With the weather threatening to heat up soon, there's sure to be another public awareness push reminding parents that kids and hot cars can be a deadly mix. We got that reminder a little earlier than usual this year, courtesy of a Tallahassee, Florida, man's viral video of a baby crying in the back seat of a car.
In the video, which is spreading rapidly across the internet via Facebook, Rudy Ferguson, Jr., stops to keep a crying baby company while the baby's mother can be located, soothing and shushing him through the cracked window. Fortunately the day is overcast, but it's begun to rain in the video, and Ferguson said his concern mounted for the child with the combination of the weather and how upset the baby seemed.
That was when he began to record, he told local news outlet WCTV — not out of judgment or a desire to get anyone in trouble, but to document what was happening — and he makes a promise in the beginning of the video: "I'll stay with you."
That's exactly what he does as he tries to get the baby to settle down, going so far as to compliment the little dude's kicks. Eventually Ferguson yells up to the apartment complex where the car is parked, looking for the baby's mother or father. He locates her, and she comes to get the infant and carries him back upstairs with her. The police were not contacted, and the baby appeared to be no worse for the wear, Ferguson said, adding that he shared the video to make other people aware of what can happen if you forget your baby in a car, even for a moment.
That reminder is one we can't afford to stop repeating as we head into the summer months. Each year brings a new series of tragedies when the fog of new parenting descends and the unthinkable happens. It's important to continue to emphasize how quickly something can go wrong. But there's something else in the video that we need to remember as well, and it's something many people seem to have forgotten lately.
We're referring, of course, to Ferguson's willingness to be a part of the village required to raise a child safely. He could have easily kept walking, or taken the video for the sole purpose of inciting outrage or simply called the cops and let them do whatever they were going to do when they found the baby's mother, which could have included splitting up Mom and baby for good.
Instead he told the baby, "I'll stay with you," and that's exactly what he did.
Babies are sometimes left in cars. Sometimes it's entirely accidental, and sometimes it's a decision that's made out of ignorance. Rarely is a child left in a car out of sheer malice. The disbelief and instinct to punish the offender can be very strong, but if given the chance, we would all do well to take a page out of Ferguson's book and focus our efforts primarily on a child who may be in danger. We need to choose empathy first and deal with whatever anger we may feel later.
We need to say, "I'll stay with you." And then we need to keep our word.
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