grab the baby, then get the four year old out last. It would take maybe one minute more, and not a lot of extra stuff that you have to keep in the car for an option like this. My toddler is a runner and can’t be trusted to hold my hand without wiggling, especially in busy places. When I can’t carry her I use a leash when we’re in dangerous places like parking lots.

  10. mer June 8, 2016 at 7:52 am #

    Harnesses and retractable leashes for kids. They work for dogs of all sizes and ages, so why get some that fit your small kids after they’ve discovered “hey this walking is fun”? They should be safe to wear in a car seat, add in a 16 ft retractable leash and you have pretty good control. The attachment point for the leash is typically very strong (85lb dog lunging against it without breaking is a good test), so for a timeout, use that to hang the kid up on a wall hook.

    Ok, the last part about hanging the kid up on a wall hook is just sarcasm, but the rest is mostly serious.

  11. lollipoplover June 8, 2016 at 8:23 am #

    I’m having flashbacks of my 3 kids under 5 with this story.
    We traded in the car for an SUV with tinted windows and life became so much easier.

    When my youngest was a newborn, we ran out of milk. How I wish they had a drive thru for milk and diapers. But they didn’t, and I dragged all three through a busy convenience store parking lot to get the milk- baby in the infant carrier, my toddler on my hip, and the 4 year-old was told to hold the pocket of my loose sweatpants. After I got the milk, I held the toddler’s hand with the bag and the boy still held my pocket, but he tripped in the parking lot and pulled my pants down to my ankles. I stood there, mortified, before retreating to my car to cry.
    From that low moment, I learned I don’t have to follow the perfect parenting rules and using judgement and reason (and teaching the kids to play quietly in the 3rd row away from prying eyes) for each situation was more important for our safety and mental well being as a family.

  12. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 9:07 am #

    An umbrella stroller for taking a kid into a daycare building? Lovely. Strollers are absolutely the worst when you have to get through some kind of heavy door with other children in tow, and a secure one (which most daycares have) is even worse. Daycares are also generally not large buildings like malls where there is plenty of room to maneuver the stroller once you get in. Babywearing? Great if you can do it. Not great if you have a bad back or something.

    No, the advice for how she could have managed three small kids “better” is unhelpful. You shouldn’t have to have special logistics training to move your kids around unnecessarily — people should back off and allow for rational decisions like leaving one kid strapped into the car for one minute in the parking lot of a daycare.

    “If you had everything figured out right you wouldn’t have had this problem” is not a helpful response to just about anything.

  13. Beth June 8, 2016 at 9:29 am #

    @ pentamom, agreed. I’m really surprised at the suggestions for how she could better manage taking the kids out of the car and inside, when the point is that her decision to leave them in the car is NOT compromising their safety nor neglectful nor bad parenting. Yet she is being counseled to purchase a baby wrap and an umbrella stroller, with instructions how to make it all work better.

    Sorry, that *is* shaming when her children are not in danger if they stay in the car.

  14. Leigh Fowler June 8, 2016 at 9:29 am #

    I had my first three kids in 15 months (oldest son followed by twin boys). I totally sympathize with her situation. My kids would have been safer in the car, but I always chose to take them inside to avoid an investigation. If there were shopping carts where I was going, I parked beside them and loaded all three kids into the cart. Without a shopping cart, it was a challenge.

  15. Jim Collins June 8, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    This place is starting to get to me. Last Saturday, I stayed in the car while my girlfriend was in the grocery store. A car pulls into the parking space next to me and a woman gets out, leaving her 5-6 year old son in the back seat playing on his tablet. It was a nice 70 degree day, he had his window down and was quite comfortable. A woman came up, looked at me and said “Did I know he was there and why didn’t I do something and that she was calling the police. I said “That’s my Nephew and I’m right here. His Mother and my girlfriend were shopping together.” She said “Oh!” and left. A few minutes later his Mother came out got into the car and left. I had no idea who the kid was.

  16. m June 8, 2016 at 9:40 am #

    To the people suggesting baby-wearing, strollers and leases: More gear for mom? Really?

    Umbrella strollers are tippy, and the brakes can be unreliable. You every see the warnings “don’t leave the baby unattended” while using?

    Babywearing is now considered “dangerous”, because “OMG you could smother the baby!” And for a large, heavy baby it’s not practical to “wear” the child while bending over to remove another child from the car seat.

    People will call CPS on you for leashing your kids, if they don’t call you a bad mother to your face. And having a willful two year old tugging on the lease while mom is trying to get the baby out could easily cause other problems.

    All three of these items have issues of their own and will trigger some busybody into telling you what a bad mom you are. The safest choice WOULD be to leave a child or two in the car while walking the other into daycare.

  17. m June 8, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    Jim, you get bonus points for saving that poor woman and her child from a busybody. Not to mention an interrogation by the police and CPS…..

  18. Workshop June 8, 2016 at 10:23 am #

    Jim, I applaud you.

    As for using a “baby wearing device” and packing another stroller -No. If you want to do that for your precious snowflake, go for it. My precious snowflake learns that walking isn’t a bad option, that mom and dad can’t carry you around all the time, and that we believe in our abilities to make rational decisions despite busybody-knowitalls telling us otherwise.

    No arrangement is “always” safe. No arrangement is “always” reliable. When a child is in a vehicle, there is a risk. One of the highest causes of childhood death is motor vehicle accidents. I choose, based on logic, statistics, and overall safety, to leave my children in the car for short periods of time.

  19. Anna June 8, 2016 at 10:42 am #

    I agree with those who think the safety advice this mom is being given here is officious and unnecessary.

    I also suspect it’s factually unhelpful. I don’t know the exact set-up of her car, but baby-wearing devices are not the cure-all they’re being touted as. (1) Getting baby into them can itself be quite a challenge, especially the back-carrying types. (2) Now she’s supposed to lean in through the car door and deal with all the buckles and what-not with baby strapped on her back or stomach? How does that work exactly?

  20. Jetsanna June 8, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    If you *have* to take the baby in, there is nothing more convenient than a sling. It goes on in seconds and the baby slips right in. I am a tiny woman with back problems and it was a life saver for me. That said, there is NOTHING wrong with leaving them in the car.

  21. Laura June 8, 2016 at 11:00 am #

    What a horribly scary event. There are more options than leaving your kid in the car… A drive thru, maybe skip that extra errand until after you drop kids at day care, a stroller or baby carrier. Have you ever seen the show Bait car? Maybe that tiny child in the back seat wouldn’t be so safe if your car is stolen the few minutes your back is turned. I have four children and can’t think of a good reason to leave any of them in the car unattended.

  22. Backroads June 8, 2016 at 11:01 am #

    The second story hits home, at least state-wise. A few months’ back in a city near mine, a toddler was killed in a daycare parking lot. Extremely tragic. I don’t know much beyond the news story, but wow, all things being equal, let a mommy trust her gut.

  23. Backroads June 8, 2016 at 11:05 am #

    As for baby-wearing devices… they’re great. I have two different ones and love them both. However, they’re both a challenge to insert a baby into. I don’t necessarily think they’re going to solve this mom’s problems.

