First, let me make it clear that this is not the same old post you’re going to read about the recent death of a child forgotten & left in a hot car. It’s not about what should or shouldn’t happen to the parent. It’s about something much more important. What happens to the next child? Does s/he live or die?
I don’t want to waste a lot of time talking about crap. I want to get straight to the point and address the issue at hand, which is, “What went wrong & how do we prevent it from happening?”
I read this trending article, which I believe is highly insightful and very well-written. But, it’s long.. and while it addresses the feelings and crap of the parents left behind & the outrage of the public… it FAILS to provide any real preventative measures for parents who’d like to avoid this happening to their child.
A lot of people are arguing that the parents, “just need to pay attention.” But, lots of bad things happen when you think you’re paying attention. We forget to pay bills. We step on yellow jacket nests. We leave our wallets and purses at restaurants. We crash into other cars on the road. We run red lights. We lose our car keys & important documents. We forget to buy cucumbers at the grocery store. We leave our children in the backseat of the car.
To our emotions, these are different things. Forgetting a child is not the same as forgetting cucumbers.
But, to our unfeeling brain function, they are exactly the same thing.
While our thinking brain is busy with remembering all the things we have to do and replaying conversations and perhaps taking phone calls and answering questions, worrying about being late, and contemplating the latest Game of Thrones episode…
Our auto-pilot brain is moving our body through the familiar motions that it has memorized. You know the feeling.. when you try to put a box of cereal into the fridge, or you drive toward your workplace instead of the grocery store, or you’re reading along and all of a sudden you realize you have to re-read because you weren’t actually paying as close attn as you thought or when you forget your child in the backseat of the car.
To your brain function, it is the same thing. If any of those things, these brain function hiccups have happened to you… then, your brain could absolutely auto-pilot right through the event of leaving a child in the car.
Now, maybe I have convinced you that it is possible for you, a devoted and caring and attentive parent, to forget your child in the car. Maybe I haven’t. But, either way…. convincing you doesn’t matter.
Because whether or not you BELIEVE it could happen, isn’t going to stop it from happening.
However, after reading about the brain functions and sequence of events that lead to these situations, I have come to the conclusion that the **absolute best preventative measure you can take** to ensure that this doesn’t happen is to
Make a conscious decision to dedicate the next 30 days to developing a habit of always, always checking the backseat as you exit your vehicle.
The idea is to create this habitual motion that your body remembers to use during your vehicle exit ritual. The ritual, you know…. putting car in park, shutting off engine, rolling up windows, removing seatbelt, collecting things, opening door, stepping out, locking door, closing door, perhaps checking handle for lock security. Do you even realize these things anymore? Probably not.. you just do them. It’s natural. Just like you’re going to add opening the back door & looking inside.
And it becomes part of your auto-pilot routine. It’s only a few seconds…. and even if you think it can’t happen to you… You have to remember that most of these parents who’ve lost their child in this manner thought the very same thing the last time they heard one of these stories.
So, Do it. Start checking the backseat even when you KNOW there’s no child in it. It’s just a few second, people…. shorter than a round of angry birds. Shorter than scrolling thru facebook to like everyone’s vacation photos.
Do it. Share this… share it by fb, twitter, write your own blog post, tell people with your mouth. Do it.