Where the 3-Year-Olds Roam

2 07 2010

I really like where we live. Granted, it’s near a school, so during the year there’s a fair amount of traffic at 8 am and 2:30 pm. Still, it’s a nice little neighborhood. Added bonus: they built the new police station/court building within a mile. Score one for neighborhood safety!

I came home from work one day and Car said, “You’ll never believe this. I looked out the window, and there was a kid in our car!” We own a Mercury Grand Marquis (or “boat”) with doors that won’t lock. Heavy doors. Doors that can be difficult for adults to open. So Car went outside, removed the child from the car and walked him back to his house. There were eight or so kids playing, the eldest of whom said “AJ! You can’t go wandering off like that!” AJ* is three. Clearly a 3-year-old should be sternly disciplined for not being able to properly police himself.

The next day we were in the kitchen when Car said, “That kid is trying to get in our car again!” A few days later, we found popsicle smears on the handle of one of our (thankfully, fully locking) other cars. I found out my next door neighbors have also found AJ trying to get into their truck.

I talked to a neighborhood friend (We’ll call her…Bob. No, I’m kidding. How about Karen?) about this, because I find it highly concerning. About a week later, Karen was babysitting AJ and his siblings. A few hours into the day, AJ turned up missing. Guess where he was? If you didn’t guess “in the car,” you need to work on your logical thinking skills. Karen was so grateful we’d had a talk about his predilection for cars, because that’s one of the last places she would’ve looked. When AJ’s mom came to pick her kids up, Karen mentioned the whole AJ missing and then discovered in the car episode, and AJ’s mom said, “Oh, yeah. I should’ve warned you that he does that.”

What? Am I alone in thinking this is problematic behavior? Those of you that have had/do have 3-year-olds–would you be okay with this?

I’m not trying to be judgmental. I’m just genuinely concerned for this child. AJ shouldn’t be wandering the neighborhood alone. He also shouldn’t be climbing into people’s cars. I have no way to lock our monster car, and the parking brake doesn’t work. I’m stressed that AJ will get into my car and either a) get trapped when the weather is horrifyingly hot or b) put the car into gear (SO glad I don’t live on a hill).

I want to talk to AJ’s mom, but will that do any good if she’s already aware of the problem? I’m not sure what to do here. I don’t want to walk out one day and find a dead 3-year-old in our car.

Any ideas? I’m really stressed about this.

*Names have been changed. I’m awesome like that.

**Hey, WordPress Proofreader? “Should’ve” is a word. Didn’t we have this discussion about “must’ve”? What’s your beef with contractions?

**Apparently you also hate adverbs. And thanks for making me lose 10 minutes of my life trying to decide if I’m completely insane to think that “horrifyingly” is a word, and another 5 trying to decide what part of speech it is. I don’t need this crap. I spent an entire year of 9th grade English diagramming sentences. Or possibly 7th grade. I’m not sure. It was so awful I’ve blocked it from memory. Thanks for making me relive that, jerk.

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6 responses

2 07 2010
Judi

I am having problems w/ neighbors kids too. do we look like we don’t have enough to do chasing our own kids that we need to monitor the enitre neighborhood? Good luck Jenny!

2 07 2010
Laney

I agree with Alex too.
I would call the police next time you see the kid in you car (hopefully you won’t see him in your car again though). There are all kinds of scary scenerios that could happen with unsupervised kids in cars.

2 07 2010
Erin

So I got DCFS called on us after Riley’s overdose this week and this kid gets to lock himself in cars with a mother who isn’t even the slightest bit concerned about it and they aren’t on her doorstep? I’m a physical wreck over them thinking I’m an unfit mother. To top it off she had the nerve to tell me I am overwhelmed with my life. Um no I’m overwhelmed that you think I am a bad mother. Seriously it is times like that it makes it so apparent that the system is screwed up.

I’m not one to advocate calling unnecessarily but it sounds like the kids mom really isn’t that concerned about it. That is scary stuff.

2 07 2010
Sue

I am 100% in agreement with Alex’s comments. I would throw in calling Children’s Protective Services perhaps with a forewarning and then if it happens again, it will get documented if not acted upon immediately.

2 07 2010
Julie

There should be a hot-line. I keep hearing of instances where young children are getting hurt and I wonder who these mothers think is responsible. Maybe you could call the police next time you find the kid in your car because if it happens again, she hasn’t learned and maybe she needs to learn the hard way.

You also have to be careful not to get blamed. Some unknowing person could see you with the kid in your car and think you’re putting him in and not taking him out. So many problems here. I see your frustration!

2 07 2010
Alex

Talk to the mother, asap. Or maybe you could talk to the mom and Carlan could talk to the other parent? Tell her the doors don’t lock, parking brake doesn’t work, and make sure you leave in the gory bits about heavy doors and dead 3 year olds cooking in the hot sun? And get her or the other parent’s phone number if you can.

The next time you see him on the street, I think I’d try calling her or the dad and standing there at your house with the kid until they come and pick him up. Make sure they are darn good and inconvenienced. Be a pain in the ass about it. If they don’t come, or if it happens again, get the cops involved.

I’m not even joking. Because you’re right, that kid could die. (Or get abducted, or run over another child…etc etc) And I’m no attorney, but I think if the poor neglected thing gets himself killed on your property, you could be liable.

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