When my Z’s were born, I was driving a Chevy Beretta. The Beretta was like a sporty Pacer in that it’s two doors were ginormous but didn’t look so silly. It was my first car (I’m actually driving only the 3rd car I’ve ever owned) and I loved it. However, fitting two brand new baby twins in that back seat, rear facing, was a challenge. Luckily it didn’t occur to me to bitch about it. I was thankful I had two healthy babies, a solid running car, and a great job with killer insurance to off-set the $100,000 NIC-U bill. But looking back, I lulz a little bit when I remember reaching back to strap them in AND make sure Zac’s apnea monitor is set. Fun times.
I reminisced about all this the other day when we were tooling around town and I saw a car next to me with a (I presume) dad in the drivers seat and (I presume) mom in the back seat with a baby seat next to her. Uhhhh, huh? Now, there could definitely be something going on that I don’t know about. They could be on their way back from the hospital where they took their baby because she had stopped breathing and were told to never take their eyes off her in case she stopped again in which case thank gods they were sitting right next to them to see it. Sure. Possible. Probable? Not really. Which begs the question…
Why do parent’s sit in the back seat with their kid?
Really? What’s going on? Are we just scared, cuz if so that’s ok. Look, parenting is scary. Many of us want to protect our children from everything possibly slightly unpleasant to downright danger. Here in the little ‘ol Milwaukee area, a 12 year old little girl was stabbed 19 times by two of her little friends. Think the parents could see THAT coming? No way. Think parents will consider twice letting their kids go to slumber parties? I’m guessing so. Slumber parties. The right of passage of sending your kid out in the world and trusting that they will be home safe and sound in the morning with tales of too much sugar, not enough sleep and maybe dipping a friend’s pinky in water overnight to see if they’d wet the bed (please tell me they still do that.)
As wonderful as the birth of our children are, there is also the complete giving over of control. Suddenly they’re out in that big bad world and we need to either shelter them from it, or teach them to live in it. We hear horrible stories, tragedy. So we hold on a little tighter to ensure that tragedy doesn’t strike our house. We talk ourselves into the idea that we can control and avoid tragedy. That split second in time when something goes catastrophically wrong. Horrible. Lives changed, children lost. Hold on tighter, watch them closer, don’t let them get in situations where this can happen.
The problem with that thought process, of course, is that we can’t control it. We can instill fear and dependence or we can slowly let go and try to teach our little one’s how to thrive. How to kick ass as long as possible. How to be kind and sympathetic and not be completely wrapped up in our own fabulous lives. I know some children/kids/adults who’s mommies would STILL be sitting in the back seat with their 30+ year old’s if they weren’t the ones actually driving them around. True story.
We want to shelter our kids from teasing, and bullying, and not being popular, and not being smart or athletic, and not being accepted, and BLAH BLAH BLAH!!! Xrst! Does it start with sitting in the back seat with the baby? I dunno. But I’m thinking so. It’s OUR first test of letting go. Knowing we’ve bought the very best baby seat; had the local firefighters install it, and letting go. Geez, when my baby sister came home from the hospital in Duluth my mom held her for the 40 minute drive. See how much safer they are now?
They may cry in the back seat. That’s ok. Baby’s cry. My Auntie Karen and I drove from Hutchinson to Windom (about a 3 hour tour) one fall for my Grandpa’s wedding and the Z’s bellowed pretty much all the way there. At one point Auntie looked at me and said, “Should I take them out and hold them?” I calmly said Nope, they cry, we drive. See, they were safe. Unhappy, but safe. Unhappy I can take, I raised them on my own. At many points in the day, someone was unhappy. Big deal. But safe? They were as safe as I could make them in the back seat and hope that the semi drivers on the country highways were plenty rested and will stay out of my lane. Poor Auntie, the crying was a bit much. heehee
Yesterday we took some balloons down to the lake to let go. LET GO. It was to honor what would have been the Z’s friend, Kelby’s, 21st birthday. Kelby died 9 years ago in one of those split second, catastrophic moments that changed the world of so many. To this day, her parents are two of the bravest and most amazing people I have ever seen. That they’ve kept their family together, openly and honestly grieved, and have had such a positive impact on so many people through THEIR pain? Amazing. I realize we’re not unique, so many of us either have been affected by tragedy touching our children or those of friend’s. Do these events change how we parent? Maybe, probably. But we still have to let go. Bit by bit, push them out of the nest. At least we’re just sitting in the front seat and not actually pushing them out of a tree. So there’s that. Go ahead, sit up front with your guy. Hold his hand, it’s one of the few physical acts you two will share for a while. Heh.
Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die.