Well, as long as parents like these exist, I don't need to worry about getting the World's Worst Parenting Award. WTF, people? Seriously? Two kids in one week left at Chuck E. Cheese?!
I can almost get how this could happen. Chuck E. Cheese is mind-numbing and being trapped there for several hours could have the same effect on you as waterboarding or other various forms of torture. You come out of your stupor and find yourself curled in the fetal position in a booth behind the Whack-a-Mole. You glance at your watch and realize the joint is closing in ten minutes and there's no way in hell you're going to spend the night. You grab your kid and stumble out. It isn't until hours later that your ears stop ringing and you gain some clarity and realize, Oh shit! I took two kids to Chuck E. Cheese's and only came home with one!
Only it didn't happen this way. Instead, one family took their 5-year-old to CEC to celebrate her birthday and forgot her. The family has ten kids and so the birthday girl wasn't missed until the next morning when it was time for school.
Where do I begin with this? It was her birthday and nobody missed her until the next day? Nobody thought, "I want give Little Birthday Girl one more kiss and wish her one more Happy Birthday before I tuck her into bed"? I can't tell you how sad this makes me.
I am not the perfect mom by any stretch of the imagination, but if I'm home I tuck my kids into bed. If I'm at work when they go to bed, I kiss them after I get home and they're asleep. Does no one tuck Little Birthday Girl into bed? For some reason this upsets me more than the fact they left her behind. I can understand that in the hubbub of getting everyone out the door you think Auntie or Grandma has Little Birthday Girl in her car and you accidentally forget her. But you forget her until morning?? Poor Little Birthday Girl.
I get that they have a big family and it can be easy to lose someone, but don't big families use the buddy system or something? Don't big families learn from the Waltons to always do a roll call at the end of each night? Good night, Mary Ellen. Good night, Elizabeth. Good night, Jim Bob. Good night, John Boy. Good night, Little Birthday Girl. Little Birthday Girl? Has anyone seen Little Birthday Girl? OH MY GOD! We left her at Chuck E. Cheese!
The second family that left their child at Chuck E. Cheese this week didn't realize she was missing until they watched the nightly news and saw her face on television. This one amazes me more than the big family one. I imagine the big family parents are busy, busy, busy with all their kids and their night time routines and everyone looks the same and they're moving so fast no one can really get an accurate count of how many are there. I imagine it wasn't like that at the second girl's home. I imagine this girl's family sitting on the couch, relaxing with a cold drink and seeing her picture on the news. I imagine her mother spitting her cold drink all over the TV when her daughter's picture comes up.
The parents of this little girl share custody of her and they were both at the party, but they assumed she went home with a relative. Ummm....wouldn't you double check that? (I'm guessing they will next time.)
This just goes to show it might not be a bad idea to give a standardized test to all new parents before they leave the hospital with their new babies. Seriously! You have to jump through more hoops to adopt a dog than you do to have a baby and I'm guessing these parents shouldn't even have a dog, let alone a kid.
I have a large extended family and my kids love to ride in grandma's car or their aunt's car. The difference is, my family comes to me and says, "Gomer wants to go with me. You OK with that?" They would never just take my kids without telling me and I would never assume they had my kids when I got home and I didn't.
It's ironic, because I hate to go to CEC and one of the reasons (besides the obvious exposure to Black Plague) is that I'm always worried my kids will get snatched by some creepy pedophile. I worry, because it's literally impossible to keep my eye on both of my kids in that place since they run off in different directions. I worry that they'll think I've left them there and so they'll leave the building to see if my car is still in the parking lot and they get run over. (Yes, it's difficult for me to sleep at night with all this insane worrying. These are just my CEC worries -- now you see why I'm not crazy about the beach!) However, these two stories showed me that CEC might be one of the safest places for my kids. These little girls were left on their own and no one barely noticed them, let alone tried to snatch them. Maybe I've been too hard on CEC. Maybe I could use CEC like a cheap drop in babysitting place. I could give my kids a roll of tokens and tell them I'll see them in three hours?
You can read more of my blog at People I Want to Punch in the Throat.