    She has a decent system. Let her be.

  24. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 11:17 am #

    Laura, the incident happened in the parking lot of the daycare. Daycare drive-thru dropoff windows is an interesting idea. though. 😀

    But again, while finding more efficient ways to do something is usually a good idea, she doesn’t need “other options.” She has the perfectly good option of leaving one kid in the car for a minute in a safe location. The risk of something like the car being stolen is negligible, in that situation.

    It’s called judgment. This mom already judged it was safe to leave the child there for a minute or two. She was simply scared out of it, not by an unreasonable fear of having the car stolen, but by a reasonable fear of having someone at the daycare flip out and cause her endless grief.

  25. Warren June 8, 2016 at 11:18 am #

    Laura

    I have raised three. All of them spent countless times waiting in the car or truck and they were never snatched and never had a vehicle stolen. I can list dozens of reasons for letting them stay in the car.
    First and foremost I am not paranoid like you. Secondly they are comfortable and happy doing so.

    Next.

  26. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 11:19 am #

    Backroads, I was also thinking of her standing there putting the wrap on and getting the baby into it in the snow or rain or freezing cold. Since babies aren’t even supposed to wear coats in cars in cold weather anymore, how was that supposed to work?

  27. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 11:24 am #

    Laura, BTW, how is “I only have two hands for three kids and one almost got run over” not a “good reason to leave any of them in the car unattended”?

  28. CrazyCatLady June 8, 2016 at 11:28 am #

    Jim Collins, way to go! Great thinking on the spot, and thanks for sharing it here. If I ever need to, I now know something to say that will get rid of the car trolls.

  29. Laura June 8, 2016 at 11:55 am #

    Pentamom,
    I was referring more to the blanket statement that sometimes it’s safer (let’s be honest…easier) to leave kids in the car. The daycare parking lot, I can understand, but expanding it to running into the bank, gas station, or to “order a submarine sandwich” is putting ease before your kids and stating it is safer walking across a shopping center parking lot is seeking permission that I can’t give.

  30. Buffy June 8, 2016 at 11:57 am #

    Laura, the “good reason” is that this mother, knowing her children, the situation, and the weather, made the decision to leave her kids in the car IN THIS SITUATION. No one who isn’t in her exact situation gets to judge.

  31. Sandi June 8, 2016 at 12:17 pm #

    Laura, thank goodness no one needs your permission. We may not all make the same choices for ourselves and our children. We do not have the right to make other people’s choices for them. I will disclose that I have many times left my two children at various ages safely and securely in a vehicle while I ran an errand. It was a legal, valid, reasonable parenting choice. I do not ask permission and I will not apologize.

  32. MichaelF June 8, 2016 at 12:31 pm #

    Funny how even here, on a post about shaming and “helpfulness” the first batch of posts are just that.

    Maybe its some deep seated need to do that, which strikes everyone.

    I have enough time dealing with two kids, anyone with more gets my sympathy.

  33. Laura June 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    Okay, since I’m the oddball here, and being so judgmental, this is my point in this discussion. The story starts by someone that had a concern about a kid in a car. I agree calling the cops was over dramatic, but maybe this lady leaves the kid in the car all the time… Who knows and that isn’t the point. A public online article that says go ahead and leave your kids in the car is not right. I live in California and it is ILLEGAL in this state. So some young mom reads this and thinks it will be fine, my kids are free range, they are good in the car. CPS is a real thing and a lot bigger deal than fumbling with a stroller or juggling children out of the car.

  34. Beth2 June 8, 2016 at 12:35 pm #

    I am the original letter-writer, and I feel like my story speaks for itself, so I wasn’t going to respond to anybody, until I read this in one of the comments: “…is seeking permission that I can’t give.”

    Respectfully, I do not need your “permission.” That is the fundamental problem with every one of these online parent-shaming debates. I resent that some people think parenting decisions are subject to a group vote, where other people collectively decide whether I, or some other parent, had “no other option,” or a slightly “better option,” or whether the commenters would have “done the same thing” or not. There is no single right way to respond in any parenting situation. Every parent is entitled to parent their own children in the manner they see as best.

    I can understand that Laura has anxiety about her car being stolen, so she doesn’t leave her kids in the car. That’s fine for her. I personally have more anxiety about my children being hit in a parking lot, and that affects my decision-making accordingly. These sorts of anxieties and biases shaped by past experience play out in other parental decision-making contexts as well: My mother-in-law was worried about my newborn being under-dressed and dying of pneumonia, whereas I was more worried about my newborn being over-dressed and dying of SIDS. She worried about my baby not “eating enough,” whereas I worried more about giving my child solid food before her body was really ready for it. Since I’m the parent, I get to make the calls. Nobody described above is crazy, nobody is malevolent. It should be patently obvious that there is room for reasonable people to disagree about basic everyday parenting choices. But unless you are one of the two parents, you don’t get a vote!

    I do not mind suggestions for things I might try that might work for me. Other people like leashes, tethers, and carriers. Great! The problem is when people assume that, because they prefer that, I need to come up with reasons why I *didn’t* do that on any particular given day. For the record, I *love* baby carriers and use them frequently, especially at parks and malls and outdoor festivals. I don’t tend to use them in the day care parking lot, and I won’t bore you with why because 1) this post is already too long, and 2) my entire point is that I don’t need to convince you of why. But FYI, if anyone is looking for a carrier recommendation, I suggest the Moby wrap for newborns and the Ergo for older babies.

    Have a nice day!

  35. BL June 8, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

    @Laura
    ” it’s safer (let’s be honest…easier) to leave kids in the car.”

    Sometimes it looks like the busibodies are more interested in making things difficult than safe. Or they think anything that’s easy must be unsafe.

  36. Laura June 8, 2016 at 12:54 pm #

    I can’t resist…
    @BL. Are we already at the name calling part of this discussion? Awesome.

    @Beth 2.
    Thank you for your reply. My cattiness wasn’t directed at you, but at some of the responses. You made the right decision for you. You should do what’s right in your situation. And I agree, Moby wraps are great for newborns, but I couldn’t survive without my Ergo. I realize we live in different areas, we don’t have to deal with snow, like one commented on, I would probably lock us in the house until spring, so kudos to those that have a real winter.

  37. JKP June 8, 2016 at 12:59 pm #

    Laura – are you sure that it is illegal to leave your child in the car in California?

    http://www.freerangekids.com/laws/
    “Unattended in Vehicle: Cal. Veh. Code §15620 Child under 6 cannot be left without somebody 12 or older when conditions present a significant risk to the child’s health or safety or when the engine is running or keys are in the ignition.”

    That means a child under 6 CAN be left when conditions are NOT a significant risk to the the child’s health and safety AND the engine is not running AND the keys are not in the ignition.

    So leaving the car off, the windows cracked, taking the keys with you, you can leave your kid in the car while you run a quick errand. In my opinion that is actually SAFER than bringing the child in the store through the parking lot.

  38. lollipoplover June 8, 2016 at 1:08 pm #

    “Respectfully, I do not need your “permission.” That is the fundamental problem with every one of these online parent-shaming debates.”

    Amen, momma.

