April 21, 2009

"I'm going to stop this car right now and leave you here!''

What happens when a mother really follows through on that? And she's a NYC law firm partner...

The nightmarish embarrassment of Madlyn Primoff.


Laura(southernxyl) said...

"Shortly afterward, Primoff called Scarsdale police from home to say the 10-year-old was missing, said Scarsdale Detective Lt. Bryant Clark."


I remember being in the car with my mom and my older brother who was then 16. He started mouthing off and wouldn't stop when she told him to. So she stopped the car in downtown Podunk - didn't even pull over - and told him to get out.

He told her there were people lined up behind her - mainstreet in Podunk is two-lane, you know.

Then go on and get out, she said. She sat there with people piled up behind us until he got out, and then we went on. It took him a couple of hours to walk home. During that time he figured out how to shut up, apparently. He started to give her some lip once more while we were out and all she had to do was tap the brake and he shut up.

But that was 16. Miles away from 10. I think she skipped a groove there.

rhhardin said...

''It is a traumatic situation for a child to be abandoned by a parent like that. You can imagine what emotional issues might arise,'' he said.

That makes it fall into the area of expertise of the director of psychiatric services.

I'm surprised he hasn't analyzed that.

rhhardin said...

I had to walk a mile through pitch black woods from the school bus every day in the winter.

Even today I am scarred by a complete absense of fear of the dark.

rhhardin said...

The story, it seems to me, depends pretty heavily on the well known fact that a child alone will be abducted instantly by some malefactor.

kalmia said...
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Revenant said...

But that was 16. Miles away from 10. I think she skipped a groove there.

Yeah, doing this to a 10-year-old is pretty unthinkable.

ricpic said...

The kids couldn't hack it three measly miles home from downtown?

rh's story is nothing. I had to walk past a butcher shop every day on the way to and from school. The door was usually open and I KNEW that if I didn't run past that door the butcher would come out after me and hack me to death with his cleaver. So I ran past that door and lived to tell the tale and I'm here! I'm here! barely damaged by the experience as you can plainly see.

joewxman said...

My mother would reach over into the back seat and just beat the living daylights out of all three of us. End of story.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Ricpic, if it had been a matter of car trouble and the three of them needing to walk that would have been one thing. But the 10-yr-old was probably pretty shocked about her mother doing that and wondering what she would be facing when she got home. "The 10-year-old was found by a 'Good Samaritan' on the street, upset and emotional about losing her mother, police said." It's not the kid having to walk three miles that's bad here.

Lem said...
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Jason (the commenter) said...

I think the mother overreacted, but so did the police. They should have given her a warning and left it at that. Who doesn't make mistakes in parenting? Three miles in a well-to-do neighborhood is hardly anywhere near lethal.

Lem said...

The kids couldn't hack it three measly miles home from downtown?

According to goggle map it would take 1 hour to walk 3 miles.

Lem said...

Does the mother expertise on her daughters qualify as a mitigating defense of any kind?

I mean we got this thing for 'experts'.

Randy said...

One of my great-grandfathers did that to one of my grandfathers (who was 13 at the time). He stopped the car somewhere in the middle of nowhere in Montana, told my grandfather to get out, and then proceeded home to Los Angeles. That was in 1925. My grandfather made it back to L.A. about 3 or 4 years later. He wasn't in much of a hurry to get there.

Palladian said...

The State needs to stay out of private family matters such as this.

Peter V. Bella said...

Life is tough. It's tougher if you are stupid. This so called mother was stupid.

Lem said...

The State needs to stay out of private family matters such as this.

While I neabled around the edge of the pond.. Paladian jumps from the highest peak.

AJ Lynch said...

I agree there is no crime nor abuse here.

Anecdote alert- I drive down a residential street every morning on the way to work. One block always has about 10-12 kids waiting for the school bus.

On a reent Saturday, I drove down the same street and saw a small figure walking alone down the sidewalk. I assumed it was a very small adult but when I got closer I realized it was a grade school kid. Alone!

I was surprised cause you rarely see kids alone in public! How the world has changed.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

One realizes that at 10 the girl is probably in 5th grade. We're talking about an elementary school student here. Don't know if Mapquest can tell you how long it would have taken her to walk 3 hours, or even if she'd paid attention enough while being driven around in a car to have known the way.

Lem said...

Did I miss something or was there a father in this wholesome family picture?

Big Mike said...

