Dada…Dammit: Issue 6-Reality Bites & The Asshole Dad

Where was the parents? Yes, I asked that question. I ask that question every time I hear of a child left in the car that died. I ask that question when a child is stolen from a back yard or when a kid falls in a zoo pit or, yes, when a horrendous accident happens. Where. Was. The. Parents. Let me first state that I’m absolutely fine with being labeled an asshole. I’m reading articles where the writer is begging people to stop shaming and blaming parents. Give me a break. For one, it’s a simple question-where was the parents?

Don’t get me wrong. I get the old cliche trope that you can’t watch a child for every second. But you should know what they’re doing and where they are at every moment. When my daughter has to go potty I’m not hovering over her like a helicopter following a white bronco, but I know she’s in the bathroom and I know how long she should be there and the tell-tale signs and sounds if she’s getting into something. It’s about environment.

It’s also about knowing your child’s personality and mentality and mood. If my daughter is being rather lazy and watching cartoons then it’s safe to say I can go fold some laundry in the bedroom. I know she’s going to be deeply involved with Sofia the First for half an hour and on a journey. It doesn’t mean I don’t check on her every few minutes. It doesn’t mean I leave the doors unlocked. A parent has to know their child and their environment.

I’m a protective father and I really don’t care what other people think. My daughter has to be within vision at all times. My daughter loves to run ahead and if we’re at the mall or at a store  she has to remain within sight. The reason is simple-kids get stolen. Nearly 800,000 children are reported missing every year. That’s more than 2,000 per day. I know what you’re thinking, “But Sam, how many of those are by disgruntled family members?” The National Center for Mission and Exploited Children sites 203,000 each year. That leaves roughly 600,000 children kidnapped not by family. Some statistics vary slightly. Everyone 40 seconds a child goes missing or abducted. Think about how many children have gone missing since you began reading. It’s real and it can happen.

And that’s just kidnapping. In many cases it’s the lack of supervision and the lack of forethought. We live in a busy world with far too much on our minds. We juggle lists in our heads of what needs to be done, what bills are due, when is this event, when is the doctor’s appointment, when does whatever needs to be done. I say, be forgetful. Write it down. Set an alarm. If you can’t remember it without forgetting about the most important thing, your child, then it’s not important. Concentrate on the moment. I have driven through parking lots with parents packing cars with toddlers running around unsupervised…in a parking lot. Am I the only parent that freaks out about that? Again, it’s the environment.

I don’t know. Maybe I’m an asshole for asking the question. I don’t claim to be a perfect parent that some articles are dissing on. I just don’t want my child hurt. I don’t want to suffer the loss. I’m not naive enough to think it can’t happen. I feel like Louis CK’s bit “Of course, but maybe”. Of course accidents happen, of course…but maybe if you were watching your kids it wouldn’t. But maybe…maybe…if you’re in Florida you should be concerned about alligators around water. (Yeah, I said it. I’m an asshole.) But maybe…maybe…if you’re not paying attention to your child they fall into a zoo pit. Maybe. Maybe.

We live in a world where no longer a village raises a child. It’s a big world out there. I really know zero of my neighbors. Compared to when I grew up my parents knew everyone. This is the reality now. And if you do live in a village that’s great-it’s good for the parent and the child. I’d say a majority of us do not. And that means parenting today is a more daunting task to keep an eye on your children, but it’s a task that must be taken with the utmost diligence. Their safety depends on it.