The Nonchalantdad: Breaking the Rules

The other day I allowed something with my children that I don't often allow. I let them sit in the back end of my car - the very back. Now, I can hear all of you out there getting ready to clobber me with your (perhaps warranted) criticisms and warnings. All of which I will probably agree with - to a certain point. Let me clarify something here. I am not letting the children crawl around free of restraint while I am travelling down the motorway in a torrential rain at speeds of 80 mph. Around where I live there are some fairly peaceful roads where you do not expect alot of crazy traffic, nor do you expect to reach a high rate of speed. These are roads made for daydreaming.... that is, if you are not the driver. The roads are tree lined and at night the sky is usually dark enough, and clear enough, that the sky offers all sorts of treats.

I am old enough to remember when I was a child. A time before we let our worries and concerns overwhelm us completely to the point of near inertia. Now, of course, children are often belted into a car as if they were astronauts - belts and buckles... the whole tangled lot. I think I even passed a car the other day that had 2 children wearing crash helmets. I'm not against this idea necessarily. After all, who wants to see their children come to harm?

But, I remember a time when there was less awareness or concern. There was no center divide in my mother's car. It was one long bench back and front. And seatbelts... well... they were there... let's just say that. I recall my mother on many occasion making a turn to the left or the right - and there we'd go sliding from one side to the next. It was kind of fun. Of course, it wasn't always a success. One day my mother had me sitting next to her in the seat up front after our shopping trip to the grocery store and as she turned to the left while making an exit I drifted down the seat until I banged against the door and kept going out. Out the door I flew and only saved myself by hanging onto the door as my mother slammed the brakes on. My knees were skinned to the bone. Ouch.

So, yes, nothing is perfect. And nothing is guaranteed in life. Nothing can be totally safe. Yet I remember laying down in the back of my father's or mother's car as they drove during day or night. Laying down and staring out the window up at the sky, or the passing lights, or signs, or buildings. There was just so much excitement in seeing the world from a different perspective. And you just can't beat those early opportunities to see the world like magic. I'd hate to think I am denying my children that pleasure - that opportunity to enjoy life from different angles.

So, if the weather is nice enough, the road quiet and steady, the speed not excessive, then I let my kids excitedly jump in the back and lay down. Suddenly, while fussing one moment, they suddenly become quiet. And every so often I'll hear 'ohhh' or an 'ahhh' as they point out airplanes, clouds, or trees flying past. Theres so much to see when you're not tied into a seat.

And, if that is not enough for you... then you'll like this next one. Sometimes I allow my son to ride with his head sticking out the sun roof of my car on our short journey from the bottom of our drive up to the house. Am I crazy for allowing these things? Maybe. Am I courting to much danger? Maybe. But is it worth every moment to see there face full of basic wonderment and freedom? Well..... yes.


Anonymous said...

Good for you! I am so tired of living in as police state, everything regulated by the unfortunate luck of either an irresponsible human or just plain misfortune. I remember right along with you the freedon of that moving piece of steel.

nonchalant mom said...

Well I am old enough to remember 6 (not including Mum and Dad in the front) of us packed in the back of the olds wagon with NO SEAT BELTS and how much fun it was when Dad took a bend real fast and we all landed in each others laps roaring with laughter, yeah baby!!!

Amy said...

I just moved from Beijing to Kuala Lumpur and I can assure no one uses carseats or seat belts for that matter in either place. In Beijing there was one Crazy (with a capital C) Mom who was stuck at home always because she would not take her kids in a taxi without carseats and seat belts - I felt so sorry for her. We just piled the kids in if we needed to go and held on tight. Our 4 year old still begs to ride in taxis daily!

e said...

i have great memories of sliding around the long back seat of my mom's lincoln continental when i was 5 or 6 years old.

thankfully i married someone who grew up riding an atv (and falling off). we'll be careful with our children, but there's no point in raising your children to be afraid of the world.

Danette said...

Those are wonderful memories.
Did your dad let you sit on his lap so you could "drive"??
Mine did, usually on some narrow, bumpy backroad that ran parallel to the river!!
PS Is that your car now!!??
I love it.