This has been weighing heavily on my mind these past few weeks. Our community was rocked by a horrible tragedy last month. A toddler about Rosie’s age was left in a car for eight hours in the parking lot outside his father’s office. His father that evening pulled over in another parking lot nearby his office and was noticed by witnesses hysterically giving his son CPR in vain on the pavement. The baby boy was dead, and probably had been for several hours.
The night that this horror was splashed all over the news, I couldn’t sleep. Visions of Rosie dying in a hot car tortured me every time I closed my eyes. My initial reaction was wondering frantically if I was capable of such a thing. I don’t get very much sleep at night (cough, Wren), and for that reason I am really hazy during the day. I sometimes feel like I am barely functioning if Wren has had a particularly bad night. Three helpless beings are completely dependent upon me and only me all day long for their well being and survival. The weight of this responsibility makes me panic if I ever think about it for too long. What if I get distracted for a few minutes with the other two and one falls in a pool? What if one of them gets ahold of some of my grandmother’s blood pressure medication and eats it? What if the swing set that they are on is too old and collapses? What if I absentmindedly forget to buckle one in or don’t buckle them in correctly and we are involved in a car accident? The list is endless and for each terrible accident I would hold myself completely accountable. This is the weighty responsibility of motherhood.
The police in the particular tragedy I mentioned are investigating the incident to ascertain whether it was a horrible accident or murder. I find this incomprehensible because I cannot believe that anyone would subject their child to this horrible death intentionally. There have been several incidents of people intentionally leaving children in cars because they thought the weather wasn’t hot enough, or there was shade, or the windows were cracked. It does not take long for children to suffer from hyperthermia! It doesn’t matter if the windows are cracked, or if it is shady, or if the temperature is only in the 60’s outside! (Fahrenheit, for everyone who is not American. I know, we have unnecessary confusing units of measurement). Those people should be prosecuted, because that kind of ignorance is no excuse. But the question is, can otherwise good parents commit this heinous act unintentionally?
When I have discussed this with people, I couldn’t help but notice a pattern. People without children or with grown children would firmly respond that they could never leave a child in a hot car and that this man is a monster, whether he did this intentionally or not. People with young children, however, can’t help but wonder if this could happen to anybody.
It certainly is in the forefront of my mind this summer. Today, I practically tackled some poor man in the grocery store parking lot so that I could use his cart and not have Wren sit in the car for more than a few seconds. Let us honor that poor boy’s memory by reminding everyone with little ones every summer to double check their cars before leaving them. You should never be too busy to remember the most important things in your life.