Can we please start cutting parents a little slack?
Last Tuesday in New Orleans, writes Christian Britschgi in Reason, a mom who happens to be a rapper, Reiona Oliver (a.k.a. GameOva Reedy), was feeling under the weather. So she called a Lyft and put her 5-year-old in it, to get the boy to school.
It is not totally clear what happened next. This account says that the driver, surprised that the mom did not get in too, told her he could not drive the child alone, but the mom went inside anyway. But the account also says that the mom posted an Instagram story explaining that she hadn't realized Lyft couldn't take unaccompanied kids. Either way, it sounds like a mom who hoped she had solved her transit problem actually hadn't -- and didn't know what to do next.
We can see the mom being at her wit's end -- and the driver, too. If the mom went inside and the driver was left with the child, perhaps he felt he had no choice but to take the kid someplace safe, like the Sheriff's Office. But even so, this did not have to become a criminal case. The mom was charged with "desertion."
Anyone truly deserting their child doesn't summon them a cab to take them to school. The sheriff knows that. The sheriff must also know that there isn't anything truly dangerous about a kid riding in a car driven by someone other than mom. After all, Lyfts and Ubers are trackable. A child is not totally safe in one, but they are not totally safe in any vehicle. Very safe, yes. Totally safe, no -- but totally safe is an unattainable goal. We should stop measuring every parental act against the false idea that there is some course of action that guarantees perfect safety.
If the mom -- Ms. Oliver -- has to pay a fine or go to jail or whatever a finding of guilt might entail, that doesn't seem like it will make her son any safer. So how about, instead of arresting the mom, the Sheriff helps her come up with alternative solutions for the days she can't get her son to school. Collective brainstorming, connecting parents to each other, or even having the Sheriff's office help out -- those all make sense.
Arresting the mom does not.
Photo from Wiki Commons by Another Believer.