Greedy trick-or-treaters? Not so much.

I’ve had a sudden change of opinion on one aspect of Halloween trick-or-treating.  I used to be really bothered by the families and carloads of children who would descend upon neighborhoods other than their own and demand candy.  I thought of them as greedy freeloaders who were trying to exploit homeowners in ‘better’ neighborhoods to try and hog candy.  I was wrong.  I was judgmental.  I was wrong, and I have changed my opinion on the matter.

When I was a kid, we lived in a great neighborhood for trick-or-treating.  It was all hills, but the the neighborhood was populated by families with children, so everybody expected trick-or-treaters, and everybody gave out candy.  The best houses were the ones with full sized candy bars.  My brothers and I would run from house to house and get as much candy as we could, then we’d go home and trade.  I hate peanut butter, so I was always trading my Reese’s cups for something better. It was always a fun night, no matter how cold it was, or how uncomfortable our costumes, or how much we fought over the value of a piece of candy (I always held to the nuclear option – I would destroy my own Reese’s before I would consider trading them for less than what I felt they should be worth).

My parents’ current neighborhood is one of those destination neighborhoods, where people who live nowhere near it drive to get there and go house to house.  My parents love it.  They are one of the full-sized candy bar houses (believe me, they were not that generous with candy when I was growing up) and they spend hundreds of dollars on candy. My parents, and sometimes my oldest nephew, sit outside and give out the candy to the hordes of children. My mom absolutely loves it and talks about it for months afterwards.  I think what she likes best is how excited the kids are for full-sized candy bars, and catching the ones who try to come back for seconds.  She’s had kids that switch costumes and return, and she always busts them for it.  When she talks about it, I’ve always just rolled my eyes at those stupid greedy kids. My opinion was always that they shouldn’t give out that much candy, because it wasn’t fair that all those non-residents were basically stealing from them.

In my current neighborhood, nobody trick-or-treats.  There are only two families with kids on my street, and not many other families in the neighborhood.  My impression is that the neighborhood is mostly made up of childless young people (students and/or drug dealers) and retirees.  Nobody gives out candy here.  In our first year in this house, pre-Wildling, Will and I bought a bunch of candy and waited all evening for anybody, but nobody showed up.  In our second year, there was a little girl and her baby brother who were visiting their non-custodial parent a few houses down from us.  That was it.  We gave them handfuls of candy, and ate the rest ourselves.  No, that’s a lie. We ate the good stuff and Will shared the rest in the breakroom at work.

We’ve gone trick-or-treating in some friends’ neighborhoods over the years, and last year we tried a community trunk-or-treat in the parking lot of a nearby church.  I liked that a lot – Wildling is, as you may expect, intimidated by crowds and can be scared easily, and once she is scared/upset, then it all breaks down for all of us. The trunk-or-treat was small-ish, there were lines, but it wasn’t scary and we could easily walk away from it when Wildling was ready to go.  But the trunk-or-treat happened to take place very near the ‘destination’ neighborhood for trick-or-treaters.  I bet every town has one.  It’s like my parents’ neighborhood, the one where every kid from miles around gets driven there by their parents and tries to get as much candy as it is possible to carry.  Some of those massive hordes saw the small trunk-or-treat event and decided they wanted even more candy, because, well, it was convenient to the prime neighborhood, and it was free.  We left soon after, because it became too overwhelming for poor Wildling.

As I’ve repeatedly said, I was opposed to these greedy kids trying to get all this candy. But my mind has changed because I’ve really thought about it, and I’ve thought about it in the context of my life and with my inherent biases.  I think I was opposed to it because as someone who lived in a ‘good’ neighborhood, I felt like I was one of the ‘good’ ones who should have benefited from the neighborhood’s generosity because I belonged there.  These ‘others’ didn’t belong, so every piece of candy they got seemed to me like something that me and my fellow neighborhood residents should have had. It was like they were taking from me.  I realize I should have outgrown that belief a long time ago, but up until three years ago, I hadn’t actually given any real thought to trick-or-treating, because it didn’t effect me.

