Monday, January 16, 2012
It is raining tonight. I can hear the pinging of drops on the metal chimney cap as I sit in our basement where the fireplace is. There is something I was wanting to write about but I really feel like I can't because of how unpopular it is. I have never thought of myself as a radical. To date I haven't been a statement maker with my voice or hair or clothes or skin. It's just I've had this unfounded and, until now, uneducated gut feeling that if I needed to leave my kids in the car to run to the restroom or whatever for a few minutes that it should be OK if they are in no immediate danger from the heat or cold.
In a civilized setting I should be able to leave the AC on for them if it's warm, or the heat if it's cold, and take two minutes to go pee. I read that this is illegal in Maryland, and 18 other states in the US. Of course the reason is because children are abducted or people do stupid things like leaving kids in the heat or cold for for hours at a time and children die.
It seems obvious. It is obvious. But when you are the one who has to lug the baby carrier everywhere or who really needs to use the bathroom just as your toddler has finally fallen asleep, it really feels unfair and unnecessary to have to wake them up and lug them out of the car when you could just run in for a minute and be right back with no one the wiser. Unpopular, huh? Especially so with those who do not have children by choice and think the rest of us ought to be licensed to have them. I've been one of those judgmental people. But when it's you, and you haven't slept well in weeks, and are at your wits end, in survival mode, maybe not making the best decisions because of this and, God forbid, dealing with more than motherhood, and think you are completely certain of the child's safety, you feel that people should trust you, because you would never do anything to put your child in danger. Sort of like being innocent before being proven stupid. Yet as I google "child left in car" while I write this and read all the tragic stories of abduction, acts of neglect and horrible accidents of forgetting or being confused by a schedule, my once indignant feelings on this turn to shame. How could I have felt it should OK under certain circumstances? Why didn't I check this out earlier? Government must legislate to protect all children and can't be having all kinds of exceptions.
The clock ticks behind me and I smell the last vestiges of pine from our dead Christmas tree. I am haunted by the stories I have just read. Guess I shouldn't have done that. I have to be careful about what information I take in because sometimes it just sticks in my brain like an earworm song and haunts me. Like Sophie's Choice---I should never have watched that, not that I knew this at the time. To this day if my children are screaming and upset, in my head the Nazis are carrying one of them off. If you are a parent and haven't seen the movie---don't.
I was listening to WAMU's The Kojo Nnamde Show on NPR this afternoon where the discussion was about how people today are much more sensitive to violence than people were in the past. It was very interesting. I am definitely one of those more sensitive people. I had to stop reading The End of Faith because the first chapter described so many horrible things that were done in the name of religion. Would it be so hard to give a warning before letting fly with [WARNING! Sensitive people skip this sentence!] how pregnant Hindu women were cut open and had their babies removed from them and killed before their eyes as they lay dying? We are so distanced from physical struggle for survival here in megolopolis suburbia that any violence is not tolerable and our intolerance for it has moved from violence on people to pets to food animals to the point where veganism is becoming a significant cultural force. I'm not sure what happens when it moves to plants. I'm not saying this is bad! I of course eschew all violence that I can think of and I am very much against animal cruelty and have contributed funds to organizations against it as well as Doctors Without Borders, Heifer International, etc. I am saying that it is quite different from what used to comprise normal human living in the past and I find that interesting.
Are you a parent? Have you ever wanted to be able to not wake your child while you ran back into the house for your cell phone? How do you feel about having that feeling? (Keep in mind that admissions of guilt on-line can get your arrested. I don't want to be responsible for that, but I am interested in whether I've just been a wacko about this.) Until being very sobered by the reading I have done tonight, I have just not been a helicopter parent and felt confident in believing what we are told: that most kidnappings, molestations, etc. are done by people you know, not by strangers at the gas station or Mc Donalds parking lot or whatever. I'd felt that what you hear in the media are the exceptions to normality, that "If it bleeds, it leads," that most people are good and the good old standard, "It won't happen to me." But why take the chance? Why roll the odds? Inconvenience? What I mentioned above? I guess I've been just to naive to be paranoid. Yes that is exactly it. I have always been too naive, on many subjects.