I want to talk about safety. Specifically, child safety. I know about this topic, not because I am an expert safety analyst. I know about this because according to statistics, I should not have survived my childhood. Hell, none of us should have. Allow me to elaborate.
My mother has told me numerous times about an incident when I was still in diapers, so I assume I was around 18 months old, maybe two. She spoke excitedly about driving her ’78 Ford Maverick wagon. This was a subcompact wagon with absolutely zero thoughts toward child safety. This car had no child safety locks, child car seat latches and obviously no airbags. I am told that I had a car seat, but i am a firm believer that this was meant more for decor, than actual child safety.
That thing wouldn’t keep a bag of oranges safe! My kids were able to pick the locks on their maximum security, three-point harness, super-luxurious car seats. So do you think this thing would have kept me in? Hell no! I still crawled all over the car while my mom was driving. Which brings me to my first child safety tip:
DO NOT LEAVE CHILD UNBUCKLED WHILE DRIVING!
So what happened was, mom was driving, I was tiny and curiously roaming around in the cargo area behind the back seat (don’t worry, this was fairly common back then). Apparently, we stop at a red light, and I noticed the door handle on the inside of the tailgate. Shiny grippable-looking object, minimal life experience, plus an inconsiderate lack of child safety concern equals potential disaster. Or at least a candidate for “America’s Funniest Videos.”
You know what’s coming. I opened the tailgate while we were stopped at the intersection. The Ford designers responsible for the extremely unsafe Maverick thought that an optional glove box was more important than a door-ajar light on the dash. Not to mention that mom was likely half-baked, jamming out to Rick Springfield’s “Jessie’s Girl” and definitely not paying attention to her bouncing baby boy who would soon be bouncing down the boulevard!
Nah, I was okay because I’m a goddamned survivor! I swung out on the side-hinged tailgate as the car launched from a stop. I can only assume I held on for dear life with my tiny baby hands, then as the tailgate was slamming shut, mom finally noticed that I was no longer in my car seat. This story had been recited to me more times than I can count. I’m certain that any memory of my own has been repressed into a deep, dark corner of my brain that will possibly erupt in a massive PTSD episode. Or not. Whatever.
Let’s move on to my next child safety tip, shall we?
MAKE SURE YOUR CHILD CANNOT OPEN THE CAR DOOR UNTIL THE CAR HAS COME TO A COMPLETE STOP!
I know, that title is kind of long, but it’s also REALLY important! I am also aware that this lesson should have been learned by now… but I guess that sometimes you have to test the waters more than once, just to make sure.
I remember this day probably because I was a few years older, and I had already been educated on what happens when the car door opens while in motion. Even as a kid, I knew all about tough love and my sister was going to have to learn this lesson on her own.
This time my mom was driving an elegant lead-sled, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. Where in the hell do these car model names come from?
I remember my mom taking me and my little sister to see our grandmother. Like any kid, we always loved to see our grandma. It usually gave us a break from the monotony of things like mild family violence, empty refrigerators, and just generally being shit-ass poor. Naturally, we got a bit worked up about going to visit grandma. We got to eat! A lot! And virtually no rules!
Back to my point. As our car pulled up in front of my grandma’s house, my sister loses her shit with excitement. I mean she goes bananas and cannot wait to get inside the house, probably to raid the pantry! My sister was around two then. She opened the passenger door before the car stopped rolling, and being that the door was about a mile long and heavier than a tank, it pulled her out of the car. This was bad. This was REALLY bad! My sister did not have the survival skills that I seemingly possessed and her little hands could not grip the handle long enough to hold on. She fell, the car kept rolling, and as she lay on her back, the rear tire rolled right over her arm! Thankfully just her arm. You probably thought you were going to read something horrible here. Ha! That’s all. Just a bruised arm. I seriously wonder why she wasn’t hurt any worse.
After this incident, my mom tried to better ensure our safety by pretty much never owning a car again! Not really, it was just rare that she, herself had a car.
And finally, but just as significant:
DON’T DROP YOUR BABY ON ITS FUCKING HEAD!
I would like to talk about a baby’s noggin. The head of a baby, particularly a newborn baby, is delicate. Babies themselves are fairly resilient, but in the first few months of existence, a baby’s head should be protected to some extent. I bring this up because my brother was actually dropped on his head as a baby. Not just a baby, but a brand-new, never used, fresh from the delivery ward, newborn.
It was the winter of ’83. One of the strongest, coldest winters on record for North Texas. My mother was walking up the front steps of grandma’s house with our shiny new baby. While holding said baby in her left arm, she opened the storm door and as she was fumbling with the doorknob to get inside and out of the cold, baby slides out of his little carrier and blanket, right onto the frozen, concrete porch. Right onto his head. There may have been a welcome mat, I don’t remember. Luckily my mother stands all of 4’11,” otherwise he might have suffered permanent damage.
We teased him about being dropped on his head as a kid. Not sure if he ever really knew it was a cold, hard fact (pun intended). Sorry bro. Shut up!