Here’s what I realized: Those kids who come from far away to the ‘good candy’ neighborhoods aren’t greedy thieves, they’re just kids.  And they’re probably kids who don’t live in safe trick-or-treatable neighborhoods.  They probably live in apartments where they can’t tell if people are welcoming (can’t use the ‘only go to houses with the lights on’ trick if there are no porchlights) or maybe they live in dangerous neighborhoods where they shouldn’t be walking at night, or maybe they live in neighborhoods like ours where nobody actually participates in candy giving.  And why should I judge them for wanting candy? Maybe this is the only time they get to get bags full of candy.  Maybe this is the special treat they get, and if they are anything like me, they can make this candy last for months.  Maybe they’re poor and at least this way their parents can let them get something special without spending money they don’t have on it.  Who knows?  I don’t, and it doesn’t matter.

What matters is that they are kids, and if people want to give candy to whoever rings their doorbell, then I need to stop being judgmental about it.  Let kids be kids.  Let them have the same fun experiences that I had growing up.  Let them have one night a year when they can dress up and run around after dark and take candy from strangers.

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Wildling’s Diary

If Wildling were writing a diary entry about today, this is what she would say:

Dear Diary

I had the best day ever!  Since I didn’t have school today, I got up extra extra early so I could play even more.  Then my mama was so tired that she let me have a cookie before breakfast! It was awesome!  I played a game with my sister, and I ran into her so hard she flew all the way into the air before she crashed into the closet door, and then she landed on the tile, and she didn’t even cry that much.  I never made her fly in the air before. I’m going to have to practice so I can do it again. Mama says we have to practice if we want to be good at things.

I invented a new game. It’s called haunted house. We all go in the hallway and close all the doors and turn off the lights. Then we say ‘Boo!’ to each other.  It was so fun! We played for a really long time.  I could have played for a million years, but mama said we had to stop and do something else instead.  I think she was scared of the haunted house. I’m a pretty good ghost.

I had scrambled eggs for lunch, and I helped cook, and I only spilled a little bit on the burner.  I made eggs at Grandma’s house once, so I already knew how to do it.  I didn’t eat it all, because I get tired of eating so many bites of the same food.  I left the rest in case I want it later.  But I probably won’t.

I tried to keep Mellow from napping, and it worked! I kept her up a whole extra hour! Next time, I’m going to keep her up all day!  And then mama promised me more cookies if I would stop making so much noise, so when Mellow fell asleep, I ate two more cookies! And then two more after that because my mama wanted to share with me.  I’m so lucky!

I wanted to play on the ipad and mama wouldn’t let me, so I screamed at her for a really long time and she made me go to my room.  Maybe I wasn’t screaming loud enough? I sure tried when I was in my room.  I’ll have to try again later.

I think I wore every outfit today, so my mama needs to do laundry.  I tried on a bunch of stuff and then put it in the hamper for her.

I’m going to see how late I can stay up tonight.  I’ve been practicing taking an hour to eat my dinner, and it’s been going pretty well, so I’ll do that again tonight.  If I eat. I haven’t decided yet if I want to eat or if I want to just kind of smush my food around and then demand different food that I also won’t eat.  I’ll update about that tomorrow.

What a great day!

Love Wildling.

Last names

I was reading a really terrible article on CNN discussing an actor who married a high powered internationally renowned attorney, and how that attorney changed her last name.  The article itself wasn’t that bad, but the comments were. The comments were the same I see on every article or blogpost discussing last names after marriage, and they always include some variation of the following: “She has to, that’s how our society works,” to “I would never marry a woman who doesn’t take my last name” to “If you really love him you have to change your name,” to “women are not possessions anymore, she should keep her own name” to my absolute favorite “but then the children will have hyphenated last names and then when they get married to someone with a hyphenated name their children will have four last names and utter chaos will ensue.” Note to everyone who supports that last comment: when the kids grow up they can choose whatever the hell name they want for the next generation of their family.  They can pick one, use a made up new name, or end up with ten hyphens, and it’s alright, it’s their decision.

