You may or may not have noticed that I came under fire this week for leaving my 2 year old and 4 year old in the car for 5 minutes while I ran into the supermarket to pick up some water. It would have been 4 minutes and 15 seconds if I hadn’t stopped to eat a bag of Malteser’s first. I was hungry and frankly, I didn’t want to share them. It was only a small bag after all. The majority of responses were supportive and took it in the manner in which it was intended: humorously. On the flip side, there were a number of people who thought I was ‘abhorrent’, a ‘bitch of a mother’ and one even reported my post and said she’d called social services.
Turns out most of us do this because the thought of getting two kids out of car seats in the pissing rain and dragging them through a supermarket or to the dry cleaners or the post office is too much for us to handle. If that makes us bad parents, then sign me up and send me the t-shirt. A small minority got in touch to say that, while they wouldn’t choose to leave their kids in the car, they recognised that it was a personal decision and respected my choice.
The law is pretty vague on this. It simply states: “It is illegal to leave a child alone if it places them at risk.” Essentially, it comes down to what you personally consider an ‘acceptable risk’. When my kids are strapped into a car seat, the doors are locked and I need to run into a shop to get something, I consider that an acceptable risk. Some people don’t; that’s fine. Neither of them can undo their car seat clips, the handbrake is so stiff even I struggle to release it and unless they’ve got secret car-stealing skills and know how to hotwire a car, I reckon they’re pretty safe.
Somebody mentioned that they probably get very anxious when I’m not there which is laughable because half the time I don’t even think they realise I’ve gone. They’re so busy beating seven bells out of each other, or stuffing Pom Bears in their gob that they couldn’t care less whether I was there or not. When I am there, they pay me absolutely no notice at all, so I may as well leave them for an extra 45 seconds and grab a sugar fix while I can. I’m ok with that.
Ironically, they’re probably safer left strapped in that car than if I took them into the supermarket. Neither of them go in the same direction, both of them refuse to sit in a trolley, and Bo (my youngest) has a penchant for taking stuff off lower shelves and hiding it on her person, or quite simply, just opening it and eating it. They tend to save up their very best screaming tantrums for the supermarket and even if I can restrain myself from throttling them, I can’t guarantee that another shopper won’t take it upon themselves to shut them up. For good.
But that’s me, you know? You may wholeheartedly disagree. I respect that. I’ve got friends who would never leave their kids in the car. I’ve got friends who homeschool their kids. I’ve got friends who co-sleep with their 7 year old. None of those things are parenting decisions I would make but that doesn’t mean I think they’re idiots for doing it. It doesn’t mean I think they’re ‘abhorrent’ or ‘irresponsible’ or ‘selfish’. It just mean that we parent differently. We’re still friends and we just accept each other’s differences…because we are adults.
A few people messaged or commented to say that they had done the same thing and when they’d returned to the car, there was someone there screaming at them and telling them they were a terrible parent. I mean, I have to give some credit here because at least they’re not hiding behind a keyboard to do it, but it’s not acceptable behaviour to start screaming at someone when you don’t know them and you have no idea what the situation is. Perhaps they did leave them in there for an hour while they went and got mash up at the pub, or maybe they’d been left for five minutes while the mum picked up some meds for their sick kid. Unless you take a beat to stop and ask a question or two before launching in like Trump on Twitter, you’re always going to be a bit of a dick.
I get it – we all make judgements about people. As my sister says, “Opinions are like assholes. Everyone has one.” That’s cool – I see stuff all the time that I don’t agree with or that makes me a little bit mad or riled or, quite simply, drives me mental. I don’t feel the need to tell them or ‘set them straight’. I’m not the insta-police, I’m just here doing my thing and sharing it. If you don’t like that, that’s cool. There are literally hundreds of other bloggers that are more you’re thing. Go and find them and spend your time telling them how much you love what they do, rather than telling me what a despicable human I am. It’s just better for everyone that way.
Oh, and for that one people who called me a ‘disgusting liar’ because ‘no one can eat a bag of Maltesers in 45 seconds’, you’ve clearly never met me.
That’s right…you’ve never met me.