You know the parents who get uppity about how you should never, ever leave your kid in a running vehicle?
A horrible story on the Today show proved them right. Melanie and Aaron Richman left the car running at a gas station with their 6-month-old inside, and a carjacker decided he'd boost the Pontiac ... with the Richmans' baby inside.
They've been cast as heroes for fighting off the carjacker -- Melanie broke the window with her elbow while her husband jumped through and confronted the criminal -- and getting their precious baby girl back, but I'm not buying it.
The whole situation could have been avoided if they acted like rational adults.
Leaving a car with the keys in the ignition is akin to screaming, "Hey, come steal my vehicle!" And the Richmans left their 6-month-old, who can't defend herself, right where a criminal could find her.
They claim a good reason -- it was cold in Kansas City -- but somehow the rest of us living in cold climes manage to deal with that one.
I've taken my child out of the car many a time despite the freezing cold simply because I wanted her to be safe. I picked my locations carefully: if I was at a gas station in my hometown, I'd ask someone I knew to watch her. Better yet, I've opted out on situations where I knew it was impossible to both accomplish a task and keep her warm.
I searched actively for alternatives. When people criticize drive-throughs for making the American public lazy, I bristle. They were a godsend to me during those early days with an infant in upstate New York. Mom needs caffeine to keep functioning? Hello McDonald's window lady!
In this case, the Richmans were even better off than I typically was as a part-time working mother whose husband worked full-time. Both parents were there. There was no real need to make the hard choice. One parent stays in the car with the heat running. One parent steps away to talk to the relatives (which is what both parents did).
You may still be the subject of a carjacker even then -- law enforcement experts have told me more than once that being a Mom sitting in a car with a child makes you a prime victim because the criminals know you want the kid more than the car. But in those cases, you're also more likely to be able to bargain: give me my kid, and you can take the car. At the very least, you're putting up some sort of offensive against the attack.
The Richmans did a valiant job of getting baby Samantha back. Kudos to them for finally getting their acts together, and thank heavens.
But next time someone advises against leaving your baby in a running vehicle, don't roll your eyes and put up excuses about the cold. The Richmans could be you.
How do you handle winter outings with baby?
Image via Tony the Misfit/Flickr