Mom Arrested for Leaving Son Alone at Restaurant Playground

Rant 136

playgroundFree-range parents, get your claws out. A mother in Ohio has been arrested for leaving her 10-year-old in the playground at a McDonald's for 15 minutes while she did laundry. Nanny state run amuck?

Maybe ... then again, maybe not. A 10-year-old might be old enough to be left alone in a fast food restaurant for 15 minutes without tearing the place apart. But that doesn't make it OK to do it!

McDonald's employees are not free babysitters. For that matter, librarians, pool attendants, and retail clerks are NOT babysitters.

Oh, and volunteers who sign up to coach your kid's soccer team? They're not free babysitters either. They signed up to work with your kid during practice and games, but you could at least hang around and lend a hand when your kid is acting like a little brat so they can work with the rest of the team.

In case you hadn't noticed, this story hit a nerve and not only because Tiara Jones also allegedly left OTHER kids sleeping at home alone during this little fast food fiasco.

Even if we left those kids at home out of this, I'm still going to say she was wrong here.

You don't drop a 10-year-old off to play at a public place and run out to do your laundry. It's not fair to the other adults.

My kid is still a bit too young to be left alone anywhere, but by 10, I could see her being responsible enough to go into a McDonald's-like place and place an order, pay her money, even sit and eat without me hovering over her. I would like to think I'm raising her to be responsible enough to do so.

That said, there's a difference between "not hovering" and leaving my kid somewhere to play while I drive off to do laundry.

The first indicates I'm somewhere in the vicinity should something go wrong. The latter is expecting someone else to play parent in an emergency, and that's wholly unfair to the employees who are being paid to flip burgers and make change.

Still not clear on the distinction? OK, consider this: this boy didn't walk from home to Mickey D's to play. He couldn't just up and leave and go home should the need arrive. Mom took off in the family car.

Even when our kids old enough to be alone without their parents for a period of time, we still need to consider their options should something happen that requires parental intervention. They always need access to a responsible adult who can do things kids simply can't because of their age (like drive to a hospital). 

If you leave them at home, for example, they need to know how to call 911. If they're going out, they need to be able to either get home quickly or use a cellphone to call 911 or have a responsible adult within reach.

The trouble comes when we put the burden of being that responsible adult on people who have no reason to do that for our kids, people who aren't being paid to do it (think a camp counselor or a dance teacher). Sure, it's NICE if the friendly Mickey D's clerk calls 911 for your 10-year-old, but she shouldn't have to!

Do you leave your kids alone in public places? Where do you draw the line?


Image via jdog90/Flickr

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Coles... Coles_mom

When I was 10, my friends and I would bike/walk to a local cafe or gas station and get ice cream and drinks. This was in the 80s though.

the4m... the4mutts

At home, with a cell phone, sure.

In public?? NEVER! Not alone.

Yes, Ive left all 4 of my kids sitting at a table in the fast food restaurant where I work, so I can go pee real quick.

But every employee there knows me, knows my kids, and I ask them if its okay before I do so, and know they wont let anyone harass my kids, or let my kids wander off. (They're all old enough to know not to anyway)

I also leave my cell and my mace with my 10yr old.

Never, ever alone in public. Period.

the4m... the4mutts

Oh, and as a fast food worker, if I were to see a parent of a kid under 12-13 get in their car and drive off, I would call 911 immediately. Better safe than sorry. Plus, like you said, its not our job to watch your kid.

butte... buttercup627

Most restaurent play grounds have rules posted that kids must be attended by adults, it's a liability thing. ALSO you aren't supposed to just use the play room if you aren't a paying customer, it's not a public place it's a business and I've seen people get asked to leave

katyq katyq

In many countries you will find kindergatners walking to the local mcdonalds or supermarket during their lunch break. They cross busy streets, carry their money and pay for evreything themselves. We do have an over protective society. If she paid for a meal at mcdonalds, i think she should be able to let her kid play for 15 minutes alone. My god.

Brain... BrainyMommy

From the article I can't tell if she was arrested for leaving the younger children at home alone or the older child at McDonalds. Depending upon the age of the younger children the arrest may have been appropriate. If she was arrested for leaving the 10 year old then that's just plain stupid.

Prett... PrettyGirlMyers

My daughter just called to tell me that she's walking to the library and I'm sitting at my desk, completely nervous. She's 15. There's no way I would DROP a 10 year old off somewhere alone, ever.

nonmember avatar MrsClark

I think it's a liability issue. The employees are not babysitters. If her kid had gotten hurt, she would have tried to sue the restaurant.

Shandi80 Shandi80

Not cool. IMO, this really isn't about how responsible the child is, it is about common courtesy and not dumping your kid on the fast food workers while you run errands. Like others said, employees are not baby-sitters! Remember that in retail stores, too! I see that all time in malls, a parent will ask if it's ok if their child stays in the toy store or the game store while they run to Macy's. NOT OKAY.

nonmember avatar Suni

this makes me a little sad...When I was 10 I wandered the neighborhood mostly by myself or with my younger brother. My mother trusted me to stay out of trouble, and I did. 10 year olds are not toddlers.

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