By Lynn Jatania
I like to think I’m a simple woman, with simple wants and needs. I’m not that ambitious.
A major dream, for example, is the ability to go to the bathroom without first stubbing my toe on the preschooler’s step stool, picking up three wet towels from the floor, and changing the forever-empty roll of toilet paper. And then, as a stretch goal, maybe I’ll even be able to wash my hands without having to wipe a half-tube of toothpaste drippings out of the sink.
I have a long-term objective to one day prepare a lovely dinner, put it on the table, and have the entire family exclaim, “looks delicious, Mom!” before tucking in. And no one even picks out the tomatoes.
And one day, Lord help me, I’d love to be able to cross the playroom floor without having to do the slow, zombie-like shuffle that is my only protection from the dreaded Lego/Polly Pocket Critical Foot Injury. See? Not exactly curing cancer over here.
And what I want most in this world, number one on the wish list, my ultimate fantasy, is to achieve freedom from the tyranny that is The Car Seat.
Due to the wonder of genetics, our kids are small. Really small. There was a time, not so long ago, when we had three five-point harnesses creating a small Maximum Security Prison across the middle seat of our van. Leaving the house was a lengthy, complicated ritual, beginning with an argument over who was entitled to get in first, followed by boastful crowing by those who were able to climb into their seat themselves, and concluded with the walk down the Gauntlet of Clicks. I’d struggle to wriggle past dangling feet as I yanked, pulled, clicked, swore, yanked, pulled, clicked, and roared. Too tight? Can’t breathe? Too bad, kid – we’re already a half hour late.
The “Getting In” process was bad enough. The “Getting Out” process was just as challenging. Somehow we have ended up with three children to whom the complex workings of the Big Red Button remain a mystery. When I get out of the van, the first stop is the sliding door, so I can free my youngest from the shackles of her back seat stocks. While the rest of us leap up and jump out, she remains dejectedly abandoned, despite several attempts at teaching her and her older siblings the secrets to escape. Push here, pull here, click here, no here – oh, forget it. Houdini has nothing to worry about from us.
And the crumbs – oh, the crumbs. Our first car seat came with a rubber mat to be placed under the car seat, and like the young, naïve parents we were, we couldn’t fathom what it was for, so we chucked in into the Basement Pile Where Mysterious Stuff Goes That May Be Important One Day. After a year or so, we had to take the seat out to move it, and OH HEAVENS TO MURGATROYD. Our car had been transformed into a mad science experiment gone wrong, a horrifying sediment of crumbs tracing back through a year’s worth of activities like carbon dating. I don’t know what was worse – the ones we could identify as being several months old, or the ones that had passed beyond all recognition. This is why hazmat suits were invented.
When I had three seat belts pinching my freezing fingers every day, multiple times a day, I just switched into survival mode and Made. It. Happen. In fact, there were even plusses – it was kind of nice, on those days when the house was too small, too crowded, and too tiring, to have a place to go where once everyone was strapped in (with the tugging, and the pinching, and cursing), it won me a half-hour of Adult-Contemporary-fueled, fight-free bliss as we cruised around the city in Full Lockdown.
But now that our youngest is coming up on her sixth birthday, I am SO DONE with the five point harness. I hate having to bend over into the car every time we go somewhere, my butt getting rained on, my ice cold hands struggling to straighten and untangle belts that reduce me to a blubbering, incompetent mess (no doubt while car seat manufacturers laugh their evil laughs all the way to the bank). Now that the end is in sight like a beautiful glowing rainbow unicorn, I am impatient, and yet, she continues to defy us by holding steady at a mere 35 pounds.
I’d try to bulk her up with some chips and cookies, but I’m afraid of the crumbs. But someday, folks, someday, we’ll all jump in the van, buckle ourselves in without fuss, and cruise away to the dulcet tones of Adult Contemporary. Now that’s the stuff that dreams are made of.
Read Lynn's past columns right here!