Have you ever been involved in a mommy carpool where you switch off with another mom for drop-off or pick up at school? And if so, have you ever been ONE BOOSTER SEAT SHORT because you forgot it in your husband’s car or forgot to switch back with the other mom?
If you’re like me, you HAVE at one time or another found yourself short on a car seat. And not only are the safety implications overwhelming. You are also faced with the horrific dilemma, pondering the most dreaded of all questions.
WHAT KID GOES WITHOUT THE BOOSTER SEAT?
Oh yeah. You’ve been there. I know you have. And it’s a tough decision, isn’t it? I mean, it’s not like the days when we were kids and we called dibs on riding shotgun at age 4. Or we battled over who got to lay down in the back of the station wagon while on that 400 mile car trip to Grandma’s. Heck, forget child safety seats. We didn’t even use seat belts! I don’t know about you but our seat belts were nothing but an space-consuming annoyance (we had 4 kids!) and pretty much ended up stuffed inside the crack of the seat only to emerge on the rare occasion when one of us rooted around in there in search of a lost quarter.
Nowadays we mommies know better. Because we have been bombarded with (and by “bombarded with” I mean we have obsessively GOOGLED) statistics about child survival rates in car accidents where a child WAS NOT in a child safety seat. So we’re pretty much horrified at the prospect of any child going without.
So what do you do when you’re one car seat short and you can’t get ahold of another mommy to bring you a spare?
If you are like me and every mommy I know, the answer, while not simple, is obvious.
OUR OWN CHILD GOES WITHOUT!
It’s true, in the couple of instances it happened to me, my daughter went without. And I’m not the only one who has made this decision.
My MAMMAKAZE carpooling friend did the same recently. When she forgot to get the booster seat back from me after I did drop off, she put my daughter in the booster and her SON went without! This is in spite of the fact that my kid is only 2 inches away from legally being without one and her son is more along the line of 6 inches away. And we’re not the only ones! I’ve polled other moms and they’ve made THE EXACT SAME DECISION!
Crazy, isn’t it? Despite the fact that nature has wired us to protect our children at all costs (I mean who wouldn’t choose to give the seat on the lifeboat to their kid instead of taking it themselves?) this car seat situation is one instance in which all those millions of years of biological hard-wiring are COMPLETELY OVERRIDDEN.
Why is that? Why would a parent choose the safety of another’s child over theirs? Well the answer is simple.
We don’t want to seem rude.
No kidding. The horror of being whispered about in coffee klatches around town behind our backs - of being labelled “that selfish mom”, it’s enough to short-circuits the synapses.
Okay. It’s not as simple as that. The truth is, this choice is all about the question: Could we live with ourselves if something happened to the precious child of a good friend entrusted to our care? On the flip side is: Could we live with ourselves if something happened to our own child? I mean, not since ABRAHAM has a parent had been faced with such a dilemma! Okay, I exaggerate. At the very least, it’s a maddening CATCH 22 with no good solution!
So in order to cope, in order to prevent being frozen in our tracks, incapable of doing anything, we simply BOIL IT DOWN to … not wanting to be RUDE.
After all rude behavior is well, RUDE! Plain. Simple. Easy.
And while Emily Post may have never written rules on the subject, in the unwritten book of Mommy Etiquette it is the appropriate thing to do. You know, like letting the mommy with the green light pull into the drop-off lane because SHE HAS THE RIGHT OF WAY instead of making that right turn on a red and cutting her off to get into that drop-off lane first! (Are you reading this mommy in the white Mercedes?!)
Anyway, I don’t know what the answer to the problem is. Hauling an extra car seat around seems extreme. But then crossing your fingers and hoping for the best on that 1.5 mile car ride home is pretty iffy. Especially if you’ve read the statistics stating that most car accidents happen within five miles of home – which I know you have because GOOGLE is a mommy’s worst best friend – next to WEBMD.
I can’t think about it right now. I need to hit the internet and try to self-diagnose this patchy area on my right forearm before pick-up. Wait. Where did I put the extra booster?
WHO DO YOU CHOOSE WHEN YOU’RE A BOOSTER SHORT?