Dear Beltway Parents

Posted by barb on Jun 20, 2007 in Random Thoughts |

Imagine that you are driving on the beltway with your child snugly cinched in their car seat (or in their seatbelt, if they happen to be over the car-seat weight and height limit). Suddenly, your child tells you that they have to go to the bathroom NOW. Do you (a) take the next exit off the beltway and find a gas station (or other suitable restroom) or (b) pull over onto the shoulder and take them into the shrubs along the side of the interstate?

I hope that most of you answered (a). But a frightening number of parents choose option (b). In fact, even one parent choosing (b) is frightening, in my view.

I have to admit that I’m not a parent, and I never plan to be one. So, I’ll never know the scream of a child who needs to use the bathroom immediately, and I’ll never know the urgency. (Though, I have spent a day with my two, very cute, nieces, but one was still in diapers, and the other was pretty good about telling us when she needed to go.) However, it just seems common sense that letting your child stand alongside an interstate, especially the Washington DC Beltway, is very foolish thing to do. I would rather clean up a wet child.

Why do I bring this up? Because I saw a car pulled over on the beltway on my way home from work tonight. Walking away from that car was a woman and a small (4 or 5-year-old, maybe) child. It was clear that they were heading toward a small stand of trees.

This reminded me of an incident several years ago. Over Thanksgiving weekend 1999, a father pulled the car over on the Beltway to let the kid use the trees as a restroom. While he was doing his business, another car crashed into his parents car, killing his parents and seriously injuring his sister. All I can think is what a f—ing selfish act of his father. The kid did not deserve to lose his family, just because he needed to go to the bathroom. And you know that this poor kid probably blamed himself. But it’s the father’s fault.

So, just in case you’re ever tempted to take option (b), let me just slap you in advance. Pull off the damn beltway at any of the non-interstate and non-tollway exits, and you’re likely to find several accommodating gas stations or fast-food restaurants. It’s not worth the risk to yourself and it’s certainly not worth the risk to your child.


1 Comment

Jun 21, 2007 at 7:51 am

This actually happened to us and we told Connor that he had to just tight and hold on. Then we headed for the nearest gas station we could find. We MIGHT have broken a speed limit or two though. I’d never let him stand on the side of the beltway. Hell I wouldn’t stand there.


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