kim brooks

Safety, risk, and leaving children unattended

Earlier this week, Salon published a personal essay by Kim Brooks entitled ”The day I left my son in the car”. Almost immediately, I had friends sharing the article with me on Facebook.

The description read, “I made a split-second decision to run into the store. I had no idea it would consume the next years of my life.” When I first read that, I assumed the article would be another scary story about how one small decision as a parent can leave your child injured or worse.

Nope. Brooks left her 4-year-old son in the car while she ran into buy headphones and when she returned a few minutes later her son was perfectly fine. The reason that decision changed her life was because a bystander filmed her leaving her son in the car and then turned her into the police. As a result, she spent the next two years in court and had to do 100 hours of community service and take parenting classes.

First, let me be clear. I have left my children in the car. I don’t know if it qualifies as unattended because my rule is I have to see the van the entire time, but I’ve done it. (I don’t do it anymore because Griffin can now get out of his seat and a child in a car seat is a very different thing than a child loose in the vehicle.)  In fact, I’d be lying if I said I haven't done it a few times when I can’t see the van.

Not only have I done it but I refuse to make excuses about why I did it and the reason is simple. I don’t think I did anything wrong and I don’t think Brooks did anything wrong either.