Tuesday, September 16, 2014

These new-fangled car seats: How did any previous generation survive childhood?

The thing about having an infant and a car seat in the back of the automobile in which he rides whenever we drive somewhere: When we are with more than one other person and need to go somewhere in a vehicle, we are going in separate cars; after my wife and son in the back and me driving we can fit one modestly sized human in the passenger seat. And even if the other people have a vehicle that can accommodate the number of people involved, we can't take their car because the car seat is not in their car.

For example, when visiting family back in June, when it came time to go out to breakfast someone initially thought we could all fit in one truck, with our son being held in our lap.


When we were in the Bay Area earlier in the summer for my wife's family reunion and everyone else got on a chartered bus for a tour, we merely caravanned behind the bus in our car.

In both instances, a member of the older generation remarked on how there weren't such concerns for children safety in cars back when their kids were very young, capping the remark with the ostensible justification "and they grew up fine."

Yes, clearly through the twists of fate that was the result.

It's not that we don't understand. I'm old enough to remember the days before seatbelts were mandatory and recall riding in my grandparents' boat of a car with the bench seat in the back. Without being strapped in, every time the car went around a corner we kids would slide all the way across and crush whichever one of us was pressed against that door. It was marvelous fun at the time.

And today I can look back upon that fondly because at no point during any such ride did the car we were riding in get hit by another vehicle.

We aren't super-protective parents, but we do think the current regulations about small children riding in car seats are worthwhile. All these older people who seem to dismiss those have the luxury of children who've already successfully made it to adulthood. Our still-an-infant son is pretty awesome already, and we'd very much like to do everything we can to try to make sure he can grow up to the point where his misbehavior elicits me to quote Bill Cosby's famous threat: "I brought you into this world and I can take you out—and then make another one that looks just like you."

We simply want the opportunity to look back in a couple decades with our fully grown son and think the child safety rules of those days are way too restrictive, but that only gets to happen if we try to keep him safe now.

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