In many parts of the country, the temperatures have started their downward spiral towards winter.
This is good on several fronts.
I like leaves. I like them even more when they are deprived by the trunks of the trees to which they are attached and turn orange, red, and gold. Not many things in nature suffer such a pretty death.
I like sweaters. Cooler temps bring out the Merino wool and baggy pants in all of us. Which coincides perfectly with the copious amounts of candy corn, Hershey's Miniatures, and Milk Duds I will be consuming. Fluffy clothing being the perfect foil for fluffy flesh.
I like my lower electric bill. Right now, I am happily experiencing that one month period when the A/C doesn't crank all day, and the heat has yet to be turned on. More money to spend on baggy pants and half price Halloween candy.
Finally, the lower daily temps mean that we should begin experiencing a lull in the sickening reports of children being forgotten and baked to death in the backs of their parents' vehicles.
Will they still be forgotten? Of course.
Absentmindedness, self centeredness, and stupidity don't hibernate for the winter. But at least with temps not reaching into triple digits, these children have a much improved chance of surviving the carelessness.
Unfortunately, however, some parts of the country won't enjoy the cool breezes or that lull for some time to come, leaving small children at serious risk of death due to parental brain farts.
Which is exactly, and tragically, what happened yesterday in Phoenix, where daytime temperatures are still firmly in the 90's.
17 month old Ryan Duchene was pronounced dead on the scene by EMT workers after being discovered in the back of his mother's car - where he had baked for 7 hours - while she worked her shift at Hooters.
Ashley Duchene, his 22 year old mother, has been charged this morning with negligent homicide.
What sets this case apart from other just like it in which the guilty parent receives no legal admonishment, no charges of any kind?
Well, Ashley is on the record as having said she "wanted her freedom more than her son."
Yes, a mom for the record books.
According to Phoenix Police Sgt. Joel Tranter, their investigation found she had made statements to relatives about not wanting to care for him and wanting her freedom. They also found that relatives had previously intervened on many occasions and taken Ryan away for periods of time out of concern for his safety.
Pretty damning anecdotal evidence.
But even without it, she is guilty as sin of forgetting she had a child sitting right behind her.
She has told police she intended to drop him off at daycare and forgot.
Explain that to me.
You pick up your son in your arms. Carry him to the car. Strap him into his carseat. Get in to take him to daycare so you can continue on to work. And then you just ... forget him?
Well, not quite.
Officer Trantor said, "When she was driving to work, she made a brief statement that she actually looked in her rear view mirror, saw a young child seated behind her in the child seat. Exactly what happened after that, we're not sure."
Look, I'm not saying she left him on purpose. I'm not in her head. And I don't think that is the mindset in 99% of these types of deaths. But I am saying this is a girl who had made no bones about telling people she didn't want the responsibilities that go along with having a child. That put Ryan in peril. Period.
Which is heartbreaking considering the number of people who desperately want all those responsibilities and more, and cannot conceive.
And before anyone gets started on me for mentioning her place of employment above, STOP. It happens to be where this child died.
Do I think highly of Hooters? No. And yes, I have been in one before. I will NOT go back. The guys are ridiculous, the girls slobber all over them in the hopes that their tip will increase in direct proportion to the erection growing in the guy's pants.
The place is a temple of delusions. Relatively attractive (I use the word relative because the girls you see on the billboards are NOT the ones you see working in the actual Hooters.) girls who feed the egos of the increasingly drunk men who honestly think these women would give them the time of day outside the establishment.
But, Hooters is not without class. You can get a plate of Hot Wings and a bottle of Dom Perignon for $199.99.
But I digress...
Those responsibilities she didn't want? Gone. That freedom she wanted back? Gone, too.
Another innocent child died Tuesday. Struggling, suffering, finally succumbing to the deadly combination of heat and stupidity.
Those cooler temperatures can't come soon enough.