Guest Post by Roo
There are many moments when I say to myself that becoming a mom is the best thing that has ever happened to me. Then there are moments when my child is giggling maniacally in the back seat as I drive him home through the fog and freezing rain and I know he has just done something for the books.
When I realized that Tad was emitting his mad scientist laugh, I knew I was in trouble. I glanced back to see that he was dismantling his car seat… with him in it…. as we sped along a busy street in very nasty weather. He was holding a huge, curved styrofoam chunk that was created by the good people at Evenflo to protect his sweet little body from a two-ton-vehicle that might swerve uncontrollably toward us at any moment. And there was that giggle.
I pulled over, refused to answer his questions about why, and got out into the chilly rain to pluck him from his partially dismembered seat and reposition its missing corner. All this while he assured me that he could fix it himself and there was really no need for my assistance or concern.
I didn’t say much to Tad after we got back in the car. There’s something alarmingly symbolic about a child sabotaging his own safety seat. It illustrates, with startling clarity, the idea that children don’t always know what’s good for them. And there will come a time when I won’t be there to stick back together the structures that are intended to keep him safe, if he chooses to render them ineffective. But then, I don’t want him to be so concerned with caution that he lives a tiny, scared existence. I don’t want him to be the kid who spends his vacation sitting under the beach umbrella because he might get a jellyfish sting or salt water up his nose. I can only hope that Tad will figure out how to live a rich, lovingly defiant, non-conformist life, balanced with the need for safe limits, self-awareness and restraint. Maybe I’ll have a bumper sticker made: Question authority..but wear your seatbelt.