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Don’t bust out your flamethrowers, please

Y’all, I’ve got an issue. And this issue is a hotly debated and frequent flyer in the “Mommy Wars” circles. I’m not looking to further any of that brouhaha here, so if that’s what you’re thinking, just don’t think it.

Okay, with that disclaimer out of the way, I need to talk about car seats.

My brother never rode in a car seat. We had one, but he never rode in it. He rode exactly where the little girl in Joshua’s class was sitting today. On the “hump” of the front seat. My mom realizes how incredibly fortunate we were to never get into an accident. As I was talking to her about this today, she said “Miranda, it’s the law now. It wasn’t then. If it had been, he would’ve been in a car seat.”

A friend of mine nearly lost her nephew to a car accident when he was improperly fastened into his car seat. As a result of this, and because of my desire to keep Joshua alive in general, I’m kind of a stickler for following car seat rules.

I know enough to know that car seat safety is serious business and when ours budges so much as a half inch, I’m screaming for it to be tightened.

We bought a Recaro because of their history of making racing seats. If they keep Formula 1 drivers safe, then I feel pretty safe trusting them with the safety of my child.

Joshua was rear-faced until about 16 months, maybe a little longer. And I don’t exactly remember why we turned him forward facing. I do know that because he was so tall it was incredibly difficult to get him in and out of the back seat of my car (a Camry) because the Recaro is so tall and the back seat is so, relatively speaking, small. But other than that, I can’t remember why we forward-faced him when we did.

Just this week, the American Academy of Pediatrics issued a release stating that children should stay rear-facing until age 2. And there is not a day that has gone by in the past however-many months that I haven’t gone “Man, why’d we forward face him again?”

But that’s not really what I want to talk about today.

A week and a half ago we were on our way to Ikea when I looked over at the car next to us and noticed a baby/toddler sitting in the driver’s lap. In this case, there was a car seat AND THE OTHER PARENT in the back seat of the car. Had the airbag deployed in that car, I shudder to think about the scene that would be left there.

This morning one of the little girls in Joshua’s class was being picked up as I was dropping him off. Her eye was pink and since pink eye spreads through daycares like uhh, something that spreads really fast, she was sent home as a precaution.

When I walked out of the daycare and into the parking lot, I saw her sitting really close to the grandparent who’d come to pick her up. Like, really close. So I was curious.

As I walked in front of the vehicle, I noticed that she wasn’t in a car seat. There wasn’t even a car seat in the car. She was sitting on the arm rest between the two bucket seats, no more than 8 inches from the dash.

And I was kind of flabbergasted. Floored that with all the knowledge we have about car seat safety, people still don’t think they’re necessary and choose to forgo them out of, what, convenience? Lack of financial resources?

***Sort of sidenote: If you can’t afford a car seat, please read this article and see if any of these apply to you: How to Get a Free Car Seat. Also, while I’m generally against buying used car seats from consignment stores or Craigslist because you can’t always verify their accident history, I’d rather someone purchase a used car seat than NOT HAVE ONE AT ALL.***

So this brings me to my dilemma.

What would you have done in this situation? I had 10 minutes to get to work and by the time I’d gotten to my car and processed what I’d just seen, the grandfather had left the daycare. If I’d knocked on his window, what would I have done? How would that situation have transpired?

(As for what I *did* do, I called the daycare owner and told her what I’d seen and asked her to speak to the mother. She seems to think the mother will be unphased by this information, which hurts my heart even more.)

This is a dilemma for me. Logically, and in my heart, it shouldn’t be. But it is. Some of y’all probably read this and think “How DARE YOU not say something to this grandfather! HOW DARE YOU. WHAT ABOUT THE CHILD??” and are all Sanctimommy-ing and thinking I should’ve just climbed into the seat next to them or jumped on his vehicle to stop him from leaving, or ripped out his battery cables or something.

Is a child who is in a vehicle but unrestrained something I should be calling 911 over? Is this a situation where officers will respond, but begrudgingly? Is this a non-emergency situation and I should call the police office’s dispatch?  And if that’s the case, do I need to program phone numbers for all police stations into my phone?

Should I follow the car to make sure the police intercept? And at what cost to myself? Doing that this morning would’ve made me late to work.

