Re: Fear of the Horror Story

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I saw that headline this morning and decided I'd have a better day if I didn't read the story. The horror-story-as-promotional-device certainly isn't new. As near as I can tell, it is what older relatives do for a hobby after retiring.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:23 AM
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The kid is fine. He plays with her ipad for all of ten minutes.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:26 AM
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I wasn't worried about the kid. I was worried about the mother.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:28 AM
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She's hoping for a book offer.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:28 AM
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That's cheering, I guess.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:29 AM
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This afternoon 9 and 7 year old have a baseball game at 5pm but 1 year old has to go to the doctor at 4:30, so we were planning to leave the two older ones at the playground/baseball field on their own for half an hour. 9 year old has an emergency phone in his bag.
Later today, I'll post an update from my jail cell.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:29 AM
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I don't know, I think UMC/SWIPL/whatever class of folks like the writer we want to talk about here live in a different world from people who are poorer and not as white and would have had a kid put into foster care for several of the "oops!" stories she relays.

Obviously the double standards are part of the problem, that there's an overpolicing peer group for UMC types and an inconsistent legal system for the rest and for people like her who fall through the cracks into that mirror world.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:31 AM
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What other oopsies did she share? I sort of skimmed the article.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:32 AM
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Aren't the March of Dimes sort of overly pregnant woman-shaming assholes? That "oh we sent you a dime" trick is certainly irritating.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:35 AM
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It is not a matter of being bad at statistics, but quixotically declaring oneself outside and apart from the risk pool: prominent examples being non-vaccinating parents and people who think themselves above the firearms-in-the-home probabilities.

I blame ... the '70s, I guess. Maybe Dr. Spock.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:36 AM
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9: Possibly, but I'm not going to blame a grieving mother for that.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:36 AM
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Have the courage of your convictions, heebie. If we can't blame grieving mothers, who can we blame?


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:37 AM
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non-vaccinating parents and people who think themselves above the firearms-in-the-home probabilities.

Have you been lurking on my local mothers group?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:37 AM
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Someone is currently trolling me there on the dangers of fluoride in the water.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:39 AM
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Do people still give 10 year-old boys pellets guns that could take an eye out?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:39 AM
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Specifically:

I forget not everyone is as natural minded as I am. I am shocked that flouride is pushed on infants. Yes, flouride can have benefits if applied topically to the teeth...but consuming it and having it in my babies blood stream and going to his brain? No thanks.

I forget that not everyone is as sanctimonious as I am.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:40 AM
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7: Yeah, I think a major issue here is that the standards for what constitute criminally dangerous or neglectful parenting are unclear and inconsistent, and there's very little space between "This is maybe not a great idea" and "This is grounds for prosecution" in a way that's alien to the rest of the criminal law.

That vagueness and inconsistency is what opens the space for racist and classist selective enforcement, but the vagueness and inconsistency is an issue for everyone.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:41 AM
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16 is great.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:43 AM
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Other friends in whom I confided were equally supportive. One told of an acquaintance who'd had a similar experience. She'd gone to walk the dog around the block while her baby was napping and ended up with a year of weekly visits from DCSF. Another was a high school drama teacher and, after someone observed him fake-pushing a student in the fight scene of a school play rehearsal, put him on paid leave until a social worker could interview him in his home.

I'm not saying drama teachers should be prosecuted, but there's such an air of "Oh, this doesn't happen to people like US!" about it that it really made me mad. (And in that drama teacher case, I really can't fault the person who made the call, who was probably like most teachers a mandated reporter.)


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:45 AM
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I used to *love* getting to stay in the car and read when my parents were doing boring errands. We used to let my sister sleep in her car seat in the car in the drive way. These are not dangerous things (unless in heat, of course, but it rarely gets above 75 in my home town) the way getting to ride seat belt-less or in the back of an open pick up are. It boggles my mind that people are getting arrested and having children taken from them for doing this sort of thing, truly. When are parents supposed to have a moment of peace?

It's also so strange to think that this change has essentially happened in 20 years, and become as old-fashioned as the habit of leaving babies in their prams in front of shops.


Posted by: Parenthetical | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:50 AM
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19: Seriously, I think you're letting your sense of fairness/privilege-hating (which is generally a good thing) distract you from the actual rights and wrongs of a situation. A drama teacher shoving a student in the course of blocking a fight that's part of a play they're rehearsing should not be put on leave while it's being investigated (assuming that's a remotely fair presentation of the facts).

"Oh, this doesn't happen to people like US!" may be a sucky tone to take, but it's like getting beaten by the police. It doesn't happen to people like me (mostly) and it does happen to poorer, less white people, but the problem isn't remotely that I'm not getting beaten enough, it is completely that less privileged people are getting beaten too much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:51 AM
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21: I really don't want to fight over the drama teacher thing; it was the "of course it's okay for a mom to go walk the dog in a safe neighborhood while her baby's sleeping!" when Lee had a student whose child was removed for basically the same thing. And no, I don't want everyone's kids to go into foster care.

On the drama teacher thing, first of all I don't really believe anything is exactly as this writer presents it, but whatever. I do think schools should have reasonable zero-tolerance policies for adult-on-child violence and so if a teacher is accused of violence even if the excuse is oh I'm a coach and was just doing whatever or oh I'm a drama teacher and we were just blocking a scene, I don't think it's hysterical to have a protocol in place to investigate that because a hell of a lot of people have gotten away with things like that.

Basically I just didn't like this writer and so I'm being bitchy about it. Of course I agree that the answer is that things should be better for everyone and not worse for everyone, but the cluelessness (hers, not here) really gets to me sometimes.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:56 AM
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Checking, because I'm not attuned to this as much as I should be. Was there anything in the article that set you off in terms of actively approving of differential levels of care/prosecution by class (that is, anything that could be described as "I understand why child protection services need tighter standards in at-risk communities, but not for us"), or was it just that the article completely ignored how class and race affects this sort of thing? If it's the former, I was reading carelessly and missed it, but then I agree with you that it's hateful.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:01 AM
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I got a strong whiff of "unreliable narrator" from the article. I absolutely think it was ludicrous to prosecute her if the facts are as she presents them, and I hate overprotective insanity so much. And there's nothing really specific I can point to in the article, other than maybe that she's a professional writer and this is a published piece, so maybe that's totally unfair. But still I had a negative reaction that may not be too different from Thorn's.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:04 AM
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I think she implies that her paranoia about her kids' safety is sufficient protection to insulate her from CPS. Which is sort of idealistic and naive to class issues, but is more-or-less how it should be, at least.

There's the contrapositive, though, that parents whose kids are taken away were not sufficiently paranoid, which is what I think is rankling Thorn.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:05 AM
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I'm not saying drama teachers should be prosecuted, but there's such an air of "Oh, this doesn't happen to people like US!" about it that it really made me mad.

I wouldn't have thought that at all. It's more like "This doesn't happen to anyone! How on earth did this happen?"


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:06 AM
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I don't think the article erred in that direction, LB, but I had similar thoughts as Thorn, mostly because the article sees this problem as an extension of helicopter parenting (instead framing it around CPS or injustice.) It's a little weird to talk about a case like this without pointing out that poor women get their kids taken away for slipups like this.

In any case, I think prosecuting her is crazy. The legal grey area is a mess. But I can't really fault the person who called the cops much, because that person has no idea whether the kid was in there for a few minutes or a few hours.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:11 AM
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Probably the worst part was that someone seems to have coded it wrong at Salon and the whole thing shows up in red font, so don't trust me. I couldn't even copy and paste and I really don't think she's being hateful, but she says I was aware of these tragedies long before the day I left my son because, like most anxious, at times over-protective mothers, I spent a not insignificant portion of my time reading about and thinking about and worrying about all the terrible things that can happen to the two little people I've devoted my life to protecting., which seems like an implied us/them setup, and then the whole next paragraph is about how great her parenting is and how she understands all the risks. And yet the risk of her child being removed doesn't occur to her as realistic even after she's been charged with a child-endangerment crime until her lawyer says something about it. It's just a different world, and she's very explicitly writing to the parents who share hers rather than seeing herself in solidarity with those who don't.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:11 AM
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If you place your cursor over the text, it turns back to black.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:13 AM
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I couldn't quite reconcile her repeated admissions that what she had done was wrong, stupid, endangering. Her argument seemed to be that what she had done was a bad judgment call, but not bad enough to prosecute. Which I don't agree with if the situation was as she described it: it wasn't wrong.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:13 AM
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I thought she maintained that she hadn't done anything wrong, and it was her lawyer that was pushing the "lapse in judgement" line?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:15 AM
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not everyone is as natural minded as I am

This is the single most annoying hippie tic of them all (and I *like* hippies).


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:21 AM
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We live in a country of gated communities and home security systems.

Maybe YOU do, lady! But go on and mock your sister for literally having both those status markers while your parents and in-laws pay your legal fees, etc.