Putting kids out of the car is more dangerous than you might think. A few years ago in the Washington, DC, area a woman ordered one of her feuding kids out of the car. Minutes later the girl was struck by a drunken driver and killed.

The hit-and-run driver -- a female lawyer or paralegal or something like that -- simply went home, sobered up, lawyered up, and claimed that she thought she had hit a deer and didn't have to stop for a dead deer.

Meade said...

"Even today I am scarred by a complete absense of fear of the dark."

Being the sensitive kindly empathetic person she is, if Althouse could give rh a hug, I'm 100% sure she would.

Ctmom4 said...

The business district in White Plains would be just about deserted on a Sunday night. Very few restaurants, no shops. Very scary for two little girls.

Lem said...

I cant find it on the net but I recall Richard Branson telling the story to Charlie Rose that when he was a little kid, his father left him in an isolated field to find his way back home - to toughen up he said.
And of course he did eventually and he is now Sir Richard Branson, one of the richest men in the world.

Mary Martha said...

My mother kicked my brother and sister out of the car for fighting once. That was more than 30 years ago and they still remember it... and laugh at the story. Both siblings agree that they deserved it.

I think the key is that my mother kicked them out, drove around the block and waited five minutes. She them pulled up next to them and asked if they were willing to behave. Life lesson learned.

I was on the mothers side in the linked story until I read that she drove 3 miles away... that goes beyond the pale.

AJ Lynch said...

The guy who wrote the Far Side Comic claimed he had two older brothers who used to send him down the cellar to get something. Then they turned out the cellar lights, locked the door and taunted him while he begged them to let him up from the dark scary cellar.

chaz said...

Partner of which prominent NYC firm you ask?

NEW YORK, NY 10022-3506

Sounds important. Anyone know anything about?

traditionalguy said...

Parenting in the age of the Nanny State means that all parents are cannon fodder for the child protective system which needs more customers just like every other business these days.This lawyer just got confronted with a new awareness on how her role in raising "her"children is designed today. She will not show off her power again to those two little darlings, who know who to call if she even looks at them in a harsh tone of voice.

Lem said...

The business district in White Plains would be just about deserted on a Sunday night. Very few restaurants, no shops. Very scary for two little girls.

If you do a google virtual street view you see that about a mile before you get to Scarsdale there are no visible road lights the rest of the way. All dark.

treeman said...

To answer the question posed above, even without Mapquest, I am going to guess that it would take 3 hours to walk 3 hours.

Sorry, couldn't resist.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

There, and I was just today talking about the importance of units.

treeman said...

My apologies. Been sawing all day and I am tired. How's that for an excuse? The unit of measure employed in today's labors was "pickup truck load".

Lem said...

I think her point was that the computer cant tell you what type of child we are talking about.

treeman said...

Or perhaps "parental units". From a small town in France.

Revenant said...

Does anyone find it odd that the two kids apparently *separated* after being ditched by mom?

That seems like weird behavior too.

JAL said...

How come no one has mentioned the TWELVE year old?

That's 7th grade (or since this is spring and the date for grades change is Dec 31 in most NY districts, she might be an older 6th grader).

The 12 year old found her way home, but left the 10 year old behind?

Surely the 12 year old had a cell phone. This is $CAR$DALE.

Well actually, this wasn't $car$dale but a gritty small city count seat with some not nice stuff on [The] Post Road. It was the main way from there to there way back when ["Post" Road --] so it's a somewhat major road, even heading into $card$dale. I'm pretty sure there are street lights, it's a main drag.

I was born in White Plains, and while it's been a while since I've run around there, the mom had to be out of her mind to put her kids out there (South Broadway and Post Road).

And there is something out of whack with the 12 year old too.

Of course the story has some real gaps in it also... Did Mom go back and look for the kids?

Sorry. I'm a tough parent, but this was truly a stupid thing to do.

chuck b. said...

"Yeah, doing this to a 10-year-old is pretty unthinkable."

Not for a lawyer!

Lem said...

OMG. She left them in front of a Toys R Us and a Sports Authority Warehouse. A child perv speed trap ;)

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I wondered about the kids splitting up, too.

"Police would not say if Primoff ever returned to look for the girls, but they said, without explaining how, that the 12-year-old eventually caught up with the mother."

Apparently AFTER the 10-yr-old ran across a kind person who called the police, and gave her address, and all, the mom called and reported her missing. Maybe she did backtrack and panicked when she couldn't find the kid?

treeman said...

