May 03, 2007


Parental horror

I can't think of another situation that messes with my emotions more than accidental parental neglect. Beyond the absolute horror of the ordeal I think the first reaction of most people to stories like this is utter contempt for the carelessness of a parent that makes such a fatal mistake. It boggles the mind to imagine how an infant could be left alone somewhere, much less that it was inside an automobile on a warm spring day and that it was for seven hours and that the father ignored the fancy motion alarm with which his car is equipped. It also boggles the mind that 29 American children died last year under similar circumstances. Consideration that incidents like these have been on the rise since the advent of front passenger airbags (necessitating rear seat child safety carriers) does little to clarify the senselessness.

The flipside is sympathy for the family. I can't comprehend what they are dealing with right now in the swirling mass of guilt, sorrow and public outrage, not to mention the criminal charges that will likely break this already broken family. Coping with the death of one's child would seem to be the ultimate despair, but imagine topping that with the fact that it was your fault and that it was very, very avoidable.

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I feel sympathy. I remember back in Boston, before I had kids, there was a big story about a father who forgot to drop his baby off at daycare, went into work, left the child in the car all day (rear facing car seat, the child had been asleep and not making any noise, etc.). I was one of those people who was outraged at this father, to the point I could barely believe it was an accident. How, I kept asking, do you not notice you didn't go to the daycare?

Years later, when I had a baby who had two complementary health problems that meant she had to be held upright literally all the time, and fed every 45-90 minutes for the first 2 1/2 months, and I learned a thing or two about what sleep loss really does to your memory and ability to complete normal tasks, I remembered that father, and I cried for him, for the loss of his child, and for its being compounded by senseless, stupid judgers like me making it that much worse.

I remember saying to my husband when my daughter was very little that I knew it was selfish, but even more than losing her (doesn't that cross everyone's mind when they're that small and vulnerable?), I was afraid of losing her due to some stupid mistake on my part. I don't know how you go on after that, and my heart goes out to everyone in that situation.
By no means am I a perfect parent (gawd!), but I also cannot imagine "forgetting" my kid in the car. Once we went to a bubble show in the back of a store with a big group of peeps and I thought Jeff had D./he thought I had her. But after about ONE MINUTE we realized she wasn't there, and he ran back to get her from the front of the store. That was really bad (certainly enough time for someone to have grabbed her and taken her away), but hours of forgetting? That's just unimaginable.
I guess I'm being too judgmental as Jen says. Oh well. I've done my share of stupid things, just not this.
I've done my share of stupid things, just not this.

No, me neither, but I think I can understand how horrible accidents like this can happen. I remember being very, very frightened for months because not sleeping for more than an hour straight was doing really wacky things to my ability to function, and I had to concentrate VERY hard on basic tasks. I think it's different with babies, because you're just so completely discombobulated your mind can play funny tricks on you, like maybe distinctly remembering dropping your baby off at the daycare when really that was yesterday. That article says the kid was 15 months old. The sleep-deprivation thing should be over by then, but who knows.

Anyway, my point in responding to you is that I didn't mean to make out like anyone who questions this is a jerk or something. A child died and that should always be questioned. But I think if it becomes clear that it was an awful terrible mistake, maybe we (and maybe the law, even) should back off, because that family is suffering enough, and it's pretty unlikely they're going to do it again.
"hat article says the kid was 15 months old. The sleep-deprivation thing should be over by then, but who knows."

My boy is 12 months old (TODAY!), and sleep deprivation is as prevalent as ever. He just isn't a sleeper, and wakes us up throughout the night.

I'm with O'Tim. I can't fathom ever doing anything like this, yet what if... what if... I'd probably put a bullet in my head.
Holy cow, it's Sam's birthday already? How can that be??? Well Happy Birthday to Sam.
"He just isn't a sleeper, and wakes us up throughout the night."

Well, you're probably letting him take naps during the day, aren't you? YEESH. :-)

And I have to agree with Jeff's second point. I've always been totally down on suicides, but if I screwed up like this, I don't know that I'd have the wherewithall to keep going.
I read about this in the newspaper and, although I'm usually a compassionate person, am taking the hard line on this one and have nothing but contempt for this person who calls himself a father. The article I read said the temperature in that car reached 145 degrees--in other words, that baby was cooked to death. I can't for the life of me imagine leaving a child in a car at all, especially in this day and age, but for 7 hours? There's a pit in my stomach that won't go away.
I may need my eyes examined. I thought the title of this post was "Pre-Natal Horror" which would be a different thing altogther. Sort of.

Oh, and this is pretty tragic too.
Jen - Wow, I thought we had it tough with having Max under house arrest for more than 9 weeks until the Dr. cleared him (after his original due date). He was pretty good and fed on fairly regular 4-hour schedule.

PJ - It's unimaginably horrific, but I personally just can't hold on to the hard line when I think of the anguish this man must be going through. I was amazed that the reporter was able to find two other woman that would admit to having left their child in the car by mistake (fortunately not with the same result). I hope the man's family and friends can forgive him for what he did, as I'm not sure how he might forgive himself.

Fez - Between the syntax on your blog (reading to Merlot) and your eyesight, perhaps you should just take that bullet for Jeff. ;)
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