    You also don’t need to take advise from any of these busybody/bad samaritans who assess your parenting in 30 seconds of observing unattended kids, unharmed. We’ve turned every car with kids in it into this chamber of death and kidnapping. There are so many tragic accidents lately of small children driven over by cars in parking lots. No one shames these parents “Why didn’t they leave them in the car?” It’s such a double standard.

    What about grandmom in the back? Do we worry about memaw overheating or getting kidnapped? She’s probably just as fragile and helpless as a toddler but there’s no one calling the police on her.

    Also, my best advice (besides tinted windows) is what the Leigh Fowler said- SHOPPING CARTS. Confining all the kids to one of those 18-wheeler baby shopping carts was by far the easiest to get across congested parking lots.

  39. Jessica June 8, 2016 at 1:13 pm #

    @Laura, I’m from California and it is not illegal to leave your kids in the car. From the source:

    CALIFORNIA VEHICLE CODE SECTIONS
    15620, 15630, 15632
    15620. (a) A parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible
    for a child who is 6 years of age or younger may not leave that child
    inside a motor vehicle without being subject to the supervision of a
    person who is 12 years of age or older, under either of the
    following circumstances:
    (1) Where there are conditions that present a significant risk to
    the child’s health or safety.
    (2) When the vehicle’s engine is running or the vehicle’s keys are
    in the ignition, or both.

    So if it’s dangerous or the keys are in the ignition (running or not) and that’s only if the kid is under the age of six without someone 12+ with them. So, me leaving my kids in the car, keys with me and under safe circumstances (which is different for every situation) is totally LEGAL in California. Please don’t oversimplify the law just because it says in some circumstances you can’t.

  40. Luke June 8, 2016 at 1:16 pm #

    If you can’t take care of them, don’t have them… If you can’t safely take them from point A to Point B DON’T TAKE THEM. they are not safe in the lot, they are not safe in the car, choosing the “safer” option is still putting your kid in danger/neglect YOU chose to have three kids, YOU can’t figure out how to take care of them? why should you be allowed to keep them. Gotta be the dumbest excuse I’ve ever heard for neglecting a child… Here’s a point to ponder: Child molesters will go to the place where children are to find children which means day cares, schools, fast food joints, malls. It takes moments for someone to take your kid, (maybe 30 seconds?) of your 5 times/wk routine at the daycare alone of leaving a helpless child unattended in your car for what i would guess takes you 3-4 minutes to check in at…. “i’m sorry officer, i was just leaving my child alone in the car like i do every other day i don’t know what happened”

  41. James Pollock June 8, 2016 at 1:23 pm #

    There is no right to raise your kids free of criticism (justified or not) of others. You DO have the right to ignore it, although if the criticism is justified there may be consequences.

  42. Workshop June 8, 2016 at 1:27 pm #

    Luke, you didn’t major in statistics, did you?

    The situations you mention aren’t happening.

    Luckily, I don’t need your permission for my parenting. Nor do I want it.

  43. Emily Guy Birken June 8, 2016 at 1:43 pm #

    Part of what drives me nuts about these societal expectations is that they are based on the idea that parents have no more than two children. Or that parents are rich enough to pay another adult to watch their older kids. Or that parents are not time-strapped or stressed. All parents are compared to a “platonic ideal” of parenthood that assumes a small family, a large support network, ample time and ample money. Not only is it offensive that this is considered ideal by our society, it is impossible for families to aspire to that ideal, even if they wanted to. We need to stop trying to force families to fit into a single mold.

  44. lollipoplover June 8, 2016 at 1:46 pm #

    “Child molesters will go to the place where children are to find children which means day cares, schools, fast food joints, mall.”

    Not true. 80% of child abuse is committed by someone known to the child. These child molesters abuse in private, not public. The child’s bedroom, basement, cousin’s house are more likely locations. It’s not dark alley or Mickey D bathrooms, more likely upstairs at Uncle Irv the Perv’s house.

    Just a point to ponder.

  45. JJ June 8, 2016 at 1:48 pm #

    Beth2, you’re the best. Your letter explained so clearly the irony in the “unsafe to leave your kid in the car” myth, in a specific way that we should all be able to understand. And with your retort, “I resent that some people think parenting decisions are subject to a group vote, where other people collectively decide whether I, or some other parent, had “no other option,” or a slightly “better option,” you hit the nail on the head. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  46. Jen June 8, 2016 at 1:53 pm #

    @lollipoplover — your story is the best ever to illustrate why people should have the choice to leave their kids in the car! Still laughing, I can totally see this happening to someone!

    I don’t have qualms about asking anyone with one or more kids if they need a hand when I see them struggling in a parking lot or store. Even been known to just hold an umbrella over someone if I’m on my way back to my car and they are struggling to get little ones in and buckled.

  47. Ater June 8, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

    I hate that pressure. If I’m getting gas and paying with cash, I’m expected to
    – Take kids (2 & 3) out of car seats
    – Walk them 20 feet to the building
    – Pay for gas while ignoring sudden demands of “I’m hungry! I want m&ms!”
    – Remove bag of m&ms that my kleptomaniacal 2 year old has firmly gripped in his little paws
    – Walk kids 20 feet back to car and buckle them into car seats
    – Get fill car with gas
    – Realize I overpaid for the gas and now I need change
    – Remove kids from car seats
    – Walk them 20 feet to the building
    – Get change for gas, ignoring remembered demands of “I’m hungry! I want m&ms!”
    – Remove bag of m&ms that my kleptomaniacal 2 year old has firmly gripped in his little paws
    – Walk kids 20 feet back to car and buckle them into car seats

  48. Mike C June 8, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    There are certainly safer ways of managing multiple kids. First, as pointed out above, the mother should have a baby-carrying device or umbrella stroller on her person at all times to wrangle in addition to the kids. (Accidentally left it at home one day? Then turn around, and don’t even bother taking the kids to the daycare that day.) Second, where’s the helper nanny in all this? Mothers are expected to have one in the passenger seat for these sorts of situations. Third, the mother neglected to use the mandatory traffic pylons. Finally, James Earl Jones should be there to narrate the entire situation, although Morgan Freeman is an acceptable substitute.

    Or, you know, an otherwise content child could sit in a safe, comfortable location for a couple extra minutes.

  49. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 2:04 pm #

    Laura, any statement that “sometimes” it is better to do X is by definition not a blanket statement.

    You don’t refute the statement that sometimes it’s better to leave the kids in the car by showing how sometimes it’s not.

    She had a good reason to leave the kids in the car in that situation, therefore there was a good reason in that situation. That means that there is not “never” a good reason.

  50. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 2:06 pm #

    Luke, she knows how to take care of the kids.

    She knows it’s safe to keep them in the car for brief periods under safe conditions.

  51. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 2:09 pm #

    Luke, your fear that a child is going to be taken in a car in 30 seconds assumes that there is a vast army of predators staking out every parking lot around. How is Joe Predator going to know that right at that moment, there is an unattended child free for the picking? That’s not how predators operate.

    Also, set a timer some time and see what you can accomplish in 30 seconds. It’s great for picking up a room or something like that. Breaking into a locked car and getting away with a child strapped into a car seat in full view of the public, not so much.