I am a tough parent too, but there is tough and there is actionable. I think this was terrible behavior by a parent who has issues.

former law student said...

Does anyone find it odd that the two kids apparently *separated* after being ditched by mom?

Not if they were fighting hard enough for mom to put them out of the car. Add to whatever quarrel they had the amount of blame each would have to share with the other.

But lawyer moms are a little wacky. Here's a story from 2004 (attn Bruce H: she's a patent atty.)

During the trial, [D's lawyer]Williams told jurors the chain of events began after CHP Officer Sam Shockley stopped [Stacy Lee] Taylor[, 44] Jan. 16 for speeding outside the gates of Fairbanks Ranch near Circa del Norte and San Dieguito Road. The officer said Taylor was traveling at 61 mph in a 45 mph zone.

According to testimony, Taylor told the officer, "I don't have time for this, I'm taking my child to school," and drove off with the officer's citation book still in her car. She made a quick U-turn around another car and ran a stop sign, the prosecutor said.

Shockley jumped into his patrol car and followed her. Later, a motorcycle officer joined the pursuit.

When Taylor stopped at the intersection of Rancho DiegueƱo and San Dieguito roads, Shockley approached her white Volvo station wagon again on foot. This time, he told her to get out of the car, but Taylor did not comply, the officer testified.

Instead, she threw the officer's ticket book out onto the street before driving away, according to testimony.

Taylor was arrested in front of Del Mar Pines School in Carmel Valley, where school officials removed her 7-year-old son from the back seat and took him to class. Taylor was released on bail later in the day.

The jury found Ms. Taylor guilty of evading an officer with reckless driving, child endangerment and resisting arrest. But hey, at least she didn't abandon her kid.


Laura(southernxyl) said...

Wow. Maybe they needed to search her underwear for drugs.

Lem said...

I think Laura's timeline is most likely right.

Freeman Hunt said...

Didn't anyone tell this woman that that's the classic hollow threat? Hollow, lady, hollow!

peter hoh said...

Primoff better hope the jury is full of parents.

I had to do this once -- the safe way. I got out of the car with the kids and walked home with them. My wife drove the car home.

It was a little less than a mile.

Never had to repeat it.

MadisonMan said...

You can't fix dumb.

I sense two daughters who are pretty adept at pushing Mom's buttons.

MadisonMan said...

As in, it was very dumb to drive away. Did this woman not think through the consequences of her action?

Donna B. said...

Of course I threatened my kids with "don't make me stop this car" and of course they ignored me... until I stopped the car.

I just sat there waiting for them to stop fighting and they finally did. Then we proceeded. It was amusing to me that they had little to say to each other when the vehicle was not moving.

But... leave them on the side of the road? Never crossed my mind, and I can't comprehend it.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

I am thinking that she didn't think through the consequences.

An important thing to learn is how to tell when you're approaching your limits. She let herself get too overwhelmed and angry b/c somehow she didn't stop the kids' fighting before it got to the point of frustrating her into temporary braindeath.

As someone remarked earlier, time was when moms could reach around from the front seat and just about draw blood. I well remember sitting in the back seat with my thigh stinging and my mouth shut. People don't want to do physical punishment anymore, but you have to replace it with something or you end up with stupidity like this.

peter hoh said...

No matter how stupid and/or reckless, Primoff gets some credit for not pulling a Susan Smith.

Chip Ahoy said...

Your many multi-varied child-abuse related anecdotes cheer me this evening. These stories goes far in explaining how you all turned out to be wingnuts.

Girls must be different this way than boys. At twelve, my older brother was run down on a dirt road outside of Tachikowa Japan. He had to jump over a benjo ditch and into a private lot to escape vehicular homicide. He returned home badly shaken but that didn't make a dent in our daily explorations. Although I do recall a serious stern warning and review of general safety

My younger sister was nearly kidnapped in Boloxi Mississippi due to her extreme precociousness as related by my other sister.
This concerned my parents endlessly and the long and severe lecture on paedos is a vivid living memory.

My brother and I, he was twelve and I was ten, hopped government busses and traveled independently on and between bases overseas constantly. We took off on our bikes daily exploring outside the security of bases with 100% freedom. Our only constriction was to be home for dinner and we were both provided watches so there would be no excuses. We hiked through Pennsylvania, California, Northern Louisiana, Texas, West Virginia, North Carolina, and Colorado just being boys with no prohibition whatsoever. We wandered Tokyo at will. What my sisters were doing, I can not say. Making trouble at home, I presume, they were a bewilderment to us, seemed they were always at each other's throats.

