Subscribe to this Blog
Today's Blogs
    The Checkup:

I Know I'm Forgetting Something ...

Rushing here. Rushing there. Work. Grocery store. Make dinner. Soccer. Swimming. E-mail's to answer. Relative's 70th birthday to plan. Our day for school snacks. Our calendar's one big, black ink spot, and that's with only two kids. But managing to know who's in school and who's out on any particular day, or who's supposed to be where when, can be mind-boggling.

So, I felt for my older brother when I heard that he forgot to pick up his son from an after-school activity. He has more kids than me, after all, and I almost slept through a school pick up once. Thankfully, some internal mommy clock woke me up and got me racing out of the house, keys in hand. That wasn't the case for him however. And it wasn't even the call from the activity's adults asking where he was that reminded him. He realized the kid wasn't home when brother's wife noted that she hadn't seen the boy all night.

OOPS. Obviously, brother raced out the door.

Have you, too, forgotten to pick up your kids somewhere? What other parent forgetfulness would you rather forget?

By Stacey Garfinkle |  October 5, 2007; 7:30 AM ET  | Category:  Elementary Schoolers , Tweens
Previous: Eat Fish. It's Good For You | Next: Home Alone on a School Day


Back before everyone had cellphones, my dad forgot to pick me up once until quite late at night from my daycare. His job was such that he quite often worked all hours and couldn't always hear the phone. Yeah, my daycaregivers were not amused.

Posted by: Kat | October 5, 2007 7:45 AM | Report abuse

As an adult who was as a child was left behind because parents assumed I was in my brother's car and brothers assumed I was in my parent's car, it is a scary situation. However, if handled correctly, it can be a growing situation to show the child that they have lived through it and can cope. I never worried quite as much afterwards.

Posted by: Barbara | October 5, 2007 8:09 AM | Report abuse

There's no excuse for forgetting a child (other than maybe a car accident/heart attack/etc.)

It's the parent's responsbility to pick up the child. Once Parent A picks up the child, Parent A needs to call Parent B to inform Parent B. If Parent B does not get the call when expected, Parent B needs to then call Parent A to find out what's up.

Simple and sweet. Pretty much guarantees child/children get picked up.

Posted by: There's no excuse | October 5, 2007 8:37 AM | Report abuse

We haven't missed picking up our daughter yet or left her behind, thank goodness! My husband loves that girl so much, but he is the classic absent-minded professor and has to be reminded hourly of any deviations from normal routine. If I weren't on top of things, I think there would have been quite a few slips before now.

Posted by: MaryB | October 5, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

Honestly, I find it hard to believe anyone could forget a child these days. I was 5 minutes late for preschool pick up (I was stuck in traffic) and my cell phone started ringing. I didn't answer b/c it was in the diaper bag behind me and they called my husband, mother-in-law and were on the phone with my next door neighbor when I got there.

Posted by: Momof5 | October 5, 2007 8:52 AM | Report abuse

We're all human. It hasn't happened in our family, but I still hear about it if our daughter is the LAST one to be picked up...and the aftercare teachers are waiting patiently by the door --ready to bolt as soon as we pick her up.

Posted by: foley311 | October 5, 2007 9:05 AM | Report abuse

I used to walk home from swim practice when my mother forgot me. Happened more than once. It was a couple of miles only, but after dark in the winter with wet hair, not an amusing walk. I've never forgotten to pick my daughter up, but twice in 4 years I've driven past her daycare turn-off and a bit down the road before remembering that I needed to drop her off!

Posted by: Olney | October 5, 2007 9:21 AM | Report abuse

When I was 13, my mom forgot to pick me up after school one day (I was in activities that ended at 5). I kept calling (pay phones and pre-answering machines!) and couldn't reach her. At 6, I left the school (we lived in the country) and walked a 1.5 miles to a girlfriend's house, where her mom gazed at me with surprise. I explained the story; I ate dinner over there. At least it was March and while dark, it wasn't snowy or anything! My mom got home at 8:30 (she had gone to get a perm after work) and freaked out when I wasn't there, and started calling all my friends. My dad was on a business trip, so she called his hotel saying that she had no idea where I was. My dad asked her "didn't you pick her up afterschool today?" Around 9 our paths crossed, she picked me up from my friend's house, and I got my very first set of house keys. We still tease her about it today.

Posted by: Anny | October 5, 2007 9:25 AM | Report abuse

There is no excuse for forgetting to pick up a child. None.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2007 9:36 AM | Report abuse

These "no excuse" folks must be a joy to live with. Do you never forgive people for their human failings?

