The struggle to keep them strapped in the car
by Robin Wiley O'Bryant
Apr 06, 2011 | 2047 views | 0 0 comments | 18 18 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Robin O'Bryant
Robin O'Bryant
There was a point, just a few years ago, when all three of my children were in car seats. I would open the back door of my car and see nothing but wall to wall Graco plastic and five-point harnesses.

There were days, when our house became unbearably small and even though I knew a trip anywhere would require more sweat than an Iron Man decathlon, I would load the kids up in the car just so they would quit touching me for 30 seconds. I would pack a diaper bag that weighed roughly 40 pounds. There was no way around it: two sippy cups, two snacks, one bottle, diapers in two sizes, a change of clothes for the baby in case she spit up, a change of clothes for the toddler in case she had a potty accident. Toys, my wallet, baby wipes, the list was endless and exhausting.

Five-point harnesses were my friends in those days. I had to do all the buckling and so much heavy lifting that I was at a chiropractor’s office once a week, but still, it was worth it. Once everyone was buckled in, I could sit happily behind the wheel without anyone tugging at my dirty yoga pants. I could almost have a coherent thought as we drove very slowly to our destination. If I popped in a DVD, I could even have a phone conversation with someone who was related to me — talking to non-family members was still a little tricky because eventually one of my kids ended up crying in the background.

But now, my good friend, Mr. Five-Point Harness, has betrayed me. Sadie, my 2-year-old, has MacGyver’s motor skills and she is not afraid to use them. Last week while speeding out of town to a day full of doctor’s appointments for my children, Sadie thought it would be fun to play, “Let’s Unbuckle Our Seat Belts While Mommy Drives Like A Maniac.” I did not think this was a good idea, thus beginning a battle of the wills that raged on for approximately 96 miles.

I pulled over repeatedly and buckled her seatbelt. I scolded. I disciplined. I was mean. I was firm. I was downright scary. Sadie would leave her seatbelt buckled long enough for me to turn off my flashers and get back into traffic then she would unbuckle again.

My mother, riding shotgun, simply shook her head. I was at a loss. It’s not like I could threaten Sadie with, “If you don’t buckle up, we aren’t going to go to your doctor’s appointment.” I realized Sadie needed a five-point harness for her five-point harness and began brainstorming on ways to keep her in her seat.

I wondered if zip ties would work. They would definitely keep her seat buckled but I hated to have to keep an industrial sized pair of scissors in the car to cut them off. And what if I needed to get her out of the car quickly? Zip ties didn’t seem environmentally friendly, either. I would need a new tie every time we got in and out of the car and given my track record hurting myself while walking through my own house, pointing a sharp object at my child to remove her from her car seat seemed like a bad judgement call.

“Maybe I could put a padlock above the chest clip,” I mused.

My mother rolled her eyes. “All it would take is one good bump in the road and she could chip a tooth or get a black eye.”

She had a point, and I still have nightmares that I’m in high school trying to open my locker and I can’t remember the combination. I stare at the lock, panicking while the bell rings, and have no idea what to do with the lock. The last thing I need is to have my child padlocked into her car seat when my Mommy Brain kicks in. It’s one thing to be in a tizzy because you can’t get your biology book out of your locker, it’s a whole other matter if it’s your kid. I could see myself dragging her entire seat into the hardware store, or God forbid, the fire department, to get my hands on a pair of bolt cutters. I continued to think.

Thinking is always easier if you are in Target, so I continued to think while shopping. I had a flash of brilliance, as I am wont to do, and moseyed on over to the baby proofing products. Angels sang as I found my answer— a baby proof refrigerator latch. Soft? Check. No pesky numbers to remember? Check. Reusable? Check. Easy to release without involving firemen or a hacksaw? Check and check. One butterball stuck safely in a seat? Check.

Robin Wiley O’Bryant is a syndicated humor columnist, author and speaker. She was born and raised in Jasper and now lives in Mississippi with her husband and three daughters. Read more online at www.robinschicks. com or e-mail Robin at