Kim Brooks is lucky she only got probation. The Chicago mom's article on Salon, about her decision to leave her 4-year-old son
in the car in a parking lot for 5 minutes while she ran a quick errand, has wound up in every mom's Facebook feed. After a
bystander used his or her camera phone to make a video of the boy alone in the
car and sent it to the police, Brooks was arrested and faced up to a year in
jail. Luckily, she was only punished
with a year of probation and community service.
I feel for this woman. I’ve never left my kids alone
in the car, but I’ve considered it. Toting kids on errands is challenging. Kids
are unpredictable and don’t really care about other people’s time. Sometimes,
I’m left with the choice of dragging my screaming kid on an errand or not
getting anything done at all. I can see how Brooks made the choice she did.
In fact, if you were a do-gooder with a camera phone, you might not catch me
leaving my kid in the car in parking lot, but there’s a ton of other things you’d
find me doing that would make me look like a bad mom — and I know I’m not alone. Here are seven things you might see me do (five of which, I’ve already
1)Feeding the Kids Food Off the Floor
Is it the 5-second rule or 15-minute
rule? I can’t remember and I really don’t care. When I’m in a hurry to get the
kids fed, sometimes that stray grape or slippery hot dog that found its way to
the floor goes right back on the plate.
2)Leaving the Kids Alone in the Car in My Driveway
It’s like clockwork. The minute I finally
get the kids out of the house and strapped in their car seats, one has a breakdown because he or she forgot something in the house. There’s no way I’m going
through the whole unbuckle/buckle routine all over again so I dash into the
house while the kids are safely belted in the car.
3)Raising My Voice
I can’t help but wonder why the bystander who made the videotape didn’t stick around to make sure the boy was okay
Patience may be a virtue, but it doesn’t mean I have enough of it. You can have the patience of Gandhi and still, sometimes your kids can press your buttons. They certainly press mine. I’m lucky no one’s watching when I lose my cool because the little one called the big one “Stinky” one too many times.
4)Letting the Oldest Go to the Bathroom Alone in a Restaurant
It never fails that when I’m at a
restaurant with my kids, they never have to pee at the same time. I’m not sure what the right age is to
let the oldest go to the restroom by himself, but sometimes it seems like the
only option short of us spending our whole meal time in the restroom.
5)Not Washing my Hands After I Pee
I’m lucky if my kids even give me the chance to
pee, and sometimes they dart out of a public restroom before I can wash my
hands. Caught on videotape, that would seem pretty gross.
in Front of the Kids
It’s not often, but on occasion I’ve
dropped an F-bomb in front of the kids, or even cursed at a driver in traffic
with the kids in the car. Like I said, it’s not often. But if you saw me do it
on those rare occasions, I’d seem like a pretty terrible mom.
7) Letting My Kids Watch TV That’s Too Mature for Their Age
I loved the music in "Chicago" and thought my kids would love it as well, so I put the
movie on only to realize there were a few sex scenes and a murder
or two. What if someone saw us at that moment and thought that one movie choice
was indicative of all the movies I let my kids see? Just so you know, it’s not!
Kim Brooks’ son was just fine in the car, but that doesn’t
mean something horrible couldn’t have happened. But I can’t help but wonder why
the bystander who made the videotape didn’t stick around to make sure the boy
was OK and confront Brooks herself. While I don’t agree with Brooks’ choice to
leave her son in the car alone, I certainly understand how it happened. A bad
choice doesn’t make her a criminal, nor does it make her a bad mom.