But haven't we all been there? Have you NEVER left your child in the car to go and pay for petrol or to go and get the parking ticket to find the machine is out of order and you have to trek to another part of the car park to go and get one? The two scenario's I just mentioned are something I have frequently done. Why would I remove a child from the safety of a five point harness in a car seat in the rear of the car to drag them into a shop for five minutes so they can see all the sweets and magazines I will no doubt refuse to buy. Roll on the meltdowns.
Last year I had a similar situation. I collected the kids from school. They were in year 5 and Reception respectively. I needed to go to a pet store and get dog food. I parked the car in the stores car park. The 5 year old refused to budge. I can't even remember what the reason was for. She was having one of her moments and being the stubborn moo that she is, there is no persuading her otherwise. I was fighting a losing battle. All I wanted was dog food. I didn't need to browse, I just wanted to pop in, grab exactly what I wanted and go. She was shouting at me, I was shouting at her. The 10 year old and I got out the car and walked into the shop leaving the 5 year old screaming and crying at from the car. Now I can see a crying 5 year old in a car doesn't look good but by the time I came out, approximately 5-10 minutes later she was sitting with a face like thunder but not crying. It was all over and by the time we were home, all was well with the world.
Or so I thought.
Until around 8pm when a knock at the front door presented us with the Police. I was upstairs with the 5 year old having finished bath time and she was in her pyjama's ready for bed. I have a unnatural fear of authority. I don't know why, I've never been in trouble but I have. I'm also a very emotional person who cries at the Andrex puppy adverts. It doesn't take much to set me off.
I started sobbing and refused to come downstairs. I felt guilty, ashamed and horrified. The 5 year old didn't understand what was happening. The police asked to see her so MrM took the now crying child downstairs. She too thought she was in trouble.
The Police explained to MrM that ultimately it wasn't safe to leave a child in a car alone. She could have taken the handbrake off, she could have got out and got run over, she could have been abducted. There are any number of scenario's. They asked him to make sure I understood and left without taking any further action.
Have I done it since? Yes. Not because I want to flout the rules of authority but because sometimes, she asks if she can stay in the car. Usually if I'm popping into Tesco Express to get a loaf of bread. I tell her not to touch anything, I lock the doors. I'm in and out. Anything longer than a couple of minutes then she's with me.
I'm not a bad Mum and probably like Rachel Stevens, just doing my best.