Sunday, May 22, 2005

Speaking Up

by Christina VanGinkel

It is now rummage sale time in our area and a neighboring town has hosted an annual Day of Rummage for the last several years. It is highly successful, with rummage after rummage up and down the city blocks and neighboring rural areas. Portable potties are brought in while food stands are set up and rummage goers set out in droves, by themselves and in groups.

The momentum of this sale is so huge that some most likely sensible parents forget their sense for the day. Children run across streets with little if any intervention. Kids are left unattended in cars, just for a minute! In addition, babies, from newborn up, are commonly seen being bandied about from sale to sale in the hot driving sun.

The first offense, kids running about, is mostly handled by drivers being extremely careful on the day, and adults who have no qualms telling kids they have never met before to watch where they are going, even grabbing an arm here and there to stop them from dashing out into a street. Moreover, what parent would dare say something back to the stranger who just most likely saved their child from possible harm?

Yet the other two, babies and kids in overheated cars and babies being dragged about most often never gives even one other adult the courage to speak up to these parents. To tell them that, hey, you do know how hot that car can get in just a few minutes. That you know that minute you are going to pop into that sale can quickly turn into five or ten when you find something you want and have to stand in line to pay for it. In addition, that beautiful little bundle of newborn, who yes, we know loves a bit of sun, can become overheated, even dehydrated, while you are so wrapped up in the moment that is really hours long.

The rummage is only an example. Think of the times you have witnessed a scenario similar, but never said a word because you did not want to offend someone. Why is it we can open our mouths so quickly when another adult offends us directly, but not when we know they are truly risking a life?

Oftentimes the new parent does not realize that the baby in their arms or uncovered stroller is in need of shade. A few words spoken that reflect this, and not point fingers, are usually all it takes. Such as, oh, what a beautiful baby you have there. I remember being a young mother myself out for a lovely day just like this, and not realizing how hot it was getting for my daughter. I bet you cannot wait to get to some shade. A comment such as this is usually all it takes to get a young mother to realize just how hot it is.

The second scenario is by far different. Kids die every year from being left in vehicles. If you witness this being done, contact authorities if you think the life of the child may be in danger. A responsible parent or caregiver knows to never, ever leave a child unattended in a parked vehicle, and, if they are not responsible, the rest of us needs to pick up the slack.

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