Thursday, March 17, 2011


Okay, blog readers, time for another round of my favorite game. What Would You Do?

Today I pulled into my local grocery store parking lot. I parked next to a van and right next to the cart corral (yay!). As I was getting Will out of the car, I heard the unmistakable cries of a baby. I looked behind me and saw a baby in a carseat in the minivan right next to my car. I also saw a toddler in a car seat. The engine was running, but as I scanned the car, I could not see an adult in the car.

That's because there wasn't one.

The doors were unlocked, the keys were in the ignition, the engine was on. The kids were in the car, secured in their seats, the infant was crying.

I stood there for a moment or two trying to figure out what to do. I didn't want to leave these kids unattended. I gave a brief thought to calling 9-1-1, but decided that the police probably wouldn't respond before a parent (hopefully) returned to the car.

Another woman walking by cast a curious glance at the car and then asked me if it was mine. I told her it wasn't and, concerned, she joined me in pondering the situation. As the minutes passed, we both began to wonder if this was a stolen car, dropped off because the criminal didn't want to have two innocent kids on board. Neither of us could imagine a mom intentionally leaving her kids alone in an unlocked, unguarded, engine-running car for even a minute, let alone the time we had been standing there.

I wrote down the license plate, car color, make, and model. I was about to dial the police when a lady came out of the store. Before I could even open my mouth, she threw up her hand in a defensive gesture and said, "Yes, these are my kids. And they are fine. Mind your own business."

She then peeled out of the parking lot, tires screeching.

I have all of the information to report her to CPS, but balk at making the actual phone call.

So, what would you do?


A'Dell said...

AUGH!!! This makes me crazy!! Not acceptable, no matter the length of time, to leave an infant and toddler unsupervised IN A RUNNING VEHICLE.

Is it ILLEGAL? Maybe not specifically, but I'm sure CPS frowns upon it.

The MYOB comment is sort of icing on the cake though...You would be happy to MYOB if she was a responsible person but it appears she is not so you, as a member of society interested in protecting the welfare of shorties, had to look after them yourself and ponder the situation. MYOB, MY ASS.

And the thing is, if she did this then what else is she/has she done? UGH UGH UGH.

You hate to call the cops, but in this case it's like, the welfare of the children trumps being polite. Let CPS and the cops sort it out.

I think I might have called them, but sounds like just as you were maybe about to get to that conclusion she showed up. You could still call though.

Rebecca said...

It is illegal to leave your kids in the car much less a running car (unlocked for God's sake???)...I'd make the call. We get a notice from the Crazes' preschool saying that they will call CPS/police if you leave a child in the car.

Everyone has a rough day, but when the Crazies were infants, you'd see me literally RUNNING through the parking lot just to get back to the car after returning my cart. I would never go into a store without the just can't do that. that I wrote all that, I changed my mind. We all have rough days and we don't know the circumstances...omg...I just don't know. Please update us (as I've been absolutely no help) and let us know what you decide.

Amanda said...

I would definitely report it to CPS. Someone needs to protect her children!

I understand the desire to run in and get something, but there's no way in hell I'd ever do it!!! A local woman left her infant in her locked car long enough to run into the post office & someone took her child.

And her telling you to mind your own business? When she left her children alone in an unlocked running vehicle, it became public business.

The Hale's said...

If I were you I would call CPS. You never for any reason leave your kids in the car alone. Especially with the car running!

Anonymous said...

I don't know what the laws are there, but here in TX it is illegal to leave a child alone in a vehicle for more than five minutes. But here, leaving your kids in a vehicle that *wasn't* running would be the dangerous thing to do. Here, it gets hot in a vehicle so fast that it can kill children or pets in a matter of minutes. The AC has to be going, and thus the vehicle running, from late march - late October. Otherwise it can be deadly. I will fully admit to running in to the post office and leaving the kids (3 under 2) in the truck. But I was back out in less than five minutes, and I could see the truck the whole time. The reason for leaving the doors unlocked is because a "concerned citizen" will not hesitate, even for five minutes, to bust out your window with a rock to get your kids out if the doors are locked, even if they are in no actual danger. Like I said, I don't know the laws there, but by standards here, if you stood there for more than five minutes, you should call CPS. If not, then give her the benefit of the doubt - she may come from a place where the proper thing to do is to leave the doors unlocked and the engine running.

Studentrntiffany said...

I had a very similar experience a couple years ago, and after I reported her I had some intense guilt. Later that year I read an article about a car jacket who stole a car thy had children in it, in the report he stated that the car was unlocked and running he merely got in and drove off.

I say report her before something bad or dangerous happens to the kids. The Mom clearly knows it's not appropriate and still does it.

Our responsibility as adults is to the minor children not to the other parents.

Michele said...

I would have called 911 and I still would report her to CPS. That is TERRIBLE!

Anonymous said...

My husband is a police officer and he says if she ahs done it once she will do it again and again. And she wont stop until someone reports her or one of the children gets hurt.

Ashley said...

So disturbing! I would call CPS. I would have called the police. Thankfully nothing bad happened to them this time, but it could the next. She obviously does not see the problem with leaving her children unattended in the car. This story could have had a much different ending...