And now I'll try to stop being such a grouch.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:22 AM
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I thought she maintained that she hadn't done anything wrong

Yeah, I guess she gets to that point, in part also after talking to the Free Range Kids lady. But I found it muddled. And she nevertheless keeps talking about how it was a lapse in judgment.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:24 AM
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I guess I just feel like she's leaving out something important and/or is otherwise untrustworthy. It just feels like the kind of way a particular kind of self-involved client tells a story when they're not giving you all the facts. I agree this reaction is silly without anything specific to point to, but I had it anyway.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:33 AM
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I got a strong whiff of "unreliable narrator" from the article.

Word.
If people are really getting hemmed up by the system for a walk around the block with the dog then maybe it's time to move. However, "all I did was go for a quick walk with the dog" is the kind of thing people tell friends and family because it sounds a lot better than "I left my small child alone for several hours while I was out smoking crack".


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:38 AM
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35: I got the same vibe.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:40 AM
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I agree with 35 and 36, and also that I don't know anyone who tells a straight story about leaving a child in danger or anything like that, and so I'm probably specifically primed to disbelieve her but also just don't think her story holds together well enough.

And the situation I mentioned comparable to the dog-walking would be comparable to if you went out walking the dogs and were hit by a car and rushed to the hospital, in which case "But I was just walking the dog for a minute!" might or might not mitigate your baby being left in the crib for hours until you came to and were able to tell the nurse, depending on who was judging.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:45 AM
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Skenazy:"...been this huge cultural shift. We now live in a society where most people believe a child can not be out of your sight for one second, where most people think children need constant, total adult supervision."

a society that has cameras everywhere
a society that monitors most workplaces with 24/7 cameras
a society that tracks your internet usage, and records the keystrokes of information workers
...
used to be, and still is some places, a society that kept women in purdah, never in public rarely alone and had them covered from head to toe..."for their own protection"
...
"because their kids" we are rationalizing a imaginary dangerous world and thinking it's an excess of protectiveness and refusing to see the context of the panopticon. Kids aren't special here, except as weapons.

Nah, it's about power over the powerless, and power and control over parents, and a simple continuation of "you are always being watched."


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:02 AM
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I couldn't quite reconcile her repeated admissions that what she had done was wrong, stupid, endangering. Her argument seemed to be that what she had done was a bad judgment call, but not bad enough to prosecute. Which I don't agree with if the situation was as she described it: it wasn't wrong.

I was reconciling that by thinking that what she did wasn't wrong at all in the sense of being primarily endangering to her kid, but that it was a lapse of judgment for her not to have known that it was no longer permitted by society and she was at risk for drawing enforcement.

I used to have similar worries: safe neighborhood, competent kids, park and small store literally on the same block. The age at which I was totally confident that they were fine and safe and competent to be out on their own to go to the park and the store was years (a year? not sure exactly) before I felt safe that they wouldn't be frighteningly rescued by an aggressively helpful adult.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:07 AM
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The TSA needs to protect us from little bottles of water.

99% of all "protection" is disguised dominance and control.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:08 AM
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35-38: Huh. There's a phenomenon I run into professionally, where something bad happens as the result of someone making an arguably questionable decision, and their argument is "The one time I did this, I had the truly terrible luck that it turned out badly. What are the odds that I would be so unlucky. But don't judge me by the results, judge me as you would someone for whom it turned out okay." (Specifically for me, drunk drivers. "The one time I got in the car after having two drinks...") And the thing is, someone who gets a bad result probably wasn't just insanely unlucky that one time, they were probably doing risky things a lot.

So, I'm more comfortable with enforcement where the result was a kid that something identifiably bad actually did happen to, even if it's not objectively certain that the bad result was an inevitable consequence of the risky behavior.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:16 AM
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the article sees this problem as an extension of helicopter parenting

This, I thought the problem was an explanation of helicopter parenting, rather than the reverse. That is, of course parents hover over their kids constantly these days, they aren't permitted not to.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:25 AM
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Something like drunk driving is a clear, quantifiable, risk factor for bad outcomes. What about things that are "risky" in the Fox News/older suburban relative sense?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:49 AM
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before I felt safe that they wouldn't be frighteningly rescued by an aggressively helpful adult

I was concerned about this but seldom experienced it after all. I think we didn't tend to go places where this sort of social policing was prevalent. I think I benefit also from living in a neighborhood so diverse that many different styles of childcare are visible, and people are inhibited from intervening because of that. Closer to the Lake, or in Lincoln Park, it might have been different.

I'm always pleased to see how unsupervised my Black and Hispanic neighbor kids are--at least they have that. And many immigrant families don't have a problem leaving little ones with older siblings who are themselves just playing. Got an Indian Moslem family on the block now where the kids are always together, preteen down to toddler, but I've never seen an adult.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:53 AM
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99% of all "protection" is disguised dominance and control.

Last night I was listening to a BBC piece on the Native American occupation of Alcatraz between 1969 and 1971. And they had a nice sound bite from a concerned authority figure "we have no problem with the Indians, we only want to remove them out of concern for their safety. Alcatraz is a dangerous place!"


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:54 AM
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I'm going to keep leaving comments in this thread, because I have thoughts.

Does anyone remember many years ago, when Newt ended up in the emergency room getting stitches in his chin after a fall at preschool, and one of the doctors asked me if I had alcohol in the house? I gave her a strange look, and said "Yes", and she apologetically said that they had to ask, they dealt with a different population (or something hedgy like that). And I was livid. Both, because what on earth does "Do you have alcohol in the house" tell you, particularly without any followup questions -- most people do. It can't possibly be a meaningful risk factor for abuse or neglect (I mean, teetotalers may be safer than drinkers, but drinkers have got to be basically the risk rates of the general population, because they are the general population). And second, if that was a screening question with any function at all, what the hell are you doing letting me off the hook because I'm a nice middleclass white lady? I gave a yes answer, which should mean that if there's a next step, you go to it. The whole interaction was screwy.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:54 AM
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someone who gets a bad result probably wasn't just insanely unlucky that one time, they were probably doing risky things a lot.

Seems like a risk to think this way too often, a possible bad result is turning into Lew Dobbs.


Posted by: lw | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:57 AM
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Right, but it's a very different article if she connects her experience to the woman whose kids were taken away because she had to leave them in the car while she went for a job interview, or connects it to overburdened CPS, and not gated communities and soccer games. It's I guess fashionable to snark on kids being oversupervised, and by connecting leaving her kid in the car to overscheduled-competitive-preschool-helicopter parenting, she seems to miss exactly how privileged she was that her nightmare was some community service and a dropped charge.

I read the heartbreaking journalism piece about the babies who died in overheated cars like everyone else I know, and I think worries about that are less that we're bad at judging risk, but that in those cases it all seemed like a completely believable and very common momentary lapse in judgment that killed their baby. The risk that it turns out badly is small, but the precipitating event (driving while tired, driving the same route half on autopilot) is very common.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:58 AM
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44: I guess what I'm thinking is that the outcome is going to be diagnostic of what the risk actually was. Getting hit by a car so as not to be able to return to the house or send anyone to the house for you while walking around a block is really very, very, very unlikely -- I wouldn't think of that as putting a baby left in the house at risk in the same way I wouldn't think of carrying the baby on the same walk as putting the baby at risk. If the actual result of what you did was to be unable to return to your house for hours, I'm going to guess that however you describe what you did it was not, in fact, comparable to walking your dog around a block.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:59 AM
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49: haha, everyone else has not died in overheated cars. Way to type and not proofread while letting my son have some free range living room time...


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:01 AM
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An ex g/friends sister left her baby/toddler in the house for really quite a long time, more than once. And when she got called on it by family members, she always had dissembling excuses.

'I just had to go out and get milk.'

'It was only 2 minutes.'

'I was just making a phone call, in the garden.'

It was bullshit, but I'm not sure how much she really believed it herself, and how much she was deliberately lying.

On the other hand, I, in just the last week, have left the baby in the car while I paid for petrol. Where I could see him the whole time, mind. But I felt uncomfortable doing that.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:05 AM
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Don't you guys have pay at the pump technology yet?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:07 AM
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And of course in 50 I'm suggesting the same kind of judgment call that I suggested was the real problem further above, so I don't know what I want.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:07 AM
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50: Once the pediatrician asked about guns in the house. I just lied because I wasn't about to get into it with her about how well secured they were and all. It only happened that once. I don't know if everybody lied so they stopped because it was pointless or if people complained or if it was just something new that one doctor was trying.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:11 AM
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If the story in the OP is true, the conduct of the bystander is absolute bullshit, and so is the conduct of the police.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:41 AM
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And the prosecutors.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:45 AM
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56: why?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:46 AM
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Also 47 is infuriating. I've had nurses fill out my prenatal screenings by just muttering through the questions like: "doesn't smoke, doesn't do drugs, doesn't share needles...Have you donated blood lately?"


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:48 AM
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If the child was actually in some danger or distress, the bystander should have stayed until police arrived. If not, it's just assholery.

The point of the law -- and the violation that was actually charged -- is about protecting children from harm. It's not about policing parental behavior to the level required by any asshole with a camera and a sense of entitlement.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:50 AM
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Ditto to 59. Also ditto to 55 on lying on things you just don't want to get into. (The "Do you now or have you ever" questions are particularly set up to encourage lying.)