Here’s my stance on whether women should change their name when they marry: Make the decision that is right for your family, and ignore the opinions of the unrelated masses who for some reason think they have a right to give you input on your life choices.

Will and I, as you can probably guess, chose to ignore tradition.  I did not take his last name.  Why not?

1) I have my own last name, and I like it.
2) My real last name (not my blog last name) is unique.
3) Will’s last name is one of the ten most common last names in the United States.
4) If I took his last name, I would have the exact same name as several thousand other people. No thank you.
5) Will likes my last name better too, and he didn’t care if I took his name or not.
6) Our relationship is stronger than our names.

I have mentioned before that Will’s paternal grandmother hates me.  My name is one of the reasons.  Clearly, I do not respect him as a man if I didn’t take his name.  For the first couple of years of our marriage, she addressed mail to us as Will and Melinda Hislastname, as though somehow through a trick of the postal system she could impose a name change on me.  She’s given up on that, so now when we receive mail from her, it is addressed to “Mr. Will Hislastname and Melinda” as though I am an afterthought.  I told Will that he should have changed his last name to mine, just to really make her mad.  He didn’t, obviously, but we did briefly consider it.  Ultimately, we decided not to change his name though, because it would hinder his professional career and the name he had made for himself in his field. That’s something women have to think about, but men rarely even consider.

There have been a few minor annoyances in having different last names, mostly from complete strangers – for example the broker doing our mortgage – who seemed to think it was weird and there had to have been some deep meaning to our differing names.  No, this is what worked for us. We like it, and why do we need to answer your questions about it?  There are also some passive-aggressive people who insist on hyphenating my last name no matter how many times we tell them not to, and people who ignore my real name and call me Mrs. Will Hislastname (as though marriage cost me my first name as well).

I’ve also received the comment, usually from some misogynist who thinks they’ve made some great revelation, and they say “I don’t see what difference it makes. Your last name is your father’s name, so you already have a man’s last name. In order to support your right to keep your name, you should have your mother’s name, and that came from her father anyway. The whole system is against you.” There’s something deeply ignorant about that statement.  My name is not my father’s name, it is mine.  Yes, my father and I have the same last name.  Yes, he’s had it longer than me, by about thirty years.  But when I was born, my parents gave me a name.  And it became mine.  And it is my last name, regardless of where it came from or who had it first.  So it is my decision if I should keep it or change it.

When we had kids, people assumed we would either hyphenate, which would give the kids (in my opinion) an overly long and complicated name, or just give them Will’s name.  Here’s the thing though: Will hates hyphenated names.  Hates them passionately.  So after some small discussion (it was a really easy decision) we decided the best thing for our family would be to give the children my last name.  Will figured mine was more unique, more interesting, and prettier, plus he doesn’t have a huge attachment to his name which he quite literally shares with millions.

If you thought grandma Doris hated me before, you should have heard the response when she found out Wildling would not be receiving Will’s last name (though we did use it as a middle name).  Will received a very upset phone call from his father, who gave him a long lecture that culminated with a speech about how we can’t keep ignoring society’s rules and flaunting our violations of tradition.  It was epic.  And Will laughed it off, we named Wildling, and we were (and still are!) happy with it.

When I was pregnant with Mellow, again people wanted to weigh in on her name.  We had to use Will’s name this time, as it was only fair.  Or we had to give her Will’s last name as her middle name, because otherwise only Wildling would have any connection to his side of the family.  Or if she was a boy she would definitely have to have Will’s last name, because boys get the dad’s name and girl’s get the mom’s name (what? when was this law passed?). Lots of people had something to say about it.  Here’s what Will had to say “I regret giving Wildling my last name for her middle, because I don’t want to feel obligated to do that for Mellow.” And here’s what I had to say “My number one choice for a first name sounds awful with your last name as a middle name.  Your number one choice for a first name would be a perfect middle name.” His response: “Let’s do that.” My reply: “Awesome, but you have to be the one to tell your family, because I am not going to listen to Doris and your dad about this.”  And that was that.