Posted by: MaryB | October 5, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

My problem has been forgetting to offload my kids. At some point on the way to work, I realize, as we're chatting away, that I've failed to make the turn near the school to drop them off. Late to work again....

Posted by: Oops, I did it again | October 5, 2007 9:38 AM | Report abuse

Heh. My mom forgot to pick me up from an after-school activity once. It was the March 30, 1981. I remember the date because it was the day of John Hinckley, Jr.'s assassination attempt on Ronald Reagan.

Mom was so absorbed in the news coverage and my activity was a one-time thing so she totally forgot about me.

She still feels bad about it over 25 years later!

Posted by: Chasmosaur1 | October 5, 2007 9:39 AM | Report abuse

I don't know...forgetting a kid seems odd to me. I remember reading somewhere that it was suggested to put your purse or briefcase in the backseat if you had a child in a carseat so you won't forget to drop them off and leave them in the car all day. My first thought - people remember their briefcase and not their child?

Posted by: Me | October 5, 2007 10:02 AM | Report abuse

My first thought - people remember their briefcase and not their child?

Posted by: Me | October 5, 2007 10:02 AM

Because I always have to take my purse when I leave my car. I don't always have my child. This is especially true for the parent who usually doesn't have the child. For instance when Mom had been on maternity leave and this is the second week that the child is in daycare and Dad isn't in the habit yet (the first week Dad is so into the newness of it)

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2007 10:11 AM | Report abuse

I spent a couple of years teaching karate, once a week, to the kids classes at my dojo.

At least twice a month a parent or caregiver wouldn't show up on time to pick up a child. Sometimes these were our youngest kids, 6-7 years old, and they would almost always get upset, worrying that something was wrong.

I often had to spend time sitting with them and reassuring them, taking them into the office while I looked up contact numbers and tried to reach someone (missing my adult class, which was after the kids class).

Sometimes we couldn't get in touch with anyone and just had to wait for them to show up. We didn't mind too much when it was obviously a communication mix-up between parents or a one-time thing.

But there were some parents that were habitual offenders and it was obvious that they were using us as a babysitting service while they did errands and other tasks. After a couple of times they would get a forceful talk from the head sensei, who would put an end to it.

Posted by: CJB | October 5, 2007 10:18 AM | Report abuse

These "no excuse" folks must be a joy to live with. Do you never forgive people for their human failings?

Posted by: MaryB | October 5, 2007 09:38 AM

Sure, but when forgetting about a child can mean his death in a sweltering care, some folks might be a little slower to forgive and forget. Not that I can't see it happening - I really can. But when one starts making excuses, it serves to dismiss the offense. Yes, there may be reasons - classic absentminded professor, deep in conversation, overscheduled, etc. - but I think no excuse.

Posted by: hank | October 5, 2007 10:29 AM | Report abuse

I've forgotten my wallet, to buckle my kid into his carseat, and more than one cup of milk that soured while in the backseat. I've had my kid go outside without me knowing it -- and get stuck outside because he couldn't open the door to get back in. I haven't driven off without a kid or left one somewhere when I was supposed to pick him up.

Posted by: KC in Lubbock | October 5, 2007 10:39 AM | Report abuse

One thing I started to notice this week is that only half of my son's friends get to school on time and this is elementary school, not daycare. I took my son late to school once and was so embarrassed it never happened again. Today the schoolbell rang with 8 out of 18 kids there!

The teacher said that few parents are there to pick the kids up right at 3 when school is over (my son is in an after care program). The parents get there between 3 and 3:30. Because I pick up my son at 6pm, I make sure that I'm there between 5:30 and 5:45pm to get him early and talk to the teachers. I couldn't imagine not doing that.

On the flipside, when I was growing up in the 1970s my mother and the other women on our block were teachers, nurses, office managers and one or two who stayed at home. Now the women on my block are lawyers, doctors, managers. They aren't getting off work at 5pm like they did when we were kids.

I don't know anyone who hasn't made a mistake with their kids yet. If you're tied into technology, take advantage of technology to remind you.

Posted by: DCer | October 5, 2007 10:44 AM | Report abuse

When my son was 12 (way before cell phones were ubiquitous)I dropped him off for basketball practice one evening. Not only did I take him to the wrong school, I fell asleep and missed the pickup time. Fortunately, a school-mate lived about a mile away, so he walked to their house (in his gym shorts, in February) and called me from there at 10 pm. Overloaded single-momitis. He seems to have survivived the experience, but still remembers it. I figure it gives him the recognition that parents are not all-perfect.