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:51 AM
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This same bystander could stand outside your window and film you leaving a 4 year old alone in the family room while you go to the bathroom. Abandonment! The kid could run into the kitchen and get scissors or knives, there could be a home invasion, suddenly choke on a toy -- any number of awful things could happen, because you weren't there. How dare you!


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:53 AM
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doesn't smoke, doesn't do drugs, doesn't share needles

So if I come to your house and a button comes off my shirt, I guess I'll have to wait till I get back to the hotel to sew it on again.


Posted by: chris y | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:53 AM
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Further to 60 -- if the bystander was still there when the author drove off with the kid -- and there was neither danger nor distress -- then he/she should have shrugged and moved on. The police should never have thought there was an action item here: by the time they came to the scene, they conclusively knew there was neither danger nor distress.

On the facts presented, 'maybe she would have abandoned the child' like 'some people do abandon children' is at the same level as maybe she would have robbed the store.'


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:04 AM
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Makes sense.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:05 AM
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And the bad faith on the part of the prosecution is shown by the bullshit charge they ended up with. Not a single person employed by the state thought this woman was a danger to this child. Or, if they did, none thought that danger wouldn't be completely cured by admonition.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:07 AM
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Also ditto to 55 on lying on things you just don't want to get into. (The "Do you now or have you ever" questions are particularly set up to encourage lying.)

If you ever want to get life insurance, be careful with this. They'll want a copy of your medical records, and if you deliberately falsified those records (by lying to the doctor about this), it could invalidate your policy. (Which they won't tell you until you're dead, of course. You are welcome to pay premiums in the meantime.)


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:09 AM
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Carp is right if her story is completely accurate. But like I said above I'd bet on it not being accurate in some important details.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:09 AM
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I don't see why it's any of the doctor's business that I'm allergic to penicillin.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:11 AM
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68: I get suspicion, but I'm not seeing a hole in the story for concealing actually bad behavior on her part. For her to have done something wrong, the story would have to be pretty much unrecognizable. (I suppose five minutes could be fifteen, but other than that, no.)


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:15 AM
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I'm thinking maybe it was longer than 15 minutes, maybe the kid was really freaking out, maybe it wasn't a cold and overcast day, maybe she does something to exacerbate the situation with the cop, etc etc. The whole story about the dialogue with the lawyer seemed weird, plus the fact that CPS chased her down many months after the fact even though she and her kid were in another jurisdiction. Again, that could all be wrong, and I don't have any more information, but it just gives off a vibe of unreliability.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:20 AM
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No one ever really runs into a store for five minutes. It's either 90 seconds or less (which this probably was not), or it's 15 minutes plus.


Posted by: urple | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:23 AM
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They'll want a copy of your medical records, and if you deliberately falsified those records (by lying to the doctor about this), it could invalidate your policy.

Eh, I'm talking about lifestyle type questions. Have you ever done certain drugs, engaged in certain sexual practices, etc. The kind of thing looking to put me in a risk pool that I know I'm not in.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:24 AM
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71: I doubt the kid was freaking out, because that would have made it very strange of the bystander to have left without waiting for the police. The rest of it... maybe, but changes along those lines really would make the story unrecognizable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:26 AM
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Of the choice between (a) this couldn't have happened because it's completely bullshit and (b) this is the kind of thing that's getting more and more common because we're losing our minds, I know which I hope is the case.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:28 AM
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Also, probably unfairly, I feel that the fact that she is a professional fiction writer makes the whole thing less reliable.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:33 AM
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Re: 53

Sure, but not every pump in every petrol station.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:43 AM
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53 "pay at the pump technology"

Sure, but you get 4 cents/gallon off for cash!

The stories about babies dying from heat in cars are horrific, but at least in my memory of the go-to WaPo article by Weingarten, almost every case of this very rare event happens when a parent forgets they have the child in the car, due to it being a day with a changed schedule. Am I wrong about this?


Posted by: DaveLMA | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:45 AM
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Jesus fuck the procrastination. I figured out that she was almost certainly charged near Richmond, VA but lives in Chicago. So maybe Will can help us out with what the system, especially the dependency court system, there is like.

Here's a Virginia appellate decision from 1999 that I think from a quick read makes clear that using the "rendered services" law in her case would be inappropriate, because the law requires a separate finding of ongoing danger to the child that requires the Court's intervention. Doesn't mean that the prosecutor wouldn't have tried to use the law anyway, and no I am not spending more time on this, but it adds to my general suspicion.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:49 AM
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Relevant laws are Virginia Code § 18.2-370.1 and Virginia Code § 16.1-228. I have important real paying work to do.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:51 AM
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And many immigrant families don't have a problem leaving little ones with older siblings who are themselves just playing. Got an Indian Moslem family on the block now where the kids are always together, preteen down to toddler, but I've never seen an adult.

My parents were committed to free range parenting and living in diverse communities, and this was my childhood. My parents actually encouraged us to play in literally the middle of the street (in fairness it was a quiet street) generally left us unsupervised. My grandparents lived in a mostly black and latino neighborhood, and I would roam around with the neighbor kids until someone called us home. Our Laotian neighbors let me do loosely supervised infant care starting at age 7. At age 11, my daycare provider from Afghanistan would occasionally run quick errands and leave me and her 10 and 13 year old sons to look after the younger kids (she was an amazing daycare provider). MC parents would have fits, but both women were married by 13, mothers by 15, and had spent their childhoods raising younger siblings, so the idea that 10-13 year olds couldn't watch a group of toddlers (much less look after themselves) must have seemed insane to them.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:52 AM
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MADD is evil. At some point they switched from being against drunk driving to trying to stop underage people drinking even under circumstances where allowing kids to drink makes it less likely that they'll drive drunk and sending parents to jail.

On the OP there's definitely been a huge shift and while some of it is good, other stuff is ridiculously over protective. It makes life especially hard for poor parents who will have a harder time affording day care or being able to take time off from work at a moment's notice. Not allowing kids to travel around in the back of the station wagon is good. Not allowing eight year olds to hang out unsupervised or walk or bike to school on their own is insane.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:53 AM
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Source for my theory that this happened in or near Richmond VA.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:56 AM
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One thing that occurred to me that wasn't obvious from the story was the layout of the location and the parking lot. I don't think I'd give it a second thought if I saw a small kid hanging out in the car at a convenience store or gas station or somewhere that it's obvious that trips are going to take no more than a few minutes typically. But in the parking lot of a mall or the university here I think I'd be a little more concerned.

78: When it's not neglect, it's almost certainly a mix-up or change in the schedule that led to someone driving to work on autopilot forgetting that the baby was in the backseat.


Posted by: Cala | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:56 AM
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Got an Indian Moslem family on the block now where the kids are always together, preteen down to toddler, but I've never seen an adult.

Sometimes it goes a a bit too far.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:57 AM
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On the issue of CPS, aren't they kind of overburdened with more serious issues? It seems really bizarre that the CPS in Virginia would track down a woman in Chicago because she'd left her kid in the car for 5 minutes on an overcast day. Especially if the kid was fine and leaving the kid in a car is not even necessarily illegal. I guess I agree with those who say that this story seems kind of fishy, because the alternative would require a bunch of people being completely insane in a kind of over-the-top way (the recorder, the police, the court system).


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:58 AM
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A lot of this story happened to me. My son was older (nearly 8), the car was locked, the temperature was the same, it was overcast, I was in the store exactly 10 minutes, someone had called the cops. They came in and paged me (I was nearly finished), I had taken my 10 year old daughter into the store with me, but my son wanted to stay in the car. It was absolutely terrifying, not least for the kids. The cop asked for my social, which I don't think they are allowed to do? He then implied that he would be following up, but nothing happened.


Posted by: Molly | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:11 AM
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81 That was basically my early childhood except in a very white middle class - UMC seventies suburb and without me playing babysitter. From about five or six all the kids were allowed to run around unsupervised. There were always older kids around and the moms coordinated to make sure that some of them were at home and that we knew who was available, but that's about it. In Enlightened Topless Urban eighties Europe, the kids at my UMC to very UC (but very diverse) school were making there way from home to school by mass transit and wandering around downtown by age eight. It was fine.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:16 AM
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I was in the store exactly 10 minutes

I wonder if urple considers this possible.


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:27 AM
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88: Yes, we ran in a feral pack throughout our middle class suburb and various grownups would shoo us in one direction or another throughout the day. As dinnertime approached, the yell of the mothers out the back doors would spread like the signal fire in the beginning of the Agamemnon.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:36 AM
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At night, the ice weasels came.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:41 AM
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The earlier conversation on fluoridation is now full of gems like:

Ready to feed infant formula is sterile, while powdered is not. It's safer for that reason alone. You may give your baby sterile water but the formula is not. I think it kinda defeats the purpose. To each is there own. My first baby I did use baby water.

Don't throw your bottle out with the baby water.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:42 AM
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Baby water is pee, right?


Posted by: peep | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:45 AM
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Do you make baby water by steeping the baby? or muddling?


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:45 AM
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92 would make me nuts. My feed has basically none of that, and the posts I do see are friends writing detailed take-downs of stuff like that from their friends. Thanks for sharing it, though! Lets me see what nutty stuff some people think.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:46 AM
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Fluoride has nothing to do with sterility, but the concern about tap water vs distilled for making formula makes a little sense, if you're worried about a minor cosmetic issue.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:55 AM
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I've just skimmed the thread, so maybe someone has noted this, but on the particular point: leaving your kid in the car is really pretty dangerous. (That study doesn't say anything about overcast days.)


