Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Dear Britax Car Seat

Dear Britax Car Seat,

You have been our Seat of Safety for just short of a decade.  Sadly, it is time to move on.  It just seems as though I'm having a hard time letting you go.

At the time we were expecting our first baby, Dear Daughter, the safety emblem of children's car seat was Britax.  Like all eager-beaver dutiful moms-to-be, I did my research and decided to register for the Britax Marathon convertible car seat.  It received excellent reviews from users, car seat experts, and the NHTSA.  And little did I know at the time that it would also become the arms of a magical sleep-inducer who cradled my babies and lulled them to dreamland time after time.  It has logged hundreds of hours of peaceful sleep with its comfy head support and snug body contours.  As a nap-obsessed mom, the Britax was my savior when it came to tired, cranky kiddos.

Of course, this was not the first car seat we used.  To bring the newborn baby home, we used an infant carrier car seat--the kind that you snap into and lift out of the base that is attached to the car.  Between our Graco infant carrier car seat and Britax convertible car seat, the number of different ways a car seat can be installed was quite daunting.  But after nine years with the Britax, I am going to pat myself on the back and proclaim my expertise in its installation.  While it first started out as this complicated, instruction-book-flipping process, soon, it simply became a two-step process.  Step one: sit my ass down on the car seat.  Step two: attach tethers and pull.  That car seat will not budge.  Voila, it's done.  It just takes some coordinated maneuvering of head and limbs in order to do so inside the small confines of cars.

Speaking of car seat installation, I cannot even count all the times I have had to install and reinstall the Britax, in the number of different cars (own and rentals) and airplane seats.  The mileage it has accrued is significant.  It has gone with us to Taiwan, Hawaii, and several states in the country.

When traveling, parents have their own ways of transporting a car seat.  Some put them on wheelies to walk it through the airport.  Some bought the expensive one that came with wheels to push through the airport.  I always wore my Britax like a backpack.  I just pulled out the belt straps, put my arms through them, and walked around with a car seat on my back.  It wasn't comfy, and it wasn't the lightest load either, but it worked.  I got lots of funny looks from people, but hey, when we travel, the Britax is just as important as any one of us family members.  That car seat has been with us through all the good and the bad. 

The 'good' being all the places to which it has safely accompanied us, let's continue with the 'bad'.  The Britax has encountered countless rendezvous with kiddo bodily malfunctions fluids from major GI tract orifices.  There was the time in Orlando when DD looked kinda green in the evening street lights of our rental car, and she proceeded to empty her tummy all over herself, the car seat, and its straps.  There was the time when Dear Son was in the car seat when we noticed a certain familiar stench; we had to pull over in a parking lot to find out that his explosive poop went halfway up his back and out wherever there was a way.  Those were the times I first learned how to disassemble the car seat to remove the cover and straps for washing.  It is not an easy task.  It really tests your mental state of health, since you are concentrating on holding your breath while doing said task.  

Now, let's move on to 'worse', or 'worst', even... you get to decide.  During our first winter in the suburbs, my car became a winter vacation home for mice.  Apparently, that is very common, as our car maintenance guy explained that they hide inside the engine for warmth, and then crawl through holes to get inside the car for food.  We learned our lesson the hard way: children plus food equal crumbs.  Let's just say that it was not a pretty sight to see--among other things--the car seat cover chewed through so the mice can pull out the nylon stuffing inside and make house with it.  I was so entirely gross out that I disinfected every reachable surface of the car and stripped the car seat cover and straps to wash, yet again.  At least that time I already knew how to do that.  (Now, every winter, we equip our garage with mouse traps, and the problem has been solved, thank goodness!)

Because a convertible car seat is much safer than a booster seat, I had planned to keep Dear Son in it until he is over 40 pounds, which is a good, safe weight for riding in a booster seat.  Yes, he's five-years-old now, and still nowhere near 40 pounds.  He's so skinny he looks like he'd break in half.  But then again, his daddy had the same body built at that age, so I guess it's in his genes.  One of the ways I tried to encourage him to eat more was so that he could get a new booster seat when he hits 40 pounds, but every single pound he gains seems to take months and months.  More often than not, the scale just wants to do the one-step-forward-two-steps-back cha-cha with me.  It's worse than watching water boil. 

