If you're one of "those" parents that I'm about to rant about, you'll probably get mad at what I'm about to say. I guess I don't care because if you are one of those parents, you need a little tough love right now.
Today after picking up Ian from his last day of school for the summer, I heard a little girl pitching a huge fit in the parking lot. It caught my attention because tantrums, no matter who is throwing them, usually do. I looked up and noticed a dad a couple spaces away having an epic battle with his 3 year old daughter. (How do I know she is 3? Because the only people at school today were 3 year olds.) I have never seen him before, although I have seen the girl in Ian's class. I quickly decided she was not being kidnapped because while she was screaming she was also calling him daddy and yelling about "my seat." It was an obvious parent-child battle over getting in the car seat.
After strapping both of my own children in their seats, I thought about going to ask if I could help in any way (he had a younger boy with him too), but I decided to mind my own business and hope for the best for that poor dad. I hopped in my seat, put the key in the ignition and looked out the front window.
And I saw him push her into the back seat of the car, slam the door, hop into HIS seat, and drive away!
He looked my way as he was driving out and shrugged his shoulders at me. My mouth was hanging open. I'm sure it was pretty obvious I was aghast at what he was doing. I'm sure he didn't really care what I thought. I sure hope they got home ok.
And this is where my RANT begins. (I know, begins? I thought I said I was only going to rant for 5 seconds...)
Dear Dad of the Screaming Preschooler,
YOU ARE THE DAD. YOU ARE IN CHARGE. YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR CHILD'S SAFTEY. YOU CANNOT LET A TANTRUM GET IN THE WAY OF STRAPPING YOUR CHILD INTO HER CAR SEAT! You just let her win. You just gave her ALL the ammunition she needs for the NEXT epic battle that ensues between parent and child. You just broke the law. You just taught her it was ok to ride in the car without being in a car seat. You just did something REALLY bad.
I know, I know, 20 years ago they hardly even had car seats and kids weren't required by law to be in a car seat while riding in the car. But times have changed, my friend, and for a reason.
So next time, please, grow a backbone and put your 3 year old in her damn car seat. Push her in, hold her down with your elbow while you buckle the straps. Use a little force. You are a 180 lb grown man, she is a 30 pound child. You have the strength and ability to out-muscle her. So what if she is yelling! Kids yell! They scream and they scratch and try to bite, and kick their little legs. Yep, you might get kicked in the face, but you know what? Riding in the car seat is non-negotiable and it is a battle YOU must win.
I'm big on picking my battles. I believe there are many instances where it makes more sense to pick my battle and redirect instead of give a time-out or a spank. I'd never argue with you on that point. It's part of parenting.
Riding in a car seat is a battle I will (and do regularly) fight every time. Why? Because when it comes to the safety of my beloved children, I am NEVER going to let them win and put themselves into danger. I really do not care if I have to break a sweat in the 90 degree parking lot while getting kicked and punched while other parents are watching my child go demonic on me over getting in the car seat. He will ride strapped safely in, he will stop screaming eventually, he will not win that battle.
That is all.
I hope that anyone who reads this isn't one of "those" parents. And if you are and you're mad at me now because I called you out on that terrible decision, I hope you think about me next time you have to force your child into her car seat and then, after thinking about me, I hope you just take the bull by the horns and get 'er done.