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:55 AM
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92: We didn't use ready to feed much because BPA in the cans. They've probably changed that.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 11:57 AM
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97: But the lowest temp studied was 72 and sunny. 50 and overcast with the windows down really does seem like something else entirely.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:02 PM
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What's odd is that I also got left in the car all the time, in Florida for pete's sake, and my memory just doesn't square with things like 97. I mean, 72 and sunny is pretty much winter in Florida, so there was never a safe time to do so.

It's possible that my parents didn't do it until we were old enough to let ourselves out if we felt uncomfortable, and maybe we did just that. No idea.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:09 PM
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And if the bystander was legitimately concerned about the temperature of the car, abandoning the kid there is really insane. If that's the issue, you save the kid's life, you don't worry about building an evidentiary record to establish guilt after you've let them die.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:16 PM
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What if you're more worried about the deterrent value of punishment? Think of that kid as being dropped onto a metaphorical trolley track.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:17 PM
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100: I think sunny and shady are a much bigger difference then the temperature outdoors. Is it possible your parents were reliably not leaving you in sunny spots? Also, an hour is a long time. If you were getting left for ten minutes, that's pretty different from the study.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:18 PM
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re: 81/88/90

Yeah, us too. But that was the 70s and early 80s. Everyone was like that, except for a few precious middle-class kids from the 'bought' houses up the road, largely scorned by even the wimpiest of us as 'parent-whipped'.*

Our street surrounded a large open park area (universally known as the 'wee' park), so the smaller kids could play outside in view of the houses, and still have room to run around. Bigger kids [i.e. 7 or 8 and up] were allowed to go the the 'big' park. which had a full-size soccer pitch, and crazily dangerous giant cast iron playground equipment.

* I don't even know what the term would be? Helicopter-parented? We didn't have one.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:18 PM
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I didn't read the article either, and if it was 50 and overcast, no, that doesn't seem dangerous--I just wanted to be clear that "not that hot" can still be dangerous for a kid (or pet) left in a car.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:19 PM
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82.1 is correct. We published an editorial suggesting that maybe raising the drinking age to 21 was driving a lot of college drinking out of the open to places where it was more likely to be abused, and MADD has some kind of shit fit that anyone could suggest such a thing.
My brother and I were left in the car sometimes at the supermarket but we did stupid things like pulling down the back seats, crawling through and putting the seat back up, and hiding in the trunk. Sure, little brother, I'll let you back out of the trunk when you knock on the seat!


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:20 PM
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101- But then you get to be the star witness of a much bigger news story!
I'm imagining a giant walking around looking for kids locked in cars and using a giant-sized magnifying glass to heat up the cars.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:22 PM
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I can only see the abstract, but it claims that even cooler, cloudy days can lead to deadly temperatures in cars. Would be nice to see the underlying data.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:25 PM
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I can see the whole thing, what do you want to see?


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:27 PM
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Although even the abstract says nothing about cloudy days- they specifically say cloud-free days.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:29 PM
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108: The study you linked? It doesn't address cloudy days at all, I don't think.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:29 PM
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Sunny and shady are very different in dry climates, but the more humid it is, the less it matters. But yes: my mom would have hunted down a shady spot in any recess of a parking lot, just because she does that any time she parks between March and October.

I also remember that when we got back to the parked car during the summer, there was a big show of opening all the doors and letting it air out before anyone got in. So I imagine my parents didn't let us stay in the car under such conditions. But they were easily more generous than the official current guidelines.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:30 PM
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Oh, sorry, the link in 108 is a different study.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:30 PM
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I fixed the link in 108. It says,

Our findings indicate that even on cloudy days with lower ambient air temperatures, vehicle cabin temperatures may reach deadly levels.

what do you want to see?

Thanks. I'm curious about internal car temperature on cloudy days, across a range of external ambient temperature.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:31 PM
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Yes, jesus christ! Park in the shade. Shady spot anywhere is so so worth it.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:32 PM
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The big Texas grocery store chain is HEB, and it irritates me that swanky HEBs in nice neighborhoods have shaded parking and little sidewalks inside each row of parked cars, so that you can safely walk to the store, but fuck those poor people's HEBs who love having no shade and getting hit in the parking lots.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:34 PM
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I mean, I'm fine with parking lots that don't provide shade or sidewalks. But if you're going to do it, saving it for the rich folks is irritating.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:35 PM
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Oh, never mind, I made the same mistake as LB, thought you were talking about the paper in 97 not 108. Biometeorology? WTF is that journal?
(Just kidding, I actually do have access)
Solar radiation in W/m^2 ranges from 200 to 800. Ambient temperatures range from 20C to 40C. But then they appear to report the cabin temperature not in straight degrees C but in some kind of bullshit "cabin temperature index" similar to wind chill factor or heat index. For example, on overcast days at ambient temp of 20C (68F), they report a "maximum vehicle cabin temperature index" of 42 (108F). No fucking way.
They do report one table and figure with straight ambient-cabin temps in C but even that's suspect. Spring day, cloudy (N=5), mean cabin temp = 53C. These guys should go into the solar power business or something.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 12:43 PM
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No fucking way

I think, perhaps, way.

We also found that an ambient temperature as low as 68°F was associated with vehicular temperatures ≥105°F (41°C).

That does seem to be on a sunny day, so there's some discrepancy between the studies, and that might be how the cloudy day study calculates their "index."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:01 PM
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It's just so counterintuitive, because I think that I'd sit in a parked car at 68° - say, nursing a baby while the rest of the family heads in to the birthday party - without batting an eye. Or sitting with a kid who has fallen asleep on the drive over. Or whatever. It feels like I sit in a parked car not infrequently.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:06 PM
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The heat index of 42C from ambient of 20C was reported on the cloudiest cloudy day that was measured in their study.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:12 PM
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It does take a while to heat up, especially at the lower temperatures, and you're not really sitting in a parked car for more than half an hour, are you? And if you are, I'd guess that you're opening a door or window when you're hot without even thinking about it.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:13 PM
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Yeah, probably no longer than 30 minutes. But parents who run into the store aren't generally doing so for hours, either.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:14 PM
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Not that I disagree with the basic PSA. Don't leave your dog in the car, folks.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:15 PM
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reported on the cloudiest cloudy day that was measured in their study

Weird. Also, you're killing babies.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:18 PM
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Here's a case of actually-existing-in-reality finding a child "in need of services" from being left in a car for 10 minutes in 40 degree weather. That case seems pretty wrong to me, but it looks like what was really going on is either stone-cold racism or the Mom's prior "substantial" history with Child Protective Services.

Anyhow, I don't think that the author linkied in the OP's summary of the law was accurate ("in need of services" doesn't mean what she says it does) but that doesn't mean her whole story is inaccurate.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:24 PM
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Also found this one. Lawyer in VA pleas out after leaving kids in car for an hour while in Court.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:34 PM
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127: That one, I don't have a problem with enforcement. A baby and a four-year-old alone in the car with the engine running and the heat on for an hour? That's a problem.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:40 PM
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Sorry, six year old. But still the same.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:42 PM
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128 -- Is the problem carbon emissions, overheating, or general child neglect?

The middle one there seems to depend a lot on whether or not the window was open, maybe it wasn't.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 1:50 PM
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||
I have a cow-orker who is a totally decent guy but pushes lots of annoyance buttons with me and I am trying to focus on the former but am naturally constituted to focus on the former. Argh.
|>


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 2:00 PM
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Presumably the baby, at least, was strapped in its carseat for an hour unsupervised. It's easy to see how that could lead to an hour of baby screaming at the top of its lungs, at least. My guess is that the four year old would be strapped in, too.

Or: maybe the four year old was playing on an ipad, the hum of the motor was predictably keeping baby asleep, and parent could see them from a window inside the courtroom.

Or somewhere in between.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 2:02 PM
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I always let my kids stay in the car when I ran in to get something. roll down some windows people.


Posted by: lemmy caution | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 2:38 PM
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30: I agree with this, I kept saying to myself 'this isn't even bad judgement'! But she had to reconcile herself with pleading guilty to something and knuckling under to the system, so she probably had to talk herself into some kind of contrition as part of the process.

This is just another example of the toxic combination of overpolicing and busybodiness in our society. She missed a learning opportunity with her kid -- she shouldn't have told him he was safe, she should have said 'yeah, police are dangerous and there is a lot of irrational enforcement of rules'. Middle class or not, the police present a threat, particularly to teen males, which he will soon be.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 2:47 PM
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Re the accuracy of the story, did anyone else find Lenore Skenazy's reported reaction -- immediately recognizing the situation -- telling in terms of how much this kind of thing happens?


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 2:48 PM
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roll down some windows people

I wonder if the ubiquity of power windows changes anything. When I was a kid, any kid could roll a window down or up, and often did so endlessly. Now a car's power windows won't work when the key's out, and might have been locked intentionally or accidently.

