Car Seats and Free Range Parenting

I watched the young mother put her two toddlers into their van. One is walking and the other travels via mom’s hip. Her silhouette indicates that soon there will be another tyke to haul to the car.

The amount of baggage required to take two small children in the car is enough to make going anywhere an epic event. Two small children require two car seats and an automobile large enough to accommodate them in a rear seat. Once they arrive at their destination, the tots are unstrapped and transferred to a two-passenger stroller confined by a safety strap. Only after a fold up buggy is unfurled from the trunk of the car are mom and kiddos ready to shop. The family added a larger SUV most likely to accommodate the anticipated bundle of joy.

It’s too much. An ordinary trip to the supermarket today requires an itinerary. It’s a wonder kids today see the outside of their home until they start school.

Back in the seventies and eighties, our kids’ traveled and their guardian angels popped valium like candy.

The baby’s car seat perched in the front seat, next to the driver. The kid that got carsick and vomited if seated in the back seat had to sit next to the baby to keep her from howling. The oldest sat in back.

Seat belts were science fiction, but we had the next best thing. The long arm of Mom automatically thrust across front seat passengers to prevent them from hurtling through the windshield. Not only did the long arm of mom protect front seat passengers, it could reach all the way into the back seat to thump an unruly small passenger on the noggin. Back seat entertainment consisted of an etch-a-sketch and a book.

A trip to the supermarket was an exercise in endurance. We did not have the cute car carts for tots. The baby sat in the grocery cart and drooled on the celery. The other two walked on either side of the grocery cart. A gentle pinch (there is some disagreement about the torque of the pinch) reminded them not to snack on unwashed produce or sneak junk food in the cart.

As a special treat, the kids got to ride in the back of granddad’s pickup truck (The guardian angels doubled the dose of valium on those days). They bobbled up and down like Fisher Price Little Peoples. We did not worry because we told them we’d kill them if they didn’t hang on for dear life.

Somehow we all survived. The concept of free-range parenting pales in comparison.


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