My daughter, Violet, is 2-years-old. She can’t quite turn a door knob yet so we still enjoy the relative luxury of being able to lock her in her room at night. It definitely provides peace of mind, knowing that she can’t leave the safety of her room until we let her out in the morning.
But I’m telling you what, she’s just weeks, if not days away from being able to open a door on her own. And then what? All bets are off, I guess.
One of my biggest fears is my daughter wandering out of the house without my knowledge and get really hurt. My second biggest fear is that Violet will make her great escape and someone will find her wandering the streets and bring her back to me her apparently unfit mother. Oh, the shame. The embarrassment.
That’s why I read this article Lenore Skenazy wrote for the San Gabriel Valley Tribune called “Call The Cops! Mom Took A Nap!” with great interest. She talks about two recent cases where women where charged and arrested respectively, after their toddlers sneaked out of the house and how it’s a shame that society can’t cut tired moms a break:
In Delaware last week, a woman named Erika Wilson put her 3-year-old down for a nap and went to take a little snooze herself. Unbeknownst to her, her daughter then got up and managed to get out of the house. When police found the little girl later, they went looking for Wilson and returned the girl to her, chuckling “What a little Houdini!” or something like that, right? Not quite. The police went looking for the mom and charged her with child endangerment.
Meantime, up near Niagara Falls, something extremely similar was happening to a woman named Samantha Boyd. In the middle of the night, while Boyd was sleeping, her 3-year-old son slipped out of the house and started wandering around. The man who spotted him called the police, as did Boyd as soon as she realized her boy wasn’t home. When the police contacted Boyd, did they say, “Kids will be kids! Maybe install a childproof lock on the door”? No, they arrested her. “What’s nice about that,” the police chief told WGRZ, is that now she’ll be put “into the system.
Skenazy really keyed into something here. I worked in a newsroom for more than a decade and we heard Wandering Toddler Found on police scanners a couple times a week. It happens all the time. We’ve written about it on Babble here and here. Unfortunately, sometimes, on a slow news day several stations would jump on this type of story, especially if the toddler in question was found near a busy road. The mothers of the various toddlers never seemed the neglectful type, but they always seemed to go through a horrible public shaming at the hands of police and the media.
What happened to “It Takes A Village”? Anyone who’s ever raised a toddler knows you look away for two seconds and they’re up to shenanigans. Can’t mom be forgiven for catching some Z’s? In her article Skenazy questions why all those “crazy kid moments” that used to make for fun family stories have now turned mommies into America’s Most Wanted.
She speculates that everyone’s ideal of what makes a good parent has been inflated. Parents must be perfect. “They have developed this outlook by living in a country where predators are prime-time TV fodder and stores sell infrared video baby monitors, which allow parents to watch their kids in the crib even when it’s dark. The message they get: A good parent watches her kid all day AND all night.”
Are the “good ol’ days” gone forever? Are great mothers being punished too harshly? Have we gone a little helicopter-parent nuts about children? Like Skenazy, do you think society needs to chill the eff out or are the “the good ol’ days” driven by nostalgia and not really as great as folks like to remember they were?
Are we being too tough? Check out these particularly Scandalous Parenting News of June 2011!