As to driving, my mum used to ask in exasperation, "Do you want to drive? She stopped asking that when we first answered, "Sure."

class-factotum said...

Family lore has it that my great uncle, a school bus driver in Milwaukee, used to pull the bus over to the side of the road and make the kids learn the rosary in German when they were being rambunctious.

He'd probably be sued for that today.

Joan said...

I was struck by the fact that the girls separated, also. That's just wrong, and it makes me sad that a big sister would apparently abandon her little sister in a strange place like that. My kids (8, 10, 12 - boy, girl, boy) know to stick together when we're out and about. At this point, big brother takes little brother to the men's room if we're out somewhere without my husband. If they're mean to each other, I land on them like a ton of bricks -- you can't be mean to the people you live with, you end up with a miserable home.

Chip: your tales of far-ranging explorations reminds me of my childhood on the Cape, wandering through the woods, exploring old cemeteries, and building stick forts. I didn't care about ticks or poison ivy or any of that, and like you, my only commandment was "be home for supper." Part of the reason I go back every summer is to give my kids a tiny taste of that kind of freedom -- it's just not possible where we are in AZ.

Jeremy said...

If they're too dumb to Tweeter they deserve what they get.

Peter V. Bella said...

I saw a picture of her mug shot. SHe looks just like the typical abusive parent. Throw the book at the beyotch.

PatCA said...

In our childhood the entirety of the security message: "be home by five."

I also am shocked the older girl ditched her little sister. Wait, I am a younger sister...I'm not so shocked.

JAL said...

Well Freeman, it apparently *wasn't* a hollow threat. Just sounded to the girls like the same ole same ole.

Only it wasn't.

I recommend DSS or CPS or whoever S sentence the family to Super Nanny.

And we all can watch.

(Only they won't do something that sensible.)

JAL said...

Ahhhhh, class-factorum, you bring back sweet memories.

My dad drove a schoolbus for many years as a scond job.

One day he was the target of a water pistol somewhere on the bus ... when he ascertained where it was, he stopped the bus, confiscated it, opened the door, placed it under the front wheel, got back in and drove on.

Another day a group were rambunctious and would not be quiet, so he pulled the bus off the road, shut it off, and took out his newspaper and sat there and read. And read. And amidst the hue and cry about not getting home, he read. Until they shut up. Then he finished his route.

Then there was the time the 6 year old parochial student wouldn't stop spitting at some of the other kids. When he got to the school he picked her up, thre her over his shoulder, and carried her into the Sister's (or was it Mother's?) office and plopped her down. She didn't spit on his bus again.

My favorite was the H.S. boys in the back of the bus on the last day of school. The legal age to drink was 18 in NY then. Dad could see in the mirror that one of the guys had a can of beer with him. Every time he put it up to his mouth he either hit the brakes or accelerated a little.


Fond memories.

And probably he would be fired, sent to sensitivity training, or be sued these days.

Allison said...

my guess is the mother called the police after the 12 yr old caught up to her, and the mother figured out that said 12 yr old ditched the 10 yr old.

I imagine the 12 yr old arrived home and mom said "what are you doing without your sister?!?!?!?" and then called the police.

but when all of you think this is bad parenting, I have to wonder: were my parents just utterly terrible and I had and still have no idea?

Seven Machos said...

Jesus. The lady shouldn't have done this. But get a grip, people. I was a latchkey kid at age six.

It's not like a shopping center in Scarsdale is hell on earth.

Iapetus said...

Nobody seems to have noticed that the kids have been taken away from the mother. She's been ordered to have no contact with them, no doubt saving them from an even more traumatic fate, like maybe a well-deserved spanking. Some of the lawyers I know would turn around and say to CPS, "Hey, they're your problem now. Good luck with that."

blake said...

Somebody's gotta make good on the threats once in a while. Just make sure your kids know about her, and you don't have to do it yourself.

Patricia said...

Anyone but me sensing a tiny bit of class schadenfreude in the article? The report mentions that the family is from an upper-crust suburb, and that the mom is a law firm partner. Then, later on, Scarsdale is described as well-to-do, and the value of their house ($2 million) is given. I found the house value to be particularly egregious- in what way is that relevant to the story at all?

