Monday, December 31, 2012

Three Seatbelt Stories

Derrill's story:
We don't really have seatbelts in Nigeria. They exist in the cars, mostly, but have been scrunched under the bucket seats so you can't get at them. I've been in only 2 maybe 3 cars where the seatbelts worked and were available.

As someone who grew up after seatbelt laws in the US made them mandatory, I have been conditioned to believe they are necessary, wonderful, life-saving inventions that are absolutely crucial. Especially for children.
How do I deal with the cognitive dissonance this sets up? Mostly by pretending I'm one of those rebellious, aging hipsters from my youth who like to ride motorcycles without a helmet [see left] and claim seatbelt laws are a tremendous infringement on my civil liberties. Nigeria has freed me.

When I come back to the States, I smirk and say, "Seatbelts. How quaint." I then gratefully imprison myself and my children in the comfort of the familiar.

Prince's story:
Prince loves to race. His favorite race involves racing to see who can buckle their seatbelt fastest. He did it ALL the TIME last summer.

For some reason, when we came back to the States this winter, he had forgotten how to buckle his seatbelt. He just couldn't do it. 

We're accustomed to this normal 4 year old behavior of learned incompetence and we generally have very little patience with it, which is also normal for 4 year old parents. On our way back from the library, Joy gave him an ultimatum: get your seatbelt buckled or you and I are walking home.

That got him to genuinely try again, but the seatbelt still eluded him. I had him get out of his seat and try buckling the belt while looking at it. 

He couldn't. We moved his booster seat (how quaint!) to the far back of my parents' minivan.

He couldn't. Then I remembered how we had the car arranged in the summer [see picture]. I had him move his booster seat to the other side of the car.

He snapped the belt right in. It was a handedness issue. He can only buckle his seatbealt from left to right.

The races are back on!

Princess's story:
Princess loves her brother. When he and I agree to do a seatbelt race, it's often a race to see if he can buckle himself in faster than I can buckle Princess into her car seat. (Infant car seats. How quaint!)  Because of this, Prince usually wins and calls out, "First!"

This morning Prince was still finding his church shoes when I took Princess out to the car. I buckled her in. She looked around the empty car and called out, "Fuhst. Fuhst. Fuhst."