Wichita:  Another child forgotten in a hot car. [source]

I just don’t understand this.  I really don’t.  Recently there has been so much focus about NOT leaving your child in the car, how can anyone not be hyper-aware of where their child is?  My daughter is almost six, so there’s no way I could forget her (chatterbox!), but I still find myself all the time throughout the day reminding myself of where she is, where she needs to be tomorrow, etc.  I just don’t forget about her…it’s not possible for me to forget about her.

I know there’s been some big study about how the brain functions and it’s been used as a defense for the broken-routine cases.  This particular case, however, just doesn’t seem to fit into that explanation.

This time it happened in Wichita, Kansas.  The foster father picked up the 10-month-old baby from day care and went home.  Apparently the father came home with not just the baby, but also with a 5-year-old in the car as well. The 5-year-old would have to be in a booster in the back seat, right next to the baby who was forgotten.  How on earth did the father remember one child and not the other?  And did the 5-year-old not wonder why daddy was leaving the baby in the car?  Wouldn’t he ask?  The father’s partner was in the backyard when they got home, so he assumed all the kids were “downstairs.”  But…the baby wasn’t remembered until 6:30 pm.  Didn’t a normal dinner time fall within this 2.5 hours of the evening?  At the very least, why didn’t the sight of the other two kids immediately trigger the memory of the third kid that should be there?  Did these parents just settle in to watch TV and completely forget about the 5th member of the family until something on the TV reminded them?  As one of the bystanders said “…he probably just wasn’t thinking.”  Clearly that is the case, but it does
not make it remotely all right.

I am not accusing them of doing this on purpose…but I honestly cannot wrap my head around this extreme level of incompetence.  “Broken routine syndrome” just does not seem to apply here.  The little girl was a newer foster child; wouldn’t that make them even more aware of all the new things they had to remember?  News reports say they even planned to adopt her, so one would think that meant she was well-established in their nightly routines.  I don’t know of anyone with a 10-month old baby who gets 2.5 hours of complete peace at that time of the evening, so I cannot fathom how they just completely forgot that she existed.

I just don’t get it.  I struggle to understand. And my heart breaks for this poor baby, and for all the future babies that will inevitably be left in a hot car and have this happen to them.  In the meantime, I will be watching this case unfold with interest, desperately looking for some explanation that will help me understand this tragedy.



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