Friday, April 11, 2008
Keeping the Kids In a Soundproof, Padded Cell
As I sit in my car at a red light, I often look at the car beside me. Most of the time, if it's a woman, she's on the phone.....but that's not my point right now. I want to focus 'pon the back seat, 'pon which there's often a padded, plastic contraption into which a poor young child is strapped in, more securely than a condemned murderer is strapped into the electric chair.
Sometimes, the poor child's end is fairly similar--burned to death cruelly strapped into a padded coffin which requires someone else to remove to safety.
Proponents of these plastic maidens cite stats that indicate that a child is much safer hog tied in the back seat in the event of a collision or a rollover. I imagine that that is probably true, as far as it goes. On the other hand, when mom and dad are in the front seat arguing, or simply chatting....or when the driver is talking on a phone or driving 85 mph while trying to unwrap a burrito, the youngster strapped into his little cocoon is no safer than were he sitting, untethered, on the hood of the car.
Today's crowded streets and freeways, swarming with cars driven by young men and women who have no notion of the connection between actions and consequences, old folks whose physical and mental abilities have begun to diminish, foreign-born folks who learned to drive (to the extent that they can) very recently, and middle-aged working folk less concerned with getting there than with what they'll do when they arrive. In this venue, driving is a full-time job, for those of us who want to avoid crumpled metal (crumpled plastic, if you drive a foreign-made car), requiring all of one's attention.
To take the foolishness a step farther, I've observed on many more occasions than I like, seeing parents removing the youngster from the car, if he's a baby or a toddler, in his little suicide seat into the store or restaurant, placed it the shopping cart or on the chair or seat as a unit, keeping him immobile and fully bound--often gagged with a mouth plug, through dinner, the shopping trip, or whatever. One has to wonder if, when they get home, they just throw the Kiddie Kocoon into the corner, toddler and all, until bedtime.
So maybe, just maybe, in a certain kind of automotive mishap, a child might survive that otherwise might be killed or seriously injured.
What about the kids whose parents don't do the stupid stuff that causes (or fails to avoid) collisions? Why should they have to suffer, bound and gagged in the rearmost sections of the vehicle, kept in stasis while surging through a scary world that he can't see from his confinement.
Not having young children any more, I can only wonder how they ever grow up sane from their sensory deprivation capsules in the back of their mother's unarmed Armada.
When I was growing up, there were four of us. One of us (my little brother) lay in Mom's lap in front. The other three of us sat in the back. If it was a long drive, usually we'd take turns lying up in the back package shelf, looking at the following cars or up at the stars and moon. Going somewhere in the car was fun, and something to which to look forward.
If it wasn't too cold, we'd open the windows and stick our heads out, like dogs, or shape our hands into lift surfaces out in the wind. We'd wave at the truck drivers and look for out-of-state plates.
We were never involved in a collision.
When my kids were little, it was the same, except we all had seat belts. The key, of course, was to not crash into things with your car. With a couple of minor (no injury) exceptions, I've always been very good at that. I keep my phone in my pocket, and rarely (almost never) answer it until I park the car. "Leave a message, I'll get back to you."
There is, no doubt, reams of evidence indicating that childhood obesity is exacerbated by long periods of enforced immobility in their isolation chambers in the back of the car.
Soon, someone will invent the Kid-ee-muffler to wrap around his face so we won't have to listen to him, either.
Just until we can ship him off to the children's prison.