Words matter, and there’s more to them than just their dictionary definitions. Connotations, which are those subtle shades of meaning that never make it into Merriam Webster, greatly impact people.
Shades of meaning even cling to legal definitions. Just look at the emotions that the word “abandonment” prompted in the case of 27-year-old mother Taylor Perdue.
According to WBZ, the Acton, Maine, resident was at a neighborhood Target with three other adults. She also had her 18-month-old toddler with her.
The Enterprise reported that the four adults got into their vehicle when they’d finished their shopping. There was just one problem.
The toddler didn’t make it into the car with them. Instead, a bystander found the baby in the shopping cart and got in touch with police.
DEVELOPING: Easton Police say an 18-month old boy was left alone in a shopping cart outside Target – witnesses said 4 people were with the child but drove off without him in Toyota SUV. Man later called PD saying he accidentally left baby. DCF involved, child is ok. @boston25 pic.twitter.com/BoGRPX2SV4
— Elysia Rodriguez (@ElysiaBoston25) September 22, 2018
First responders immediately took possession of the child, who appeared unharmed. About an hour after security footage marked the group leaving, a phone call came to the store.
It was one of the four adults. He said the group had forgotten the child, was an hour away and would be right back.
Public opinion wasn’t kind to Perdue. “How do you not notice?” Target shopper Nellie Boling asked.
Dan Lavalle added, “That is a little crazy, you know. I don’t know if they were on the phone or whatever, if they got a little distracted, but your kids are the most important thing.”
Social media reacted even more strongly. CafeMom reported that Ann Beecher said, “The baby should have been the FIRST on put in the car.”
“Please don’t have kids if you’re supposedly going to forget about them,” Carolyn Dungan said.
Perdue shared her own side of the story when she arrived back at the Target. She had assumed that one of her friends had put the baby in her car.
Her car seat was rear facing, as is appropriate for a child of that age, so she couldn’t see that the child wasn’t in her car. Instead, she thought the little one had fallen asleep.
Only when she’d driven 35 miles from the store and stopped did she realize she didn’t have her baby. It’s a little more understandable when it’s put that way, but police still charged Perdue with abandonment and endangerment of a child.
“Whether it was an accident or not, she still endangered the child,” Deputy Police Chief Keith Boone said.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.