A Michigan mom is speaking out about her two-year-long legal battle that came about after leaving her son in her car unattended for five minutes.
Kim Brooks of Chicago, Michigan explains in an essay published by Salon that she made the decision to leave her then 4-year-old son in her car on the cool, cloudy day while she ran into a store to get something while they were on their way to the airport.
“I took a deep breath. I looked at the clock. For the next four or five seconds, I did what it sometimes seems I’ve been doing every minute of every day since having children, a constant, never-ending risk-benefit analysis. I noted that it was a mild, overcast, 50-degree day. I noted how close the parking spot was to the front door, and that there were a few other cars nearby. I visualized how quickly, unencumbered by a tantrumming 4-year-old, I would be, running into the store, grabbing a pair of child headphones. And then I did something I’d never done before. I left him,” wrote Brooks. “I told him I’d be right back. I cracked the windows and child-locked the doors and double-clicked my keys so that the car alarm was set. And then I left him in the car for about five minutes.”
“He didn’t die. He wasn’t kidnapped or assaulted or forgotten or dragged across state lines by a carjacker,” continued Brooks. “When I returned to the car, he was still playing his game, smiling, or more likely smirking at having gotten what he wanted from his spineless mama. I tossed the headphones onto the passenger seat and put the keys in the ignition.
After immediately returning to her car, Brooks got the airport, got through the flight safely, and was greeted by her pale, distraught husband.
“My husband was waiting for us beside the baggage claim with this terrible look on his face,” recalled Brooks. “‘Call your mom,’ he said. I called her, and she was crying. When she’d arrived home from driving us to the airport, there was a police car in her driveway.”
According to police, a bystander had witnessed Brooks leave her on in the car for those few minutes, filmed it with their cell phone, and immediately called the police. Brooks was eventually charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and after a long two years of being dragged through the courts, a judge ultimately agreed to make Brooks undergo 100 hours of community service and take parenting classes.
Now, Brooks is speaking out about her experience and acknowledges her momentary lapse in judgment while trying to shed light on the issue of parental anxiety and overprotection.
Read the fascinating essay in its entirety here.