There are more things under the sun...

2011-12-09 11:20

Georgina Guedes

As a parent, you literally make hundreds of decisions every day about the wellbeing of your child. Until you have become a parent, or I suppose taken up some sort of childcare profession, you actually can’t comprehend the intensity of this ongoing analysis and decision-making, but as soon as your baby is handed to you, the world becomes a very different place.

I am not a neurotic mother; I’ve seen other parents pale or twitch at some of the stuff we let our little girl get up to, but even though I am fairly relaxed, my head is filled with the knowledge of all the dangers that the world poses to her wellbeing. I’m convinced it’s something to do with the hormones released at birth – the moment they hand you your new baby, everything becomes terrifying.

What you do next is entirely up to you.

Yesterday, I went to visit a friend who doesn’t yet have children. Her porch door was open, so I immediately checked outside to see if her pool net was on. It wasn’t, we agreed to keep the door closed, knowing we would probably get caught up in chatter. I then quizzed her about any other doors that might be open in the house. She secured the front door, and we then got on with our visit. This is the FBI-like securing of any location I do every time I venture out with my children.

As a mother, I have made lots of decisions about my child’s physical and mental development. I have chosen not to let her play in a bouncer or a wheeled seat, as these are bad for their immature legs and stunt development. However, I do have friends who have chosen to use these items anyway, and although I disagree, I don’t feel that they are neglectful.

Being non-judgemental about other parents who are doing their best and making their own decisions in the framework of risk and possible outcomes is a hard task when your own decisions feel so right, and some of them extremely hard to come to. However, there are some instances of shocking parenting that are so inexcusable that no amount of rationalisation will save them. Those parents make my livid.

So, I read the story yesterday of a woman who left her two children in the sweltering heat in the back of her BMW in a parking lot in Vereeneging with no small amount of rage. After passersby noticed the children crying and called Netcare 911, the car window was broken and the children had to be taken to a hospital and given oxygen. The mother, upon her return, punched a police officer for breaking her car window.

First of all, everyone knows that it gets extremely hot in a parked car with no ventilation. Her children were six months old and just short of two, so not yet possessed of great reasoning or problem-solving abilities. She left them for more than half an hour in the sweltering heat while she went shopping.

As a mother of two children of similar ages, I know what challenges are presented by the need to get around quickly and easily. In fact, I’ve accepted that “quickly” and “easily” are not terms that apply to my ability to complete even the simplest of daily tasks. But no matter how inconvenient it may be to my plans, I would never leave a child in the car, even to dash to an ATM when the car is parked right beside it.

This woman also drives a BMW, so she should be able to afford help or access the internet to do her shopping online. If not, she doesn’t have her priorities straight. And while it’s not easy to manage two small children in a shopping centre, it is possible (I know). Nothing excuses what she did.

Never mind the fact that we live in South Africa where crime is a reality, and there are other risks to our children’s lives beyond just the sun. I’m glad this woman was arrested, and I hope that whatever happens next educates both her and anyone else who would be so stupid about the serious danger posed by their actions.

- Georgina Guedes is a freelance writer. You can follow @georginaguedes on Twitter.

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Disclaimer: News24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.

  • Stacey-Ann - 2011-12-09 14:18

    well said!

      Phoenix - 2011-12-11 17:23

      You have serious issues. Get help.

      Jaco - 2011-12-11 17:56

      Proafrikaans, you make me ashamed to be an Afrikaner. And that's some feat. Congratulations, ou maat. Not.

      Fredster69 - 2011-12-13 09:54

      Proafrikaans - You give the name 'Poephol' an whole new meaning

  • JudithNkwe - 2011-12-09 14:21

    I'm even happier to learn that she is spending the weekend in jail!

  • chinelle.manning1 - 2011-12-09 14:42

    some parents are just unbelievable!I would never leave my 5YEAR old son alone in the car so long. Besides the heat, what if they were missing when she returned? Don't think she thought this through. Defenitely well said!

  • Chantelle - 2011-12-09 14:57

    I used to be a croupier in a casino in Gauteng - one night after my shift I was joining some friends in one of the bars for a few drinks (was around 2am). After changing I moved from the back of house areas and was walking towards the bar when a random stranger came up to me, handed me her child who must have been about 2 and asked me to watch her while she went and played the machines. It's absolutely shocking what some people will do. Who knows how many times she had done this before. Her actions got her banned from the casino but I'll never know if further charges of negligence were laid as the matter was handed over to security.