  52. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    “The problem is when people assume that, because they prefer that, I need to come up with reasons why I *didn’t* do that on any particular given day. ”

    Another award-winning line from Beth2’s comment.

  53. Marie June 8, 2016 at 2:13 pm #

    As a child, my best daydreaming and reading were done while i waited in the car for my parent(s) to finish what they were doing. Did I always enjoy waiting in the car? Of course not. Was it too cold or hot in the car? Nobody died, but we had the advantage of being able to roll down/up the windows manually. (Yes, I am that old.) Today’s safety-conscious cars make it impossible (right?) for a child to start the car or to put it in gear without a key, which is great, but they also make it impossible for kids to roll windows up or down, which is a disadvantage for those waiting in the car.

    When I think back to the time I spent waiting in a car, it was not a mere few minutes outside Subway. Thirty, forty-five minutes, an hour. I much preferred the boredom of the car to the boredom of trailing after Mom on her errands. Kids deserve time to be left alone with their thoughts.

  54. Steve June 8, 2016 at 2:38 pm #

    Luke,

    Please post your name and address here.

    Some of us might like to visit you at your your house or apartment to see if YOU are doing something that we don’t agree with. We might even bring along friends to get their opinions of your beliefs and circumstances. Then we could call the police about things we “suspect” might be against the law or unhealthy. We are only interested in your well-being and the well-being of your family and friends.

  55. lollipoplover June 8, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    @Jen- The worst part was that I had on the ugliest granny underwear and still needed one of those maxi-postpartum diapers for bleeding. It was utterly humiliating to show off my underwear but I had on period panties! And a diaper! The boy started crying, I penguin shuffled to the car…and cried and cried. I never got postpartum depression but this was one of (many) low low parenting moments for me. I look back and laugh about it now but going through it was crazy.

    Managing 3 littles is truly a circus act. Sometimes you need to lock them in the clown car.

  56. Beej June 8, 2016 at 2:47 pm #

    How about only have 1 child, problem solved. If you cant tend to them all at once and it is unsafe and a hassle for you, only have 1!!!!

  57. Paula June 8, 2016 at 2:56 pm #

    Your still wrong. Its never ok to leave your child alone in its car seat. Get the buggy out, place the two younger children in them and finally the 4 year old. This advice is coming from a mother of four children who are all a year apart. There is nothing you can tell me about dealing with small children that I have not lived through. It always took me twice as long to do something, but I always gave myself and my children enough time to get from where we were going to where I had to be…anymore excuses…

  58. Workshop June 8, 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    Paula, while I’m sure you’re rightfully proud of your child-rearing accomplishments, get off your high horse. Other people do things differently, and the world doesn’t come to an end just because no one consulted you.

    I left my youngest son in his car seat just last week for approximately three minutes. He was asleep, he was comfortable, and despite your protestations to the contrary, he is still absolutely fine. In fact, he helped me change the oil on my car this past weekend. Not too bad for a three year old.

  59. Paul June 8, 2016 at 3:12 pm #

    “Your still wrong”

    Always delightfully amusing when the very first word in this kind of sentence is wrong.

    Anyway, as a father of four who has encountered this similar dilemma, it’s an easy call. I’ve had to leave my two-year old in the car for a whopping three minutes while I drop the four-year old off at pre-K. It would be idiotic and much more unsafe to take the younger child out. I am fairly confident that my child will not be kidnapped or carjacked in the intervening time, and frankly my only concern for her safety are uptight ninnies like a certain poster here who thinks a child can never be left alone in a car for any amount of time lest the unthinkable (and highly unlikely) occur.

  60. Paul June 8, 2016 at 3:16 pm #

    BTW, I’m sure many have seen the Sanctimommy Facebook page, but if not, it’s a hoot. Unfortunately there seem to be a few among us who wouldn’t get the irony.
    https://www.facebook.com/sanctimommy/

  61. SKL June 8, 2016 at 3:18 pm #

    I often give another real-life example on this topic. When my kids were in daycare, there was a pair of twins who were extremely impulsive and energetic and fast. They were not safe in the parking lot unless someone was holding their hand 100% of the time. If the parent left their hand to grab the car door handle, forget it.

    The danger was not only the daycare parking lot, but on the right side, a bank drive-through and McD, and on the left side, a very steep, deep ravine with no fence.

    So the parents would take one kid at a time in & out of the daycare. That is how they kept their kids alive until they were old enough to have some horse sense.

    When my kids were about 4, a letter was circulated at our daycare saying that if the police saw any kids left in cars, they would “take appropriate action.” Whatever that means. I checked the local laws and determined that there was nothing illegal about what the twins’ parents were doing (it’s not like they were left in the car for long time periods), but I still worried because of the police letter.

  62. SKL June 8, 2016 at 3:23 pm #

    Yes, there are other ways to make it logistically possible to do the unnecessary and inconvenient. So what?

  63. Workshop June 8, 2016 at 3:36 pm #

    Paula, re: “It’s never okay . . . .”

    What happens when you take the one-year old out and put her in a stroller, and just as you are ready to get the two year old out . . . someone runs up and snatches the one year old? You notice that the guy is limping quite badly, and you can probably catch him, but you would have to leave your two year old alone in his car seat for a short period of time.

    Hurry, make your decision.

    He’s getting closer to that white van with no windows.

    Do you leave your child?

    See, I can come up with all sorts of situations that never happen to illustrate the absurdity of your position.

    So take a deep breath and realize that you aren’t the center of the universe, and other people will do things differently from you.

  64. Anna June 8, 2016 at 3:53 pm #

    “Here’s a point to ponder: Child molesters will go to the place where children are to find children which means day cares, schools, fast food joints, malls.”

    So, Luke, can you point to any actual (vs. hypothetical) instances of this happening – i.e., a predator kidnapping a child by stealing a car from a day care parking lot? If your claim is correct, it should be a common phenomenon.

  65. Peter June 8, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    One thing I’m curious about regarding car seats: How difficult is it for a child to get out of, all by themselves?

    I’m not talking about infant seats, but she mentioned that she had a car seat for her four year-old. I would imagine that a four year-old could probably unbuckle the seat themselves. Sounds like a good self-reliance exercise: have the kid get out of the car seat, open the door, get out, and wait by the side of the car until Mom gets there to close the door. The kid is helping out Mom and doing something on their own. Reward the kid for doing it right.

    Heck, maybe have the four year-old take the two year-old’s hand for the walk through the parking lot with Mom walking alongside. I would imagine they’re similar sizes and can lock fingers more easily than and adult can with a child.

    No condemnation of the Mom here, mind you. It sounds like she could use some help. I’m just saying that she could possibly recruit the oldest daughter to do so.

  66. Terry June 8, 2016 at 4:08 pm #

    There is a dilemma, but then there was also TWO reports just TODAY on the news about one attempted & one successful kidnapping.

  67. Anna June 8, 2016 at 4:11 pm #

    Paula: “Your still wrong. Its never ok to leave your child alone in its car seat. ”

    Um, why so? (Besides a quasi-religious devotion to any taboo current parenting advice happens to agree on as a moral absolute?) Can you give a reason, against the good reasons many here have given to argue otherwise?

