Which of us hasn’t felt like parking the kids on the pavement and driving away, asks Tracey Hawthorne.
Hands up those of you who didn’t identify with Madlyn Primoff, the 45-year-old New York lawyer who recently stopped her car and ordered her squabbling 10- and 12-year-old daughters out, according to TimesOnline
Madlyn kicked her kids out of her car a few kilometres from home in a safe, upper-class neighbourhood in broad daylight. The elder child ran after and caught up with the car, and Madlyn let her back in. When she went back to fetch the younger one, she had already been ‘rescued’ by a ‘Good Samaritan’ who called the police.
The police report (compiled from a statement made by the 10-year-old) states that Madlyn ‘fled west’ in her car after demanding ‘both youths to exit the vehicle’. Madlyn was shortly afterwards charged with endangering the welfare of a child and locked up for the night, and a judge issued a temporary order of protection barring her from seeing her daughters.
What insanity is this? I’m all for legislation that protects our children but let’s keep it real, people. My own mother, a woman of near-legendary patience and fortitude, pulled a Madlyn on my brother and me when we were more or less the same ages as the Primoff pair, and several other people I’ve spoken to recall similar incidents from their own childhoods (all have turned out relatively normal).
I’ve never actually kicked my kids to the kerb but I do recall screaming blue bloody murder at my squabbling two while I was trying to drive, and my daughter, then about 8, saying to me, ‘I’m going to report you to Child Welfare.’ I stared in bug-eyed disbelief at her in the rearview mirror for just long enough not to crash the car, then said, ‘Well, I’M going to report YOU to Parent Welfare!’
There are, of course, other ways to deal with children who fight in the back seat. If you’re like my father, you could keep your right hand on the wheel and your eyes on the road, and simply reach your left hand behind you and flail wildly until you make contact with one of them.
Madlyn was told by several people who commented on her story that she should have pulled over, turned off the engine and refused to continue until the children stopped fighting. While undeniably sensible, this method presupposes (a) that the children actually give a hoot whether you’re en route or not; and (b) that you haven’t been driven to the very edge of insanity by their arguing and thus are still capable of making this kind of rational decision.
It’s a fair bet that Madlyn threatened several times to put her daughters out if they didn’t stop fighting before she actually did it. That she eventually did do it is, in my opinion, understandable; and, in the circumstances (near home, safe neighbourhood, in daylight, she went back almost immediately, etc), not endangering to their welfare. At the very least it’ll give her kids something to think about next time they feel like bickering in the back seat.
Do you think this was reckless parenting? Would you ever do it?Read more by Tracey Hawthorne