Posted by: PrettyGoodMom | October 5, 2007 10:57 AM | Report abuse

For years after graduating college, I had that annoying 'I forgot to go to class all semester' dream. You know, the one where you gorget your locker combination (even though I didn't have a locker in college!), forgot how to get to class, forgot the room number, and today is test day! And I didn't study! ACK!

Then, after kids I stopped having that dream and started the 'I forgot to pick up my kid' dream. The one where I know I have to leave work, but I can't find my car keys, and the printer won't print my report, and the next thing I know I look at the clock and it's an hour past time! And I haven't even left yet!

Geez, I hate those dreams.

Luckily, that has never happened. I've been late b/c of traffic, but not forgetting. Although, I am one of those who a couple of times forgot to drop off in the morning and started off to work with kid in tow!

Posted by: prarie dog | October 5, 2007 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Since our first was born, I've been becoming more and more regimented with Calendars, to-do lists, and firm deadlines as to when I leave the office to pick up my son. So far, so good. But I hate how I am losing any downtime to loaf around. That was how I recharged my batteries.

Posted by: Bob | October 5, 2007 11:21 AM | Report abuse

Give me a break. I'm another one who believes there is no excuse for forgetting a kid. If your life is so full of running around, picking up, dropping off, soccer, swimming, music, band, whatever -- cut back on some of those things. Obviously you have no quality time to spend with your kid(s) because you're always chauffeuring them hither and yon.

Posted by: TGIF | October 5, 2007 11:30 AM | Report abuse

I've never forgotten my daughter, but she *thinks* I might - and calls me, frantic, five or six times if I don't answer on the first try, even if I'm only 5 minutes late. We've tried to tell her that we won't forget her, got the cell phone for her in part because of that fear - and yet, it still happens. She's 14. I think maybe the ex-wife (who we share custody with) may have forgotten her a time or two or something - the poor thing freaks out!

Posted by: RebeccainAR | October 5, 2007 12:20 PM | Report abuse

Posted by DCer @ October 5, 2007 10:44 AM:

"On the flipside, when I was growing up in the 1970s my mother and the other women on our block were teachers, nurses, office managers and one or two who stayed at home. Now the women on my block are lawyers, doctors, managers. They aren't getting off work at 5pm like they did when we were kids."

I would also add that people commute longer distances as well, and congestion is even worse. This means it takes longer to get to school/daycare/etc. from work and the timing is more unpredictable from day to day.

The flip side of this issue is "latchkey children" a good blog topic for Stacy if there ever was one.

Posted by: David S | October 5, 2007 1:09 PM | Report abuse

Never ever forgotten either boy, but was 1/2 hour late once picking up older son from a toddler tumbling class when he was three. I tried to run an errand, which should have taken less than the hour that the class lasted, but got stuck in a construction-related traffic jam. He was pretty freaked out, and the teacher was very displeased because she had a birthday party event that she needed to prepare for.

I knew *exactly* how both of them felt. My mother used to forget to pick me up from kindergarten. After her first psychiatric hospitalization, her medications would cause her to sleep too much. Also, she was a real bookworm, and would forget everything else around her when she got engrossed in a good book.

The kindergarten teacher used to bring me back inside her house (the kindergarten was private and the classroom was in her basement) and give me hot chocolate - it was Idaho in the winter - and after the first couple of times, she'd call up my grandma, who lived in the same town, and Grandma would take me home.

Once on a family vacation, my brother got left behind at a gas station. That one wasn't so bad. We were 20 minutes out on the highway before we noticed someone was missing - three noisy older girls made the car seem full I guess.

Anyway, I think my childhood experiences are the reason I don't forget my kids. I don't want to do to them what was done to me. I'm every bit the bookworm that my mother is, but won't allow myself to fall into something - or I'll set an alarm to remind myself, if there's something I need to focus on that might make me too engrossed to remember to watch the clock.

Posted by: Sue | October 5, 2007 2:40 PM | Report abuse

I was probably forgotten, but I don't remember. Much more often I ran off and they had to come find me (not a runaway type thing, just a "I want to go over here" thing and not telling mommy first)

Rebecca- one thing might be to just call HER and say "I'm leaving now to get you, will call if something comes up" as a way to aviod her whole anxiety deal.

In this day of techno gadgets- just put an alarm in so you get beeped and buzzed. Simple, quick, could save a lot of grief.

