Of our 10 living children, we have only had 1 vociferous car seat objector: Parker. The others took most of their naps in their car seats, rode happily wherever life took them, and enjoyed being able to watch life unfold from a vantage point provided by their seat on the table or counter.
Parker is different. He hates his car seat. He finds nothing soothing about a ride to town. He yells as soon as we strap him in, cries himself to sleep if he has time, and wakes up ready for more.
No, I’m not putting him in a hot seat that has been left baking in the van. No, the problem is not insufficient padding. And the problem really isn’t that we expect a young baby to spend hours entertaining himself while we ignore him. Hah. I mock you. I laugh you to scorn.
He really just hates being in the car seat. He wants to be held, plain and simple. The boy has us wrapped around his little finger and he knows it.
I’m reasonably sure this is because we have stayed home far more with him than with any of the others. We’re living an hour from town and our 2nd car has been dead since some time before he arrived so he just hasn’t been forced to get used to the car seat. The poor boy has become a homebody. He’s my homeboy, mah homey. He’s tense and unpleasant if we are away from home for more than a few hours, and he visibly relaxes when we get home again.
I’m sure the fact that he has 9 older siblings is also a factor. When I had only little ones, the babies had to be set down frequently, and the car seat was my tool of choice. The car seat made it easy to rock the baby with one foot when a toddler needed some attention; easy to move a sleeping baby from room to room with me so that the preschooler couldn’t practice her creativity upon the baby unsupervised; easy to set the seat up on a table top so the baby could watch the rest of the family doing school.
Now that we have so many sets of arms in the house, the baby need never be set down. It seems easy to pass a demanding baby from one set of arms to another, but eventually it creates problems. We’re learning this the hard way.
I have also moved away from the habit of putting our babies down for naps in their car seat. Our first 9 babies took nearly all their naps in the car seat whether we were at home or abroad. Most of them even spent the night in their car seat, next to our bed. They took to it very quickly and seemed to find comfort in the semi-fetal position, surrounded by padding on 3 sides. For some reason I didn’t start that habit with Parker, and now we’re reaping the consequences.
But I’m going to try to change that this week. He’s going to spend a lot of short periods in his car seat this week, sometimes being entertained and other times being left to entertain himself. He’s also going to be taking most or all of his naps this week in his car seat.
That’s Parker’s part of the deal. The rest of us will work very hard at not pitching him, ourselves or each other over the rail of the deck. OK, I’m exaggerating. But we all know that stress levels can rise when there’s a cranky baby in the house.
So far, he has done surprisingly well. I wish I had worked on this weeks ago. He cries for much shorter times than in the van, quickly settling down to watch his toys and swat at them. His naps are much shorter than usual, but at least he’s sleeping in his car seat. That’s not usually on his list of Things to Do on Road Trips. Of course the real test will be our next outing.
And don’t worry – we’re taking him out for plenty of loving! This little boy has 11 pairs of arms to love him. His problem isn’t that he spends too much time alone. He doesn’t know the meaning of the word.