On the first car I can remember, a '53 Dodge Wagon, the rear windows slid. Only the front windows cranked. It also didn't have turn signals, so my mom was always rolling the window to hand signal, even in Canadian winters.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 2:50 PM
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135: Not really one way or the other. That's her issue, so either she sees a lot of it because it's there, or she sees a lot of it because she's obsessed. No real way to tell.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:04 PM
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Texas at least has a clear legal rule. More than 5 minutes, kid under 7 unsupervised, is automatically a misdemeanor crime. I wouldn't have guessed that.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:09 PM
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And we educate our poor kids the best!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:13 PM
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134: Do tell us about all these dangerous encounters middle class white kids are having with the police.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:29 PM
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I'm still on team "there's more to this story" for Salon author specifically, but it does seem like the law and its enforcement has gotten way in front of pretty ordinary parenting practices here, at least in a lot of the US. Basically, CPS and or the criminal law should only ever be involved if you're at "holy shit horrible" level of parenting, not "eh questionable judgment call" level. Obviously what those levels are change over time, but I don't think 6 year old in car for 15 minutes in safe place with window open is there yet, but Texas criminalizes it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:31 PM
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Our law is saner. Under nine years old, unsupervised, and "(d) the conditions present a risk to the child of: (i) hyperthermia; (ii) hypothermia; or (iii) dehydration."

http://le.utah.gov/code/TITLE76/htm/76_10_220200.htm


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:39 PM
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I agree with the principle, but in this case, don't have much of an objection to the law. A parent can lose track of time, there can be an unexpected delay in getting back to the car, the sun can break through the clouds...lots of things can happen, and the car can quickly become a death trap for a little kid. And unlike a lot of overparenting, the cost here isn't to the independence of the kid, or its ability to learn something new--it's purely hassle to the parent.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:41 PM
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The Utah law seems way more reasonable and addressed to the actual issue.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:47 PM
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That's actually not clear, because it's possible that the Utah law doesn't allow any time at all to leave the kid in the car, depending how the officer/prosecutor's read of the conditions.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:49 PM
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Can you be dehydrated or get hypothermia in under a minute? If so, you're probably pretty obviously in a temperature zone where you should take your kid with you.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:52 PM
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Welcome to Texas!


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:53 PM
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Obviously, I'm just being an asshole.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:55 PM
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The even more assholish, but correct, move is to blame Salon mom for her overindulgent parenting that caused the problem in the first place. You're going to sit there and play with your IPad instead of going inside and I'm scared of your tantrum? Fuck no.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 3:59 PM
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I'm pretty sure I've told the story before, but the most freaked out my parents ever got over danger was when my mom left seven or eight year old me in a bookstore (that's what we called i-pad's back then) while doing a bunch of shopping at a big mall. The bookstore closed a half hour earlier than the department store and I was hearing mall closing announcements so I went back to the car. My mom in the meantime didn't find me at the store and freaked and spent the next hour enlisting security to search everywhere for me. I was cold for a while in the New England winter, but a nice man saw me invited me to sit in his warm car and wait with him and went and found my mom. The odds are actually pretty good that that nice friendly stranger really is just a nice friendly stranger.

gswift, what would taking your under nine year old on easy but super exposed class four be?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 4:28 PM
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When I was 13 or so my parents went to Philadelphia for my mom's graduation from some self-actualization thing and left me instructions on how to meet up with them. My dad woke me up from a nap to give me the address and didn't write it down. I had my 10-year-old sister in tow, and I misremembered the address, so we spent two hours walking all around Center City until we wandered back to the train station and were met by the police.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 5:05 PM
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My friend has a funny story about being shipped off by bus to spend the summer at his cousins' house. His parents just tell the bus driver which stop to make sure he gets off at.

When he arrives, tired, sweaty, etc, no one is at the bus station and he doesn't know what to do. Has no money, struggling with his suitcase, etc. I think he waited for maybe hours.

Eventually he goes in the store next door to see if he can use the phone. The shopkeeper verifies his name, and then says "your cousins left you this bike." So that was the plan. I think he was all of nine years old or so.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 5:09 PM
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149: Well, a bit, yes.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 5:23 PM
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126: It looks like she ended up regaining custody and eventually getting the hell out of Indianapolis, at least.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 5:32 PM
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"my mom left seven or eight year old me in a bookstore (that's what we called i-pad's back then)"
I can understand calling the police if someone found a kid left in an iPad.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 5:56 PM
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We left out nine year old at the baseball field for 45 minutes, he survived, and the cops haven't shown up yet.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 5:58 PM
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In seventh grade I was invited to play with the high school band and we played at Disney World as part of some music festival. After the show our group was supposed to go back to the bus together, but a ninth grader and I got separated from the group and I convinced him it was no problem, I knew where the bus was, we just get on this ferry across the lake to the parking lot and we'll find it. Which we did. However the rest of the group stayed behind because the teachers couldn't bring everyone on the ferry when they were two kids short. Finally Disney security showed up at the bus where the two of us had been waiting with the driver for an hour. The ninth grader was really pissed at me for years for embarrassing him in front of everyone.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:01 PM
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One time I was left unsupervised with a blog and I just kept making comments with no one to stop me.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:02 PM
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Mom said she'd be back in 15 minutes...


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:25 PM
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Oh right, you're all off counting how many miles the hockey players are skating. New Yorkers skate like this, LA players skate like that.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:39 PM
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I just read the early comments in the thread. My mom would leave me home alone for a couple hours a day when we'd first moved to the states (I was five). She said she explained that the stove was dangerous, so I wasn't to touch it, and that was it. I have only vague recollections of this time, and it was completely uneventful. I do remember that that lasted only a little while and then she found a babysitter, who always made me finish my food. God, I hated that.

Anyway, my older kid has pretty good executive function, and I'd bet that in a couple of years he'd be fine for a couple of hours by himself at home. Would I do it? No. The calculus of "almost surely fine" vs. "what if something happens" is so fucked up, but so hard to resist. Signed, Dick Cheney.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 6:45 PM
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Yeah, exactly. You know it's ridiculous, and yet: what about that "what if'?

I have a over-parenting vigilance story:

Shortly before we moved to NJ, I left my son, aged 7 (7! the age of reason, traditionally, if not of reasonableness), outside a grocery store while I went in to pick up a few things. Not in a car in a parking lot, mind you, but standing on the sidewalk in front a grocery store waiting for his mother to finish her shopping. This grocery store was two blocks from our apartment, in the (Queens, NY) neighbourhood he had known since birth. And I let him stay outside because he didn't feel like going into the store. And he knew where he was, and he knew where I was, and he was 7.

Next thing I know, I'm in the canned goods section of the grocery store when this old biddy comes barrelling down the aisle with my son on her arm, and the boy in tears (I don't know what she said to him, but apparently he thought his mother was going to prison, and he blamed himself, because he hadn't felt like going into the grocery store). She harangued me ("You don't leave a child alone, not for one minute! Not in this day and age"); and she threatened to call the police. I was shocked; shaken up; and upset: my son was in tears. And this was just so completely unexpected, and also so stupid and bizarre...But as shaken up as I was, I was also quite angry, and I think it was my anger that allowed me to turn the tables on her. "Did you touch my boy?" I demanded. That stopped her harangue. And she clearly had touched him, she came down that aisle with my son on her arm. "Did you touch my child?", I repeated. She beat a hasty retreat.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:48 PM
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162.last is so great.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:54 PM
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162:

Well, that's appalling, and seems to be what LB was afraid of at the top of the thread, but somehow it never happened to me in my years of negligent parenting, unless I brushed it off without even remembering the disapproval.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 7:55 PM
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I heard if you touched a child, the mother won't take him or her back.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:18 PM
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gswift, what would taking your under nine year old on easy but super exposed class four be?

Just so long he free solos it. "Keep the climbing pure, kid. Shoes and a bag of chalk, that's all."


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 8:38 PM
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I think I first stayed home alone at 8 (residential area, single-family homes) and by 11 or so I would bike a few miles to school or take the bus into Berkeley to my mom's office, usually by myself. I think I was around the same age when my sister and I started walking our dog without our parents coming with us, but my sister is a couple of years older and the dog was a Siberian Husky who many thought looked like a wolf.

I don't remember ever sitting alone or just with my sister in a parked car (aside from waiting at a gas pump), but it probably happened.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:24 PM
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What rock and climbing shoes? This was ledge and ridge and summit block scrambling during hikes. Sometimes there were fixed cables to grab on to, sometimes not. Some dude's film of a heavily cabled one and Part 2 I was a hell of a lot more scared the times I did it as an adult than as a little kid. Also, the Tatras, very pretty mountains, though I guess less snowy last year than normal so none at all by August.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:41 PM
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Come to think of it, the title of the post sums up my feelings in certain moments the times I did that hike as an adult.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 9:51 PM
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I started babysitting on my own at around age 11. I think I first stayed home alone by myself for a few hours around age 8-9. I was probably around 9-10 when I first rode the bus alone. I had some early mishaps of getting off at the wrong stop or getting on the bus going the wrong way, but I learned pretty quickly and no harm befell me. Starting in 6th grade I was on my own for getting to school, and from then on did a combo of walking/biking/public transit. My parents were pretty hands off in part for political reasons--they didn't like how MC little white girls in particular are taught that they are precious and delicate and needed to be watched over, so they were pretty into making sure we were tough and independent. I don't remember strangers criticizing my parents' hands off parenting,* but I do remember getting cooed over by strangers and my parents pretty much brushing it all off. They made pretty sure to let us know that we weren't inherently special.

