It is a tragic story, one we hear all too often -- a toddler, left in a hot car too long dies. They usually happen in the summer and they almost always have the same start: a parent rushing off to work, something different about the routine, the child falls asleep and the worst mistake of their life.
But that's just it.
It's a mistake. It is happening more and more , so much so that people are beginning to call it an "epidemic" and though I find that an extreme term, I also know it could happen to anyone.
Yes, even me.
My husband and I recently had a long conversation about it. He said it is impossible to imagine how any parent could do such a thing. I can imagine it. Which is precisely why I know it will never happen.
Those people who think they are immune to things are always the ones who let down their defenses. How do I know it won't happen to me? Because I know myself. I know I get distracted and focused on work. I know I get stressed and forget important details. I know, especially when I am sleep-deprived, that I rely on routines to get me through the day.
I can run five miles on three hours of sleep without even remembering how I did it because it is such a part of my routine, I can't not do it. I have driven all the way to the grocery store when I was actually headed to the bank just because it was a schedule change. And I have forgotten that my dog was in the back of the car (once for five minutes) because he was not normally there.
It could happen.
Because I know it could happen, I put the daycare bags in the front seat. I make sure I have little reminders of them every time I get in the car. My kids are older now (3.5 and 2) so they are loud and forward facing. I know it is unlikely to happen, but it could.
I feel so much for the parents who have had this happen. The judgment is sickening and every time I hear it, a little part of me knows that the very same sanctimommy calling for the heads of the parents knows somewhere in the back of her head that it could happen to her, too.
Knowing it could happen to you is not the same thing as letting it happen. We have to acknowledge our weaknesses and combat them, not feel smug in our superiority and judgment.
Do you think this could happen to you?