Are Car Seats Ruining Your Life, Too?
I really do. But this whole deal of strapping my three kids into their car seats, day in, day out … the long summer days turning seconds into years, it’s all just about the worst thing that has ever happened to anyone anywhere in the history of the world. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not usually much of a complainer. But I’ve met my match here. Of course, I should admit upfront that this car of mine isn’t helping matters. But then Henry came along two years later. I imagine they’d be perfectly happy sitting back there on the way to IHOP, driven around by their 92-year-old neighbor, Herman. What it’s not designed to do is facilitate my urgent need to strap three living, breathing children into three separate car safety seats, each one the size of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee carriage. I know this isn’t just my life now. That part never goes smoothly, of course. The seatbelt essentially gives me the finger. Naturally, it’s at this moment that Henry pounds his plastic dragon thing against my scalp. It’s a booster seat, but it’s not what I had hoped for. I thought it was going to be easy, this booster seat, but no way. It’s terrible. It’s so wide it could double as a helicopter landing pad. Violet has the same sort of thing, except even bigger, with a cup holder sticking out on both sides. (Nice modern touch, that is. I’m sure every toddler in a car needs to have two cup holders just in case she’s double-fisting a shot of apple juice along with her chocolate milk.) To throw salt on the wound, my kids don’t even use the cup-holders. They don’t care. In fact, my kids like to pinch my skin while I try and buckle them in — which leads to me yelping and letting out some not-so-ideal curses. I know, I know. And I’m simply a shell of my former self. Up between my jaws, my gums hurt from pushing my head up against the roof of this stupid car just so I can get some leverage before I make one final attempt at landing this buckle end into a receiver slot that I cannot even see; I just know and trust that it is down there lurking in the ultra-tight crevice of darkness between Charlie’s baby carrier base and Violet’s gargantuan booster battleship. I feel the plastic square with my fingertips and my heart jumps for joy! “THERE IT IS!” I yell, as fat beads of sweat drip down my face. Henry flicks my ear with his syrupy fingers. Violet says rude stuff like, “This is taking a long time, Dad! I have to pee and throw up!”
Charlie, well, my newest son is just a whippersnapper, but don’t count him out! He does what he can. He starts crying hard and the summertime amplifies it until it feels like there’s a 3,000-ton jet plane plowing into my left temple. I stretch my body, my entire being caught up in this life or death game of Hot Twister. Please, merciful Creator of stars and tomatoes and leopards! Let me feel the snap. Let me feel the unequivocal feel of desire satiated, of the snap taking. Then it happens. NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! I feel the thing happen that always happens without fail: the receiver part that you click into, the one down in the seat, it slips back down into the crack at the bottom of the bench. I’ve had enough. It’s a terrible scene, but whatever. They’ll be okay, I think. I’ll take it.
Image: M. Bielanko private
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