*Weirdly enough, I remember my parents getting criticized for not reinforcing racist beauty standards. My parents made sure we owned lots of dark-haired dolls, since they thought having all or mostly all blonde dolls normalized problematic beauty standards. Finding darker complexioned dolls was harder in the 80s than it is now and took some active effort, and I remember at least 2 occasions where my mother got questioned by the sales lady as to why she'd want to buy a brunette doll for blonde children, as though it was some sort of perverse act. My parents were pretty vocal about how blond hair wasn't anything special, and this sort of thing got amazing pushback from strangers who would rush to reassure little blonde girls that yes, indeed, blond hair was highly valued by society, like somehow our psyches would be damaged by the idea that we weren't extra special and prettier than everyone else.


Posted by: Buttercup | Link to this comment | 06- 4-14 10:43 PM
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I'm going to agree with those calling bullshit on the story. But even pretending it's true, no sympathy. I'm just going to come right out and say that 4 is too young to leave a kid out of sight in the car.


Posted by: DK | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 4:03 PM
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What's your fear of what would happen? The kid is probably buckled up in their five point harness, since that's half the PITA of loading and unloading a kid.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 4:49 PM
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WHy? Are parents supposed to also not let them out of sight at home? Make sure they're in the stall with them when the parent is taking a dump?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 5-14 4:49 PM
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140: Try this one for just one example. Or look at the Patrick Jewell case in Matt Taibbi's new book "The Divide". Understanding how dangerous the police can be is a basic survival skill parents should teach their kids at an appropriate age, particularly male children.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:08 AM
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140: Try this one for just one example. Or look at the Patrick Jewell case in Matt Taibbi's new book "The Divide". Understanding how dangerous the police can be is a basic survival skill parents should teach their kids at an appropriate age, particularly male children.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:08 AM
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Mostly, I worry about a kid that age panicking or freaking out about some unexpected thing. Being locked and strapped in also means if there's a bee in the car or something, little guy is trapped. Four is still little enough that 5 minutes alone in an unfamiliar place can seem like a really long time and feel pretty scary.

It's not the same as being left out of sight at home. At home, the kid is enjoying a little freedom and can run or yell for a parent or neighbor if something is wrong. What if something happened to mom in the store? Tripped on something and was injured, sudden heart attack. How long does till someone knows to look for/find the kid?


Posted by: DK | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:08 AM
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176: And still all the things you are mentioning are less likely than being injured or killed while the parent is in the car with the kid, driving.

The illusion of control seems to poison the reasoning centers of the brain.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:12 AM
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I was walking almost a mile to school alone by the time I was 8. And yes, it was uphill both ways. Also, taking the bus downtown alone at 11.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:15 AM
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I was walking almost a mile to school alone by the time I was 8. And yes, it was uphill both ways. Also, taking the bus downtown alone at 11.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:15 AM
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Because my parents were safety conscious, when I was young I got a ride home from school with the neighbor. Six kids in a standard cab pick-up with the youngest one doing the steering.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:18 AM
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8? 8?

I was walking a mile to school at 5. Slacker.*

* seriously, I was. But so were a lot of my friends, so there was a little group of us trundling down the road. And all along that route were groups of kids walking to school.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:18 AM
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I never walked to school before college. My dad's office was a block from the school. Also, when I turned 16, I insisted on driving every day despite living about 3/4th of a mile from school and my dad still driving to the same office.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:21 AM
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And still all the things you are mentioning are less likely than being injured or killed while the parent is in the car with the kid, driving.

No, I am pretty confident that freaking out about being alone in an unfamiliar place is significantly less likely when the parent is in the car with the kid. It's not about any "illusion of control." It's about the very non-iillusory value of being available.

Knee-jerk condescension can also poison the reasoning centers of the brain.


Posted by: DK | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:24 AM
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I just googled street-viewed the route. A slightly sad experience. When we walked it, F/ oundry L/ oan, it was literally a street lined with iron foundries and casting works, on both sides. With one large timber-yard. So there were houses at one end of the village [where we lived] and the school was at the other.

Now all of that industrial stuff has been razed, and it's street after street of crappy [but probably quite expensive] housing development, jammed in cheek-by-howl.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:24 AM
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Sorry, all the things except that one.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:25 AM
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Do you have to pay extra to howl?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:25 AM
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My childhood house in on street-view now. That's new. They still have the same "Slow, Children" sign that they put up in 1970-whatever.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:30 AM
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Were you a Slow Child?


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:31 AM
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That's the same joke my friends used to make.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:32 AM
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But the kid isn't alone in "an unfamiliar place". They're alone in a familiar car where they begged to stay, with an iPad to amuse them, for 15 minutes or less. A random freakout is, I suppose, not impossible, but I can't think why you'd think it was likely unless you knew the kid in question to be prone to random freakouts under similar circumstances. Presumably, if this woman knew her kid was, she wouldn't have left him alone in the car (and as reported, there was no freakout).


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:35 AM
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Newt ended up in the emergency room getting stitches in his chin after a fall at preschool, and one of the doctors asked me if I had alcohol in the house? I gave her a strange look, and said

"...well, not any more, this little bugger finished it all off!"


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:35 AM
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Make sure they're in the stall with them when the parent is taking a dump?

Very hard once the kid is mobile. They'll just duck under the dividers and get away.



Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:36 AM
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My walk to school was a mile. I forget when I started, but it might not have been until I was seven or so. I don't think I walked in Kindergarten. I also used to get left in the car all the time. It was perfectly fine, except for the one time that I managed to get my dad's car into neutral and take off the e-brake. That was fine, too, it was just a bit startling for the people who noticed the car drifting backwards across the parking lot.

When I was a bit older (9 or 10?) I used to get in trouble for taking like three hours to walk home because I would be reading while walking and get engaged in the book and forget to really walk.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:38 AM
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I think I've mentioned the time I managed to get my dad's car into neutral and roll it over my brother's arm.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:42 AM
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This is probably a jerky thing to say along the lines of "I sometimes forget everybody isn't as natural-minded as I am" but I am really glad that Zardoz doesn't have to spend a bunch of time every day in a car. I have friends whose kids spend like three hours a day sitting in a car seat; it just seems horrendous for both the kid and the parent.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:44 AM
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More of 190: Also, the bad outcome feared is that the kid will be scared and upset for five or ten minutes. While this is not something you'd choose to have happen, it's also not the caliber of risk that it seems to me to be worth all that much to avoid. Scared and upset (in the absence of genuine danger) are things that are going to happen to children at least sometimes -- they're just not going to be reliably avoidable.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 6:45 AM
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Like I've said before, I'd be totally comfortable having Hawaii walk to school under Ttam's circumstances.

The most independent thing she does is go with Jammies to his indoor soccer games. He's in goal and can't really see her, and it's a big complex, and she's expected to behave herself, but she can explore or people watch or whatever. Games last 45 minutes and I was slightly curious/concerned about a freak out the first time she went, because Jammies' team would be stuck a bit if he had to exit. But she was fine, at age four.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:05 AM
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193, 194: And I the time when in similar circumstances my sister rolled the car out of a grocery store parking lot into a busy street. Leading to my mother needing to respond to a page of "Would the mother of a crying young girl in the back of a green Dodge please come to the manager's office."


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:07 AM
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195: Yesterday was the big girls' last day of school, and so dropoff and pickup now require walking around the corner and signing them in with their teachers. It's not that there was anything awfully onerous about one of us walking Selah and the other driving the other two across town and continuing on to work, but this is so much nicer and even just getting them into an aftercare where we don't have to mess with car seats has significantly improved my quality of life.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:08 AM
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A random freakout is, I suppose, not impossible, but I can't think why you'd think it was likely unless you knew the kid in question to be prone to random freakouts under similar circumstances.

Perhaps my sense of the likelihood of other people outside the car being assholes in ways that could upset a kid are higher than yours. I probably also wouldn't want to leave an iPad alone with a 4-year-old child. But it might be safer with a 4-year-old than with me, realistically.

Also, the bad outcome feared is that the kid will be scared and upset for five or ten minutes. While this is not something you'd choose to have happen, it's also not the caliber of risk that it seems to me to be worth all that much to avoid.

This sentiment is entirely foreign to my parenting philosophy. I mean, sure, sometime you and your kid will have to deal with the kid being scared and upset. But I have a hard time seeing having to tell your 4-year-old child "no" and making him come in the damn store with you as some huge burden to impose on a parent.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:16 AM
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It will certainly make the trip into the store take a lot longer. And since forcing a kid leads to a grumpy kid and there's no Life Lesson to impart, it just seems like win-win if the child prefers to stay in the car. Assuming safe weather and indifferent passerbys.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:20 AM
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I think the Life Lessons are: (1) if we talk beforehand about how you'll have to come inside if you come with and you make a decision that you will indeed come inside, then the consequence is that you will have to stick to your decision; and (2) you cannot manipulate your parent into giving you your way by just threatening to throw a fit.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:24 AM
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I always forced my kid to go into the store and let him push the little shopping cart they have for kids. It really keeps strangers on their toes.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:27 AM
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Making a child's every momentary whim into a lesson about sticking to their decisions sounds quite tiring indeed.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:28 AM
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the little shopping cart they have for kids.

