Leaving your kids in the car while you run into the store

[deleted account] ( 62 moms have responded )

I saw this post in the Q&A where this woman was asking if it was okay to leave your 1 year old in a car while you ran into the store to pay for gas or buy 'smokes'.



What's your opinion on this matter? Do you think it's bad parenting or do you think it's acceptable? If you saw someone do that, what would you think and/or do?

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Sally - posted on 04/07/2010

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Never never never. As someone who has had a car backed into in the parking lot, I cannot imagine anyone doing this. I was not even to the door of the store when I heard the hit. Out of the car less then 30 seconds. Imagine the fear that would go through a child in that circumstance. Or worse, it takes a good car thief mere seconds to break in a car. Also, in my state, it is considered child neglect. Bad bad idea.

C. - posted on 04/07/2010

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It is not acceptable. Anything can happen to that baby/child while you run into the store for 5 minutes. I have seen it happen (I used to work in a grocery store and people ALWAYS left their kids out there, especially infants, and we are in SC so it gets REALLY hot out here in the summer).



Myself and a coworker of mine have called the police on people before for leaving their children in the car. This one particular time, the guy had been in the store for a little more than 10 minutes, both kids in the car who couldn't have been over the age of 1, sitting in direct sunlight with the windows barely open and it was a very hot day. AND he was parked far away from the store. I'm sorry.. But if you ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO leave your kid in the car, park as close to the store as you can!



My MIL takes my son once in a while and one time when she was dropping him off, she said that he fell asleep in the car and she ran into the store while he was still sleeping.. I about slapped her! Anything could have happened to my son! I definitely did not appreciate that one bit.

Ashley - posted on 03/18/2010

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When I was driving I could never bring myself to leave my son in the truck. It was a pain in the neck b/c it alwasy took extra time to just pop in the store for a second, but I am a city dweller and you never know who the crazies are. The farthest I ever got to leaving him was getting out and dropping movies in the takein box but I could touch my truck the whole time. lol



I know some people who do it all the time, and while I am sure they feel ok with it, to me it is a horrible practice that could lead to any sorts of mishaps or worse.

Krista - posted on 03/19/2010

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A lot of it DOES depend on where you are. If I was in a city, or even a town larger than mine, then no, of course I would never leave my child unattended. And in Kim's case, where she lives, then yes, it would be foolhardy in the extreme to leave a child unattended.

But I live in a podunk fishing village of less than 400 people. I'm not saying that abduction could NEVER happen here. But I AM saying that the odds of it are very, very, very, very, very, very, very small. Minute. Beyond tiny. And, as I mentioned earlier, my child is put at much greater risk when I drive down the road with him in the car. Or when I walk him in his stroller. But I take those risks every day, and nobody thinks I'm an idiot or unfit for doing so.

Unfortunately, as parents, there is no way to completely eliminate any and all risk to our children. I could keep my child home at all times, but what if our house burns down? That could happen, right? What if someone breaks into my house and kills us all?

Basically, as parents, we have to look at our environment and our circumstances, and decide what risks are worth worrying about, and what risks are not. Because if we worry about every single possible thing that could conceivably happen to our kids, no matter how long the odds, we'll soon find ourselves on happy pills and wearing a comfy jacket with unusually long sleeves that tie in the back.

[deleted account]

I am not a complete unfit idiot even though I've got 2 women calling me one. You can think it is wrong, that is fine, but the idiot blank statement is a little harsh. September gave her opinion w/out resorting to name calling.

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Serene - posted on 04/07/2010

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I do if I am running into the store to pay for gas if the pump credit card machine does not work. I'll lock the doors, crack the window and take my keys with me. I'll run in and run out with my eyes glued to my car. My son hardly ever notice that i am gone. I've ran into my house for something and left him in the car but, never over 3 mins.

But, when he was under18 months old i would take him in to the store with me even if i was in there for a minute. Other then that he goes into th stoer with me all of the time.

Terri - posted on 04/07/2010

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I would never ever leave a child alone in the car, not even for a minute! My eldest is 8 years old and I wouldnt leave him alone in the car let alone my baby!

