December 4, 2021

Hell Hath no Fury (Or Strength) Like a Toddler in a Car Seat

When I dusted off this blog, one of my intentions was to fill in some of the gaps of experiences between 0 and 10 of raising a child for the first and only time.  One that my mother did not warn me about was the car seat prison so despised by the freedom loving toddler.  This is probably because car seats were in the early stages when I was a baby and not likely nearly as effective at restraining a child as they are now.   

My daughter came out with early indications of being a highly independent girl, which I was very happy about.   She was walking around at 8 months, albeit a bit wobbly and not without many opportunities to teach her that she was 'tough' and didn't need to cry when she fell down, or bumped her head.   Though there was that one time that she earned a big cry and my parenting might be judged as questionable by some for not rushing her to the ER.  However the internet and the book I had confirmed they'd just monitor her and gave me signs to watch for.  So I monitored her for those concerning signs and made sure she was still functioning normally, and she turned out fine.  But I digress.  

The bigger and more mobile she got, the less she liked being strapped into her car seat for long periods of times.  It made her cranky to the point that we avoided trips longer than a just a 2-3 hours away for quite awhile.  And we also accepted that if they were longer, we'd have to go slower to let her get out and run around for a bit.   

It got to a point where we had many fights trying to get her strapped in.  She was a strong little thing too.  She would stiffen up straight as a board, which is not how car seats are shaped, and fight me with every ounce of strength in her little body.   Which by the way, surprised me that it greatly exceeded mine in these moments of desperation.  All of this came with screaming bloody murder as if she was being abused.  Manipulative little bugger!  This horrified me in big public parking lots with people walking past usually pretending not to notice as no one ever came over and checked on the situation.   There were a few times we cried together in frustration for 15-20 minutes until her strength was worn down to a level that I could safely overpower her and get her strapped in.   I remember wishing that it should just be left up to survival of the fittest, so that I didn't have to have that fight on a routine basis. I mean car seats didn't always exist.  I would have been happy to let her play on the floor in the backseat to avoid the whole scene now and then. 

Not only did my mother not warn me about this, no one did! They don't teach you anything about what really happens when you choose to bring a child in the world and raise it.  It's not all cute and fun.  Which I knew that going in.  I just really didn't know a car seat was going to become the bane of my existence as mother.  To this day that was the worst for us so far, so I can't really complain as there are many worse things that some parents have to go through with their toddlers and children.  I'm just putting this here for my memory and for those that might want to prepare themselves mentally for what comes when fiercely independent toddlers begin to fiercely despise the car seat.   We turned her around as soon as we could, and graduated her out of it into a booster as soon as she reached the borderline minimally recommended size.  Which was early compared to some kids we know that were just as content as could be in their 5 point harness turned backwards. 

Now she sits in the front seat and loves it!  She's still as independent as ever, but has greatly matured in how she exerts it, which makes it all worth it to control yourself, take a step back, and slow down as needed when they are toddlers.  Even if that means sitting in a parking lot for a half hour.  There's a light at the end of the tunnel.  Unless you keep having kids. Then it's just compounded for years and years until finally the last one gets there! 

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