August 31, 2013

The Information Age or regular stupidity?

I have long tried to put my finger on the reasons why we have become a nation of child-forgetters.

You don't have to look too hard to find stories of kids left in cars, left at stores, left in school buses. 

The Home Alone movie franchise story made it humorous, but in the original, little Kevin was left behind for several combined, and easy to relate to, reasons.  It was the Christmas season, their house was filled with extra family members, they were busy getting ready to depart for a vacation, Kevin wasn't where he normally would be, having been relegated to sleep in the attic, everyone overslept due to a power outage...it almost seems as if the movie's writers made the list of reasons intentionally long, so that the public could see past the horror of a little boy left on his own for days, and enjoy the humor of the movie.

What has happened to our society, our culture, that we can forget a child.  I can use all of the excuses I listed above, throw in long work hours, hectic school and social schedules, miscommunication - there are hundreds of things that distract us in our modern society.

But, hell, we also have hundreds of time and energy-daving devices that our ancestors didn't have.  We have mobile phones, GPS, and the constant stream of media to keep us informed.  Why in the heck can't we remember to get the last kid off the bus, or take the toddler out of the car seat?

Is it a statistical anomaly?  Part of me hopes that this phenomenon isn't about being self-absorbed and too busy for parenthood, but rather a normal, albeit terrifying, condition that we are simply more aware and informed of due to the saturation of the media in our lives.  Perhaps children have always been forgotten, but we simply didn't hear about it.

Usually at this part of the internal argument, the other side kicks in and reminds me that, surely, if kids had been dying in hot cars since cars were commonly owned, that we would have grown up knowing about the dangers and, it wouldn't be just now that car manufacturers are trying to develop devices that sense movement in cars that aren't running (no comment on what such a device will do to the tradition of teenagers 'parking'). 

I'm not judging anyone - I have had moments of forgetfulness regarding my children, fortunately none of them were dangerous - but I can see how they could have been.  I just can't wrap my head around the epidemic of these cases and understand why it seems to happen so frequently.

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