Posted by: Liz D | October 5, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

These "no excuse" folks must be a joy to live with. Do you never forgive people for their human failings?

Posted by: MaryB | October 5, 2007 09:38 AM

Sure I do, just not for forgetting their kids. Considering all the bad things that can happen to your kids, there's no excuse for it. And yes, I have kids of my own.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2007 4:57 PM | Report abuse

Add me to the list of "there's no excuse." I have never forgotten to pick up one of my four kids. I've been late because I was delayed, but I've never FORGOTTEN. When any one of them isn't with me, I have an internal check-on-the-kids that goes off maybe every 15 minutes or so (it happened just now, as two of them aren't here as we speak.)

If you forget your kids, you've likely got too much going on. And I'm not talking about the KIDS' schedules, I'm talking about yours. Yet another argument for abandoning this silly notion of work/family balance and deciding once and for all what is important to you.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 5, 2007 8:37 PM | Report abuse

For the people who say there's no excuse for "forgetting" your kids, my husband works nights at a factory, takes the kids to school and daycare, and goes to bed. I work too, but don't get off work until too late to get the kids. My husband has almost overslept once or twice to where he almost missed picking up the kids. I usually try to call him on his cellphone a little while before it's time for him to get the kids so I can be sure he's up. It's not always a matter of parents just being lazy or not having there priorities straight.

Posted by: Laura | October 5, 2007 11:19 PM | Report abuse

Laura, oversleeping is different than forgetting. I understand things happen that can make you late or whatever. But there is no excuse for simply forgetting about your kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | October 6, 2007 8:51 AM | Report abuse

My nightmare was shortly after my first son was born - I guess I was getting used to not being an autonomous person anymore, always having a "hanger-on." I dreamed I got on the metro and as the doors closed, I realized I left my baby in his basket out on the platform. Very vivid dream.

I've never forgotten to pick up my kids. There was one nasty and memorable experience of being late to pick them up from preschool - I was clearly at fault (from their point of view - flash flooding doubled my commute), and the teacher lashed out at me in front of my kids. Yes, I know, he has kids too and I made him late. Anyway it was bad.

Posted by: Kaitlin | October 8, 2007 2:41 AM | Report abuse

This is my nightmare. I recently took my kids into DC on the subway with my sister. The 3yo wanted to get out of his stroller to look out the window, but I had a vision of him escaping out the subway doors and being left behind on the platform just as the train got going, so I made him stay in the stroller the whole way.

I think people forget their kids because they are afraid of all their other obligations: they are afraid of being late for appointments, of missing the deadlines to file reports etc. A couple months ago, I sat in my boss's office sweating beccause we were having trouble submitting something online and I was supposed to leave to pick up the kids. Fortunately, I called the babysitter and explained the situation and she agreed to watch the kids until I could make it home. Very stressful!!!

Posted by: m | October 8, 2007 1:37 PM | Report abuse

So, for my sister's sweet 16 (I was 7, the year was 1966), we had a big family event at a local restaurant. When everyone got there, they all thought I was in another car. I wasn't. I was home. I hadn't listened, and had wandered down the street for a minute, and they all left. They came home, and found me just sitting calmly on the front porch. Then we went and had the party. We still tease each other about it.

Posted by: Single Mom | October 9, 2007 9:20 AM | Report abuse

Not "forgotten" but my dad sure got confused. I think I was 16, but hadn't gotten a car yet and my parents were still doing the whole drive me back and forth to gymnastics all the time thing. Well, I switched clubs to one across town. About two weeks after the switch, my dad is nowhere to be found to pick me up at 8:30 at night. So I call my mom at home (forgetting that my dad had a brand new cell phone-ah, 1996!), she tells me she'll call the gym as soon as she gets a hold of my dad, or she'll be right there. Sure enough, she calls back: "You're father is sitting in front of the old gym.....I'll come get you." Much eye rolling ensued. All is forgiven and we laugh about it now. Heck, we laughed about it that night. When you pick your kid up from the same place at the same time for 6 years, sometimes you just go on autopilot!

Posted by: gymnast | October 10, 2007 10:33 AM | Report abuse

I can't understand how parents can leave their child in an after school activity hours past the allocated pick up time. I had an incident at school where neither parent checked to find if the child was picked up from aftercare. I had to return to school and check the file to look up for telephone numbers. By the time the parent picked the child up it was 11 p.m. What were the parents doing that distrated them from the most important person in their life?

Posted by: Deborah Burrows | October 26, 2007 7:49 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.


© 2010 The Washington Post Company