It’s been said that I’m sort of like the parent of a fourth child. First time parents are typically overly cautious and they slowly relax until the 4th one is just playing in the knife drawer and they don’t bat an eye. I just got to that stage early. Here is just one example of a time I may have been a little too relaxed about safety.
All our baby gear was second hand. Whether it was a hand me down, or purchased from a friend or off of Craigslist, I found absolutely everything we needed for Mathias’ first year and was very happy with everything we purchased or received. The one downfall was the stroller. The stroller itself is great – it’s a BOB jogging stroller and other than being the size of a small car, it handles well on all road surfaces, is light and easy to fold, and steers like a dream. The problem with it was the car seat adapter. Well, actually,the car seat adapter was fine, it was that we had a second hand car seat that didn’t FIT the adapter. The brand worked, but our particular model seemed unable to clip into it. You could sit the car seat nicely in the stroller resting on the adapter, but it just wouldn’t click and be secure. That meant that while baby M was a newbie and too small to be strapped into the actual stroller, we couldn’t pop him in it using the car seat because it didn’t fit, which basically temporarily rendered the stroller unusable.
I mean, you COULD theoretically place the car seat on the stroller and then wheel him carefully around because it’s actually pretty secure except for that extra clippy part, but oh no, you wouldn’t do that. A good parent would say, “This is not a safe setup.I need a new car seat or a new adapter. I will not put my baby in this stroller.”
A good parent would say that. But in this instance, I was NOT a good parent and used the setup not once but TWICE.
The first was when a friend from my neighbourhood asked if I wanted to go for a walk to the corner store with her. Tired of carrying baby M around in the Ergo, I said sure, and figured it was such a short distance on flat, even sidewalk that it would be fine to put the car seat on the stroller and just hold it there. So that’s what I did. Like I said, the car seat was quite secure but since it didn’t clip in, it would have fallen out had we had an accident with the stroller. (in hindsight, this was bad parenting, but at the time I thought it was not a problem.)
Anyway, I pushed the stroller along to the store without incident, always holding one hand on the car seat at the same time just to be safe. It was on the way back that my friend noticed something was amiss. We went over a curb and the stroller bumped a slight bit. This wasn’t an issue (after all, I was holding the car seat!) but she noticed it jiggle slightly. She stopped me and said, “Hold on, I think your car seat isn’t clipped on to the stroller. Let me fix it.”
This is where I move from bad mother to terrible person. Instead of being honest and saying, “Oh actually, it doesn’t clip in.”, my embarrassment over my bad parenting choice caused me just to completely pretend like I didn’t know anything was wrong. After trying to fix the car seat, my friend told me in a shocked and horrified tone that my car seat didn’t actually FIT my stroller and it wasn’t fully clipped in! I looked appropriately aghast and said, “Oh no! I wonder if we got the wrong adapter! It seemed pretty secure so I didn’t notice!”
“Oh yes,” she replied. “It seems okay but look at this part – it’s supposed to clip in and it doesn’t!”
“Ohhhh!” I murmur knowingly. “I didn’t realize that. I guess we’ll have to stop using it.”
“Yes, absolutely.” she responded stoically. “It’s just not safe.”
You’d think that this little episode would mean I was appropriately shocked out of my idiocy and never, ever put that car seat on that stroller again. And you’d be almost right. I did try it ONCE more a few weeks later. We had some errands to do close to Husband’s work, so I parked outside the grocery store and carried the car seat in like usual. Then, since we had a few minutes to spare before picking husband up, I decided to walk baby M to meet him instead of driving just a few blocks and finding a new parking space. I didn’t have my carrier but the stroller was in the back, so I just popped the car seat on, held on tight, and went to see Husband. He was pleased to see Baby M and took over pushing the stroller. I informed him that he had to be sure to hold the car seat because of the “safety issue” or the “This totally isn’t supposed to go here” issue. Husband looked at me with a look of absolute horror, immediately grabbed the car seat off the stroller, told me to push the empty stroller and said that I was never, EVER to do that again. He then shook his head and said, “Sometimes I question your parental judgement.” Sometimes I do, too.
I never did put the car seat on that stroller again, and if you’re reading this story, I don’t recommend you try it. Truth is, accidents are called that because you don’t intend for them to happen, and it really IS better to be safe than sorry. Luckily, my baby was safe and it was only my pride that was injured on this occasion.