I think the name for these is People Mower.


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:30 AM
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(1) if we talk beforehand about how you'll have to come inside if you come with and you make a decision that you will indeed come inside, then the consequence is that you will have to stick to your decision;

This, yes. I forgot that was an aspect of the story. If we discuss that you'll be putting away the iPad, you're not going to manipulate me into changing my mind by throwing a tantrum.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:31 AM
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202: On that, I agree with you. She seems as if she was maneuvered by her kid into doing something that she wouldn't have done otherwise because she was afraid of the kid pitching a fit, and that seems like (allowing for the fact that everyone screws up sometimes) bad parenting -- Halford made the same point above and I agreed. I just don't think that what she actually did was anything to worry about much.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:32 AM
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Making a child's every momentary whim into a lesson about sticking to their decisions sounds quite tiring indeed.

Not this kind of thing. A decision about what to wear that day or what to eat? Sure. But this is more like manipulation - the kid only wanted to come because they wanted to play with the ipad the whole time, and they had no intention of cooperating into the store even when they agreed to it.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:33 AM
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Making a child's every momentary whim into a lesson about sticking to their decisions sounds quite tiring indeed.

I think you may just be overstating my argument just ever so slightly. There is some space, I think, between "every momentary whim" and "this decision that was significant enough to me before we left the house that we had a specific, pointed discussion about it."


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:33 AM
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But absent the prior discussion, if the kid spontaneously asks to stay in the car, I don't see a moral lesson to impart by dragging them into the store.

(OTOH, I can never waive away hot weather and meddlesome passersby. But a similar situation would be if we were at the airport or a park, and I had to go to the bathroom, and the four year old wanted to keep playing/sitting where they were. Sure, they might freak out, but self-soothing is a skill, and I really will be right back.)


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:39 AM
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202 seems reasonable but I'm not sure really needs CPS intervention and quasi-criminal punishment by the state. Or intervention by some annoying bystander.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:40 AM
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I just don't think that what she actually did was anything to worry about much.

Well, I do agree it was not the sort of bad decision that would warrant tracking someone across state lines and charging them with a crime after 9 months of discussion with their lawyer, who for some reason is having extensive discussions with the police over a situation in which no charges have been filed and who is reportedly advising his client to plead guilty on implied threat that this state a two-hour flight away could somehow take away her child living in a different state. Indeed, all of that is unquestionably a ridiculous response. But a bystander feeling concerned and the cops maybe making a "hey, lady, don't do it next time" phone call? Seems ok.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:42 AM
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But a bystander feeling concerned and the cops maybe making a "hey, lady, don't do it next time" phone call? Seems ok.

In the absence of the kid actually freaking out?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:46 AM
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Clearly the bystander should do something to make the kid freak out first, then tell the police that there's a kid freaking out.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:47 AM
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Seems potentially ok. We don't know the situation from the bystander's perspective. S/he may have had no reason to think it was only going to be 10 minutes (or whatever) and erred on the side of caution.

Or maybe mom cut the bystander off to snag that parking space before leaving Junior to play on the iPad. That might justify a call, too.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:49 AM
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As reported, the conversation about the "decision" was "You hate going to the store." "No I don't!" But okay, even if he's angling for more iPad time through the whole thing (which she only realizes once they're at the store), sometimes "good parenting" and expediency are going to come into conflict. Have to be at the airport in two hours? Maybe not the time to worry about her not using this teachable moment.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:56 AM
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If the child is freaking out, I'm fine with bystander concern. I am not fine with bystander concern that causes a freakout, or wouldn't prevent/mitigate one, but is designed to teach the parent a lesson.

Bystander doesn't know shit about how adjusted the kid is to things,* what discussions have gone on between kid and parent. No, it isn't actually about the kid at all: the bystander acted here to punish the parent, because she's doing it wrong.

* Actually, this isn't even true: bystander can see that the kid is perfectly fine. Onto which bystander is presuming to impose idiosyncratic fears about what might happen if the next bystander isn't so "helpful."


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:56 AM
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I find the bystander calling the cops thing to be the most unconscionable part of the whole story. Fuck these nosy intervening assholes. If the kid's not freaking out, maybe stay with the kid a bit before calling the goddamn police.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:56 AM
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maybe stay with the kid a bit before calling the goddamn police

Yeah, I'm sure the bystander had nothing better to do than watch some stranger's kid. Seeing as we don't have the benefit of the bystander's side of the story, maybe assuming the person is an asshole out to punish a parent for doing it wrong is less than perfectly fair.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:00 AM
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Because she literally was a person out to punish the Mom, and did so? Seems pretty fucking fair to me. I mean if the bystander didn't have time to do anything reasonable about the situation the bystander probably shouldn't have done anything.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:02 AM
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Nothing you suggest as possibilities from the bystander's perspective excuses the behavior. If bystander is concerned enough to make video and contact police, then staying until the police arrive is not only reasonable but required.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:03 AM
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221 says it well with less swearing.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:06 AM
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How do you know s/he didn't? Maybe s/he waited, saw mom return but opted not to initiate a confrontation, provided her video to the police when they arrived and explained that the kid seemed to be ok when mom got back.

Halford, what basis do you have for concluding she was out to punish the mom rather than being sincerely (if unreasonably, to your mind) concerned?


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:06 AM
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But seriously, fucking busybodies are the worst. If you see a kid in actual trouble, help the kid until the parents get involved. Otherwise go fuck yourself.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:08 AM
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Providing the video to police after the mom has returned and driven away is even more of a dick move. There are no longer any reasonable fears about what might happen, because it's known that it all turned out fine.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:11 AM
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And indeed has only one purpose: punish the mom.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:12 AM
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OMG are you seriously going with "it was OK to call the cops because she didn't want to have a confrontation"? If Mom is back and kid is fine, there's no need for a confrontation, and calling the cops because you're too scared to confrot Mom with being on your high horse even though you really want to be on your high horse is not a justifiable reaction.

Being unreasonably concerned in this way and deciding that you MUST get into other people's business, whether sincerely or not, is the mark of the fucking busybody.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:12 AM
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Halford, what basis do you have for concluding she was out to punish the mom rather than being sincerely (if unreasonably, to your mind) concerned?

I'm not Halford, but I'm saying it because at the time she provided the video to the police she either (a) wasn't concerned enough about the kid to wait and assure herself that the kid was safe of (b) actually saw the mother come back and knew that the kid was safe. At that point, giving the video to the cops doesn't protect the kid in the moment at all, it only punishes the mother.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:12 AM
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Maybe what our reliable narrator described as a sort of pre-tantrum agitation looked to the patently-unreasonable bystander like a kid freaking the fuck out.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:12 AM
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Maybe the hidden coverup part of the story is that the person who took the video had once shown up at the mom's door in a teddy and was rejected and has been nursing that hurt ever since, or something, and finally found the perfect moment for revenge.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:13 AM
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Halford, what basis do you have for concluding she was out to punish the mom rather than being sincerely (if unreasonably, to your mind) concerned?

Is your argument that the bystander is concerned that the mom is doing this all the time? Because otherwise, once the mom is back and the kid is fine, the concern should be over.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:14 AM
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Perhaps s/he had already called the police because mom ran into the store leaving an agitated 4-year-old behind and, even though all appeared fine by the time the police arrived, the bystander felt it was appropriate to answer questions and provide information as honestly as possible, having already made the call.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:15 AM
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The situation is complicated by the kid getting left in the car (though it's pure conjecture that she left him there agitated), but you're coming dangerously close to arguing that it's okay to call the cops when you see a mom let her child get agitated.


Posted by: Blume | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:18 AM
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229, 232: Yes, if the actual story is about the mother leaving a kid who was upset enough to be reasonably perceived as freaking out to a bystander, I'd feel differently about it. I'd also feel differently about it if the mother had slapped the child in the face before leaving. Neither is impossible, given that people who write stories about themselves in online magazines lie.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:19 AM
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Wait a minute, DK...this did take place in CHICAGO!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:19 AM
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Here's what a reasonable person who was actually concerned for the kid would have done: wait a few minutes. If you have time to make a video and call the cops, you have time to sit and make sure the parent is coming back and the kid is ok while the parent is gone. If it's a cool day, give it ten minutes, then call the cops. Odds are, the parent will come back and you can say, "Brah, I was about to call the cops, and most people would have; you really can't do this anymore."


Posted by: ogged | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:21 AM
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Jerks often feel their behavior is appropriate.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:23 AM
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232 still doesn't explain why not-at-all-an-asshole-bystander decided it was important to video the incident and provide the video to the cops, instead of just waiting with the kid until everything was OK.

