OPINION

Don’t forget your most precious cargo in the backseat

Sandy Turner
Sandy Turner

Labor Day is here again. Typically I reflect on the hard working men and women who have made this country what it is today but something’s gone terribly awry if we have to remind some folks to not forget their baby.

If this was just a one-time freak accident, we wouldn’t be inventing car seats with alarms that go off if you shut and lock the car door and there’s still a kid inside. Or the need to launch a campaign to put your cell phone by the car seat, because by all means, no one would ever forget their phone.

I can’t imagine the agony these parents have gone through knowing their forgetfulness killed their child. There’s nothing that can be said or done to help ease their agony but maybe it’s time the rest of us should get refocused. Work can wait, text messages can wait, shopping, eating, drinking can wait. Kids in cars alone should never wait.

It’s hard to imagine this tragedy happens more than 30 times a year. Why is this happening now, but not a decade ago? What has changed so dramatically? Good parents are forgetting their most precious cargo in the backseat. Work overload? Too much technology at our fingertips? Has life become so busy we can’t handle more than a couple things at a time such as driving and remembering our kid? If there were ever to be a positive coming from the pandemic, perhaps it would be more parents are working from home, so the chance of leaving your kid in the car will decrease.

Forgetting their children was not intentional. Many of these parents were charged with manslaughter although no punishment could be worse than losing a child. No one can pinpoint the reason why it’s happening, but in most all of the incidents, the common factor has been being distracted by work.

I get the obsession with work. I used to be a workaholic and my daughters could attest to it. During my 30-year career at the newspaper, I worked long hours, weekends and brought work home every day, both mentally and physically. Unfortunately it wasn’t until I turned 50, and realized more than half of my life was over, I decided to slow things down. 

Work hard but play harder. My family thinks I’m the crazy person because I’ll go down the kids’ water slide or roll up Play-Doh to look like a pile of poop. Work will wait, time does not, so play every chance you get. 

Celebrate Labor Day and when you go back to work, take some Play-Doh with you as a reminder. All work and no play doesn’t just make you a dull person, it dulls your mind.

Sandy Turner lives in Independence, Missouri. Email her at sandydownhome@hotmail.com