Friday, March 23, 2012

Where are the seatbelts?

I am happy to say that this nice weather is finally motivating me to take Lyla for a spin in the jogger stroller. We walk Sasha to school and then our walk/run begins. It's nice and I always feel great after. I'm so glad it's not freezing cold anymore!
But this post is in not at all about exercise. This is about what I am seeing everyday while walking. There seems to be an excessive amount of floater kids passing me in cars. That is to say lots a parents don't think it's necessary to put their kids in seat belts for the ride to school. Most of them are riding in the back seat, but I have seen tons of them in the front seat too. I even see a kid riding on a parents lap. This lap riding seems to be a long standing tradition in this community. I recall seeing lots of otherwise intelligent individuals driving home from church in the late 80's with a toddler "driving" on their laps. Apparently, some of their descendants live in my neighborhood. It is a strange site to see these days. I recall a photo of Britney Spears doing this with one of her babies. At that moment, it was confirmed that society doesn't find this behavior acceptable or adorable.
I've also seen kids riding in the back of a truck too. In 2012! I note the year because riding in the bed of truck was not only legal (according to my dad and Ashleys older brother Josh) when I was a kid, but it also seemed to be the preferred seat for the kids to ride in. I get it because kids seem quieter when you don't bring them into the vehicle. I spent a good part of my childhood riding in the white-trash convertible (a truck bed) and I loved it. I knew it was dangerous, that was the appeal.
It was also totally acceptable for a kid to sit in the front seat when I was a kid. I was a real contender for shot-gun at a young age, though being the youngest, I rarely won that coveted spot. The front seat was obviously the best seat in the car and I knew it from a young age. There were no air bags, so I guess the front seat wasn't overly dangerous for a kid, but my mother never wrecked the car, so we never really found out. There were no car seats and boosters. I thank my lucky stars that there were no boosters, because I would have been riding in my booster seat to Junior High! It's not fair for the short kids! My mother, bless her heart, felt that the floor of the car was by far the safest place for a kid. When we would pull out onto dangerous roads, my mother would order us down to the floor. She had survived a crash on the floor and by damn that knowledge would not go to waste! So that's where you'd find me half of the time, on the floor of the car.
In modern times, I don't risk it with my kids. I want them to be safe in the car, but more than that I want them to be confined. I don't need my kids to have that freedom that allows them to reach over and really smack each other in the back seat. I sure as hell don't need a kid hanging on the back of my seat or climbing all over the place. That would drive me nuts! My kids have had a healthy dose of the seat belt Kool-aid. I have led them to believe that mommy will be thrown in jail if they aren't properly restrained. Judging from my neighborhood school commute, this isn't true at all, but I want them to feel uncomfortable without their seat belts on. One day I pulled out of the driveway and drove down the street and suddenly both my kids started screaming hysterically. I pulled over because I thought surely one of my kids heads must have spontaneously detached and is now rolling on the floor of the car. No, that wasn't the case. I had placed Lyla in her car seat, got distracted somehow and forgotten to buckle it up. My kids were horrified at my negligence. Mission accomplished!

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