Feb 12, 2011

Children Left in Cars

I have always had a fear of some person calling Child Protective Services or the police on our family after misreading a situation and ripping our precious children away. I'm pretty sure the fears are a result of two things:
a) A pretty crazy college professor that I'm pretty sure wrote a book on CPS interfering and taking children away from normal homes and
 b) When Davy was an infant in San Francisco, she would scream her little head off for hours and hours and hours because her tummy was majorly messed up. I would panic and think that someone would wrongly assume that a baby had been abandoned in our unit. Then I would further freak out that if CPS did come they would find that Davy's first bedroom was a walk in closet. Thankfully none of the above ever occurred.

However, I just had a glimpse of my worst fears come true on Friday afternoon. After meeting my lovely husband for a lunchish date in the car with our sleeping bambinos, I made a rash decision to go to Ikea with my two girls.

I knew the trip was probably going to end with a toddler tantrum on the floor and mommy gently yet firmly trying to convince said toddler to unglue herself from the linoleum while holding a chunk of a baby. And boy was I right.

So I manually peeled her off the floor and with the assistance from an angel dressed in a blue ikea shirt we strapped that girl into the tiny chair on wheels.

Then I bought a few things I didn't need and promptly left the store without purchasing the item I came to buy.

As usual I felt as though I had been through a war and the grand finale was braving the arctic cold and making my way to the car with girlies. I buckled in the icicle children. I put the purchased junk in the car. I looked for the cart return. It was about 10 yards away...always a dilemma for me. Must leave babies in the car to return cart and be an upstanding citizen that does not leave carts roaming in the parking lot to play bumper cars with the nice Ikea customers' vehicles.

So I walked briskly and with a purpose and returned that cart like a good human. When I got back to my car, I found a woman walking around aimlessly saying loudly to no one in particular,


I was prepared to help her in any way I could. I immediately felt empathy for her. What could possibly be the problem? Then she looked at me and nervously laughed. She was starting to freak me out. Two women parked next to me got out of a large SUV and she said to them, "OH!" OH MY GOSH! SHE WAS JUST RETURNING HER CART!"

She thought I had left my children in the car never to return.

I looked at her and awkwardly stuttered "Uhhh yeah there's not really an easy way to do it." I was ashamed.

I felt like I had done something terribly wrong as I was driving away. Then I remembered that I was returning a cart in a parking lot and I felt a little better. 

Could a mom be arrested for returning a cart while her kids are in the car?

This is a story I remember a few years ago of a mom arrested for leaving her toddler child in the car while she was 10 yards away so she could donate money to salvation army with her two older girls.


  1. OMG! I hesitate every time I go to target or the grocery. I literally run with the cart and then sprint back to the car. People look at me like I'm a weirdo. "Why is she running?" LOL LOL

    Love this post! :)

  2. I'm so glad you can relate. I run a lot of the time too. It's the safest way. BIG mistake this time when I decided to walk fast. I was seconds away from the stranger having an apparent nervous breakdown...

  3. Ooh, IKEA. Went there a few weeks ago (back when we had just 1) and agreed that it was another 4-lettered word. Not only is the place designed to induce tantrums/meltdowns, but there is no way to quickly evacuate screaming sobbing child - who may or may not be trying to hit you with his flailing limbs - without first walking through every section of the store and getting disoriented when you follow those signs that say "shortcut." Sadly, we didn't even get to buy items we didn't need... Just left the items we had selected in the cart and got that child out of there asap, tryng to avoid the stares from people who must've thought we were the most Awful Parents
    Ever. {end IKEA rant}

    The times I usually think about CPS being called is when I leave N buckled in the car in the driveway so I can run back into the house to grab something. How awful to have that awkward situation semi-come true!


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