I mean, look, as I said above, the story as told is weird enough so that there may well be more to the story than what Salon Mom says. But defending the bystander on the facts as presented is ridiculous, unless you think it's OK to go around punishing other people who you don't know for making mildly questionable parenting choices.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:24 AM
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pure conjecture that she left him there agitated

Oh, not pure conjecture. The narrator decribes her decision to leave him in the car as precipitated by a look in the kid's eye that she had "come to recognize as a sort of pre-tantrum agitation." I mean, it's still very possible that he stopped being agitated instantly upon getting his way. Manipulative little fuck. But it's also possible that it took him some time to regroup. I don't trust the narrator anywhere near enough to judge anyone else based on her story.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:24 AM
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Jerks gonna jerk.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:25 AM
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236 is eminently reasonable. But perhaps the bystander made a split-second impulsive decision that, just like the narrator, s/he might later describe as a "lapse in judgment." Or not. We only have one self-interested side of the story.

235: Ha! I'm happy to judge in private, but getting involved would be a whole lot of work. (If I were in the situation, and felt concerned, I'd almost certainly do what Ogged suggests in 236, except for the part about saying something to the parent, because (a) I do tend to paranoia and needless anxiety and (b) I hate confrontation.)


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:31 AM
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My god, the busybodies. Don't even fucking get me started. Holy shit, is that kid not wearing a seatbelt? And look at that Dad having a smoke around his kids! Call the cops, I have video!


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:32 AM
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why not-at-all-an-asshole-bystander decided it was important to video the incident and provide the video to the cops

Hard to know whether that was unreasonable without knowing what the video shows. Taking the story at face value (which, I really, really don't), whatever was on the video was apparently of enough concern that some municipality thought it worth tracking a woman across the country and hauling* her back to wherever to face charges.

* Or politely asking her to return. Which, it's been too long since I took criminal procedure to figure out exactly how absurd some of the decisions reported really were.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:36 AM
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But defending the bystander on the facts as presented is ridiculous, unless you think it's OK to go around punishing other people who you don't know for making mildly questionable parenting choices.

Ah, there's the disconnect. I'm not really defending the bystander on the facts presented. I'm suggesting it's unreasonable to judge the bystander on the facts presented given the self-serving, not overwhelmingly credible nature of the facts presented.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:38 AM
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I'm not really defending the bystander on the facts presented. I'm suggesting it's unreasonable to judge the bystander on the facts presented given the self-serving, not overwhelmingly credible nature of the facts presented.

I suppose. I guess once I'm completely dismissing the story as a tissue of fabrications, that doesn't get me to "it's unreasonable to judge the bystander" so much as "it's unreasonable to engage with the story at all, we can't tell what happened on any level." Maybe the kid was screaming, maybe the mother was hitting the kid, maybe it was a hot day and the kid could have died, maybe the car was rolling downhill -- anything.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:50 AM
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I guess once I'm completely dismissing the story as a tissue of fabrications, that doesn't get me to "it's unreasonable to judge the bystander" so much as "it's unreasonable to engage with the story at all, we can't tell what happened on any level."

Yeah, I suppose it just gets me to "I really dislike this narrator so I'm going to just go ahead and take a good solid anti-narrator position on the matter." Well, that and I have looming deadlines so, you know, the only right thing to do is argue aimlessly on the internet.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:14 AM
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Somebody should mention the "argue aimlessly on the internet" on the counterfactuals thread.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:15 AM
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Well, that and I have looming deadlines so, you know, the only right thing to do is argue aimlessly on the internet.

Oh, god, yes. My life is a trainwreck.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:16 AM
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"it's unreasonable to engage with the story at all, we can't tell what happened on any level."

Per Moby, if this blog has convincingly demonstrated anything in its life, it is that this asymptote is not actually reachable in finite comments.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:29 AM
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After my first layoff, I took a couple of weeks off to rest and take a family vacation before starting my formal job search (I had been working pretty much non-stop for the previous few months in an effort to get off the looming layoff list). In the middle of the family vacation, I got a call from a friend of mine who had heard I was available, and wanted to know if I could come in for an interview the next day. Instead of dropping everything to drive home for the interview, I told him I'd come in the following week after I returned. The interview the next week went well, and they were getting ready to make me an offer, when all of a sudden they announced the company was getting acquired, with an associated hiring freeze.

If I had dropped everything to go for the earlier interview, I probably would have snuck in under the wire to get hired, and been sitting with a paying job and suddenly very cashable stock options instead of being without a salary for the next two years. That could have made quite a difference in my overall financial position. I did have one more option a few months later to get a different job that I've mentioned in TFA, but that involved a much more deliberate choice on my part.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 12:02 PM
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250: Oops, wrong thread. Reposted in correct one.


Posted by: Dave W. | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 12:04 PM
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Argh. I can snipe at the narrator for not being able to say no to a 4-year-old. But disciplining your kid is the worst part of parenting ever. She fucked up and she gets that ams she's feels bad and she even accepts the consequences (loss of phone, computer, TV for the weekend). But ugh. I hate it. If she were a snotty little brat who told me it's bullshit and unfair (it might be), I would hate it less.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:31 PM
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I was there just last weekend -- Sally had gotten cavalier about checking in when she was going to be home late, and had us worried as anything last Friday. Same punishment -- phone, laptop, TV.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:59 PM
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Me.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 7:59 PM
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Phone, Laptop, TV, Me: The Future of Air Travel


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:04 PM
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Yep. Same story here. Except cavalier about checking in meant not only worry but delaying my dinner an hour when I was really, really hungry. But God would punishing her be easier if she didn't show the darned sincere remorse.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:22 PM
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Since this is the parenting thread, does anyone (parent or non) know anything about nonverbal learning disabilities?

Disciplining is definitely tough, although we don't get a lot of remorse in this neck of the woods.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:28 PM
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Tomorrow is the first day of summer break for us. Can I Tell you now how dumb summer break is? How much this will lower our standard of living?

Can I please send the children to their grandparents' homes for the summer?


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 8:58 PM
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TJ, what are your summer break plans for them? I feel a little sucky that we don't have big vacation plans, but we don't.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:12 PM
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Thorn, all our plans are stricltly small-bore at this point. A series of pre-planned playdates, some swimming lessons, a week of TKD we got half off in a raffle anda couple of day camp like activities.


Posted by: Turgid | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:38 PM
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We don't have summer vacation plans because Rory is far too booked. Driver's ed, engineering camp, Europe with dad. I am OK with it.

What are nonverbal learning disabilities? Clearly, I have no useful wisdom to offer. But I'm curious. I'm so verbal - centric, I can't even picture what nonverbal learning entails.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:38 PM
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We are going to try for daily journaling for the whole family, too.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:41 PM
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Summer break is fucking awesome. Shooting, fishing, canyon bbq's, and a week and a half in Yellowstone with my dad coming along. Maybe more, it's early in the season.


Posted by: gswift | Link to this comment | 06- 6-14 9:50 PM
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The concept of 'playdates' is part of the change in child rearing habits.

I'm trying to remember when it became ok to tell my parents I'm going out at night and will be back sometime after their bedtime. Last or second to last year in high school I think.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 06- 7-14 12:41 AM
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261.2: That's kind of what I'm trying to figure out. It's much more rare than dyslexia and other verbal learning disorders, but things like inability to recognize a pattern, trouble organizing information spacially or visually like in columns (so rough for math) or even the physical act of writing, needing constant spoken reassurance about what has happened and what's about to happen, plus some social and fine-motor and balance-related symptoms that get even more complicated because it seems to intertwine in certain respects with autism spectrum disorders and that makes it complicated for me to figure out who's talking about what here.

Daily family journaling sounds awesome and I think I may steal that!


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 06- 7-14 3:10 AM
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Ah, gswift, if I ever get to the promised land you must show me where the trout are lurking (they're all, I believe, lurkers on this blog; at least none post actively)


Posted by: Nworb Werdna | Link to this comment | 06- 7-14 4:42 AM
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where the trout are lurking

Room 208


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 06- 7-14 5:37 AM
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I need my son to misbehave enough that I can ban Pokemon. Unless there's an episode where Ash and Pikachu die painfully, I don't understand how anybody is supposed to watch this.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-14 7:41 AM
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The hard thing is devising punishments that aren't worse for the parents than for the kid. Banning Pokemon seems impossible on that criterion.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 06- 7-14 7:43 AM
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Banning TV is worse. If I ban Pokemon, I think maybe I can start him watching Columbo now that he's 8.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 06- 7-14 7:49 AM
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Woman leaves 9-year old at park while working during the day. Busybody parent calls cops on her, she goes to jail, child taken by social services.
"You cannot just leave your child alone at a public place, especially. This day and time, you never know who's around. Good, bad, it's just not safe."


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 07-14-14 11:27 AM
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I keep returning to this thread as I hear more of these stories. People I know posted a story on FB, the dad ran into a store for 10 minutes and left the kids in the car. Woman sat in her van watching, called the cops and stayed there watching until dad returned, dad was visited by the state police later that day.
The age of the kids? 10 and 13. At one point the 13 year old ran in on his own to buy a gatorade because they were thirsty. The cop apologized to the dad for needing to follow up.
Of course, they're white so as far as legal repercussions nothing was going to happen anyway.


Posted by: SP | Link to this comment | 08-27-14 5:10 AM
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