Friday, September 07, 2007

A Tragic Mistake

A story has been in the news lately about an Ohio woman who forgot her two-year old was asleep in the back of her car, and left her in there as she went to work. Here's a link to one of the more recent updates to their story. You can read earlier chapters in the saga through links on this page:

There's also a haunting video of the mother's grief that was broadcast on NBC Nightly News last night, and the Today show this morning. To view this, go to and scroll down to "Videos." You'll have to do this fast, though; this location will likely change. But the title of it is "Ohio Mom: I Want to Die."

Even if you aren't able to see the video here, the title should give you some indication of how the mom feels. Let's face it--how would any of us feel if a dumb mistake on our part caused injury or death to another person? Particularly our own child?

Sometimes dumb mistakes have small consequences--paper cuts, for example. Or spilled milk. Sometimes things happen that we didn't want to happen, but they are easily taken care of and forgotten.

And other times dumb mistakes have disastrous consequences. We're all capable of making dumb mistakes. In fact, we all make them. Period. Some of us just have the dubious distinction of creating consequences that make national headlines.

I really feel sorry for this mom. We all know we're not supposed to, but it is so, so, easy to leave those kids alone for a minute while we attend to other responsibilities. And (we hate to admit this part) our other responsibilities often run much more smoothly when we don't have a kid in tow. This could have happened to any of us.

This particular mom was an assistant principal at an elementary school. She had a million things on her plate, and left home early that morning to run some errands. Her daughter fell asleep in her car seat, and Mom left her there as she bought doughnuts for the teachers and then went to school to drop them off for a faculty meeting. Exactly what happened next is not clear from the news stories, but one can assume that she was bombarded with work responsibilities once she walked into the door at school. And, at some point, the mental note that she'd made to herself that her daughter was in the car and she needed to take her to the babysitter just disappeared.

And often do we ignore our kids, our spouses, or other important people in our lives "just for a minute" while we attend to other responsibilities or pastimes, only to have that "minute" away grow longer and longer?

Read some of the other news releases regarding this incident, and you'll see that this was not the first time this mom had left her daughter unattended in the car. There was another occasion reported only a couple of days earlier, and just how many other times she'd done it is something only she knows. (And God, too, of course...) How many times do we do things we know we shouldn't, but when they work out okay we do them again?

This family's heartwrenching story serves as a chilling reminder for all of us. Yes, sometimes doing things we shouldn't still works out okay, or at least seems to. And sometimes there are disastrous consequences.


G. Parker said...

This being a touchy subject...I can feel for this woman, but I feel a little bit that she needed a wake up call. This wasn't the first time??? sigh. Poor woman.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

My greatest nightmares center around forgetting my nieces and nephews in certain situations. When Connor was first born I started babysitting him at six weeks. The nightmares started soon after that I'd be babysitting and would forget about him. I'd wake up in the dead of night in a full panic screaming his name. Ugh! I don't miss those dreams. I feel for this woman and it is only too easily.

I think there's a reason the brethren of the church encourage us to be stay-at-home moms. It's hard enough without adding a job to the mix.

Katie Parker said...

Yes, unfortunately when you continually push the limits of safety, eventually you're going to go over the edge. Still, it's very sad that it happened.

Katie Parker said...

I agree, Candace. Even the most conscientious of caretakers aren't perfect. And added distractions, whether they're a job, a sibling, a flooded basement, a gallon jug of maple syrup that broke on the kitchen floor, or all of the above...any distraction to the caretaker makes it easy for the little angels to create--or have--their own problems unnoticed.

Tristi Pinkston said...

Okay, I'm a total grinch here, but I have to say I think this woman should be doing some jail time. I know life gets hectic, but once you have a child, your entire priorty should shift to that child. I can't believe that she went back out to the car five times that day and never once noticed the child in the back seat. I can't believe that she forgot to take the child to the sitter. For that matter, I'm surprised the sitter didn't call her, wondering where the child was. There was a whole lot of bad judgment going on here, and I'm sorry that it happened, but I'm not sorry for her. I'm sorry for the child who had to bake to death to teach this woman a lesson.

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