It was an innocent, split-second decision that thousands of mothers have made in a pinch — heck, when we were kids ourselves, our parents did it all the time — but this time it landed one mother with a warrant for her arrest and mounting legal fees. According to Kim Brooks, she's an overprotective mother who spends her downtime worrying about improperly installed car seats, lack of sunscreen, and every possible worst-case scenario. But three years ago, when her 4-year-old refused to get out of the car at the store while she ran in to replace his headphones for their flight home from Grandma's house, she made a calculated decision. She writes in Salon:
"I took a deep breath. I looked at the clock. For the next four or five seconds, I did what it sometimes seems I've been doing every minute of every day since having children, a constant, never-ending risk-benefit analysis. I noted that it was a mild, overcast, 50-degree day. I noted how close the parking spot was to the front door, and that there were a few other cars nearby. I visualized how quickly, unencumbered by a tantrumming 4-year-old, I would be, running into the store, grabbing a pair of child headphones. And then I did something I'd never done before. I left him. I told him I'd be right back. I cracked the windows and child-locked the doors and double-clicked my keys so that the car alarm was set. And then I left him in the car for about five minutes."
After flying home, she learned a "good samaritan" had recorded the entire incident on their phone and sent it to the local police. What ensued was a warrant for her arrest, a yearlong legal process, and, perhaps most importantly, lasting effects on a child who is now afraid his mother will be taken away from him for seemingly minor issues.
The essay, titled "The day I left my son in the car," is thought-provoking, to say the least, and left me wondering just how helpful this "good samaritan" was. Should the "samaritan" have confronted the mother directly? And when do a "good samaritan's" efforts cross the line into interfering with parenting decisions? Weigh in in our poll below!