Recently I had to take the mom mobile into the dealer to have some work done on it. Normally, I try to suck it up and wait if it’s not too long, but this was supposed to take 4 hours. Waiting to have work done on your car is about as fun as getting work done at the dentist. Add a 3 year old to that scene, and it’s like getting that dental work done sans Novocain. So that meant I had to get a ride home and back again from the dealer, which included wrestling with with Amazon Warrior Princess’ car seat. Multiple times. [Insert whimpering here.]
Since I was going to have to take her car seat out of the car anyway, I had the brilliant idea that I could take this opportunity to move her into a bigger car seat. I had one stored in the basement from when my youngest son was her age, and I couldn’t remember why I never liked it. But I lugged it upstairs anyway.
Now I know others will back me up on this, but I’m beginning to think there’s some plot that car seat and automobile manufacturers are colluding to see if they can send parents over the edge when it comes to car seat installation. If you look at the online videos of how to properly install a car seat, it looks as easy as making a simple cup of coffee. The perfectly made up mom, deftly plops the car seat in, click, click, click, tug, tug, tug, wiggle, wiggle and voila! Away she goes, not a hair out of place.
When I presented her with the new seat-of-honor, AWP squealed with delight. This snazzy model had a cup holder — only the cool kids get their own cupholder. She immediately plopped herself in and tried to buckle herself up. Problem was, the straps were set for someone half her height. Ah ha! NOW I remembered why I hated this thing: adjusting all the straps required an advance mechanical engineering degree and the hand strength of a professional milkmaid, both of which I lacked. After referencing online manuals, employing the use of a pliers and plenty of cursing and sweating while fending off an impatient preschooler, 30 minutes later I had conquered the beast. AWP got herself a juice box for the cupholder, took her place upon her new throne in the middle of the kitchen and was content. Have at it, sister.
Now when I was a kid, child safety seats weren’t really a thing. I had one when I was really little, but it was this big, black vinyl behemoth that I could climb out of and was rarely used. In fact, it wasn’t until I was learning how to drive that anyone really used seat belts in our car (except when we were on long car rides on the highway, the logic being bad accidents only happened at higher speeds.) Heck — when I was in kindergarten, my dad even built a wooden box “booster” covered in carpeting so I could sit in the middle of the bench seat up front and could see over the dashboard of our Oldsmobile 88. This was also before airbags, and I’m guessing I wasn’t buckled up then either. They should have just put a cape and go-go boots on me — hello projectile kid.
Luckily safety in general has come along way since I was little. Kids wear sunscreen in the summer, helmets when they bike or rollerblade and are buckled into an age-appropriate car seat or booster in the car. But did you know that according to the NHTSA, on average 46% of those car seats are installed incorrectly??!! Honestly, it’s not for lack of trying either. As parents we can only do the best that we can with the information available to us. And sometimes that gets overwhelming, confusing and nearly impossible.
So by the time I dropped my car off at the dealer, wrestled the old car seat into the porter’s hamster-powered car after moderate cursing and struggling, I was pretty much a wreck. The poor porter, who I think started shaving last week, looked pretty worried. He kept his hands white-knuckled at 10 and 2 and silently prayed that the crazed woman next to him wouldn’t go completely feral. As the landscape on the ride to our house turned somewhat rural, I think I heard him whimper, as I think he was listening for the sounds of banjos playing or something. We finally made it home, and I wrestled the car seat out of the back once again, leaving a trail of crushed goldfish crackers, fossilized french fries and God knows what else behind on the seat. I’ve never seen someone so relieved to pull out of our driveway. I’m guessing that was a really high-stakes game of Rock-Paper-Scissors back at the shop when the porters had to decide who was going to pick me up again the next day.
I guess the moral of this meandering story is that we can only try our best as parents to keep our kids safe and secure. We somehow managed to survive our own childhoods with our parents who were doing the best that they could. Our kids will too with a little luck, YouTube how-to videos and a screwdriver (the tool and the cocktail.)