    This would actually be hilarious if it weren’t so absurd and if real people’s lives weren’t ruined by such cultural obsessions. In Catholic moral theology, we have a concept of “intrinsically evil acts” – i.e., no end, however worthy, can justify willfully committing them. Non-Catholic ethicists tend to consider this extreme or even crazy. . . but here we have mainstream culture attaching exactly that level of stigma to an act like leaving a child in the car for a few minutes. You seriously couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried!

  68. Anna June 8, 2016 at 4:18 pm #

    Peter: “I would imagine that a four year-old could probably unbuckle the seat themselves. Sounds like a good self-reliance exercise: have the kid get out of the car seat, open the door, get out, and wait by the side of the car until Mom gets there to close the door. The kid is helping out Mom and doing something on their own. Reward the kid for doing it right.”

    My 4-year-old can’t unbuckle himself; many can – and do, when they’re not supposed to, which is one reason parents seldom go out of their way to teach this skill deliberately. On the other hand, my 4-year-old could be trusted to hold a 2-year-old’s hand as you suggest; his older cousins absolutely could not be trusted to do so. Kids vary tremendously. And even the most reliable kid doesn’t have the cognitive and perceptual ability to respond reliably to the unpredictable dangers of an environment like parking lot, or to know what to do if the 2-year-old suddenly throws a fit and jerks away from him. Not to say you couldn’t reasonably choose to do things that way, but it would likely be considerably less safe than everybody staying put in the car.

  69. Warren June 8, 2016 at 4:21 pm #

    Let’s get something straight. I have never had an inner debate over which is safer, taking them or leaving them.

    When they were babies, yes it was all about ease. When paying for gas or getting takeout. When they were walking age it was up to them for the most part. I can’t count the number of times I have called to the back seat ” You comin or stayin? “.

    The only place they always wanted to come into was the beer store to play with the rollers. The liquor store didn’t hold the same appeal.

    Hell on nice days I would come out to find them lying on the hood leaned up against the windshield catching some rays. From the first time they saw me doing that waiting for them , they loved sitting up there.

  70. Warren June 8, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    Terry
    Sources?

    Taken by who, family, friends or strangers?

  71. Buffy June 8, 2016 at 4:24 pm #

    @Terry, links please?

  72. Beth2 June 8, 2016 at 4:29 pm #

    “In the U.S. at least fifty children are being backed over by vehicles EVERY week. Forty-eight (48) are treated in hospital emergency rooms and at least two (2) children are fatally injured every WEEK.” http://www.kidsandcars.org/back-overs.html

    The above statistic, of course, only includes car *backovers*. It does not include injuries or fatalities from pedestrian children being struck by forward-moving cars, like what almost happened to my own child.

    Meanwhile, “Only about 100 children [in the U.S.] are kidnapped each year in the stereotypical stranger abductions you hear about in the news. About half of these children come home.” http://www.pollyklaas.org/about/national-child-kidnapping.html

    (As a point of reference, there are roughly 74,000,000 children in the U.S.)

  73. Mama of 7 June 8, 2016 at 4:43 pm #

    My husband is in Boston this week and our text conversation about his plans for the day took place while I was reading this post. He’s going to Salem to the Salem witch museum. I was struck by the similarities of the witch hunts of past and “bad parenting hunts” of today. Hmmm….

    Also, to Luke and Beej….navigating a parking lot with multiple kids is difficult, so that should be the reasoning for not having more than one? LOTS of things with multiple kids are difficult. I have 7 between the ages of 4 and 12 so I can testify to this. But, as they get older, it gets easier. I’d hate to miss out on the joy of having them simply because they would make things difficult for a few years.

    And before you get all judgy about the irresponsibility of having so many children (as I have had many people do), 6 of my kids are adopted from foster care. There’s far too many kids & not enough parents willing to take on the responsibility. Perhaps if others were willing to wrangle more than one kid in a parking lot, it wouldn’t be necessary for anyone of us to have “too many.” (Although I love them dearly & I’m so glad they needed me!)

    It taught me a lot about not judging others though. At one point, I had boys ages 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, and 7. All who were new to me and to discipline. They were wild. I was stressed. And doing the best I could. The last thing I needed was judgement being passed on my parenting choices, lack of control of my children, neglecting birth control, etc. You just don’t know people’s situation when you encounter them in public. So maybe help them in the parking lot instead of calling the cops? Offer a smile and a “hang in there” instead of a disapproving look and a not-so-private discussion of their failings? It might be this mom’s first week with her kiddos. You just don’t know….

  74. Meg June 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm #

    But what if one of those daycare workers HAD called 911?

    Just a couple months ago, one of my fb friends shared a post of a car at a daycare with waiting children in it. About a dozen people immediately chimed in about how she should call 911 etc…etc….My friend reported indignantly that she had sat for at least 15 minutes watching this car (and creepily taking photos of it and posting them to fb) before the mother came back.

    It takes a lot of privilege to risk this. Some folks have the resources or ability to get legal help, but for many parents even paying, or taking the day off to fight a single ticket, is potentially a financial and personal catastrophe. Being convicted, even unjustly, can end careers. I don’t know what the answer is, because I agree that it’s all madness, but I don’t blame moms and dads who feel like they have to schlep everyone into the daycare.

  75. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 5:34 pm #

    Paula, can I have the address of the fund you’ve established to provide all mothers of young children with triple strollers? Thanks.

  76. TheOtherAnna June 8, 2016 at 5:37 pm #

    I only meant to suggest options for when all three kids need to come out, for one reason or another. And I did also say that sometimes leaving the kids in the car is the best decision.

  77. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 5:41 pm #

    “I don’t blame moms and dads who feel like they have to schlep everyone into the daycare.”

    No, and I don’t think anyone does. The point of the post is that out of fear of people calling in their neighbors for doing something that is actually not dangerous, people now feel like they have to do something that is demonstrably much more dangerous.

    The chances of your kid being hit by a car crossing a parking lot are hugely greater than the child being harmed by being left in a car for two minutes under appropriate conditions. But the hysteria that motivates people to call the cops on people for leaving their kids for two minutes, distorts the risk. In fact, the well-meaning busybodies aren’t merely putting the parents to more inconvenience, they are putting the children at a much greater risk of harm!

    And that’s the answer to the Lukes and Lauras of the world — the whole point of this post isn’t that taking your kids across parking lots for every little errand isn’t more “inconvenient” — it is FAR MORE DANGEROUS.

  78. Warren June 8, 2016 at 5:45 pm #

    Paula
    There’s nothing we could tell you about raising kids that you haven’t lived through?

    You’re so full of horse crap that it spewing out your mouth.

  79. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 6:02 pm #

    Good point, Other Anna.

  80. Laura June 8, 2016 at 6:42 pm #

    I’ve been thinking about this article and the comments. I see a valid point to leaving kids in the car, but what has bothered me is the kids’ ages. 4 year olds are right at that age where they are almost reasonable, but 2 is almost 3…everyone has had a 3 year old, right? Here is my anecdotal tale… 3 year olds can figure a way out of car seats, can put pennies into CD players and fry the car computer, play with a cigarette lighter, they can figure out how to open a door and leave the car. And if anyone argues their kid know better than to do that, they can safely walk next to you in a parking lot.

