kids in hot cars

last week the news was rife with warnings about leaving children in hot cars. it’s a real problem, causing real deaths. on one morning news show a very brave father chose to disclose his own terrible reality of having forgotten his sleeping child in the back seat of his car on a hot day when he was under a particularly heavy load of stress and distraction. his child died. i have nothing but empathy for this person’s grief.

after this truth telling, heart wrenching interview, the reporter went on to give tips to prevent such scenarios from recurring. his final suggestion was to place your cell phone next to your child’s car seat and leave it there while you drive. when you get out of the car you will remember to get your cell phone, thus noticing your child.

let me continue by saying, i am the last person in the world competent to judge others. as i’ve grown my own contemplative/mindfulness practice i have worked diligently to notice more and judge less. these thoughts are based on exactly that. i have no interest in judging parents who have or will (for whatever reason that either does or does not make sense to me) left/leave their children in hot cars. what i do have interest in is noticing that we might, as a culture, remember to find our children in the back seat if we leave our cell phones there. that we might forget to notice our children are there but not forget to retrieve our phones catches my attention.

what else might we have remembered in the past that we now rely on our cell phones for? sure, they’re handy tools and they afford us a wealth of conveniences, but are we really comfortable assigning them as much life sustaining power as we have? 

as we launch into a new week how might we live differently if we put as much energy into remembering to charge, update, and keep present our embodied relationships as we do to charging, updating, and carrying our phones? how might our experiences change if we really, fully had them instead of photographing/recording them? what time might be freed up if we only looked at our phones periodically rather than every time they indicated something new had happened. might we stay more present to those in the seats of our metaphorical (and physical) cars?

just once (or perhaps more than once) this week might we take the risk of putting our phones in the back seat of our lives and leave them there not to remind us of the embodied people and experiences that live there but, instead, to free us to them.