We recently had an incident in australia where a mum left her 2 year old in the car to go shopping. It was a hot day and the poor boy was sweltering in there. Nobody knew where the mum was so a passerby just smashed the car window and pulled him out.

If he had been in there another 5 minutes it might not of ended happily. Luckily he was ok. But I would rather sacrifice a little extra time for the safety of my children and put up with the inconvenience of having to take them with me knowing they are safe.

Emma - posted on 04/07/2010

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Just to add, if i see small kids alone in a car i will often wait in mine and make sure they are ok, if the parents come back within five mins i will just go my own way, but i have told someone off before for doing this i sat waiting in my car for like 35 mins and finally the parents showed up i gave them an ear full as the kid could of only been 2 or 3 years old and we live in a city in SA and it was summer v hot they had left the windows open but that is good and bad. thing considering where we live. I was just getting ready to go into the shop's and get them to make a call over the PA with there car Reg asking them to come to the desk as i really needed to go.

Emma - posted on 04/07/2010

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Well i would never leave my kid's in the Car hear in SA , but that's hear if i still lived in the UK yes i would to pay for petrol.
I think it depends on where you live, can you still see your kids, is it just an in and out.

Alandria - posted on 03/31/2010

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I think a one year old, by themself is a terrible idea! We can always believe that something is only going to take a few minutes, but then the person infront of you takes a little longer...you forget that there was something else you needed to pick up. Then your 1 year old reaches over and locks the doors. Now you really have a problem....I say, take the extra min. to unstrap them, take them in and have enjoy a little peace of mind.

Tina - posted on 03/31/2010

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NO NOT OK! I LIVE IN A SMALL TOWN OF LIKE 100 PEOPLE AND I DONT EVEN LEAVE HER IN THE CAR AT HOME!

Becky - posted on 03/31/2010

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I do it if I'm just walking in to pay for gas. But I also open the window a smidge and lock the door so no one's getting in or out.

Jane - posted on 03/31/2010

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Just heard a news story this morning on CNN about a car that was stolen when the parents ran into the convenience store "just for a second" and the car was stolen with the kids in it. Thankfully, 1/2 an hour later, the car and children were found...children unharmed.

Karen - posted on 03/30/2010

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I don't ever leave my kids in the car while I go into a store. Babies get snatched up so fast, I don't want mine to be one of them.
However I do leave them in the car for a second while I run in the house but that's only because I am the last house on a wooded dead end. I run in the bags, then grab the kids if they are sleeping. Or run in to grab something I forgot. This would not happen if I lived elsewhere though.
If I had an older child like maybe 12 or older and young ones, I think it would be different.

Lyndsay - posted on 03/26/2010

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My son is 2 and if I'm going to run in to pay for gas I will leave him in the car. I lock the door and keep my eye glued to the car the entire time. That is the only time. If I'm going into the store to buy something, I know that I have a wandering eye and I could be there all day, so I always bring him with me.

Kaylyn - posted on 03/25/2010

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I don't think its right in any situation and no matter if ur from a small town or not..anything can happen in the blink of an eye and im not willing to take the chance with my child.

Jessica - posted on 03/24/2010

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I could never do this. My son is four and he goes everywhere with me. If I run into the gas station for something, he goes.

I once seen a mother at Sheetz, run into the store, leaving her car running with a toddler in the backseat. She didn't go in and grab something really quick, she took her time deciding what she wanted, then got a soda, snack and a pack of smokes. I was so suprised. What was even more suprising was she was very pregnant! I couldn't believe she'd leave her car running with a toddler in the back seat and then take her time getting what she wanted!

Marcia - posted on 03/23/2010

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I'm a mom of three and in some circumstances, I will leave them in the vehicle for a few minutes. However, I don't have real small children. My oldest is going to be 12, my middle is 10 and my youngest is 7. If the weather is very cold or very hot, I don't think twice to have them go in with me. No matter how long I'll be in there. It helps that my kids are old enough to walk everywhere too without getting tired quickly. ie) 1yr olds to 3yr olds.

[deleted account]

I never used to leave my kids in the car. Now I do to grab milk, for example, and only if it is a temperature that I don't need either heat or air conditioning, and also if my dog is with them (black lab). Also my kids are almost 7 and 9. When they were younger, they wouldn't have wanted to be left alone. If they fell asleep and woke up not knowing where I was, my youngest would have been terrified, though my oldest probably would have taken it in stride.