  81. Laura June 8, 2016 at 6:54 pm #

    And I see what you did there with the Luke and Laura thing, Pentamom. That’s funny.

  82. Donald June 8, 2016 at 6:57 pm #

    “Whichever older child I take out first, will be unattended in the parking lot for the solid 15-20 seconds it takes me to get the baby out.”

    You admit to leaving a child unattended in a parking lot?! Your child can get run over! Kids can’t be trusted. We’ve just seen a story about a child that ran straight into Gorilla Cage!

    What kind of a mother are you?

  83. pentamom June 8, 2016 at 7:21 pm #

    Thanks, but it was totally a mistake. My brain said “Laura” for “Paula” (the association with Luke probably didn’t help) and I didn’t realize my mistake until there were a couple more comments and it didn’t seem worth correcting it (since you can’t edit here.)

  84. Warren June 8, 2016 at 7:26 pm #

    Laura
    Don’t know how your kids are, but I never returned to the vehicle to find my kid out of their seat. Three kids that all waited in the car probably totaling in the hundreds of occasions and not once were any of them out of their seat.

    They waited in the vehicle from baby well until now. Sorry but you just keep coming up with losing paranoid points.

  85. Laura June 8, 2016 at 8:37 pm #

    My kids? They’re great, thanks for asking Warren. They are also perfectly capable of going on errands. I have 4 and haven’t lost one yet.

  86. JKP June 8, 2016 at 9:42 pm #

    Since Terry didn’t supply the links to the 2 kidnapping attempts today:

    https://gma.yahoo.com/florida-mom-off-duty-deputy-thwart-abduction-13-121308599–abc-news-topstories.html#
    Stranger grabs 13 yr old girl and tries to drag her out of the store while the mom fights him off. You can watch the security footage, and he was arrested.

    http://www.usmagazine.com/celebrity-moms/news/video-shows-baby-allegedly-being-kidnapped-from-a-mall-w209357
    Newborn taken by stranger chatting up a new mom in the mall food court. Security footage for that too. Baby was returned hours later and woman was arrested, claiming her son had recently died and she was just desperate to hold a baby again.

    In the first video, the cop says that he’s never heard of anything like this ever happening before. But of course that’s why it’s news, because it’s so unusual. Also, in both of these stories, the moms were standing right there next to their child, and it still happened. Again, proving that parental supervision doesn’t offer any protection against these lottery-odds-rare occurrences.

  87. Greg June 9, 2016 at 12:53 am #

    We

    Not only do I leave my 6 year old daughter in the car I leave the windows or doors open and then I clip our pit bull’s leash to the car. So far I have had zero busy bodies approach the car or complain in any way. I guess the hysterical and toxic worst first thinkers do not want to chance having their arms and legs bit off. I am not joking. I will take some pics and send them to Lenora next time I do it. If you live in Sammamish, Redmond, Bellevue, or Woodinville Washington then you might even see us!

  88. LKRothman June 9, 2016 at 6:28 am #

    Luke: You said: “If you can’t take care of them, don’t have them… If you can’t safely take them from point A to Point B DON’T TAKE THEM. ”

    Using that logic, no one should ever transport children ever again. Do you know the statistics on car accidents?

    In life, there are only “safer options” – no guarantees.

  89. Laundry Mommy June 9, 2016 at 9:01 am #

    We only have street parking across the street from our house. It isn’t a very busy street, but we can’t park in front of our house because of a fire hydrant. So I load my kids in stages, which means they are always alone for some period of time which is usually quite short. Sometimes after I get them all in (or when I’m halfway down the street) I realize I’ve forgotten something. (There are 3 of them, 8 months, 4 and 7). So you bet I leave them in the car while I run back in the house. I have yet to have to guts to leave the older ones in the car for things like the post office. (The 4 year old is impossible in small spaces with long lines). I’ve seriously considered switching all my prescriptions to Walgreens as they have a drive through prescription window. Wish more drug stores had these for basics like diapers, milk etc. (Maybe like a 5 item max or something). There is nothing worse than dragging multiple kids into a store for just a couple things. If UPS offered a drive through window I would pay more rather than weight in line at the USPS. As a homeschool mom, I have my kids with me most of the time, so just cramming everything into the evening and weekend hours isn’t always an option. (Especially with things like the post office, bank etc). Kudos to this mom for trusting her gut. I wish I could get better at doing this.

  90. Vicki Bradley June 9, 2016 at 9:13 am #

    I’m sorry to laugh, lollipoplover, but the visual I got from your two-year-old holding onto your pants pocket, then tripping and pulling your pants down in the middle of a parking lot was too much! Obviously, it was mortifying at the time but hopefully with the passage of time you can see that it makes for a hilarious parenting story. I also found Paul’s situation whereby his son was able to walk around with an umbrella stroller strapped to his back really funny, too.

  91. pentamom June 9, 2016 at 11:51 am #

    Laundry Mommy — you’re doing it wrong. You should install a chair lift adapted for strollers on your front steps, load them all into the stroller inside the front door, strap them in with padlocks, take them outside, cross the street, load them into the car one at a time while keep the extra hands you’ve had surgically attached on the ones who are still in the stroller, load the stroller into the car while not moving more than six inches away from them using your Elasti-girl skills, and be on your way.

    Of course, that’s after you’ve arranged for the police department to block off the street before you cross, every time you go out.

    You know, if you only thought these things through a little better, you wouldn’t have to put your children at such terrible risk by leaving them in the car for one minute.

  92. Anna June 9, 2016 at 12:12 pm #

    “You know, if you only thought these things through a little better, you wouldn’t have to put your children at such terrible risk by leaving them in the car for one minute.”

    To complete this, we must of course add that if you’re not ready to take such elementary precautions to keep your kids perfectly safe, why are you burdening society with kids you aren’t willing to take proper care of?

  93. Greg June 9, 2016 at 1:10 pm #

    Typical engangement with toxic busy bodies/emotional basket cases goes like this:

    Busy body: Ohmagerd!! you left your kid in the car. Don’t you know she can be kidnapped in two seconds??!!

    Me: Only one out of 2 million kids age 0 to 10 are kidnapped by a stranger. Almost all kidnappings are custody related or by a person close to the child

    Media brainwashed busy body: Look of horror on face and just ignores all reason and continues on with rant.

    Me: Stay away from my kid! STRANGER DANGER STRANGER DANGER!!! (while pointing at the child predator/busy body).

    That is it folks. After you have calmly explained the situation and the zombie continues trying to shame you just make a big spectacle and make everyone around you think the person who is bothering you is trying to abduct your child.

  94. Michele June 9, 2016 at 2:44 pm #

    Well said. ……people these days completely amazing me. Mountains out of a mole hole. …..

  95. Beth2 June 9, 2016 at 3:13 pm #

    Good advice, Greg. Other less productive responses to the busybodies, but far more entertaining, might include:

    “How do you know *I’m* not the kidnapper? MHA-HA-HA!”
    Or, similarly, “Oh I don’t mind kidnapping. That’s how I got them in the first place!”

