Hot weather is here - time to be more mindful than ever as parents. I know we always strive to be anyway, but when it comes to kids in cars, nothing could be more important. I've seen this story shared elsewhere, and thought it so important that I should pass it on, too.
I'm linking to a blog that links the actual article, both because I like what she has to say about it AND because it gives you one more chance to rethink it if you change your mind about reading it. Because seriously, this is as gut-wrenching as it gets.
| THIS article, this heartbreaking destroying story of so many parent’s grief and guilt, this tragic tale of loss and forgetfulness, is worth every single minute it will take you to read it from beginning to end. And do not skip from one point to the next. No, all these stories deserve to be heard and all these cautionary tales need to be told. |
It’s coming up on that time of year again. It was in the 80’s here today. It’s so easy to sit here and say, “I would NEVER forget my baby in the car,” but judgement doesn’t make you immune to accidents and temporary lapses in memory.
| "Memory is a machine," he says, "and it is not flawless. Our conscious mind prioritizes things by importance, but on a cellular level, our memory does not. If you're capable of forgetting your cellphone, you are potentially capable of forgetting your child." |
Diamond says that in situations involving familiar, routine motor skills, the human animal presses the basal ganglia into service as a sort of auxiliary autopilot. When our prefrontal cortex and hippocampus are planning our day on the way to work, the ignorant but efficient basal ganglia is operating the car; that's why you'll sometimes find yourself having driven from point A to point B without a clear recollection of the route you took, the turns you made or the scenery you saw.
"The quality of prior parental care seems to be irrelevant," he said. "The important factors that keep showing up involve a combination of stress, emotion, lack of sleep and change in routine, where the basal ganglia is trying to do what it's supposed to do, and the conscious mind is too weakened to resist. What happens is that the memory circuits in a vulnerable hippocampus literally get overwritten, like with a computer program. Unless the memory circuit is rebooted -- such as if the child cries, or, you know, if the wife mentions the child in the back -- it can entirely disappear."
It's funny, because after seeing Babies recently, I was left with the amused feeling that JEEZ, we Western and highly industrialized parents need to chill the heck out already, after watching the Namibian and Mongolian babies frolick freely with goats and drink out of streams and the like, not to mention the scene where the mother of freshly swaddled Bayar hops on the back of a motorbike, holding him in her arms. No Graco travel system installed by certified technician necessary. I chuckled a little wryly at our dogmatism (though I would never say safety is not something to take very seriously) and was feeling a bit more "free-range". After reading Fatal Distraction, which deservedly won a Pulitzer Prize. I feel ready to amp up the parental OCD.
We think it could never happen to us . . . and so did the parents to whom it happened. I wish them whatever peace they can find.