First, the car seat was a baffling contraption that soon became our most-relied-on baby necessity. Besides the obvious reasons, the infant seat won us over for how easily it snapped in and out of the base. You just buckled the baby in and could go in and out of the car — and stroller — with ease. Napping was a breeze. He conked out in the car, and we carried his seat wherever we needed to go (or not go) and he slept peacefully. Uninterrupted dinners. Bliss!
Then he wised up — hey, I can move! — and the car seat turned into stress city. Back arching, thrashing, howling, any way he could resist getting into that seat, he tried. Flop sweat ran down my face as I fought him. So what if I was running late to work. We weren’t going anywhere until he cooperated, and I struggled to get him buckled.
Which resulted in the bribery phase. Also the phase of never going anywhere without goldfish or animal crackers. I doled it out for his cooperation, praying the need would pass and I wouldn’t have to bribe for the rest of his childhood.
It passed. I moved on to bribing him for other reasons. That’s the kind of parent I am, I guess.
He got more cooperative with the car seat, procrastinating but not fighting, which was easier to deal with. He learned to talk and entertained me on our drives with questions and stories and songs.
And then recently, we have entered another phase. The “I can do it myself” phase where he successfully buckles and (mostly) unbuckles himself, and woe to the parent who steps on his independence. It takes a long time, I am still running late for everything, but when he is done, he looks up and pauses for approval. With pride on his face.
So I wait, nod enthusiastically and praise him, regretting how time has flown. But at least I don’t have to pack goldfish and animal crackers any more.