    “Why do you think I had so many kids? It’s nice to have spares!”

    “I was on my way to drop him at the fire station anyway.”

    “Look lady, I don’t think you should stereotype kidnappers that way. I’m sure many of them are splendid people who are perfectly capable of lovingly raising my child, should the opportunity arise.”

    “No, no! It’s okay! I sprayed them down with kidnapping repellant before they got in the car. See? [Show can of insect repellant. Response: “What’s wrong with you? That’s just bug spray!”] Oh, really? Well, I can’t read, so, enh, what can ya do?”

    “What kid? I don’t have a….wait, how did he get in here?”

  96. Val Nelson June 9, 2016 at 7:02 pm #

    I understand the dilemma full well as I am a daycare provider. There are exceptions to every rule. Although I cannot defend that grandmother, we as part of the human race should and could offer to do what we can when we see a true need.. to wait by the car to keep an eye on the children and alert grandma if a situation develops. Or how about offering to make the sandwich order for her. PLEASE people- THINK! BeKind, Offer A Helping Hand, BE RESPECTFUL! Put others First! IF YOU SEE SOMETHING- DO THE Right Thing!

  97. jtm June 9, 2016 at 7:19 pm #

    Yes in this particular situation leaving the 2 year old in the car would have been a good option… but we all know there will be times that mom will need to bring all the children with her someplace – Target, Church, the Dr’s office, whatever. The suggestions for ways to do it safer were for *those* situations generally, not this specific one. I hardly see how brainstorming ideas, which this mom is free to ignore, is shaming. Additionally no one, except the same breed of crazy people who think you can’t let your child out of your sight, think that baby wearing is dangerous; talk about a strawman.

  98. JM June 9, 2016 at 7:38 pm #

    I totally disagree but this is just my personal opinion, not a judgment on your parenting–seriously. I don’t think it’s safe to ever leave a small child unattended in a car no matter how long. It’s just not safe. I have a 3year old who bolts as soon as feet hit the ground and he excels at this in parking lots. I have to tie a scarf around his waist or get his clothes, arm or wrist in a death grip every time I take him anywhere. It totally sucks and it’s the reason I REALLY hate taking him anywhere non mandatory. But I still wouldn’t leave him in a car unattended. And I would question any young child left unattended in a car that I saw–at the very least make sure the parent is near and the kid is safe. That’s just being a good person. Not so much the c— who posted it on FB and screamed at the mom. In the end we all do what we feel is best for our child and us in the present situation. This is a hot topic though because it’s the start of summer season and news articles are already popping up on kids being left to die in hot cars, so just be prepared for intense reactions from people if you do choose to leave your kids in the car unattended.

  99. Donna June 9, 2016 at 8:33 pm #

    “3 year olds can figure a way out of car seats, can put pennies into CD players and fry the car computer, play with a cigarette lighter, they can figure out how to open a door and leave the car. And if anyone argues their kid know better than to do that, they can safely walk next to you in a parking lot.”

    Yes, my 3 year old knew better than that – or was simply not interested. She also could walk safely next to me in a parking lot. So? There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that she HAD to come with me. When choosing between two very safe options, I am allowed to consider my own convenience and it was almost always more convenient to leave her in her car seat if I was just going to be a minute.

    Also, my child’s willingness to follow along nicely beside me does not exert some jedi mind control on drivers that makes them drive safely. Near misses in parking lots because drivers are not paying attention are not exactly a rare occurrence in my experience. I like my chances of being able to get out of the way of someone too busy talking on her cell phone to see the people crossing in front of the store if I don’t have a toddler hanging onto me. And I only had one. I can’t imagine dodging distracted drivers actually becomes easier by increasing the number of small children you are wrangling.

  100. Donna June 9, 2016 at 8:42 pm #

    “It’s just not safe. I have a 3year old who bolts as soon as feet hit the ground and he excels at this in parking lots. I have to tie a scarf around his waist or get his clothes, arm or wrist in a death grip every time I take him anywhere. It totally sucks and it’s the reason I REALLY hate taking him anywhere non mandatory.”

    What is it that you think is more dangerous about leaving a child in a car for 5 minutes than what you describe? I am genuinely curious as to what you think is almost definitely going to happen. Because you know with 100% certainty that your child WILL bolt as soon as you have him out of the car so you’d also have to be pretty damn sure that something tragic is definitely going to happen to him in the car for staying in the car to be less safe.

    Now, I could understand if you are just saying that your personal prone to bolting kid is not safe left in a car, but that doesn’t seem to be your stance. Your stance seems to be that it is unsafe to leave ANY young child in the car for ANY amount of time. Your extreme bolter and my extreme rule follower are the same in this.

  101. SKL June 9, 2016 at 10:07 pm #

    Well just now I saw a comment about the 13yo Detroit boy who was tortured and murdered for picking up some money someone had dropped on the ground.

    The comment: 1. Why was this child allowed out there at 10:30 on a school night? WHERE WAS HIS MOTHER?

    I might need off this planet soon.

  102. SKL June 9, 2016 at 10:10 pm #

    People keep saying it’s not safe to leave a kid in a car for 1 minute. But nobody can articulate anything that can happen to a kid in a car in 1 minute. But yet they keep saying it.

    Well, if someone says something enough, it must be true.

    The only thing I can imagine happening to a kid in a car in less than 10 minutes is that a cop could make a big deal out of it.

  103. James Pollock June 9, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

    “People keep saying it’s not safe to leave a kid in a car for 1 minute. But nobody can articulate anything that can happen to a kid in a car in 1 minute.”

    CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.

    1. The car could slip into gear, drive into traffic or hazard, causing a crash.

    2. The car could slip into neutral, roll down a hill into traffic or into a hazard, causing a crash.

    3. The child or animal inside the car could trigger the horn, startling a passing motorist, causing a crash.

    4. The car could be struck by an intoxicated person. (or by a vehicle suffering mechanical failure)

    5. The car could catch fire. (Hollywood only: and then explode just as everyone reaches a safe distance.)

    6. (cartoon only) The car could be located underneath a giant safe being moved into a building high above, suspended by a single rope and pulley, when the rope breaks.

    7. (comic book only) Superman could pick up the car to show off his strength while posing for the cover of the first issue of Action Comics.

    8. (movie only) Nicholas Cage might steal it. (Gone in Sixty Seconds).

    9. It might be within range of the clocktower sniper.

    10. Deranged person who disagrees with your bumper stickers might decide to settle disagreement with violence against the only person present.

    11. Giant space rock falls on Pacific Ocean, with enough kinetic energy to vaporize several hundred cubic miles of water, plus assorted rock down to and into the mantle. The resultant tsunami washes coastal areas clean of human life, the volume of particulate matter in the atmosphere blocks nearly all sunlight from reaching ground level, killing all multi-cellular plants within months and human survivors slowly starve to death in the darkness.

  104. David (Dhewco) June 10, 2016 at 9:26 am #

    “BeKind” someone says in an earlier post.

    Heh, that doesn’t work at all times.

