I know I’m facing the wrath of child protective services here, but you know what one my kid’s favorite things in the world is?
When I let them sit in the way back cargo area of my Subaru wagon on the 4 block ride home from school. I know. Thrilling, ain’t it?
Granted, traveling backward in a car and watching the world disappear behind you is kind of a unique sensation. In fact, it makes me a bit nauseous just thinking about it.
But it occurs to me that the reason my kid’s find it so exciting is that from the moment they were born, they’ve never ever been in a car without being strapped into some sort of 6 point safety harness car seat that would wow your average NASCAR driver.
Seems like you need a degree in mechanical engineering to work most kids car seats these days, and at least half your time as a parent is spent doing complex math problems to determine if your ever growing child is still in the right car seat for his or her size.
“Now if Bobby is 7 years old, 48 inches tall and weighs 54 lbs then he should be seated in the back traveling compartment in a forward facing booster seat of no more than 4 inches in elevation…however, if the family car is more than 2 years old and Bobby has a freckle on his left check and the car is moving Eastward on the second Tuesday in May while Bobby is enjoying some string cheese….THEN none of the previous instructions apply and Bobby should only ride in a full harness child seat of no more than 2 inches in elevation placed in the Northwest section of the vehicle so as not to get sun burned.”
Seems funny in looking back on it, but my brother and I spent most of our child hood years in the way back of a station wagon, completely unrestrained, bobbing and floating around like cheerios in a bowl of milk while my parents cruised on down the highway at 75 miles per hour chain smoking cigarettes in some vintage American car that contained more steel than a Sherman tank.
Anti lock breaks? Impact sensors? Car seats? Air bags? Seat belts? Phfffflt…..
I honestly don’t ever remember even wearing a seat belt until I got my driver’s license and even then I think I mostly complied because my Dad’s auto insurance company made me sign some form saying I would.
And don’t even get me started on bicycle safety.
My friends and I used to have no-hands races down the steepest hills in our neighborhood on our Schwinn Sting Rays with the banana seats and not a single Mom rushed out to say “Bobby…you come inside right now and get on your elbow pads, and your helmet, and your mouth guard and your special skid resistant bike shoes!”
I know the good old days always look better in hindsight and I’m definitely not advocating reckless behavior especially when it comes to our children but I am left to wonder: is the world really that much more dangerous than it was when I was a kid?
Or as a society, are we just a lot more scared of everything than we used to be?