I know it is not easy to run quick errands with two young children, but we have responsibilities as parents to take care of our children... even if it makes quick tasks more difficult. There is no excuse for what she did.

Beth said...

Ugh, I have no tolerance for this kind of nonsense. I would definitely call CPS. She made it your business by involving you (and another woman) in the concern for the welfare of her children. Now it should be CPS' decision to see if there are other things they should be concerned with....who knows, right?

As parents, we have 24/7 responsibility to our children - no matter what.

I know firsthand what a pain it is to haul children in and out of carseats, carts, stores, all while taking care of our errands and back again - that's why I rarely do major running around with them in tow (seriously? grocery shopping alone? a mini vacation! haha) - but I do what I have to do to keep them safe at all costs.

Keep us posted!

Tracy said...

It is illegal here in michigan too. I would call the police and report it, then let them sort it out with cps.

Searching said...

I would call CPS and give them the info. It's up to them where they go from there, but you did what you could to protect the kids. Even if it is just a call to that mom, might be enough that she never does it again. I would def worry that someone would hop in the van & go, or toss the kids out on the pavement & take the van. If she had come running out as you passed it, eh. But you AND another concerned woman stopped & had time to think it out and get all the info. That's a decent amt of time & if she reacted that way just seeing you, you KNOW she does other things that risk her babies' safety. Report it.

Anonymous said...

I'd call CPS. In today's world, you DON'T leave children in a running car with doors unlocked. While the mom may not be completely neglectful, she needs a wake up call.

Heather said...

I would totally call CPS. The children have no one else to stand up for their rights. If she was having a bad day and this was a one time thing, then CPS will find that. If it's something she does all the time (among other things she shouldn't) then CPS will discover that and take appropriate action.

Allison said...

Absolutely. Without a doubt. CALL! I can't believe you hesitated, honestly. Why would you NOT?!

Mazzy said...

Wow. I won't even leave L in the car for 5 seconds, even if I can see her from where I am. I am such a spazz and you hear about kids dying in hot cars in Texas almost EVERY SINGLE WEEK in the summer here. Its enough to make your stomach turn.

That said, in the future I'd probably call the police pretty quickly if someone didn't show up within a few minutes. I might call CPS just to check on them now, as well. I'd definitely pray for all of them.


Laura said...

I'd make the call too. I doubt that is the only CPS-worthy thing this woman does - know what I mean? call em...

Joy@WDDCH said...

ANYTIME you see a child left in a car you should call the police. I would not hesitate to call and report her.

It is what it is said...

It is illegal in the state of CA to leaving a child under the age of six unattended in a car without the supervision of a child older than 12.

Her attitude alone would have pushed me in the direction of calling the police right then and there!

Glad you called CPS and hope you conscience is clear. It is about the children not what kind of day she did or didn't have.

Ludicrous Mama said...

The reason that leaving children unattended in a car is illegal is the danger of suffocation, overheating, freezing, etc. It's not illegal to be a bonehead and have your child kidnapped. If that were the case, every mom not staring hawk-eyed at any child not strapped into a shopping cart or tied to a parent with duct tape would be arrested.
I'm glad you called CPS. While I'm usually a "to each his own" type of person, leaving children in the car can become extremely dangerous to them. Anyone who has ever lost track of time, or forgotten to pick up a child from school, or had anything else slip their minds (ie: all of humanity,) could forget that the kids are in the car and leave them longer than intended. And in may places, weather can change fast while you're inside.

If they're insulting, spanking or psychologically abusing their child, sadly, MYOB (or not. But be prepared for a fight.) But if they are endangering their child physically, even if the present circumstances aren't directly harmful (leaving the heat/AC on so they don't get overwhelmed by the elements, and cracking a window or not having the recirculated air button, so that the kids get fresh air essentially protects them from the risks that the laws were designed for) it's still illegal, and one day they might NOT keep it safe.
The child could learn to unfasten their safety belt and harm themselves or a younger sibling. My nephew once pressed the auto-lock when my SIL had shut her door, with the keys inside, to get him out (She keeps her purse in the back seat when a child is in the car, so she never forgets about them if they fall asleep or quietly watch you absentmindedly walking away. Good advice for everyone. EVERYONE has forgotten their child is in the car at some point, or heads to work without dropping the child off at school first.) Anyway, he somehow unfastened the crotch latch, then slid down and snagged his neck on the chest straps. And he hung there. At the neck. And she hadn't even stepped away from the car!
My toddler niece has given my infant M&Ms and strawberries (and probably other foods) while in the back seat together. If they were alone, and the baby had started choking, it only takes 30 seconds for them to become brain dead from lack of oxygen. 30. Seconds. There is absolutely NO ERRAND from which you could possibly get back in time to help if this happened.
So, like others have said: if they do it once, they'll do it again. And seemingly safe situations can turn ugly FAST, even without the addition of creepy opportunistic strangers.

Anonymous said...

I would go into the grocery store and notify them, so they could handle it on their own property. They have security, right?