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.
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.