Jackie - posted on 03/22/2010

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THat's exactly whats happening to me. Glad its not just me at least. I've started copying all my posts in case they get lost since I never remember exactly what I wrote the first time (hence the two different, but similar posts above, lol)

[deleted account]

Yeah, Jackie. Everytime I post the page turns blank. I have to hit the back button on my browser in order to get back to see the page. Annoying!

Jackie - posted on 03/22/2010

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Sorry about the duplicate post...the first time I wrote it there was nothing showing up! My site is acting up right now...oops =)

[deleted account]

Well, I did state that I leave my one year old in the car alone for a minute... not for the store, but to pay for gas or get the mail or unload my groceries in my apartment. I just don't leave him longer than that unless his sisters are w/ him.



I don't know statistics and I don't know how to Google it, but car thefts are extremely rare here and almost all of them are teenagers out for a joy ride since stealing a car is extremely stupid when you have no where to take it. Kidnappings are also extremely rare and almost all of those are domestic. Not making excuses. If you don't agree w/ me, you don't agree w/ me and that's fine, but I do know where I live and it doesn't compare to most places.



And it isn't illegal HERE to leave a one year old in a vehicle for a minute. It's illegal to leave them for more than five minutes w/out someone older than 8... and that doesn't happen cuz my girls ARE 8. :)



And just to clarify. If I use caps I'm not yelling. It's just how I place emphasis on certain words. ;)

Jackie - posted on 03/22/2010

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Alot of your posts are not referring to the original question of leaving a 1 year old in the car, ALONE. Sorry, but I have to agree with Amanda, never a good idea. And where it is a law that a child cannot be left alone, no I don't think its ridiculous for the police to arrest a woman just b/c she was "only gone for a minute". She broke the law - end of story.

And "seeing" your car isn't good enough....if you can't be right next to your car, there is ntohign to stop something from happening. And I don't personally think leaving your "older" kids to watch the baby is ok either...see above comment. I still won't even leave my daughter in the car with her 14 y/o step brother...I promise you that if some crazy guy gets in the car and tries to take off....theres not a damn thing he will be able to do to protect my daughter. Does he stay in the car himself, yes, and I stayed in the car myself at that age (and younger). And I am sure my daughter will be in the car alone by that age (though I feel like the law is 10 or 12 anyways)...but I won't do it until its legal.

Yes the chances of something ACTUALLY happening are almost nonexistent, but I am not about to bear that risk - however small it may be - just for my convenience. Just think how you would feel "if" that something actually happened b/c you were "only gone for a second", or "could still see the car".

Jackie - posted on 03/22/2010

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I see lots of posts of people talking about older kids etc....this debate started wtih the question of leaving a 1 year old, in the car....alone. I have to agree with Amanda and the others...there is NOTHING safe about that. The chances that something ridiculous will happen are almost nonexistent sure...but are you really willing to submit your 1 y/o to that risk at all just for your convenience??? I just look at it as how would I feel IF that ridiculous scenario played out....just b/c its a small town doesn't mean some crazy person isn't passing through. Just being able to "see" the car isn't good enough, if you can't be literally right at your door...you can't do any good if something starts to happen. If you need to go beyond that the kids should go with you.

And I personally won't leave my daughter in the car with her older step sibling either...sorry, but some little 14 y/o boy isn't going to do jack s&*t against some crazy guy trying to steal my car. I just don't see that as being any safer.

Amanda - posted on 03/20/2010

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Paying for gas may only take a minute, but stealing your car also only takes a minute. You hear on the news all the time about young children and babies taken while a car was being stolen because a parent left the car running. Hyperthermia death is not a fate you want for your child, because your 1 minute trip into the bank has now become 20 minutes because the person ahead of you inline has 20 transactions to do. Cars are like ovens, and will cook your child fast. That is why in many states, and provances there are laws that state children under the age of 10-9 can not be left alone in a car no matter the amount of time. Leaving a 1 year old in a car is irresponsible no matter what the population of your city/town is, and if I saw any young child left in a car in my area I would call 911 instantly, and wait for the police to show up.