And I too wonder about the girls splitting up. No matter how much we were fighting, I think something like my mom putting us out and driving away would have shocked my brother and me into sticking together.

mrs whatsit said...

I started reading the article all set to cluck over our modern willingness to wax hysterical over small parental slip-ups that once would have been nothing abnormal. However, I know that White Plains intersection quite well, and it is noplace to leave two young girls alone, let alone a solitary 10-year-old. The walk back to Scarsdale is not some pleasant stroll along rural lanes -- the roads are heavily trafficked, probably don't have sidewalks all the way, and a child that age wouldn't know the way. Also, it makes no sense that the mom and older sib went HOME without finding the younger one first. There's something very wrong there.

Some decades ago, my grandfather tried this trick with my younger brothers, then maybe 8 and 9, who were fighting during on a road trip through Canada. He pulled over and ordered them either to calm down or get out of the car. He didn't expect either of them actually to get out -- he was just trying to scare them out of their fight. However, one of my brothers promptly leaped out of the car and took off, running like heck through an unfamiliar neighborhood in an unfamiliar nation. (Had I been there, I could have told my grandfather he'd do that!) He disappeared before my grandfather could catch him and promptly got too lost to find his own way back to the car.

My grandparents started hunting, driving up and down the neighborhood streets, pulling over from time to time to holler. An hour or two later, they found him, hiding in somebody's yard. Good thing -- it would have been a heck of a long walk back from Canada to upstate NY! Everybody was angry, shaken, and chastened, and nobody in my family has dared to try the I'm-pulling-over-if-you-don't-quit-that maneuver in all the years since.

Skeptical said...

All you folks who are so critical are apparently unaware of the great things that can happen when a parent leaves one by the side of the road.

Pogo said...

She was stupid.

The State compounded the problem.

We are a nation complete morons, under the thumb of an even more moronic state.

What could possibly go wrong?

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Joan said:
I was struck by the fact that the girls separated, also. That's just wrong, and it makes me sad that a big sister would apparently abandon her little sister in a strange place like that.

Gee, can't imagine where the big sister learned that from.

rhhardin said...

Jean Shepherd was impressed by the kid who could throw up whenever he wanted.

He always got his way at camp.

rhhardin said...

We are a nation of complete morons

Only the commercially viable news audience. That's what decides what stays in the public focus, however.

You could emblematize the public debate problem with, oh, this page.

AJ Lynch said...


That is quite a non-diverse group at MSNBC IMO.

mcg said...

An important thing to learn is how to tell when you're approaching your limits. She let herself get too overwhelmed and angry b/c somehow she didn't stop the kids' fighting before it got to the point of frustrating her into temporary braindeath.

Laura, this is so true, and it's why I emphasize in my family that we apply discipline before we get exasperated. It is precisely when you're administering consequences that you need your wits about you, lest you go too far.

I have been amazed at times at the success I sometimes achieve when I do nothing more than calmly and matter-of-factly describe the consequences that will follow continued disobedience.

Alex said...

There's pretty clearly something missing from this story. It says the 12-yr. old "caught up" to the mother, not that she walked home. Why would you phrase it that way if she had, in fact, only caught up to her mother when she walked through the front door?

Sounds more like mom drove 5 minutes down the road to teach the kids a lesson, but only one kid turned up - still stupid, but not quite the same as driving home and having a martini while waiting for the kids to show up.

amba said...

Primoff? Is she related to Madoff?

kentuckyliz said...

I hope the girls enjoy their time in the foster care system. They'll probably return home much more grateful and obedient to their parents.

I have a formerly behavior disordered nephew who kept threatening his parents with calling CPS. They said go ahead. There's foster families who just do it for the check and treat the kids as household slaves, and some child molesters have sexually abused foster children. So have fun with that. At least there will be some peace around here. I'll bring you the phone and look up the number for you.

I think they would have enjoyed the vacation from the little tyrant. They looked into military boarding school but it was too expensive. Foster care would have been free.

I called CPS on my bff once when she threatened her toddler son (like age 2 or 3) with leaving him at the next rest area (while traveling on the interstate). He believed her and was truly terrified. She also raised her fist and threatened punching him all the way to the moon. She doesn't even remember this, it was like an anger blackout. She whined to me later that a social worker was investigating her. I never admitted to her that I made the call, and she was fishing for an admission, but what she did was clearly wrong. She needed help in developing her parenting skills and getting her rage under control. Don't know how it worked out but he is grown and gone now and seems to be functional enough.