My first thought was 'this question is so hard that you needed to solicit opinions on the internet? Dude. Seriously?'
My second thought was to classify this on a long list of middle class problems that a wide segment of the population probably aren't worried about as much as this person is-- lower classes are more concerned with schlepping groceries and baby on public transit or foot, and the upper classes can have the nanny watch the children or the house keeper can do the shopping.
My third thought was 'if this is your biggest problem, lady, you don't know problems.'
My fourth thought was 'Maybe I've been doing this wrong, I better read up.' This was followed closely by 'OMG! I need to blog about this!'
So the discussion raised some important points-- if it is hot or cold, one needs to be concerned about the temperature of the vehicle; just like you can't put an animal in a hot car on a sunny day, you cannot put a baby in a hot car on a sunny day.
Here's the thing. The discussion quickly became a list of ways to get one's child abducted or dead, and possibly one's car stolen. Here were the solutions offered and how they led to disaster:
- Keep child in the cart while unloading groceries. Turn back for merest of seconds transferring bag of groceries from cart into rear of car/trunk. Turn back to discover baby gone and skeevy van flooring it out of the parking lot.
- Keep child in the cart while unloading groceries. Turn back for merest of seconds transferring bag of groceries from cart into rear of car/trunk. Turn back to discover that cart has rolled all the way down the hill, into approaching traffic, and child is now greasy spot on 6-lane highway.
- Start car to start climate-control system. Place child in car. Load groceries. At some point, discover your car peeling out of the parking spot, possibly running you down, and find self with abducted child AND stolen car. Now you are not only dealing with the police, but also with the car insurance company.
- Place child in car. Unload groceries. Walk away for 'just a second' to return cart to front of store or cart corral. Upon return, discover child and possibly car missing.
Seriously. People were very concerned about these. And I'll admit that at one of the local grocery stores I visit, the parking garage is not optimal for emptying a cart; like most parking garages, the floor is sloped, and, without careful management, the cart can get away from me. This is why the Great Whomever gave me ankles and feet and a rudimentary understanding of physics.
And I get the safety concerns; in the summer, the interior temperature in my car is high enough to fry an egg (or something) and there could be serious problems from the cart rolling away and getting struck by a vehicle. But being so darn worried about abduction just seems absurd to me.
I went to Google, looked up 'child abduction statistics' and found some interesting numbers. According to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, approximately 800,000 children are reported missing in the United States each year. They are indicating anyone under 18 qualifies as a 'child.' Of those, they say that over 200,000 are abducted by family members, 58,000 by non-family members, and 115 are the victims of a 'stereotypical' kidnapping in which a child is snatched by a stranger who intends to hold the child permanently, demand ransom, or kill the child.
Understand here that I do not mean to diminish the horror and grief of the families of those 115 children. Or even the other children taken in less stereotypical situations. But also understand here that I'm pretty good at math. According to the CIA's summary of census data, there are roughly 62 million people in this country age 14 and under. Roughly, then, 1.29% of children are reported missing in a given year. (Actually, it is smaller, but I can't isolate a number of individuals aged 15-18, so I'm spit-balling here). Not let us recall here that within this list of missing children, we are including children who run away, moments of confusion over who was supposed to pick little Jimmy up that lead to the police being called before checking at Grandma's house, teenagers who bail for a few days, and custodial disputes between parents.
So because I'm good at math, I don't worry too much about my child being abducted. Particularly by a stranger in a parking lot. I'm more worried, when thinking about abductions, by someone I know. Since my husband and I currently get along, and most of our family members who want children have children, I'm not super worried about this.
I am slightly more worried that someone might want to steal my car, and not notice a child in a car seat in the back. But, I drive a 2006 Subaru, and I tend to shop in the sort of stores where there is, at any given time, at least one Range Rover in the parking lot, and a whole heap of Priuses, so I'm probably good on that front.
But it isn't just this grocery store scenario that brings up the possibility of abduction. My mother-in-law will not take her grandchildren to the playground at the Zoo, because she fears someone will grab them. All the time, I hear people talking about 'all the abductions' and I don't know where these are happening, but if I listened to concerned people, I would never leave my damn house.
I blame Dateline NBC, which just can't turn away from a story about a pretty white kid taken from their home in the dead of night. I also blame the 24 hour news networks, who have about 35 minutes of legit news every day, and after that, they have to come up with something to fill the empty airspace and convince advertisers that it is worth it to continue to make their absurd enterprise profitable.
That said, when it comes to grocery shopping with my infant, I'll keep baby wearing. If they are going to snatch a baby out of a wrap on my chest, I've got other problems to deal with.