[deleted account]

I don't think leaving a child unattended in a car can be compared to driving.
Plus, we NEED drive our kids around, we don't really have much choice, but we don't NEED leave them in the car while we run in the store. There are lots of reasons we might WANT to leave them in the car, but ultimately, there is no reason we NEED to.
It's really a matter of convenience. (those caps are not meant to be yelling, I just don't know how to make italics for emphasis on here :))
Besides that, Statistically, if the car seat is installed properly and being used, the likely hood of the child being killed in a fatal crash is not much less than the car being stolen at a gas station. Did you know that more than 50% of stolen cars are stolen at Gas Stations & ATMs! I find that amazing--If your car is going to get stolen, it would probably be stolen at a gas station or atm, and that is where most people leave their little ones in the car!

Nikki - posted on 03/20/2010

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I would never do it, you cant trust anyone, and it only takes a second for something to go wrong, I don't feel that it is worth the risk.

Rosie - posted on 03/20/2010

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i have no problem leaving my kids in the car if i'm at a place where i am able to see the car and it is very closeby-like a gas station. i lock the car, and walk in the 2 minutes it takes to get my pop then go back. i agree with krista that the chances of something happening to them is so minute, and the chance that something will happen to them while driving them around is greater. obviously i know that it can always happen, but i always know that i can get into an accident to, and that doesn't prevent me from putting them in the car in the first place. i weigh my decisions and leaving them for the 2 min. is a much better option for me.

Cindy - posted on 03/20/2010

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I don't drive so I find people's responses to this question very interesting. However I do take a bus that takes us to our destination and I have to say i'm uncomfortable leaving my girls strapped in the bus for even a min even though I know all the drivers and know they'd only want what was best for my kids. However my family lives in a very small town and I know both my sister did leave their kids in the car when they would do different things and although that choice is not an option I personaly would do, I don't falt anyone for doing it. I have twins so I know what a hastel it can be to take them both in and out of the car for only a min.

[deleted account]

Teresa I'd also like to say that I was commenting in the case of leaving a 1 year old by themselves in a car. Your cirumstances are totally different - leaving a child this age with older children is fine.

[deleted account]

I'll leave my daughter in the car for three reasons:
1. Dropping or picking something up from a friend's house and the car is parked in her driveway
2. Getting a movie out the Red Box (outside Red Box at a gas station, I can pull right up to it) j
3. Church parking lot for a minute or two

Otherwise, it's really not that much trouble to get her out of the car.

I saw a Dr. Phil episode where a mom was actually arrested and booked for leaving her child in the car. The situation: Her two older children saved their spare change and wanted to bring it to the Salvation Army can at Wal-Mart. It was sleeting and her two year old was asleep in her carseat. She pulled to the curb and left the younger child in the car 30 feet away for less than a minute so she could help her two older children make the donation. They arrested this woman in front of her children. THAT is way too extreme IMO. Where was the common sense of the officer? Obviously he didn't have children or he wouldn't have made this bad judgment of the mother.

[deleted account]

ive done it once but i live on a military base and it was to check the mail at the end of the street and to drop off library books in the open return outside.. other than that if hes asleep and he has a graco my ride 65 i take the whole damn thing out and bring it inside lol no need to wake him.. or i sit in the care with him and wait... id hate that my laziness or need to rush to complete an errand would and could leave me without a child....

Jenna - posted on 03/19/2010

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I remember saying that I would never do it before I had my son. This winter however I did it on a few occasions. My husband is deployed and there were a few mornings in the winter that I ran into the gas station around the corner to get milk for his sippie cup at day care. It was freezing and he was asleep. I can see the car the entire time and there is no one else out at that time but other soldiers going to PT.

[deleted account]

I leave my kids in the car when I run into the post office to check the mail. It literally takes me 40 seconds. I would never leave my child in a car alone for more than 2 minutes. We live in a very small MT town & I'm really not worried too much, but I still wouldn't leave them for long.
I think if a mother did leave their children for more than a few minutes, then yes, that is a bad judgment call.

Jocelyn - posted on 03/19/2010

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For me, it would depending on where I was and what I needed to do. I would leave my kids in the car while I paid for gas, in our small town where we know everyone, but if we went to the city, hell no I wouldn't leave them!

