Tuesday, May 26, 2009
mamas, please read this post
" "Death by hyperthermia" is the official designation. When it happens to young children, the facts are often the same: An otherwise loving and attentive parent one day gets busy, or distracted, or upset, or confused by a change in his or her daily routine, and just... forgets a child is in the car. It happens that way somewhere in the United States 15 to 25 times a year, parceled out through the spring, summer and early fall. The season is almost upon us.
Two decades ago, this was relatively rare. But in the early 1990s, car-safety experts declared that passenger-side front airbags could kill children, and they recommended that child seats be moved to the back of the car; then, for even more safety for the very young, that the baby seats be pivoted to face the rear. If few foresaw the tragic consequence of the lessened visibility of the child . . . well, who can blame them? What kind of person forgets a baby?" ~ The Washington Post, 2009
What kind of person forgets a baby? A person like me. A person like any one of us.
I've heard of these tragedies where parents have accidentally forgotten their children in cars, with horrendous outcomes, but I must admit, there was always a small, tiny portion in the back of my brain protesting: "But I'm a good mother! How can anyone really ever forget about their child?"
Today I found out.
Today was a day like every other school day. I gathered the girls and Jack, and we drove to pick up Rye at kindergarten by 1:30. We were actually running a few minutes late, because Piper was tired and fighting me the whole way. We got Rye, and I noticed Piper was almost asleep, but probably needed a few more minutes so I decided to drive through and get an iced tea and go home. By the time we reached home, both girls and Jack were asleep. The outside temperature felt like mid-80s.
It's not uncommon for some or all of the kids to be asleep when we get home. I usually take them into the house one by one. I got Rye settled inside the house, went back for Apple, who was awake, got her settled inside, and went back for Piper. I knew Piper was exhausted, and that she'd stay asleep, so I immediately took her to her room and put her to bed, and then started helping the older kids get a drink and a snack. I got myself a snack. I started listening to Rye's funny school stories from today. And then I looked around.
It just hit me. Where is Jack?
Immediately, I ran out to the car parked in the driveway. It had already been probably somewhere between 15-20 minutes that we had been home. I have never been more scared.
Jack is okay now. He's safely sleeping and has probably forgotten the whole incident. But I will never forget. I will never forget his red, sweaty face and body, and his almost resigned moans. I can't help but wonder what could have happened if he'd stayed in that car for even 10 more minutes.
There are many articles on the subject, but the reason I like this Washington Post article in particular is that it really shares with us that this is a phenomenom that really can, truly, happen to anyone.
I am taking what happened today to be a wonderful gift, a lesson, urging me and my very busy brood to slow down. I am hoping you will all think about my story, and the infinitely more tragic stories of those who have lost children, as you buckle up your little ones this summer.