Transporting young children has turned into quite an experience for the grandparents.
Today, because of my daughter’s choice of daycare is closed, I get the privilege of taking care of my five-year-old grandson for the day. It is always a welcome opportunity, and, while I am not quite as young and energetic as he is, we will surely have some fine, if not Mom approved, adventures before the day is over.
Lately, he has developed an affinity for a waffle and bacon breakfast, so I thought it would be a good idea for us to take in one of our local restaurants for breakfast. Normally, we just hang around the house.
But that meant I needed to have a properly-installed car seat to transport him to and from the restaurant. I don’t know if you have looked at proper acceptable car seats lately, but they are massive! And they come with a specialized set of instructions to secure them safely in the vehicle.
So, Dad had to come by and take the car seat from his car and put it in my truck. At first I was a little insulted. I mean, I had used car seats in the past, and I was a reasonably intelligent person. Surely I could figure out how to properly install a child’s car seat.
Surprisingly, it was a great deal more complicated than I had expected. First, Dad had to actually get into the back seat of his car, something I may not have been able to accomplish, just to remove it. Then, using intricate procedure, apparently only known by car seat owners, he reached behind the seat and manipulated the straps and buckles, without being able to actually see them, and sprang the device from the clutches of the backseat belts.
To install the car seat into the back seat of my Tundra, he had to repeat the process in reverse, with the additional step if putting his knee into the car seat, and pushing against the top of the cab to gain leverage, in order to get the seat securely fastened. This was followed by a complex set of buckling devices that all but surrounded the boy.
At this point, I was considering cancelling the trip to the restaurant, or merely duct taping the boy to the bed of the truck until we arrived safely.
I remember when we didn’t even use car seats, and my daughter, the grandson’s mother, grew up standing next to me on the front seat while I was cruising in my 1964 Chevelle two-door (God, I wish I still had that car!). When we did get around to getting a car seat for our last child, you simply ran the lap belt through the bottom to secure the seat to the car, followed by a similar lap belt to secure the child to the seat.
Not long ago, I was in an airport where I saw a young lady pushing a stroller-like contraption, about the size of a Mini-Cooper, toward the boarding gate. Removing the child from the seat required the unbuckling of a half-dozen straps, and afterwards, she began to pull levers, push buttons, and use brute force to compress the device down to about the size of a golf umbrella, and proceeded to board the plane with the apparatus under one arm and the child under the other.
I believe it quite possible that upon arrival at her destination, she unfolded the gadget and drove it home from the airport.
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Today’s parents make the simple act of going out to dinner into a process that years ago would have frustrated a moving company. They have the car seat from hell, a stroller that could serve as a troop transport, a baby seat to use in the restaurant, a diaper bag with a six-month supply of diapers, creams, lotions, pacifiers, baby toys, formula, and fourteen changes of clothes.
Despite Dad’s conscientious instructions, and possibly because I had a good night’s sleep and pretty much forgot everything he said, I still couldn’t get the boy properly secured into the car seat installed in the back of my truck. Faced with the choice of eating jelly toast (my breakfast specialty) or waffles and bacon, I took matters into my own hands and did what any Granddad would do.
I used bungee cords and duct tape and took the boy out for waffles and bacon.