With every summer come the horrible stories from all around the nation of children who are seriously harmed or killed by being left for hours in hot cars. Some incidents are inexcusable, like that of Cynthia Randolph, who left her two children playing in her car to teach them a lesson when they refused to leave the car on her orders. She shut the door on them, went into her home, smoked a joint and took a nap, only to wake up hours later to find the children unresponsive. She contrived a story in an attempt to avoid arrest, but her story ultimately fell apart. She has been sentenced to twenty years in prison.
Other cases are not so easy. Parents aren’t always so malicious, so self-centered, or so misguided in their efforts to discipline their children. Sometimes, they’re just distracted, overwhelmed, acting on auto-pilot.
Nicole Engler is a Nurse Practitioner in Roseburg, OR. After her husband, an ER tech, came home from a night shift, she offered to take their daughter to daycare on her way to work at her clinic so her husband could sleep. She put their daughter in the car, got in, and immediately drove to work. After a long shift, she came out to find her child blue and unresponsive. Her child died, and now Nicole Engler is incarcerated and on suicide watch.
Many are wondering how a mother or father could forget their child. I don’t wonder at all. We fall into routines. We fall into patterns. It’s difficult to break those routines, those patterns. When our minds become focused on the end goal, we often lose track of the in-between steps. How many of us have driven home after work and realized we have no recollection at all of actually driving home? How many of us have run an errand then started for home intending to stop at the store, but found ourselves pulling into the driveway and even walking in the front door, only to realize we never made it to the store? Have you really never forgotten to harness your child into her car seat? Have you really never walked to your car with your arms full of groceries with your two-year-old walking beside you through the parking lot? Have you really never looked up from your book, your TV show, your computer screen, your iphone and realized, “I have no idea where my child is!”
Before we judge, we need to realize: this could be me. There but for the grace of God go I.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.