Ashley - posted on 03/19/2010

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I guess I am a little paranoid, but I couldn't ever leave my baby in the car by himself...luckily our gas pumps take debit, but I just don't trust anyone anymore.
My mom and I tried to call the cops on someone who left their little baby in a van with the windows rolled up at Walgreens. It was probably 80 degrees out and there was no shade. We didn't have a cell so my mom ran into the store to tell the manager to call the police while I stayed to watch the baby. The scum of a dad ran out (having heard my mom) and raced that van out of there. Grrrrr...wish we would have had his license plate.
The town I live in is small, but there are a lot of meth addicts around...and troublemakers (I sound so old) who don't mind rummaging through vehicles.
So no thanks, I'll spend the extra minute getting my son out of his seat. :)

Kim - posted on 03/19/2010

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ok, ok...for those of you who feel I was rude in saying you (in general) were an idiot, I apologize that you took it personally. I do see a pattern here though that those of you from smaller twns dont see it as that big of an issue. I happen to live in the 4th largest city i the United States, capital of kidnapping and within a short trip to the Mexico boarder. Common sense HAS to be yur friend here.....so with that being said....you may feel safe in your town and by all means I hope you are...but the illusion that bad things dont happen there is a sure way to get caught slippin and put your kids at risk. As parents we have a responsibility to protectour kids 24/7 and not when we "just need to run in for a minute"...thats the thought process that may ruin your whole life. As this forum is about peoples opinions, I think to judge what I say as mine as mean or un called for is not excepting the fact that some people dont feel the same as you.

Sunny - posted on 03/19/2010

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I come from a town of 500 that i have grown up in and am either related or know everyone and although i havent done it myself i know people that do and i dont think of it as abuse in that situation.
One day on a 35 degree Australia summer day my mum and i were in town and walked past a car that had a child in it all alone, we looked for the parents tried to get the kid who was 2 out but we couldnt so we called the cops and they got him out and ambos took him away. We waited for the parents who turned up over an hour later! They of cause were charged and lost right to their child. Its disgusting :(
Oh and just to add, here it illegal to leave your car running while it is untended to, my partner was fined for running into the shops to pick up our hot chips while i was in the passenger seat!

Jane - posted on 03/19/2010

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And let me state for the record.....I did not read ANYTHING prior to posting my above comment. It was answered based on the original post question and not to anyone that has responded to this.

Jane - posted on 03/19/2010

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I'm not even going to read what others say prior to my comment. Leaving a 1 year old in the car is child abuse, plain and simple. If I were to see it, I would call the police. There is no excuse to be lazy and not take your child out of the car seat and bring the child in with you when you have to go into a store...even if it's just for a moment.

[deleted account]

And that is totally fine Jennifer. I fully respect your opinion that it is wrong. I just didn't take to kindly to being referred to as an idiot when no one here knows me, my kids, my home, or my life other than what little information I share. If I didn't live where I do I wouldn't do a lot of the things that I do, but here... a lot of things are safe that potentially wouldn't be in other places. Like Krista said, we are in a lot more potential danger just driving on the road than my son will ever be in by me leaving him 'unattended' for a minute or so.

Krista - posted on 03/19/2010

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Kim, that was a little uncalled-for. If you don't ever leave your kid in the car, and think it's a bad idea, that's one thing. But saying that those who do are "unfit idiots"? That's just rude.



I have occasionally left my son in the car if I have to drop a letter in the mailbox or if I have to pay for gas. I live in a very tiny village, and we don't have pay-at-the-pump. I'm never more than 20 feet from the car, which is off and locked, and I can see the car the entire time.



Yes, someone could rob our tiny, rural convenience store and steal my keys, my car and my kid. But you know what? The odds of that are so infinitesimal that it's silly to even worry about it. I'm in more danger just DRIVING down the road with my child in the car. I'm in more danger of being hit by a car when I take my kid for a walk in the stroller. But I don't see anybody here saying, "Oh, I think you're an unfit parent if you drive anywhere with your child," even though statistically, you ARE putting them in greater danger by doing that, than you are by leaving them alone in the car for the 30 seconds it takes you to fling a couple of twenties onto the counter at the gas station.