I had already set my eyes on the exact booster seat I was going to buy when he hit that magical number.  However, I just happened to spot that booster seat when we were shopping at Costco a few weeks ago.  Walking down an aisle that I usually never visit, it was there, all of a huge fraction of the price I was going to pay.  So the rest is history.  It came home with us.  Actually, it didn't even make it out of the parking lot before it got opened and used.  DS got into his new seat with a huge smile, sat in it as if he's owned it his entire life, and just looked like a big boy.  This booster seat gives him more space, two drink holders, and a new found meaning for independence: he can buckle himself in and unbuckle himself out.  Which, if you remember my rant about how I always had to be the one to do all the buckling for him, well, let's just say it was my dream-come-true.  What was I thinking waiting until he was 40 pounds?

The old car seat--the good old Britax--instantly got demoted.  It rode home in the back of the car, awaiting its fate.  We had no reason to keep it.  It cannot even be a hand-me-down again, because the little sticker on its bottom indicates that it's been expired for a few years already.  Technology-wise, it is no longer guaranteed to be safe during a crash.  So it will just have to be discarded.

After almost a decade of service, the Britax now just sits on our garage floor, next to the recycle bin, all sad and lonely, unused and gathering dust.  It's sitting there, because the recycle and garbage trucks have come and gone a few times already, but I just haven't been able to let it go.  It has meant more to me than I ever realized.  It reminds me that I will never ever again have to sit my ass into its seat to install it, which means that I now must give up my crown of Expert Car Seat Installer. 

Finally, this is a good time to thank--again--the lovely couple who gifted it to us a decade ago, who now have three boys of their own, and who are probably Expert Car Seat Installers themselves.  Thank you, friends, for the gift that lasted us almost ten years.

So, Britax car seat, I'm not sure what I'm going to do with you.  Dear Husband even offered to keep you in the basement for sentimental reasons.  I haven't decided yet.  In the meantime, thank you again for being the seat that kept our kiddos comfy and safe inside moving vehicles.  You've been so good to us.  I may still take DH up on the basement option, even with your mice-chewed holes and expired label.  After all, looking at the empty seat on you makes me see my two kiddos' previously tiny bodies and angelic faces sleeping cuddled next to your sides, and my heart dances a little, waltzing to the beat of my babies' sweet dreams. 



  1. Awww....I know, I am sentimental too.

    Maybe you could remove the fabric covering and have something made with it, or frame it in a cool way? ( what or how I have not thought of yet, as this JUST POPPED INTO MY HEAD).

    That way, you can let it go and hold onto it AT THE SAME TIME. I know, whoa.

    1. That is BRILLIANT! I hadn't thought of that! Just make sure I don't use the part where the mice had chew up, haha! Someone on FB also suggested that I take a pic of each kiddo in it, and then dump it before it gets all yucky--which is probably what I'm waiting for to have a good reason to toss it.

      I love your suggestion. Thank you!!

  2. It is hard to part with the symbols of their babyhood. The only thing that made me get rid of them quickly is the fact that my desire to eliminate clutter is stronger than my sentimental streak :)

    I'm glad he likes his new seat and can buckle himself. It is so much easier, isn't it?

    1. I'm always struggling because I am both: sentimental and a de-clutter freak. I am just at war with myself. =) The new seat is not as comfy for napping, but he manages. It IS so much easier, though!! Thanks, Janna!

  3. I still have our car seats, too, but they're not quite so old :) And they're needing to leave our house soon. Really soon. I did wait until Little Miss hit 40 pounds, almost... when she broke her arm last summer, she was too big to get her arm maneuvered into the straps with the full arm cast even though she was only 34 or 35 pounds at the time. Congrats on the new move!

    1. Well, DS is 37ish pounds, so I say that it's close enough. I'm glad we made the move. Poor Little Miss--I can see how a cast would definitely be hard to get into the convertible seat!! And I'm sure she wasn't going back to the old seat after the cast came off! =)

  4. Love my Britax too! Jack is still in it and learning to get himself out of it while I'm driving....eeeeek!

    1. I couldn't wait for DS to get himself out of that thing, but I guess that's not such a good idea when you are, in fact, driving! 'Eeeeek' is right!