Today and yesterday, I watched three parents park at the CDC, pull their toddler out of the car, and then walk across the parking lot to the building -- with their kid 5-15 feet behind them. Sometimes the kid kept up, other times the kid stopped, as kids are wont to do, went around in various directions, and then darted across to catch up to the parent.
Meantime, Katrina is strapped into the car, with all the windows open, in the shade, in sight and well within shouting distance. I watch her through the CDC window, or wait outside if the boys have to clean up toys. She's calm and in no danger of being hit by a car.
But these toddlers who are left to cross a parking lot freeform are removed from their parents' car in the interest of safety. Not only is what other parents do legal, but it's claimed to be preferred. What I do is technically illegal, as Katrina is under the age of ... I forget, 6? Of course, I learned long ago as a motorcyclist not to confuse law with safety.
One could argue that the best of both worlds is that the toddler is not left in the car, but also is not left to wander across a parking lot on their own either. Certainly convenience plays a role in my decision to leave Katrina in the car, but more starkly, convenience completely drives parents' decisions not to insist their toddlers hold hands. I know alllll too well how incredibly inconvenient it is to insist on proper behavior with a toddler, which is why I opt out whenever possible.
All in all, I still think my convenience choice is the safer one. The odds of a toddler being struck by a car in a parking lot far, far, far outweigh the odds of a stranger kidnapping. But I seriously doubt the school administrator and principal who chewed me out for leaving Katrina in the car would scold a parent for letting their toddler bumble across a parking lot on their own. If nothing else, there are just too many of them.
Nope, there's no doubt about it. Leaving her in the car is safer and more convenient, since I absolutely will not allow her to enter any parking lot without holding hands. I still insist on this from the boys in fact.
And so ends the indignant rationalization (or is that rant?) of the day.