For the last four summers, I’ve waited with bated breath. One of these days, I’m going to answer the phone, or open the door, and a police officer will be on the other side, telling me that either my son is either in CPS custody, or that my son is dead.
Because his damn father leaves him in the damn car to go into the damn store every damn summer.
How do I know? Well, the first time I found out, when my child was two, he told me. It went something like this, “Can I stay in the car? Daddy always lets me.”
Lets him. Daddy lets him stay in the car. And my son said it like it was some type of bonus. I mean it’s a bonus where the side effect is death, but hey, who’s counting.
Last year my son clued me in that he was left inside of a hot car, and the conversation went something like this, “While Daddy was in the store, Brother was telling me the funniest story in the car, and my cousin and I were laughing and laughing. Brother is so funny!”
H’okay, so. Brother is over the age of ten, but he has the mental capacity of a four year old, due to severe autism. Cousin is the same age as brother–except that he’s nonverbal, and has also been diagnosed with autism.
So now, to any passerby, there are two older kids sitting in a car with my then-five year old, but my then-five year old is the only one mentally mature enough to get them out of danger. Like, say, they get overheated. Or someone tries to break into the car and take off with three new children.
Fan-freaking-tastic. That’s awesome.
I mean, really awesome.
And then there was today, when my son was FaceTiming me about the water park, and his dad said, “Okay, son, tell Mommy goodbye. I need my phone to run into the store. Ya’ll wait here. I’ll be right back.”
I get it; kids are difficult to get in and out of the store, especially if the store is right there, and all you want is to buy a soda. Children are so difficult when it comes to running into the store, and so many extraneous steps need to be taken. A twenty second run into the store can easily turn into a five minute excursion. Who wants the excursion when it could just be a quick run?
Why bother with extra fuss?
But, seriously, let’s look at what needs to be done, in order to take a child into a store:
1) Unbuckle the child.
2) Wait while the child takes their sweet time getting out of the car.
3) Make sure child holds hand. (Don’t worry, for most parents, this step is optional.)
4) Pace your stride to the child’s tiny legs.
5) Tell the child not to touch stuff while they’re in the store.
6) Tell them the child that, no, they can’t have a toy, candy, a soda, or anything else while they’re in the store.
7) Discipline the child when they don’t obey you in the store.
8) Make the child hold your hand leaving the store. (Again, this is apparently a totally optional step, especially for my ex-husband.)
9) Pace your stride on the walk back to the car.
10) Wait for the child to get into the car.
11) Buckle child into their carseat or booster seat.
I mean, wow. Eleven steps! There’s a lot that goes into the process of taking a child into the store! So, yes, I get it. I get why it’s easier to just leave a child in a hot car while making a “twenty second” run into the local Quik-E-Mart.
If you are this type of parent to a child under the age of ten, one without mental incapacities, I say this from the bottom of my heart: you suck at life. Really, you do. Of course, my ex-husband takes his reign at the top of this list, primarily because he is the one leaving my kid in the car. So, while you’re busying getting irritated at me for telling you that you suck at life, at least know that I believe you to suck less than my ex-husband.
I think the worst part about this, and why I’m so angry about it, is because there’s nothing I can do about it. If you’re thinking, “Call the cops, Dummy!” don’t worry. I think that, too. However, the cops don’t care. For two summers in a row, I called the police. As a frustrated, scared mom–one who knows her kid gets left in hot cars–I can attest that the cops don’t care.
Oh, what? CPS?
They don’t care, either.
I called both. Know what they said? I have to catch him doing it, and he still has to be there when the police arrive, otherwise I can’t file a report.
So, leaving a kid in a hot car is a crime, but it’s only a crime when you catch the person doing it.
Know what else is a crime? Not putting a child in a carseat. Wanna know what the cops and CPS said about that, when I found out my son wasn’t riding around in the protection of a booster seat? That I needed to shut the hell up and give my carseat to my ex, and then buy myself a new one.
So, the problem of following the law falls on me, the only parent who apparently cares about the law.
Man, I love how the law is on the side of concerned parents everywhere.
It’s like the police and CPS are telling me, “Shoo, fly, don’t bother me. I don’t like doing my job. Do it for me.”
The only thing I can do is what I have done: become an angry shrew of an ex-wife, and threaten to take away my ex’s custody. So, for the past four summers, like clockwork, I have threatened to take my ex back to court, and have his parental rights taken away if he doesn’t stop leaving my kid in a hot car for his convenience.
I get it; it’s hard to be a good parent. Why should a soda run take five minutes with kids, when it could take twenty seconds the childless way?
Again, if you think like that, you suck at life.
And, again, my ex is at the top of the suck list, so at least you’re below him.
Please, please stop leaving children in hot cars during the summer months. Hell, stop leaving them in the car during any month–but especially during these summer months. It doesn’t take long for a tiny body to overheat, and it doesn’t take long for a bystander to use their cell phone to take a video of your license plate and your kid. On that note, if you see a child left in a hot car, while the parent runs into the store, please, please, please take that video and call the police!
I would rather open the door to find out that my ex is in jail, and my child is in police or CPS custody, than to find out that my child is dead from heat exposure in a car.
Help mothers like me everywhere: stop leaving kids in hot cars, and start noticing when children are left in cars by parents like this.