If you are the parent of a 7-year-old, I hope you have them in a booster seat today.
Well, that is unless of course they are 4’9”- then you are pretty much off the hook.
Yes… for those who missed it the state of California Booster Seat Law changed Jan. 1, 2012. The law which once stated a child must be 6 years or 60 pounds, was modified to 8 years or 4’9” in height.
As a mother of a 7-and-a-half year-old who measures at 4’6” and 75 pounds, this one was hard for me to swallow. Yes, it is a fair assumption that he passed the 60 pound mark some time ago.
Admittedly, I was reluctant to remove him from his booster. When his hips began to hurt because the arms of said seat allowed little room for his growing body, I caved. Needless to say, the three boosters we had were passed on to others with younger children.
There are many things, which bother me about ‘safety seats.’ But, before I vent on these varying topics I feel it necessary to add a small disclaimer.
I love my children. I want them to be safe and cared for properly at all times. I do understand the need for car seats, even booster seats and no - I would not encourage anyone to break the law at the risk of putting their child in danger.
Now, with all that said this latest change has me scratching my head for a number of reasons.
First being the argument I think many of my generation fall to - we did not have safety seats and well, here I am 40 plus years later writing about it. Not only did we not have safety seats, we did not have airbags and the seat belt law, well… there wasn’t one.
I lost a few friends to car accidents in my late teens and in both instances there was no reported evidence of seatbelts being worn. Needless to say, I have never driven a day without my seatbelt. I just won’t do it, law or no law.
I come from a very large family and somehow all of us survived our childhood riding in the laps of our parents, sitting in the ‘back back’ of a ’67 beetle and playing freely in a mini van.
Again… I have yet to drive without my children properly restrained in my vehicle. Honestly, they would not know how to act. This would then affect my driving and that would equal danger for all. I like the comfort I get from them being in a safety seat, it does bring me comfort. But as I look at my 7-year-old who rivals some grown-ups in stature I cannot help but be appalled.
This brings me to my second point on the law and the non-sensical part of this booster seat guideline.
I have an Aunt who is smaller in stature than the average grown woman. When I was young I can still remember her sitting on a phone book with a pillow propped behind her back so she could … drive. Yes, driving must take place from the front seat. A place my son is not permitted to sit, in a booster seat or otherwise- as a passenger. See where I’m going with this?
Granted this was in the day and age of most front seats being bench style, without a motor to propel them forward. So, modifications had to be made… but I’m confused.
By the new law, I now must find a ‘size appropriate’ booster for my son. The 4’6” petite 20-something, however, can sit wherever they like (no additional seat required).
So I guess you could say, my struggle with comprehension is a pretty simple one.
One statement released indicates that this “increases their chance of surviving a crash by 45 percent.” For the sake of argument, what then happens to the small or rather ‘petite’ adults? Are we less concerned about their safety? Fearful of offending or humiliating or is this just simply about revenue?
Yes, revenue; it is reported that this new law will affect over 1.1 million children in California. A cheap booster can be picked up for $15 (if you’re lucky). One family may now have to buy as many as three for one child. Three … really?
If this seems excessive to a non-parent, take into account the working parents who rely on a grandparent or babysitter to pick their children up from school. In this day and age it is not uncommon for one parent to drop at school, another pick-up and still a third take them to any extracurricular activities.
We are after all in a recession and parental juggling has increased from necessity. So of course this is the perfect time to require said family to go out and purchase three new boosters for their child who might just be turning eight in … April.
I guess in the end, I’ll just be honest. I don’t get it. Sure I get the ‘safety’ flag we love to fly when speaking of our children. Cars are not as safe, more cars on the road and fatalities are up. Somehow, for whatever reason, I just can’t jump on board with this one. Again, perhaps I am biased. In our large family we have been blessed enough to not know such tragedy. For any family or loved one who has experienced that, my sincerest condolences.
Working at a small town newspaper I hear of more crosswalk tragedies or t-boning at major intersections and typically they do not involve 7-year-olds.
As a law abiding citizen, I have purchased the two seats our family will now need to transport my son until his birthday in June and then … I will pass them along or better yet, save for his 21st birthday - just in case.
Teresa Hammond is a staff reporter for The Oakdale Leader, The Riverbank News and The Escalon Times. She may be reached at email@example.com or by calling 847-3021.