Another Canadian toddler has died in the backseat of a car.
This latest tragedy happened in Edmonton to a three-year-old girl left in the backseat during 30-plus temperatures. This is on the same day as the funeral for the Milton two-year-old who died last week.
I feel such pain for the parents of these children. The anguish must be unimaginable. But I have to admit, my empathy is sometimes tempered by the nagging "How could this possibly happen?" question.
Because really, how could this happen? And so it begins, the push-pull of "those poor parents" vs "they couldn't have been good parents to let this happen." Every discussion, in real life and Facebook the same sentence is uttered, "I feel terrible... but how could they let this happen?" I saw this long thread on my friend Alex's Facebook, and no one could get away from this persistent question. The empathy tempered by anger at the parents/caregivers. We become sanctimonious to cover our own fears.
We want to blame the parents (or grandparents) because it makes us feel more invincible. It would never happen to us because we put our purse beside the car seat, or attach our car key to their toes or, always check the rearview mirror or something.
I remember driving my infant many times, and having to whip my head around to make sure that he was there after getting a feeling of dread that I had left his carseat -- with him in it -- on the sidewalk. That moment of panic stays with me still because I know in my heart, I was always one bad decision away from it happening.
This startling, emotional, Pulitzer-prize article from the Washington Post is unforgettable in its empathetic treatment of those parents who did forget their children and caused their death. Read it to understand a little better how it can happen to any parent with the right combination of forgetfulness, routine changes and distraction.
Are there ways to stop it from happening? Sure.
A NASA scientist invented an inexpensive car alarm to notify parents of a child. But no car manufacturers would buy it -- most likely because of the liability if it failed.
Why did the rocket scientist spend the time on a non-profitable venture to prevent a child's death? Because it happened to him.
The pain and sadness of these parents must be so visceral. Their guilt is a lifetime conviction that no jail term could ever match. They don't need our judgement too. We are all vulnerable.
Cosumer's Digest produced this video a few years ago as a tool for parents:
Want more chaos? Last year, I was happy to see that Brad Pitt and his mother disagree, just like us.