I’m running a bit behind on my #MoreJoy series, and today’s is a bit puzzling, I admit. How could a car seat bring joy?
Jacob’s first car seat was the one we brought him home in. For many people, that transition is simply about coming home. For us? It was about escaping the NICU. And there was drama involved…we didn’t think he would be able to come home that day because he had refluxed during the night, I saw that the nurses had not used the special nipples he was supposed to use, and if we weren’t going to be able to take him home because they didn’t follow the instructions on the chart, I was going to rip someone a new one. Instead, he was fine and we got to bring him home in the car seat that a friend helped us install two weeks earlier. For me, the excitement of that day and the car seat go hand-in-hand.
Six weeks later or so, we were in a relatively minor yet scary car accident and we had to ditch the car seat to be safe, so we bought a new one. No biggie, we got what we needed, and we moved on.
But that car seat also comes with some difficult memories. Jacob had to have contact lenses put in starting at 4 months old. And removed, daily. The first day took us close to an hour to get them both in. By the end of the first week, we had it down to 30m, 15m by the end of week 3, 5m by the end of the month. What does one have to do with the other? One of the ways we got it going early on was to follow the advice of a friend and strap him into his car seat to help immobilize him. The trauma wasn’t fun for us or him, but the feeling of success after a month? It was like graduation when we didn’t have to use the car seat anymore and could just lay him gently on his back on the change table or bed.
Later he graduated from rear-facing to front-facing and later to a larger car seat since he was bigger. Each time, a sign of growth and progress. Our little baby was now a toddler, or our toddler was now a young boy.
Most car seat graduations are generally for size and age, and Jacob has reached the limits of his last one. He really liked having it, with the extra arms and bit of side supports for sleeping, particularly for long car rides, and he has hesitated to give it up. We’ve talked a few times about it and each time he wasn’t that keen. He just felt more comfortable for long periods in it, plus he could sit up a bit higher and see better. He was still officially within the size restrictions, so he was fine, but it is time to graduate.
So a few weeks ago, we took it out to have the car detailed, and left it out for a bit. Then I put it back in for a few days, asked him if he wanted it one last time for the trip at Thanksgiving, and he said, “Nah, I’m good”. He was fine without it, and he doesn’t want to go back, he knows he’s outgrown it. And he knows most of his friends have left theirs behind. He’s excited to ride in the front seat in the future, but he’s not quite big enough for that yet. He is looking forward to getting there though.
For now? He’s done with his car seat phase. I feel like it’s one of the few “throwbacks” to his kid days instead of his “young man” days now that he is pre-teen. And like most milestones that he hits, no matter how small, I’m proud of the man that he is becoming every single day. It’s just a car seat, and we long ago got the value of its purchase, but I feel #MoreJoy that he’s reached another small milestone in his journey.