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To leave or not to leave?

By Fiona Reid

POP star Rachel Stevens was criticised this week for leaving her two children in the car while she briefly went to do errands.

It has caused a furore among parenting experts, but many mums and dads (myself included) can empathise with the busy mum-of-two.

Who can honestly say they haven’t nipped in to a shop or to a postbox locking the little ones in the car?

I can’t imagine heaving my three out just to go in a kiosk and pay petrol when they’re in sight the whole time.

It’s about commonsense after all. I wouldn’t lock them in and go round the supermarket for an hour, but I have popped in to the doctors to pick up a prescription while they are in the car park just outside.

As for waking the baby, for whom the car is a preferred nap spot, just to come with me while I post a letter or drop her siblings at school…well that would be madness. Let sleeping babies lie is definitely my motto!

However, when discussing this with friends I’ve been surprised at some of the reactions. ‘What if the car blows up while you’re away?’ was one (rather neurotic in my opinion) comment from an otherwise sane pal.

Mind you, my family has history when it comes to leaving your offspring in the car, not always successfully as my mum can testify.

When I was small she always went to the local market town on a Friday. One frazzled morning she got back to the car after dragging my wee brother and I – then toddlers – around the busy stalls and shops, whereupon she remembered she had some banking to do. Unable to face crossing more roads with us in tow, she strapped us in, locked the doors and whizzed off.

Imagine her horror when she returned ten minutes later to an empty car . . .

Luckily this tale has a happy ending as we were spotted hand in hand on a traffic island not far away, having already crossed one road, telling a nice lady we were off to find our mum.

I have no memory of the day and no emotional scars, but my poor mother still harbours some guilt about the incident.

As with many aspects of parenting, you end up feeling guilty whatever you do!