I don't usually post personal information here, but after reading recent horror stories of babies abandoned in cars and 10-year-old children allowed to walk outdoors or play unsupervised on public playgrounds, I think my readers deserve to know that a personal confession is in order.
I am the parent of a pretty much grown-up young person.
When that person was a baby, I would hike for long periods in the Marin County headlands, carrying the child in a backpack. The young person always was well-greased with sunblock and outfitted with a hat to prevent sunburn. I also carried bottles of water, snacks and emergency supplies as I walked.
One time, at the end of a long hike as we neared the empty trailhead parking lot, I really had to go. It is possible that I had drunk an extra cup of coffee earlier that morning. I deride myself daily for this irresponsible indulgence.
There was a porta-potty 15 feet away. The temperature was mild.
I stowed the young person in the appropriate car seat, rolled up the windows, locked the car, ran to the potty, did my business and ran back. Ninety seconds, max.
Even now -- especially now -- I castigate myself for this parental failure. The horror!
Nothing bad happened, but I have the impression that, if I tried such a thing today, I would be arrested and hauled to the hoosegow. Certainly I would lose custody of my child.
Fortunately the young person appears unscarred by my personal failure as a parent. At least, so far; only time will reveal what damage I caused.
I shudder to think what could have happened.