A friend relates that his sister left two of her children (8 and 5) in the car for two minutes while she ran an errand. It was April, and the weather was neither too hot nor too cold so as to endanger the tykes. Some jackass called the cops, and the cops deemed it worth their while to respond. This strikes me as incredible. I spent a lot of time alone, or with my sister, in the car, and nobody thought anything of it. I never realized until now what monsters my parents were.
And we didn’t have car seats! At least not once we could sit up on our own. When we were real little, we had one of those plastic seats with a little steering wheel that went beside the driver. Maggie Simpson has one, come to think of it, in the opening credits of The Simpsons. The safety advice we got was from Romper Room’s hostess who taught us to sing: “Don’t be a car stander; do be a car sitter.” I ignored this and stood on the hump looking forward whenever I was in the back seat. If the front seat were available, that’s where I sat. Seatbelts? Optional. Nowadays Britney Spears is criticized as the worst mother in the world for driving a couple of blocks with a baby in her lap or simply because her car seat faced the wrong way. My parents make her look like Safety Mom in comparison. Were they trying to kill me?! We even rode in the bed of a pickup truck from time to time. How medieval!
My sister and I were latchkey kids for a while at the tender ages of nine and six. We would come home, let ourselves in, and make cinnamon toast until one of our parents got off work. Nowadays, this is considered child endangerment and grounds for fosterage. Where was the state when my sister and I were allowed to use a toaster unsupervised?
And we walked and rode bikes great distances unsupervised. I reckon it’s just pure blind luck that we weren’t snatched by a child molester or whomever does the snatching of those kids on the milk cartons. Were our parents trying to get us snatched? Come to think of it, we never heard of any kid getting snatched in those days. We were told not to get in cars with strangers in case an invitation was made, but nobody ever offered me a ride until I was old enough to hitchhike.
It’s a miracle we made it to adulthood. It’s an even greater miracle that no kid we knew got killed or maimed before adolescence when the hazards of driving too their toll. Nowadays, we don't need miracles because the state is there to keep children safe.