Home » ANOTHER Dirty Parenting Secret: The Partially Supervised (Ahem) Car) Nap

ANOTHER Dirty Parenting Secret: The Partially Supervised (Ahem) Car) Nap

Parents, grandparents, nannys, caregivers – Multiple Choice:

If a kid falls asleep in the car (or stroller, or swing, or. . .) If your kid falls asleep ANY. DAMNED. WHERE. FOR. A. NAP:

A.)  You are elated.

B.)  You will sleep too.

C.)  You will do ANY FUCKING THING YOU CAN POSSIBLY MANAGE to make this nap happen. EVEN THOUGH YOU KNOW YOU CAN’T MOVE KID FROM SAID NAPPING VENUE.  Ahem, you might not be so vulgar about expressing it.  (At least not until it happens repeatedly. . .)

D.)  Inconvenient napping location = premature wake up.

E.) A and C PLUS research the local penal code to see if said napping venue could constitute neglect  or abandonment.


So you might have guessed where I stand on this one?  Kid falls asleep in the car, kid naps in the car.  And fortunately for me, said nap usually coincides with the time of day when parking is copious on our end of the street.

So. . .I cover sleeping child (or children) with blankets, lock them in the car and go into the house to get some shit done in peace.

I.  KNOW.  

I know there might be a few of you reading this, wondering what the hell is wrong with me.  Debating whether you should call child protective services (um have you READ this blog?).  Wondering if that’s safe to do in BALTIMORE?  (Love The Wire, but we’re not all bad).

Here’s the thing:  The car is always locked and always within view of my front window.  Plus, I leave the house every five (YES FIVE) minutes to check on the child/children.

In fact, the entire scenario seemed like a no-brainer to me.  Kids are peacefully asleep.  I can see them better than when they sleep in their own beds/cribs at nighttime, plus I have 20 minutes to vacuum and mop the main floor of the house (ok, screw off on Twitter and pluck my chin hairs in quality afternoon light).

Anyway, this “magical” scenario only happens a couple of times a month for me and when I told Chris about it he said, “You know that’s probably illegal for some reason.”

Me:  “How could that be illegal?”

Chris:  “I don’t know, I think leaving kids in cars is a big thing.”

Me:  Well, yeah for an extended period.  LEAVING them in cars completely out of sight. . .  FORGETTING them in cars.  That’s an unfortunate problem. . .Or maybe LEAVING them and being willfully neglectful. . .That’s abusive.  That’s not what I’m doing.  At. All.”

Chris didn’t say anything else about the situation so I figured he didn’t think it was a bad parenting move on my part despite the fact that we had no idea whether it was legal or not.  So another month passed, and after a trip to the B&O Railroad Museum, the kids napped in the car.

And another month. . .This time it was a particularly exhausting trip to Oregon Ridge Nature Center for Teddy.  Mac and I made lasagnas while Teddy slept in the car, always in my view. . .

HOWEVER, this time, on one of my five minute trips to the car, I happened to notice there was a Baltimore City Police car parked down the street.

No big deal.  Maybe he’s doing something at the school or the pharmacy nearby.  It’s cool.

What if Chris was right?  What if it’s illegal and I get hauled to jail and child protective services has to watch my kids until Chris gets home and bails me out of central booking and hell, the lasagnas!

Be cool.  You’re a good Mom.  Plus, um an ATTORNEY who should look this up. . .You can just explain to the Officer – is there even an Officer in the car?  Can’t tell with the glare. .  .Just explain you are making lasagnas with your older son, while younger is napping in view. . .Right. . .

My heart started to flip flop.

Could I have caused us big trouble?

After about 15 minutes and 3 more five-minute baby checks, I started to smile down the block in the direction of the car.  (I still have no idea if any one was in the police car).

BECAUSE, honestly,

Why should I live in fear of being criminally liable for a personal and innocuous parenting decision?

We’ve all seen the stories:  The parents under investigation for allowing their children to walk to a park. . .The criminal charges brought against a Mom for leaving her content child in a car for a few minutes while she ran into a store. . .

We’ve all had someone make a comment about why our children’s dress, demeanor, or existence is offensive. . .

We’ve all gotten THAT LOOK from someone in Church.  (I’ll take my judgmental glances directly from God, or the What’s-his-name-Saint in the nave where we chase our children for 3/4 of the service, thank you very much). . .

I spend a decent amount of time worrying about my parenting decisions.  I try to make the best decisions I can.  I try to model good behavior.  I bathe them and feed them balanced diets. . .and we read. . .and we dance and have “ice cream parties” and “glow stick tubby raves” and we create and cuddle.  . .


Why am I, and countless other (super stellar) parents, questioning and FEARING our parenting decisions?  

Maybe it’s time for more common sense. . .more consideration. . .more compassion. . .

Unfortunately, there will be parents who are neglectful or are abusive.  We have a system – albeit not a perfect system – to address those scenarios.

In the meantime, let’s all endeavor to model a life of compassion and kindness for our children. . And for fellow parents. . .and all humans. . .Let’s not create a society driven by an irrational fear or EVERYTHING.  Let’s allow our children the ability to develop their confidence and their own good judgment.  Let’s allow common sense and compassion to drive our decision-making. . .

Really.  I’m sick of second guessing myself because of overly dramatic, sensationalized, societal parenting drama.

I do enough internal second-guessing already, because I LOVE my children.  So. Much.