When Matt and I stopped to get some food to go at a restaurant, an interesting conversation came up and I thought I would write a post and see what others thought. The whole conversation involved whether to leave the kids alone in the car for a minute or not. Now, I realize that this can be a hot topic, but I hope that we can all look at it objectively and share our opinions in a constructive way.
When Matt and I arrived at the restaurant (a buffet), I told him to go in and get what he wanted and then I would go in and get what I wanted. We had already bought the kids dinner earlier. Normally I just get both of ours, but he wanted to get some different things by himself this time. He mentioned that we should park in front of the store, lock the doors and go in together to get our food. I disagreed and said I would wait while he went in, so that is what we did.
The fact is though, that Joshua is 10 and is probably more than capable of watching his brothers for the few minutes that we would have been in the restaurant. So why did I say no? A year ago, I parked in front of the little country gas station in the town where my mom lived. Seriously, this town has one caution light and consists of a whole block.
Anyway, I parked there, took the keys and went in to quickly get the boys some juice for the ride home. It took all of two minutes, and I could see the boys the whole time. When I came out and was giving the boys their juice, the man that had been in line in front of me began to berate me and call me a horrible mother. That was the first and last time I ever left my kids in the car for even a second alone. At the time, I thought it was reasonable to believe that a 9 and 8 year old could sit with their younger brothers while I was watching them through the windows the whole time. It’s not like any of them were babies or even toddlers.
Did you know that in many states, the beginning age for a latchkey kid who stays home alone after school is only 8 years old? In other states it is 10 or 12 and in the majority of states there is no set age at all, leaving it up to the parents discretion. Just in our school zone, I know several 1st and 2nd graders who walk home alone and stay there by themselves until their parents get home. I think it is far more dangerous to leave young kids home alone where a predator could learn their routine and snatch them easily, than it is to leave children for just a few minutes, in a locked car where you can see them the whole time.
There is also the other side. Why not just take your kids inside with you in the first place? Well, if I had only one child, that would be a given. With four kids at the end of the a busy day when they are all fighting, it is an unneccesarry evil. It doesn’t matter though, because I would never consider leaving them for even a minute after what that man did to me.
What are your thoughts? Do you leave your child/children alone in the car for a second while you run into a gas station or restaurant for a minute? I am not talking about long periods of time here. Just trying to get some other perspective on the subject, because Matt thinks it is crazy that I wouldn’t trust a 10 year old in a car for a minute, but other people will let their children run around the neighborhood alone at a much younger age.