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Sunday, June 03, 2007

In the drivers seat ?

Parent's magazine had an article on the previous issue about the top three mistakes driving mother's make which cause serious accidents or fatalities. These should have been generalized to any person who drives around with kids in the vehicle, because men who drive the "mommy van's" as equally guilty of the same mistakes!

They were :

a. trying to calm down fighting kids by looking back or sending one hand back to touch the kid in the backseat
b. feeding the kid or yourself while driving
c. talking on the cell phone while driving.

Of course we could always add the special case of :

d. trying to operate a DVD player that is behind you with one hand because the kids want you to go back to the previous song!

But these are the standard offenses. This post is not about them. This is about something even more fundamental with kids in a van. The seat belt!

Apparently it is safe for kids only if they are in their car seats or booster seats and nicely buckled up. One can understand this logic, especially with all those videos you see with kid sized crash test dummies flying out of windshields during accidents when not buckled up!

Unfortunately, real kids are not as co-operative as crash test dummies. The day my kids look as calm and serene in their seats, accident imminent or otherwise, I would gladly keep my mouth shut!

In our case, putting the seat belts on is supposed to be safe for the kids, but it is highly unsafe for the driver! Jr. has learnt to unbuckle her seat belt on her own and baby has a tolerance limit of about 5 minutes in her car seat. By the time we reach the end of the street she is screaming her head off trying to get out of the belt. That said, it is impossible to focus on the road and drive, with one kid floating around the van like a free electon in a metal lattice and another one setting new records for the maximum decibel level ever achieved in a confined space of 150 cubic feet or less!

Are there any alternatives to seat belts for kids ? (I am talking legally allowed alternatives here! I already know that they will be quiet without the belts). If anyone knows of any, please do let me know.

In the meantime, I have an idea. How about I make an inflatable cushion that takes the shape of the back part of the van. The kid sits inside this box and it can be padded so well that even if the kid bounces off the walls of this enclosure, they will be safe! I am modeling this based on the space shuttle here!! Would that have a chance of making it through the transport authorities ?

Please note that I said "kid" and not "kids". The only thing more dangerous than a free floating kid in a van is, another kid! There has to be separate enclosures for each kid. If horses, cattle and wild animals can be transported on highways without restraint, why can't I transport two wilder, crazier, out of control creatures with the same rules?

That brings me to the topic of "If my wife or mother-in-law release a kid from the seat, because the kids is making a racket (this in spite of my pleas to keep them in the seat), then who gets the ticket if we are stopped by the cop ? Me, or the wife ? or mother-in-law ? ". If anyone knows the answer to that one, please let me know as well.


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I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 11:21 PM, Blogger SS wrote...

Hi. We have a helluva time with our son in the car seat as well. He is 18 months now and hates being in it for more than 10 mins and will whine and whine forever ... we're contemplating buying him a real cushiony, comfy, more interesting car seat hoping that it will do the trick!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 11:57 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan wrote...


I am really sorry to disappoint you in advance..

your kid is most likely not going to like the cushiony , more comfy interesting car seat..

not if it has Dora the explorer all over it and has sticker tags and all the distracting bells and whistles. based on our experience, I will predict what will happen.

day 1: he is quiet for upto 20 mins
day 2: he is quiet for upto 10 mins
day 3: back to normal. he knows this carseat and all it has to offer and at the end of the day he realizes that he is STILL STRAPPED !!

we have been there, done that!

good luck though!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 2:00 AM, Blogger Kavi wrote...

Yellow Stone national park is giving you some ideas i guess ! I only wish Yellow stone gave an answer to the question you pose as well..well well..who gets the ticket. I think i have the answer..!!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 5:22 AM, Anonymous Poonam wrote...

Hi Sundar, Loved the pictures and video from Yellowstone.

I dont have kids yet. So my objective (read: what do you know about raising kids!) opinion.

Walk them! Take the public transport!

haha.. I don't think I was too helpful there. But I can imagine your dilemma.

Work on that cushioned seat enclosure. Maybe you can get it patented. Soon you may have people making accessories for that thing ;)

Good Luck!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 11:52 AM, Blogger Deepa wrote...

Aha! another Parenting magazine reader. Good to know.:-)

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 5:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

actually, we were hoping that a dvd player would do the trick - from this post, i apparently have saved the $100! if you ask me, the goras feed their kids something that us desis don't - theirs are always quieter.

btw, beware, if you unbuckle the kids, heisenberg's uncertainty principle will apply! i've even had my little one pull my hair, trying to knock my glasses off etc.

how come you didn't write about the interaction among the two protons in your back seat? i bet there is brownian motion going on, with each collosion marked by loud explosions.

- s.b.

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

here is something that bears me out!

also, check this out.

all i can say is 'us desis are like this only!'

- s.b.

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 8:32 PM, Blogger Sundar Narayanan wrote...

Kavi, 2400 miles of driving in 4 days can raise a few questions, especially if you drove 1900 out of 2400 miles!

Poonam, of course I am walking them. front to back inside the van.. ha ha.

deepa, yes. I like that magazine. nice place to find special toys, good advice etc.

s.b. had a good laugh.

thanks for the links. they are right on the money.


I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 10:20 AM, Blogger SS wrote...

ha ha :) thanks for the heads up!

I am not responsible for comments posted by others... At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Anonymous wrote...

glad to know that you liked my links so much :-).

- s.b.


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