[deleted account]

Sorry Teresa...it wasn't meant to be directed at anyone in particular I just don't think it's right or safe to leave a child in a car unattended.

September - posted on 03/19/2010

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I would personally never leave my child unattended in a vehicle for any reason.

Amy - posted on 03/19/2010

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I have to add that I don't leave my baby in the car alone. I leave my 11 year old in the car alone sometimes with her sisters. She's gone through the training on what to do if someone tries to steal the car. Her dad has taught her a lot of self defense stuff since he thinks its better to learn young and know what to do in certain situations.

[deleted account]

I would NEVER EVER do it, but then, I'm scarred for life:
When I was a kid, I grew up in a very small, safe little town. My friends's mom stopped for gas after she picked him up from school one day then went inside to pay. The man who came in behind her robbed the store and demanded her keys. She wouldn't give them to him b/c her son was in the car (he was 4 yrs old). He shot her and took them, got in the car and drove off. She died. The boy was found in a corn field a few days later. He was alive when the guy dumped him out of the car, but he freaked out and ran into the corn field where he got lost and couldn't get out. I don't remember whether they said he got too cold, or just starved to death, I can't remember how long it took them to find him, it was a few days though.
If she had just taken him in with her she could have given up her keys and they both would have lived. To this day every time I go in a gas station all I can think about is my little boy being that scared and alone and dieing that way. Fear, worry and dread being his last thoughts and emotions. Freaks me out, I don't go in them often now that they have self pay stations--best invention EVER!!!

Amy - posted on 03/18/2010

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I think leaving a kid in the car depends on where you are at. If I was in a teeny tiny town like what i grew up in, you know every person there. At the pump - I bought a prepaid visa just so i didn't have to go inside to pay. It's such a hassle to unbuckle, unload two kids in the winter just to pay for gas. I'm not very trusting though and I've only done it once when getting mail. I almost skipped getting it, but my tiny town looked deserted and I had a bill that HAD to go out. I locked my doors and ran in, dropped the mail, got mail and was out in less than a minutes. Got outside and it was still an empty town, but i felt guilty about it! In a rinky dink town, i wouldn't think much. in the city i'd be going WHAT THE......?!

Erin - posted on 03/18/2010

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No, I don't do it and never have. Even just running into the gas station which is about 20 feet away, I don't trust anyone. And I live in a town of 3,000 where I know just about everyone.

[deleted account]

Nope. Haven't done it and won't do it. Even if I still lived in the small town I grew up in I wouldn't do it. There are nuts everywhere and anything can happen in a split second. It's not a chance I'm willing to take.

Hannah - posted on 03/18/2010

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The only time I have ever done it was to run into the post office to get my mail from the box. I only do it if no one is around, because I don't want anyone to see her in there and try to get her. I'm literaly out of my car for 45 seconds, and the door is locked.

I don't need to do it at gas stations because my boyfriend usually does that, or I use my card right at the pump. And if it's to go into a store and buy something... forget it! Out of the car she goes and into the store with me.

LaCi - posted on 03/18/2010

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I did it ONE time, because my son had just FINALLY fallen asleep in his carseat and I was only going to be gone 2 minutes and I was 10 feet from the freakin' car, windows down, in my virtually crime free neighborhood. What happened? I got chewed out by someone because people call the police about neglect over that blahblahblah. I think its risky, the stories you hear about the car thief who takes off, baby on board. But geez, 2 freakin' minutes! I'm standing right next to the car! I'm an extremely paranoid person and that situation did not worry me in the least. I'm not going to wander around the mall I'm walking into an empty gas station. ONE TIME. still pisses me off. ;/

[deleted account]

Here? Yes. I do it all the time. I don't leave my son for more than a minute unless his sisters are w/ him though. If I remember correctly a new law was recently passed here that it's illegal to leave your child unattended in the vehicle for more than 5 minutes if they are under 8.



If I lived anywhere else I wouldn't do a lot of things the way I do them here.

Belinda - posted on 03/18/2010

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At our Circle K yesterday...there were at LEAST 4 cars who were full of "pre-gamers". I swear one had a keg in the back of his Escort. So even driving with your kids in the car can be dangerous here.

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