I think names are a personal decision.  When you get married, do what works for you.  And don’t judge others for making a different decision.

Minor bullying: Resolved

We’ve had our first school bullying incident.  Very minor, and it resolved easily, but it made me think a lot about how attitudes have changed.

Last week, while brushing her teeth before school one morning, Wildling suddenly turned toward me and said “I don’t like it when my friends call me mean things that aren’t my name.” I could tell by the way she said it that she had been thinking about it for awhile.  I started to ask her about it, and she became very sad, crossed her arms over her chest, and sat on her stool with her head down.  She was embarrassed.  She told me a boy at school had been calling her a mean name.  I asked if she wanted me to talk to her teachers about it, and at first she said no, but then, by the end of the conversation, she asked me to talk to them for her.

She was so sad, sitting there hunched over like that, it broke my heart a little bit.  It took a little bit of prying to get her to tell me the mean name, and I had to promise I wouldn’t call her that, and she wouldn’t get in trouble for saying it.  I had to guess a little though.  “Wildling, what letter does the mean name start with?” “J.” “What letter does it end with?” I couldn’t tell if she said “M” or “N,” but they both left me confused.  I asked her “Jon? Jan? Jam? Jern?” and then she nodded.  “He calls me Germ.”

Poor poor girl.  I’m guessing the boy was sick recently and was told that germs made him sick, so he decided that was a bad thing.  I don’t know.  But it was so sad seeing my little girl so miserable, I couldn’t even laugh about the ridiculousness of it. Germ? Really?  But you never know what a kid will be sensitive to, and you never know how badly some words can hurt.

I’m glad that Wildling trusted me enough to tell me though.  I know that, as a child, if I had told my mother a mean name that other kids called me, she would remember it and hang on to it, and pull it out to call me when she wanted to hurt me.  And I know that when (not if, but when) my brothers noticed and started calling me that, she would sarcastically tell them not to do so, because I was ‘too sensitive’ and didn’t like it, and that would become my new family nickname forever.

When I dropped Wildling off, I left a note for the teachers to call me (that’s how they ask us to communicate – they won’t talk about the kids in front of them) and referenced the name-calling.  By the time the school director called me, Wildling had already told two teachers about it herself, and they had sat down with Wildling and the boy, and made sure he understood that she only likes to be called by her own name. Wildling felt better afterward, and we had a nice chat about the importance of talking to her parents and teachers when she has a problem.

Here’s what I appreciate the most about this situation: nobody told Wildling to ignore it, that probably the boy just likes her and that’s why he’s mean to her.  Nobody told her that at all.  When I was a kid, if a girl complained that a boy was mean, they were told ‘he likes you,’ and nothing was done to rectify the situation.  It is so ingrained in us that I heard a little voice in my head saying “oh, Wildling, he likes you,” when I was talking to her, but I recognized that as wrong and outdated, and I certainly didn’t speak it out loud.  Somehow in our culture, at least in my generation, girls were being taught from a young age that boys being mean or picking on you was a sign of their affection and their stunted emotional development wherein they didn’t know any other way to express it.  And I firmly believe that this ingrained notion is what leads so many women into abusive relationships: Sure, he beats you, it’s because he loves you.  If he didn’t care, he wouldn’t be so controlling and demeaning.  And what does that teach our boys? That it’s ok to pick on others?  That instead of expressing emotions, hide them behind false bravado and nasty behavior?  That treating girls badly is a sign of affection?  None of that is ok.  We need to guide our children past those attitudes. If we want our children to grow into healthy adults with strong and happy relationships, we need to train them young and teach them how to have nurturing relationships, how to express affection without alienation, and how to express their emotions in a positive manner.

I’m so glad and relieved with the way the school resolved the minor bullying issue, and I’m happy with how it validated Wildling’s feelings and showed her that she was empowered to stop kids from picking on her, and that the teachers would help her. I do love her new school.

