I got out of the car at Kindy and while standing door open to let my daughter out, I heard a screaming baby.
My daughter ran to the footpath to wait for me and as I turned to see where the shrill cry was coming from, I realised it was from inside the car next to me.
There was a sun protector screen on the window so I couldn’t see through, but as I made my way to the footpath to join my daughter I realised there wasn’t an adult in the front seat. Putting the pieces together it dawned on me that this baby had been left, while mum or dad took another child in for the Kindy drop off.
It was then that I froze. Literally froze. I was suddenly in a moment of torment as the scream (and I mean that brand-new infant scream) kept on and on. My motherly instinct had literally taken over my body and I was drawn to this baby clearly in need.
Do I go to the aid of the baby? Open the car door and shake a toy or something until mum or dad returns? If they knew their baby was so upset, would they want me to do this?
No, I walked away very slowly with my daughter actually pulling me along to get inside.
Once inside, I felt ill. This crying baby certainly wasn’t feeling secure in this moment.
Fortunately there are windows above the lockers so as my daughter wrote her name to sign in, I was able to stand at the window and look out at the car…mum or dad must be coming soon?…Surely soon?
From the window I was relieved to see movement in the middle seat – a school age child in uniform obviously waiting for their turn to be dropped at school.
At least 5 mins later or more mum arrived back to the car.
I know plenty of parents who leave kids in the car to run in to pay the petrol where they can keep an eye on the car from a distance, or older siblings in the car for Kindy run drop off. But is it perhaps a bit different to leaving an infant for such a long period of time – and out of view?
It is actually a criminal offence in Australia to leave a child anywhere – regardless for how long or what for.
Mums and Dads do it tough. We all handle things differently and have different ideas of what’s ok based on the immediate situation, the child, and many other factors in the moment.
But I really feel like I was in a situation of turning my back on a helpless child in need – I walked away. And I’m not sure this was the right thing.
Should I have attempted to soothe the baby – even if that meant breaking in to the car? Or was leaving the mother to make the choice of what she saw best for her own child the right thing to do?