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Old November 17, 2010, 04:57 PM   #1
veeref
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Losing awareness when securing children/infants...

First off, I apologize if this has been addressed before. I searched as best I could but couldn't find any similar 'hits' on this topic.

Today, my wife, my 2.5 y/o and I were returning to our car, which was parked in front of a 'big-box store.' My wife sat in the front passenger seat of my small hatchback and closed her door while I was securing my son in his car seat. For those of you who have small children, I'm sure your familiar with the time and effort it takes to buckle your kids up - as well as the awkward position you're in with your back to the outside. Just as I finished securing my son, I noticed a man approaching my car directly at an angle from the rear that I was not comfortable with. When I looked down, there was a dog at my feet (no leash) looking like it was about to jump in my car, and the man had both his hands in his pockets. This took my completely by surprise. Based on his appearance and demeanor, I felt he was 'out of place'. Most 'normal' people I feel would be calling to retrieve their dog, apologizing, etc. This guy just stood there about 2-3 feet from me.

The only thing I could utter to the man was that I have my dog in my car and if he could get his dog away from me. He simply said 'okay' and walked towards the front of my car and up to another shopper putting his items in his car at an uncomfortably close distance. I thought he might have been asking for money, but he said nothing to the other man either.

Do you folks have any suggestions to proactively prevent yourselves from leaving your back exposed and 'heads down' in this scenario? Soon, my wife and I won't be able to just sit in the back seat, shut the door, and strap our kids in since we will have 2 car seats on opposite ends.

Regards,
~V
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Old November 17, 2010, 05:14 PM   #2
Big Bill
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Why not have your wife put the baby in the car while you stand guard? If you're alone then that's another question. When you are alone, park where anyone approaching would be easily seen. And, don't go shopping at night alone. IMHO, it's best for you and your wife to work together as a team.
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Old November 17, 2010, 05:26 PM   #3
pax
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Now you know the problem. That's half the solution! Just make a conscious decision not to let that happen again.

Here's the other half the solution: build "breaks" into your child securing routine. Unlock the door, then take a long, good look around before grabbing your kid out of the shopping cart or stroller. Pick up the kid, then glance around as you move toward the car with him. Place him in the seat, then lift your head and look out the back window before you fiddle with the seat belts. Buckle his seat, then stand up and look around before going for the stroller. None of these breaks (except the first, very thorough one) has to be very long, but they do have to be conscious. You are far less likely to get surprised if you make a habit of looking around whenever there's a natural break in your movements.

Even young children can be very helpful in your quest to be aware of people around you, especially if you can make a game of it. Is your just learning to count? Try this: "Let's count the people in the parking lot today! How many do you see?" Or ask them to help you find "everyone wearing a pink shirt" (trust me, most little kids will then tell you about everyone they see, pink shirt or not). Use their sharp little eyes to remind you to use your own.

Finally, use your spouse and your older kids to help you with the younger ones whenever possible. That leaves your own eyes and hands free to deal with the world around you.

pax
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Old November 17, 2010, 05:46 PM   #4
elmata
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Big Bill great advice that's what my wife and I do. I watch her while she buckles in my daughter and I look out, then have her get in and I open the back and load groceries then get in. I can look around while I load groceries and my main concern is them.
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Old November 17, 2010, 06:56 PM   #5
veeref
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All good suggestions folks. I should have utilized my wife as a resource in this situation. We will definitely employ this strategy the next time of having someone outside while the other is securing the kids.

In respect to traveling alone with children, I like your suggestion Pax of building 'breaks' in the routine. I guess its inevitable there will be some 'heads-down' time, but making ourselves more cognizant before and afterwards is the most important.

Regards,
~V
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Old November 17, 2010, 07:19 PM   #6
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Quote:
I guess its inevitable there will be some 'heads-down' time, but making ourselves more cognizant before and afterwards is the most important.
That's it, exactly. A lot of time on the internets people have this idea that they really can go through life without ever dropping their awareness of the outside world. That's simply not realistic. You look down to count your change; you dial the cell phone; you rummage through your pockets for a breath mint or you sort through your too-full keychain to find the right key. Your attention in those moments isn't on the outside world -- it's on the task at hand.

That's not a failure. It's reality.

Knowing that reality, any time you have had to put your head down to deal with something, you should consciously get back to the world by looking around as soon as the moment has passed.

That goes for kids, keys, groceries, cell phones, and anything else that grabs your concentration in public.

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Old November 17, 2010, 07:27 PM   #7
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pax speaks the truth in this post. I've been saying for a while (and people still are in denial) that you can't stay aware 24/7.

Just wait until your child is 5 or 6 if you think this incident took your awareness away
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Old November 17, 2010, 10:35 PM   #8
Dwight55
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The other thing you can do that would by my only proceedure if I were alone.

Take the long look, . . . grab the kid, . . . open the "other" back seat door. Sit down inside and lock the door. Then with the door locked, you can go about your business of getting him/her strapped in, coat off, all the stuff you have to do with the child, . . . with the doors locked.

Turn out the interior light, . . . threat scan, . . . exit, . . . get in the front and boogey.

I didn't have this problem when our son was a toddler, . . . we put him in an approved seat in the front seat of our full sized van (no air bag then) which was done standing up, . . . threat scan as needed.

Best wishes, your work is definitely cut out for you.

May God bless,
Dwight
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Old November 18, 2010, 10:43 AM   #9
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Pax, I was actually going to send the OP to Cornered Cat. The info on there (basically what you posted) is great.

I have a small one and hardly take her out by myself. Mainly because of the dangers of emptying a cart or buckling her in alone. I'm trying to work the info in to my memory enough to execute it when I need it.

To the OP, when I'm with my wife or another person I take a different approach than you. I open the door completely. If there is a car beside you that narrows the viable path of attack. I then let the second person secure the child while I stand at the rear corner of the car. It allows me to scan the enitre parking lot while limiting the viability of approaching from the rear.

A thug probably doesn't want to fight with a large barrier -like a car door - between him and the target. It slows him dow and limits his effectiveness. If they have to come through one person at the rear before getting to the semi-vulnerable target it tends to deter them. Why fight two people? You can find an easier target elsewhere.

The best thing to remember is make sure you can get out fast. If you feel things are turning bad, beat it. Chances are, if you wait two or three blocks to buckle the kid in completely it will be okay. (Thanks to Pax for that bit of advice. That was one of my biggest mental blocks. I always worried about completely buckling the kid in.)
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Last edited by MikeNice81; November 18, 2010 at 09:02 PM.
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Old November 18, 2010, 11:37 AM   #10
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"The Air of confidence can and does repel aggression."

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Old November 18, 2010, 03:37 PM   #11
howwie
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Good thread I can really relate to. My first just turned 1 a couple months ago so this is a real concern I've had for a while. I guess I have been putting breaks in this routine already, but it gets rough. The time I hould break my son is either screaming, dropping a bottle, or anything to keep attention. (not really he's great most of the time) point being kids make things extremely difficult to stay aware. When in a resturaunt instead of watching a room or scanning occasionally I'm catching cups before they hit the floor and shoveling veggies his way. Shopping before you even get to the car is a whole other story. Rant over.
Great advice above! I don't know what I'll do if another rugrat shows up one day.
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Old November 18, 2010, 06:46 PM   #12
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Thanks Pax, we are about to be back in the baby mode this March after 10 years. Good advice.
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