It sounds like a sweet, funny or at least ironic story — but it's not: Right before Christmas, two Muncie, Indiana, boys were home alone watching, yes, "Home Alone" after their mom had to leave for work and couldn't find a baby sitter.
For this, she was thrown into jail on $10,000 bond.
Now her children are being watched by a relative, and she faces a charge of neglect.
That will certainly make family life a lot easier!
What exactly happened? Apparently, that morning, someone anonymously called 911 to report that two boys were home from school without an adult. And indeed they were. Taylor Cumings, 25, had tried to get a sitter but couldn't. Her younger son, age 4, was under the weather, so she had her elder one, age 7, stay home to watch him while she went to the Youth Opportunity Center, where she works.
And then, as The Star Press reported:
"When an officer knocked on the house's door, the older child looked through blinds and exclaimed, 'It's the police!'
"He then ran to a telephone and called his aunt, reporting officers were outside and he was scared.
"The aunt quickly arrived and persuaded the boys to open the front door. The officer presented the youngsters with toys he had in his police car."
What does this tell us?
1) The 7-year-old was quite capable of calling someone when he needed help.
2) An adult was nearby and could assist them.
3) Don't open the door for the cops!
Now, obviously, this whole thing was not an ideal situation. But needing a job, having a sick kid and not being able to find a last-minute sitter — those are not ideal, either. So the mom made a seat-of-the-pants decision, as we all have to do from time to time.
And for this, she is being treated like a criminal.
The thing is, if it's a bad idea for a mom to leave her kids alone, why is it a good idea to take the mom away from her kids and lock her up?
Released from jail, Cuming explained to WTTV-TV: "They had a phone. They had a safety plan, which they followed. They were safe. They ate. They were checked on. They weren't just here all day running around crazy."
Cumings said that when she couldn't find someone to watch them, she went to work anyway because she felt they were mature enough for this circumstance.
"At that time, I thought it was the best decision. I know my kids, and I trust my kids," she said.
The idea that no 7-year-old can possibly behave responsibly is incorrect. Though our culture generally does not approve of 7-year-olds doing much of anything on their own anymore, 7 has long been considered "the age of reason." And sure enough, there Cumings' son was, hanging out with his brother, finding a movie they both could enjoy and even knowing enough not to blithely answer the door before checking with someone. Yet the law is acting as if the mom left her 4-year-old alone with a beagle.
Cumings told the cops she'd made this same arrangement a few times before, though "rarely." Sounds like a mom stretched thin who was trying to do her best. Rather than help, the authorities chose the path of least assistance.
That'll teach her to be working-class and trying to raise a family!
Lenore Skenazy is president of Let Grow, founder of Free-Range Kids and author of "Has the World Gone Skenazy?" To learn more about Lenore Skenazy ([email protected]) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.