In these dog days of summer, it is easy to get taken up with the simple pleasures. A fresh haircut, a trip to the beach, a nice walk – all of these are hallmarks of what is understandably a very laid back time of year. It’s also very easy to forget a few things while relaxing takes the forefront. House cleaning, for instance, may temporarily get forgotten. Children should not be one of those things that are forgotten. Two children in Katy, Texas, were left inside a hot car Monday while temperatures sat around the 90 degree mark. The reason has not been made clear, but there have been a number of parents over recent weeks who have claimed forgetfulness about their children’s whereabouts upon realizing that their kids have been left in a hot car unattended.
As a parent of two growing, healthy girls, it seems unfathomable to me that parents could even consider forgetfulness as an excuse. Children are not exactly quiet creatures, much as some days, you would like them to be, and while some do fall asleep while the car is in motion, most of the time, children who are along for the ride on outings are eager to go with whatever parent happens to be taking them. To say that the children were forgotten is inexcusable. You forget keys. You forget purses or wallets or smartphones. You do not forget children.
It appears equally nonsensical that a parent would not realize exactly how hot it is. The outdoors is not air conditioned, and homes do have windows. Many cars even have temperature monitors for the outside. Even that quick trip inside a store where you think you will be just a minute can turn into a solid half an hour, depending on how quickly you find what you are looking for and whether or not you run into people you know. Even though some parents may leave their cars running with the air conditioning on, not every child is old enough to understand their parents’ command to lock themselves into the vehicle and unlock it when Mom or Dad comes back.
Children do not, in general, like being left alone, and they certainly do not welcome those moments when their parents leave them, even for a short while. Again, unless they are asleep when the parent or parents leave them, they will make their displeasure known. There is little chance that a parent will forget that feeling of their children mournfully calling for them or begging to be allowed to tag along as the parent grabs a quick jug of milk. Every parent has been there at some point. A parent saying he or she forgot their children were in the back seat of the vehicle is akin to saying his or her children were an inconvenience to be easily forgotten.
I do not deny that parents are busy. They do, essentially, balance two or more jobs. The most important of the jobs they balance is that of parent. Sometimes, in the busyness that is daily life, that can get forgotten. Time does slip away, and we, as parents, do forget to pick up our children. Do we forget that they are sitting in the back seat after we should have dropped them off at daycare or whatever activity they were to have gone to? Again, we might, if only because the child has dozed off. However, in this day and age where cars get broken into, where personal effects are smashed or stolen, why are we not doing a circle of the vehicle to ensure nothing has been forgotten? In the heat of the summer, there have been multiple warnings – as there has been every year – about the dangers of leaving children and pets in a vehicle. One would think that would make us all the more prudent, but perhaps we have all become numb to our world of warnings. However, we have to remember that children are our legacy. They need to be cherished and protected, not forgotten about in the frenzied nature of our lives. They are our best gift – and our best reminder of our own humanity.
Opinion by Christina St-Jean