And, as a side note, the same day as this incident, there was an open house at school with a potluck.  And about a minute after Wildling sat down at an otherwise empty picnic table to eat, guess who came and sat right next to her?  Yes, that little boy. And he called her by her name.

Don’t say butt

I’m going to admit this here: I’m not always the nicest person.  Sometimes I’m a little bit petty.  And when it comes to dealing with one of Will’s grandmothers, I’m a lot petty.

Will is one of those lucky people who still has two living grandparents (I have none).  He has his Grandma Rose, who is the sweetest woman ever and always tells me she loves me, and then he has Grandma Doris. She does not like me, not one bit.  She has made that clear on numerous occasions.  I understand some of her reasoning: after all, I did marry her favorite grandchild but did not take his last name, so therefore I must be a demon from hell bent on the utter destruction of her family. Of course, it wouldn’t have mattered.  Even if I had taken his last name she’d still hate me – she’s hated Will’s mom for forty years, and my poor mother-in-law Kathy did take the last name and had two male offspring.  If that wasn’t enough to make Doris like her, nothing is.

So anyway, last weekend, Doris happened to be passing through our town for a few hours.  She’s on one of those bus tours that travels around the southwest, and they were overnighting here.  She wanted to meet Mellow for the first time, and see Wildling, and, of course see her “Number 1” – that’s her name for Will, because he’s her number 1 grandchild, and yes, she does say this in front of his brother because she’s just that kind of person.

So we go to the hotel. And I dealt with the passive-aggressive remarks that she tends to make, and I did not respond to them.  But, as my mother-in-law pointed out, I did retaliate as well.

Doris hates the word ‘butt.’  She finds it offensive.  She doesn’t think anyone should use such offensive terminology. I’m sure you can see where this is going.  While we were there, Wildling sat on a table, and then stood on a chair, so of course, I had to correct her.  In our postmortem (because my mother-in-law and I always discuss Doris’ visits and the nasty things she says/implies to us) Kathy told me how impressed she was with me – she’s never heard anyone say ‘butt’ so many times in her life.

I was like “Wildling, no butts on the table. No butts, get your butt off that table.  Yes, butts on the chair, sit on your butt. On your butt, now, sit on your butt.”  I’m not exactly sure how many times I said ‘butt,’ but a conservative estimate would put it in the thousands.

In your face, Grandma Doris.  You want to tell everyone I’m not good enough for your grandson and I’m only after his money (what money, anyway, you crazy bat?). That’s fine.  Talk trash all you want, and I’ll keep saying ‘butt.’

Butt, butt, butt, butt, butt. Butt.

Easy even when teething

Mellow is teething.  Right now she’s got three lateral incisors and a molar all coming in at once (the other lateral incisor came in about two weeks ago).  She’s a little extra shrieky and clingy, but not a lot.  She seems to be handling it pretty well.

And here’s the sad thing I realized: Mellow’s worst days are still better than Wildling’s best days in her babyhood.  I sometimes wonder if the reason we wanted to have a second child was so that we could see what it was like to enjoy a baby.  Wildling was so difficult, so frustrating, so hard to deal with.

I don’t know how many parents feel the same way I do, because it doesn’t seem to be something we’re allowed to talk about, but I did not like Baby Wildling.  I loved her, yes, I loved her madly, if I hadn’t I would have sold her on Craigslist to some unsuspecting person and fled the country before they could ask for a refund.  But I did not enjoy her.  I felt defeated by her, overwhelmed, unhappy.

It wasn’t post-partum depression. If it had been, I could have sought treatment.  No, it was the stress and misery of dealing with an infant who screamed constantly, who needed things to always be a certain way, and who would not accept anyone but me.  Sometimes when Will would come home and I would have been holding Wildling all day while all my work piled up around me, he would try to take her and the second she was in his arms she would express her rage until he had to hand her back to me, and she would snuggle close and cry a little, before nursing herself to sleep.

