When my first born was about 4 weeks old I figured it was time to actually go outside with him. I had a very difficult delivery and it had taken a full month before I felt like I could go for a walk with both my baby and my dog. So I put the dog on a leash, put the baby in the stroller and headed out.
I live at the top of a hill. I was about one house down when my dog, who wasn’t very well behaved, lunged at a cat. I tripped and let go of both the leash and the stroller. I watched in horror as my baby started to roll down the very steep hill. I screamed, “NOOOOO” and tried to run after it, but I didn’t catch up. I was sure the stroller was going to roll right into a very busy street at the bottom of the hill. Fortunately it simply ran into a wall and fell over.
I scooped up my baby and ran home, hysterically crying. My son didn’t seem to be any worse for the wear, but I was a puddle of guilt.
Parents are not infallible. We all make mistakes.
A few days ago a woman named Cherish Peterson accidentally left her baby at the supermarket. She was off of her routine and in a hurry. She legitimately thought she had put the baby in the car and drove off. The baby was perfectly fine and unharmed. Let me repeat that. The baby is just fine. The mother, however, not so much.
Besides the horror she must have felt when she realized her baby wasn’t in the car, the guilt that washed over her as she figured out her mistake, and the millions of appalling “what-if” scenarios that must have flooded her brain as she rushed back to the grocery store, she is looking at being charged with child endangerment!
I am absolutely appalled at the gall of the police to push for charging this mother for making a mistake. A mistake that could have happened to anyone. And before you judge this mother and smugly think to yourself, “I would never forget my child at a supermarket” I want you to read this very important article printed in the Washing Post last year. Would you like to know who has had a child die because they forgot the child was in a car?
The wealthy do, it turns out. And the poor, and the middle class. Parents of all ages and ethnicities do it. Mothers are just as likely to do it as fathers. It happens to the chronically absent-minded and to the fanatically organized, to the college-educated and to the marginally literate. In the last 10 years, it has happened to a dentist. A postal clerk. A social worker. A police officer. An accountant. A soldier. A paralegal. An electrician. A Protestant clergyman. A rabbinical student. A nurse. A construction worker. An assistant principal. It happened to a mental health counselor, a college professor and a pizza chef. It happened to a pediatrician. It happened to a rocket scientist.
Cherish Peterson is a good mom who loves her children. She made a mistake just like all of the people mentioned above. But in this case, her baby was just fine! Shame on the police for treating this mother as if she did this with forethought and malice!
We are all Cherish Peterson. We all make mistakes. But for most of us we aren’t arrested and charged for it. Most of us don’t have our mistakes paraded on front page news.
If you are as horrified as I am by this miscarriage of justice, please join the Facebook group, “I Stand With Cherish” which at the time this post was published has over 17,000 members, each one knowing full well they too have made mistakes.