Do I walk up to people when I see they have a child not in a seat and say something? What does that accomplish? Do I refuse to let them get in the car until they go to the store and come back with a seat, staging a sit-in in the middle of a parking lot?

Is this a situation where I pray that nothing happens to those children and that God is with them and let the parents learn the hard way?

Honestly, y’all. I need to know what to do because I’ve seen this way too frequently lately and my heart hurts over the idea of what could happen to these children. I want to be a voice for them because they don’t have the voice to speak up, but I don’t know how.

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Sunday 27th of March 2011

I probably would have taken down the license plate number and reported them, but that is about all you can do. I mean, you can't just take your whole day to chase someone down.

But really? How sad is that?

And for the record? Ed has been front facing since he was 13 months. He is just way to big to rear-face and our ped actually suggested it.


Friday 25th of March 2011

This has happened to me several times. The first time was when a man left his children in the car, running, while he went into the store, he was gone for a very long time. I stood outside of the car and waited for him to come back. The children were babies. I told him the law stated he could not do this. I told him I had his license plate number and asked him what his wife would think if his children were removed from their home because he didn't want to take them into the store. He was visibly upset. I didn't call the police, I thought this was enough. Then in December I saw a child riding on the lap of the driver. I didn't have enough time to get the license plate number and my husband isn't as forward as I am so he wouldn't follow them. I think you did all you could at the time and its very sad that the day care isn't doing what they should be doing.


Friday 25th of March 2011

My husband isn't as forward as I am, either.

And the daycare IS doing what they should and can do legally. They can't refuse to release a child into the custody of its parents or authorized people because those people don't have a car seat. That'd be considered kidnapping.

It just really sucks that some parents don't have enough sense to understand the dangers involved in not properly restraining children in a moving vehicle.

Jess@Straight Talk

Thursday 24th of March 2011

This is such a tough call. I imagine grandpa hurried to pick the kid up and didn't have the carseat. But is that the right answer? And if you had said something, would he have paused to do something? Probably not.

I think you did what you could in this situation. And I'm sure the mom was well aware of what happened and probably even told grandpa to go and not worry about it. Sad. Very sad.

Also? I had no idea the new recs are for 16 months. Will remember this with Allison.


Friday 25th of March 2011

The new recs are to be RF until 2!

And I kind of get the feeling that grandpa picks her up semi-often and mom is totally aware that grandpa doesn't have a car seat. And doesn't think it's a big deal. Which makes me want to vomit.


Thursday 24th of March 2011

My husband just told me that is brother and our SIL have their daughter in a booster seat already in the car....because she's too tall for a car seat. WHAT? She's younger than my 2.5 year old and maybe only an inch taller and so I don't understand what they are talking about. I guess I'm naive because I'm reading this with my jaw open, like, how can parents NOT HAVE THEIR KID IN A CAR SEAT? I did hear the information about the rear facing until 2 and I am sort of curious how that will work with leg room?

I probably would have done what you did with the daycare and stopped there....unless I could report it and the cop could get to the car right away.


Thursday 24th of March 2011

I don't see how this is something that people think is okay. I just don't. I don't know how people can risk their children's lives by not properly restraining them in the car.

As for leg room, children naturally want to scrunch themselves up, so as far as leg room, that's all they know so most don't complain about lack of leg room. They cross their legs and ride along happily. I wouldn't worry about that as a reason to turn a child.

Amy @ babybabylemon

Thursday 24th of March 2011

I have handy access to a law enforcement officer so I asked. The police would have to see the infraction to give a ticket and it is not recommended to detain anyone yourself. You can call the non-emergency line and if an officer is available they may respond. With a decent description of the car and the license plate number, a "be on the lookout" can be issued. If the car is also driving recklessly, call the emergency line and report the reckless/drunk/speeding first and the car seat second. If it happened to me, I would notify the day care provider and that is about it. They could, I suppose, make daycares like hospitals where you can't pickup the child with out the appropriate car system, but I don't know how enforceable that would be.


Thursday 24th of March 2011

Yeah, I knew that the officers would have to SEE the infraction in order to ticket for it. And they'd have to make that a state law in order for any or all daycares to enforce a law like that since, as my daycare owner said, once the children have left her doors with an authorized person, there's nothing she can do legally.

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