  • elaine.swart - 2011-12-09 14:58

    Have to agree on this one. I just can not fathom any reason why a mother would do that.

  • Brenda - 2011-12-09 16:36

    There is not an reason in the world to justify what this woman did. She should hang her head in shame!! The fact that she assaulted the person who in effect saved her babies' lives speaks volumes in itself. Being charged with negligence is just not enough. It is no thanks to her that the two children are still alive. She should be charged with attempted murder. If she is indeed this stupid that she could not see the inherent dangers of heatstroke/hijacking etc etc etc, it will be a miracle if her children survive to see adulthood.

  • thabo.tebele - 2011-12-09 18:06

    Great article,you sound more like my wife,when coming to our two little daughters she does not take nonsense.From food,the toys I cant get them,the speed I should drive etc.The list is endless and I thought just maybe she is obsessed or something.

  • Rina - 2011-12-09 20:35

    Georgina, you sound just like my daughter in law. Only you know what is best. Never mind the horrific circumstances that those children had to endure, you waffle on about how good you are. If it is detrimental for children to be in a "bouncer" or "wheeled seat", why are they sold. Furthermore, do you have any scientific proof to back up your statement. I also hope that the "things" you let your daughter get up to wont be detrimental to her later on in life. I hope that the person that left her children in the car unattended gets whats she deserves.

      Benita - 2011-12-11 07:22

      You sound very bitter towards your daughter in law - just remember, she is the mother of your grandchildren and although you might not like the way she brings up her children, it is her choice. You had your chance with your son...and why get personal with a columnist, she is only stating her opinion!

      Phoenix - 2011-12-11 17:27

      Exactly Benita! She sounds like my mother in law. Seriously butt out and get your own life.

      K0BUSL - 2011-12-13 13:21

      Hi Rina, please take yourself back in time to the period you had toddlers and try to remember your own actions. I think your little tirade is simply because you don't like your D-I-L and probably never have approved of your sons choice.... Where my kids (one 19 the other 10 months) are involved, I will listen to advise and make a informed decision as to what I will and will not allow, do accept and tolerate. Yes I do believe we know best in terms of my wife and my values and upbringing which as they were totally diverse means we compromise a lot, so don't come into our territory and tell us how and when to do what. There are a number of things out there that I feel are detrimental to my kids upbringing, and sometimes that includes me, but as you have not written the internationally accepted book called "The Baby Manual - The Presciptive International Rules to Raising Kids", I suggest you accept your role as doting Grandparent and acknowledge that your Son and D-I-L set the rules and regulations......... If you cant then accept it when they don't visit anymore.

  • Zion - 2011-12-10 11:06

    I notice the same article on NEWS 24 has closed its comments section. Why is this one still open???

  • Hopalong - 2011-12-10 22:37

    @ proafrikaans - you are an embarresment to Afrikaans and all decent people.

  • Jacques - 2011-12-10 23:56

    My comment on the original story was removed, but I might as well try again here to kill a minute. What about subjecting prospective parents to a simple psychometric test and some basic counselling when a medical doctor confirms a pregnancy? Surely it makes sense to enable people to make informed choices that will affect their offspring! Considering the gravity of the situation, it makes sense.

      LindiBleu - 2011-12-13 08:55

      and if the psychometric test and counselling points to bad parenting? what then? recommended abortion? what next, families being rationed: only 2 kids per family?

  • Nicole - 2011-12-11 09:53

    @proafrikaans. Seriously???? Is that all you got out of this article? Sounds like YOU deserve your insults as your comments are just simply dumb. What was the point? You are an embarrassment to yourself. There are people here stating valid RELEVANT points, UNLIKE YOURSELF.

  • Dakey - 2011-12-11 11:02

    I've no idea why this woman left her children in a car. It was highly irresponsible and quite simply stupid. I'm not overly surprised however than News24 would highlight the case of a child left in Vereeniging. A more atp article may have been educating your readers about the plethora of parents you see smoking in cars with children sitting in the back seat or perhaps even more importantly, children not wearing safety belts or sitting on booster seats. The truth may also just be that due to laws on practising child discipline, parenting is significantly more difficult these day and as a result taking your children (especially a 2 year old) into a shop it an incredible daunting task. Imagine if our kids didn't know a shopping maul was a safe haven for misbahaviour... the ONE place the know they won't get a smack. Perhaps mothers would not fear going shopping quite as much. Then again we'll likely read articles on 'Mother physically abuses child in toy section'!

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