Saturday, January 19, 2008

buckle that baby

Local blogger Katie Allison Granju is asking about car seats. Her newish baby is growing too big for what she refers to as the baby bucket, and she's interested in reader opinions about the next seat.

Child safety seats always remind me of growing up and the seats we had when I was a child. Born in the early seventies, I'm a product of that era before seat belt laws and mandatory safety seats for children based on age and weight.

If I remember correctly, my mother told me once about the seats her children rode home in as newborns, a laundry basket lined with blankets, probably crammed safely on the floor between the front seats. My brother can comment and point out how wrong my memory may be or possibly add some color commentary.

After the van broke down for the last time we rode for a few years in a Volkswagen Beetle. We had to look like the clown car family as we arrived at church and proved that you actually could fit eight or nine people in a VW Beetle. Sometime after this we moved up to a large sedan, Ford LTD, then on to a full size station wagon.

Smaller brothers sat on older brother's laps while the middle brothers got to perch on the front of the seat, kind of like staggering horizontally stacked butts. The youngest brother generally got to stand in the middle of the front seat until he was too big to stand. The nearly youngest brother would sometimes ride in the rear area beneath the rear window. The station wagon was great, but I don't remember often using the rear most seat as there was much more room if we left the seat down and just sat in the space at the back on top of the folded down seat.

Seat belts I remember as those filthy things crammed down into the seats, those things we sometimes had to pull out of the way as we searched down in the crack between the seat back and the seat itself. Once we'd retrieved our pencil or quarter or whatever, we'd cram the seat belts back down into the crack. The closest I remember coming to a seat belt for many years was, when sitting in the front seat, my mother's arm thrown out in front of us as she came to a quick stop.

I'm not waxing poetic about those heady and carefree days of yon. I'm completely fine with the fact that my children are safer in the event of an accident. Most of the time I've been driving there have been seat belt laws in effect, and all the time that I've had children there have been laws mandating that they be safely buckled in.

It's fine, good in fact, and I'm quite beyond being used to it. It's an ingrained habit to not even put the car in gear till I've made sure that all passengers are safely buckled in, and I've even taught the boys to alert me if I happen to forget and the car begins to move before they've gotten their seat belts buckled. And even through all that, it's also somehow an ingrained habit to throw my arm up sometimes when making a quick stop. It's just one more thing my mother has given me.


jimmycity said...

As a childen in the early 60's, my older sister and I used to ride in the backseat of the stationwagon with out little heads hanging over the front seat between our parents as my Dad drove.

Until the time I got carsick and puked down the front of Dad's shirt.

Making children buckle up is a good thing.

Gem said...

I remember my mom and dad driving their VW bus with a playpen in the back for my twin sisters. I also remember dad retrofitting our car much later (late 70's maybe) b/c seatbelt laws went into effect and our car didn't even have them.