She used up all my energy, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  She drained me dry.  She drained Will dry.  But she was beautiful and aware and so very smart, and she was our special baby who needed us (needed me).  I loved her through my exhaustion, but I did not like her.

Mellow is her opposite in so many ways, and I find myself enjoying Baby Mellow.  I loved when she would sleep on me as a newborn, because I knew I could also put her down and she would be fine.  I loved when she began to be aware of other people, and would gladly be held by anyone.  When my mother-in-law comes over to babysit, Mellow will lunge out of my arms towards her with a big grin.  If Mellow is sad, she needs a hug, but she doesn’t scream for ten minutes first.  Mellow calms down easily, she wakes up happily, she explores the world with a smile on her face.  She is so easy, so enjoyable, even on days like today when teeth are erupting through her gums and causing her pain.

I feel a sense of mother’s guilt when I write things like this.  I’m not supposed to admit that I didn’t like my baby. I’m not supposed to ever not like my baby. She was innocent, there was no intentionality to her actions.  She was just expressing her needs, and I’m not supposed to complain about that.

It’s too bad that it can be such a taboo subject.  Some other mothers may read this and think “I know exactly what you mean,” and others may read this and think “You’re a horrible mother, you don’t deserve those kids.”  I wish we were able to talk about the dark side of motherhood as much as the light.

An analysis of personal shopping habits

My mother and I have a fundamental incompatibility when it comes to shopping, and that incompatibility had an effect on our relationship for a number of years.  It manifested most often when it came to gifts.

When I was a child, my birthdays and Christmases were always disappointing and served as stark reminders that the members of my family did not really know me at all.  My parents bought me three types of gifts:

1. Things that they thought girls should have, regardless of whether it was something I would want or like.  Things like expensive gold and sapphire jewelry that I would never wear.

2. Things that were the feminized version of what they got my brothers.  That’s why I had a pink baseball glove, a pink basketball, and my own pool cue.  It wasn’t that I wanted these items, it was that they were getting them for the boys and they believe in treating their children equally (not equitably, equally. There is a difference).

3. Horrendous awful horrifyingly ugly clothing and knickknacks that they insisted I loved and wanted, no matter my protests.

There was nothing to be done about numbers 1 and 2.  But number 3? I found out the reason, years and years later, after having created a pipeline from the Christmas tree to the donation bin.  My parents bought me these horrible items because they genuinely thought I wanted them.  What eleven year old wants a porcelain mask decorated with feathers to hang on their wall? Not me, not ever.  And I certainly didn’t want a second one the following year.  What serious student needs a cheap plastic bejeweled calculator rather than the scientific one her courses require? Certainly not me, no matter what my mother said.  And every time I received yet another bizarre gift and felt more and more isolated and more and more like my parents really didn’t care about who I was or what I liked, they insisted that it was something I loved, that I wanted it, that it was my favorite thing ever!

Last year, I figured out the reason why.  I was shopping with my father, and he kept pulling ugly and ridiculous items off of shelves and showing them to me, and I was doing the same to him. “Look at this, why would anyone make this, what is this thing?”  We were laughing about it and having fun and then it hit me – that’s how my dad and I shop.  We look at things we hate.

You see, I’m not big on owning stuff.  I like to minimize what I have, so if I’m out shopping, I’m really just out to browse.  And if you see me picking up an item in a store and examining it closely and reading the label and holding it up to the light, here’s what my internal monologue is probably saying: “Good god, what is this thing? Why would anybody buy this?  What is this made of, some kind of weird plastic?  I bet it’s made in a sweatshop by people who wonder what the hell they’re producing.  Yep, made in China.  I’ve never seen anything so ridiculous.  How much is it? What? What kind of price is that? Who would pay good money for this? I bet I see a ton of these in the dumpster outside the thrift shop in a few years, because I bet whoever gets one of these donates it right away.  Holy crap, there are more of them. Are they all the same? I better check.  Will isn’t going to believe me when I tell him about this.”

