Sunday, May 20, 2007
The Way Things Were
My mom is horrified by car seats. She is convinced that I am going to drive into the river and that I'm not going to be able to get the babies out of their seats. It doesn't matter that I'm about 4 times faster at getting the babies in and out of their seats than she is (practice, practice, practice). She thinks the seats are little plastic death traps.
This has prompted her to tease me about all the harnesses in my kids' lives. The swings, the high chairs, the bouncy seats - all of the things that we put our kids in, today, have at least 3-point, and usually 5-point harnesses. My generation has an expectation that if you put a child in something, he or she will still be there when you come back.
Apparently this was not The Way Things Were when my mom was raising us, which brings me to our new feature:
The Way Things Were
...in which I will explore how parenting has changed since the stone age when I was little.
We begin with car seats. Apparently there was no such animal when I was a kid. Acceptable substitutes included laundry baskets, a parent's lap, and the back window of the car. Apparently when one parent was traveling alone with a child, it was standard practice to hold a child in one's lap while one was driving. DRIVING. Apparently Mom even nursed me while she was in the act of driving at times - not just as a passenger in the car, but while she was in control of the trajectory of the vehicle. And this was not an abnormal thing to do - my friend Shannyn's mom, apparently, did the same thing when Shannyn was little.
These days, if you don't spend $200 on the state of the art car seat, with a five point harness, cushioning, and its own miniature airbags, and if you don't strap Junior in more tightly than an astronaut on the Shuttle during take-off, you are a Bad Mommy. And children have to stay in their car seats until they are nine years old. Nine. Years. Old. Mom was probably driving when she was nine.
In addition, children are not allowed to ride in the front seat until they are twenty. This poses a serious problem for the 16 year old, learning to drive, because he or she must actually learn to drive from the back seat, and then transition to the front seat when he or she is old enough to not be frightened by the airbags when they go off.
I rear ended someone once (BK - before kids), and my air bags went off. Holy crimeny, that was scary. It sounded like a gun going off. My thoughts were, "Who's shooting at me?? What's all this white stuff???" before I figured out what had happened. And I had huge bruises and chemical burns on my forearms.
If you ask me, the greater risk is to the elderly, who may very well have a heart attack when the air bags go off. It seems to me that, given a choice, the kids with young, healthy hearts should be driving, and all of us old farts should be cowering in the back seat. Kids would probably make better drivers anyway. Have you ever watched them play video games?
What else was different when you were raising kids? Drop me an e-mail or a comment, and your crazy parenting practices may be featured in a future installment of The Way Things Were.