Thursday, May 27, 2010

Can I Rant for Like 5 Seconds?

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.


  1. Well said! I completely agree. With Brendan, so far anyway, all I have to do is yell stop, maybe a swat on the leg, and he starts crying while I strap him in if he's pitching a fit. My sister and I were talking about choosing battles this weekend. She has a friend who has a daughter who flings herself on the ground when she has tantrums and she did this on a tile floor this weekend. She was obviously hurt and her mother just stood there and told her it was her fault. This poor girl is 1 year old. I told my sister I know the difference between a tantrum cry and a hurt cry. I think I would've picked the poor baby up. You have every right to rant about parents like that!

  2. I don't know anyone who wouldn't agree with you, but I have seen plenty of folks riding around with young children who aren't buckled into safety seats. It makes me sick.

    Also, I was in court one day and ran into a girl who had $200 ticket for not having her child buckled in. The judge told her that if she showed a receipt for purchase of an age/weight-appropriate seat and proof that it was professionally installed, they would WAIVE all fees (including court costs) and the mark would be removed from her driving record.

    What the he!! is that?! There should be heavy punishment for putting a child in that kind of danger.

  3. I know that it isn't monitored at our school, but they do...err..did...have a policy stating that if children are leaving the center in a vehicle, they must leave in an approved child safety seat. It does make me wonder how such a policy might be enforced? And if there was such a policy in your school.... hmmpf...just food for thought. Sitting properly in a car seat is a non-issue at this house as well. That poor man doesn't even realize that today he delayed his daughter's recognition of the safety belt "non-issue" for days or weeks...and if he would have just sat in the parking lot, waited for her to scream it out a bit, maybe making him late to something TERRIBLY a short while, he would be able to be proud of her for saying, "Ok daddy, we are ready to go because we are all buckled now!" I remember sitting at diamond park with a "demonic" Isaac for well over an hour before Adam happened to be driving his coffee route past to assist me in getting Isaac buckled. I would have sat as long as it took. And I'll bet Isaac remembers the day that I pulled the car over immediately, as he decided he would unbuckle himself mid travel. Never happened again after that day. I get so disgusted seeing kiddos bouncing around unrestrained in the back--or front--of a vehicle.

  4. Nothing pisses me off more than obvious misuse of a car seat. I kept Miranda rear-facing until she was 3! Most people aren't as insane as me, I realize, but at least follow laws and use common sense. I am with you ALL the way Susan. Awesome rant!

  5. My parapro was exhausted one day last week when she arrived to work. When I asked her why she was so tired, she told me that she hadn't gotten any sleep - she was at Children's Healthcare all night. Her cousin had been riding with her toddler not buckled in her car seat, and they'd been in an accident. The child was thrown from the car and had a serious head injury. Luckily, she looks like she's going to make a full recovery, but I just wonder what happened to the mom ... who was wearing her own seatbelt. Terrible!

    What did that dad think would happen if someone had slammed into his car as he pulled out of the school parking lot?

  6. Way to go Susan! No excuses in that situation, you are 100 percent right. When you guys were little like that we used car seats and then seat belts, no exceptions, not ever! And my children are 28, 32 and 36! And it should be the same way now, even more so. The seats are safer, the age limits and weight limits are definitely non negotiable. You should have noted his plate # and called the cops. That was just irresponsible and shameful on that dad's part. No excuses, ever!