    Picture me: 38yo (this was a few years ago) chubby, facial hair…5 foot eight with thinning dome.

    Situation: A lady (white, but not really relevant (sp?)) with three kids was having obvious diffculty getting her two small kids out of her van at a Wal-Mart. Her older child, she had already had to yell back to her side and he was looking to run around the van again…his head was looking around fast and he had an impish smile every time he glanced at his mother trying to calm down a younger girl before putting her into a stroller. I saw this in about the twenty or thirty seconds after I pulled in nearby.

    Me: It’s payday. I was about to travel to see my long distance girlfriend in the morning, play with her kids and basically feel like part of a family for a few days I had off. I’m feeling good. Great even. I think, “What better Karma than to offer to help this lady with her situation?”

    So, smiling broadly, I step up to her and ask if she needs any help. I don’t specify. I don’t leer toward the children. As far as I can tell, I’m nothing but positive and friendly.

    This woman glances at me in an expression of horror. Her eyes dart around as if looking for help, she grabs the older boy, and uses her body to ‘shield’ her little ones. She yells ‘NO’ loud enough the older boy starts to tear up.

    I step back, mumble ‘ok’ and leave. I don’t even go into Wal-Mart. By leaving, I probably confirmed this woman’s biases for her..but I didn’t want to run the risk of running into her again and possibly ruining my long weekend. I bought my stuff at a grocery store instead.

    So, I don’t offer to help mothers anymore. At least, not when I’m by myself…which is a lot. People have grown increasingly paranoid about strangers…at least in my experience.

    David

  105. Anna June 10, 2016 at 10:19 am #

    “CHALLENGE ACCEPTED.”

    I think the point was that none of the things that could happen in 1 minute are likely enough for a rational person to need to take them into account.

    Or to put it another way, none of those things are nearly as likely as the kid getting hit traversing a parking lot with mom or dad.

  106. James Pollock June 10, 2016 at 2:16 pm #

    “I think the point was that none of the things that could happen in 1 minute are likely enough for a rational person to need to take them into account.”

    So, you’re saying, with an apparently straight face, that it’s more rational to worry about having kids hit by a car in a parking lot, than it is to worry about Superman picking up the car with my kids in it?
    I’ll have to give that some thought.

  107. Michelle June 10, 2016 at 5:16 pm #

    Paula:

    “Your still wrong. Its never ok to leave your child alone in its car seat. Get the buggy out, place the two younger children in them and finally the 4 year old. This advice is coming from a mother of four children who are all a year apart. There is nothing you can tell me about dealing with small children that I have not lived through. It always took me twice as long to do something, but I always gave myself and my children enough time to get from where we were going to where I had to be…anymore excuses…”

    Ha, ha, ha, four whole children and knows everything, huh? Ha hahahahha… [can’t breathe, laughing too hard], hahahahaha, [falling off of my chair], HAHAHAHAHAHA!

    — Signed, mother of 8 who still hasn’t lived through everything possible with small children. Still laughing my ass off.

  108. pentamom June 10, 2016 at 8:38 pm #

    To James’ acceptance of the “challenge”:

    Besides, the reasonable likelihood criterion, I think a reasonable reading of the challenge includes the implicit idea of things that could happen in less than a minute that the presence of an adult could prevent or mitigate.

  109. Beth2 June 10, 2016 at 9:35 pm #

    James, I liked your list. I think the cartoon safe is my favorite.

  110. Tina June 10, 2016 at 10:01 pm #

    I thank God that I left my then 3 year old son B in the car the day I got hit. My usual routine was to park directly in front of the daycare, leave B in his carseat and walk to the front door and they would send my then 7 year old daughter J out to me. If I couldn’t get a spot in front I would bring B in with me.
    One rainy evening I went to get J as usual but there was no spot to park. I went around the block and came back and there was still none so I parked across the street. I almost unbuckled B and took him in but at the last second I told him to just stay there.
    I started crossing the street and was hit by a car and blacked out. I was later told I was thrown over the hood and into the windsheild. I broke my face and jaw in three places, needed lots of stitches in my face, fractured my elbow, bruised my spleen and destroyed my knee. I was out of work for six months.
    If I had taken B out of the car and either carried him or had him walk he would most likely have been seriously injured or worse. I had never left him out of my sight but something told me that day to just go myself. Follow your instincts mommas.

  111. James Pollock June 10, 2016 at 10:58 pm #

    “Besides, the reasonable likelihood criterion, I think a reasonable reading of the challenge includes the implicit idea of things that could happen in less than a minute that the presence of an adult could prevent or mitigate.”

    You’re free to accept the challenge under whatever additional terms you’d like. I chose not to add any.

  112. LKRothman June 11, 2016 at 4:16 am #

    “So, you’re saying, with an apparently straight face, that it’s more rational to worry about having kids hit by a car in a parking lot, than it is to worry about Superman picking up the car with my kids in it?
    I’ll have to give that some thought.”

    James – I always look forward to reading your comments, but this made my day.

  113. SKL June 11, 2016 at 1:34 pm #

    Seriously? Superman would never hurt a child. Get real.

  114. James Pollock June 11, 2016 at 2:59 pm #

    “Seriously? Superman would never hurt a child. Get real.”

    Spoiler alert. Superman isn’t.

    But if he WAS real, and under the influence of the equally not-real red Kryptonite…

  115. I believe in accountability June 13, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    It’s ironic that “Free Range” parents find it “easier” to handle their children strapped in and immobilized than actually parenting them into stores or daycares, etc. This is as much about safety as it is the need not to parent and for what is easier on the parent. Nothing like a little fear of abandonment and showing your kids it is okay to break the law the be a good parent.

  116. Warren June 13, 2016 at 11:59 am #

    I believe in accountability

    You obviously don’t believe in research and facts.

    A little research would have shown it is not illegal in a lot of jurisdictions.

    Next if your child will suffer from abandonment issues during a quick errand then you have been a piss poor parent long before going on an errand.

  117. Amber June 13, 2016 at 4:39 pm #

    I also have three likes, I actually have my baby behind the passenger side (not as safe!) On purpose. To buckle my 4 year old in in her big girl booster, I have to remove the baby from his carseat. Wayyy safer to pull out his carseat and put him beside the car. My almost 3 year old needs all the attention and thus has to wait for last so as not to do something dangerous.
    I keep a stroller in my trunk always. Then there a few more things to hold.

  118. Amber June 13, 2016 at 4:42 pm #

    I also have three kids, I actually have my baby behind the passenger side On purpose. To buckle my 4 year old in in her big girl booster, I have to remove the baby from his carseat. Wayyy safer to pull out his carseat and put him beside the car. My almost 3 year old needs all the attention and thus has to wait for last so as not to do something dangerous.
    I keep a stroller in my trunk always. Then there a few more things to hold.

  119. Ashley Releford June 14, 2016 at 2:40 pm #

    Thank you so so much for sharing your story. It is ubberly encouraging. Cheers to you fellow mom.

  120. Cherie June 16, 2016 at 7:01 am #

    some children need a leash

  121. Alanna June 16, 2016 at 8:12 pm #

    Put your two year old in a harness.