My mom doesn’t shop this way.  She only looks at things she likes and admires.  So when she sees me browsing, she ascribes to me what her own inner monologue would say. “Wow, this is really cool.  I want one! I’m going to hold it up to the light and imagine how it will look in my house. Perfect, I love it.  Let me read the label. Awesome.  And the price? Oh, no, I can’t afford this.  I should regretfully put it down and check those other ones and see if I find one I can afford, because I want this so badly!”

So for years, when I would shop with my mother and I would pick up ugly clothing and examine it, she thought I wanted it.  When I was reading the label on horrendous knickknacks, she thought I was checking the price because I wanted to buy them.  If I touched something in a store, to her way of thinking, I was marking it as something I desired.  And she would observe me, and make mental notes of what I examined and the time spent doing so, and when it was time for gift shopping, she would go get them.  And then she’d inevitably be annoyed with me when I returned the items, or when I was a sad young child confused by her gifts, and she would argue with me that I clearly wanted those horrible things, and would get mad at me when I told her I did not.

If she had ever asked me what I thought about, ever, she would have known how I browse.  If she had ever engaged me in conversation in a store while I was examining a ridiculous and unnecessary object, she would have known I didn’t want or like it.  But that never happened, and we continued our incompatible shopping for many years.   I am fortunate that, as an adult, she no longer buys me gifts.  I fear for my children though.  When Wildling is older, I’m going to have to teach her the difference between shopping with me and shopping with her grandmother.  I’ll probably institute a rule: When shopping with your grandmother, keep your hands in your pockets unless there is something you really love and want, and then you just have to touch it and it will end up wrapped and under the holiday tree.

Mellow’s new car seat

Have you ever, using only your bare hands, been able to get a rabid raccoon into a small cage against its will? I have not, but I think it’s something I would be quite good at.  It would certainly be easier (and quieter) than getting Mellow into her new car seat.

No, that’s not a typo.  I am talking about Mellow, not Wildling. Mellow, my calm mild-mannered easy child has developed an extreme dislike of her new car seat, but only about fifty percent of the time.

We just switched from a Chicco Keyfit, the kind with the infant carrier that you can use to move a sleeping infant directly into the stroller or house without waking her, the kind of car seat that, if I could find out who invented I would nominate them for the Noble Prize in Sanity Saving (is that a category yet?) to a Diono Radian.  According to the sales person, it is the second safest car seat on the market (and over $100 cheaper than the safest one, which doesn’t fit in our car). It certainly has good reviews online.

I love the new car seat – it fits in our vehicle and was easy to install.  Will loves it – he is impressed with the design features (that’s literally what he kept saying – “hey, check out this design feature!  And look at this design feature here! I’m so impressed!”).  Wildling loves it – it is purple, and therefore she wants one.  And Mellow loves the new car seat – or at least she did when it was uninstalled and in the living room and she could climb on it and just stand there grinning.  But in the car when it is serving its purpose? No, then it is some kind of medieval torture device.

First Mellow will start with a high pitched screech.  That’s the warning siren.  Then she quickly flips around, grabs onto the side of the seat and holds on, while pressing her face into the side and crying in panic.  In order to detach her hands you have to lift her up out of the seat entirely and then try and fold her body back down, which doesn’t work because she arches her back and locks her legs.  She will continue screeching hysterically and twisting and fighting.  It may take three or four or six attempts to get her actually in the seat in a position that the straps can be buckled, but you have to buckle them one-handed because your other hand has to hold her down while she cries and glares at continues to fight.  She will then cry angrily for the first few minutes of the drive.

But that only happens about half the time, usually when leaving Wildling’s school (and another nearby parent can witness the abuse), or in any busy parking lot (when the patron parked in the adjoining space is waiting for me to close the door and get out of the way so they can back out).

I’m going to consider the car seat battles to be my training for something.  My reflexes will get faster, my buckling skills will improve, and my heart will become immune to the tears of suffering children who are forced, against their wills into safe traveling positions.