The Dirty Seatbelt

7 Oct

It’s at times like these that I’m glad my mother is not very computer savvy. It gives me the freedom to write about things that concern her without fear of retribution in the form of vague sighing and that look. I haven’t really mastered that look – the kind that expresses a savory blend of disappointment and irritation causing the recipient to shrivel and die. Or at least it feels that way.

Mom and Kitty - June 2011

I should preface this story by saying I love my mom. She is my friend and confidante, intelligent and kind, and she makes a killer lasagna. She is the best kind of grandmother to our kids – the kind that genuinely cares what goes on in their lives and enjoys their company. But.

The other day I wanted to kill her. More than a little.

She did me the incredible favor of picking Flapper up from football practice, which happened to be taking place in the rain (yes, he’s 7 – don’t get me started on the whole practicing in the rain thing). Needless to say, when pick up time rolled around, he was a tad muddy.

In my car, this would be no big deal. In fact, it would be typical even. In my mother’s extremely neat and clean Honda, it was a very big deal. Luckily, she had a spare plastic bag in the trunk which Flap sat on for the roughly 1.5 mile drive home.

Later that night, I called my mom to thank her for picking him up – and she began relaying the story of the muddy football pick up.

Mom: …and so he got into the car sitting on the bag. He was so muddy, I couldn’t even buckle him in because the seat belt would have gotten dirty.

Me: Wait, what?

Mom: He was all muddy, so I couldn’t buckle him in.

Me: You. Didn’t. Buckle. Him. In?????

Mom: No – he was all…this is why I can’t tell you anything…

Me: But Mom, if you had gotten into an accident would have really felt okay about knowing he broke his neck because you didn’t want the seatbelt to get dirty?! (I may have had a slightly high-pitched borderline bitchy voice at this point. It’s possible.)

Mom: (Sigh.) It wasn’t that far.

And at that point I just had to change the subject because I knew the conversation wasn’t going anywhere.

Am I crazy? Does that seem just bananas to you? Because it does to me. Yes, I know she was doing me a favor. Which I appreciate.

I should tell you I’m not a complete safety lunatic: I follow the 5-second-rule about food on the floor, I never boiled even a single part of their baby bottles and I let them wear their new clothes without washing them first. However, my kids wear helmets for nearly every activity, we don’t own a trampoline and they always always wear their seat belts. I feel like it’s our job as parents to walk the fine line between minimizing risks to our children and wrapping them in bubble wrap.

I clearly expressed my…displeasure. I’m wondering if I need to have a talk with my kids and explain that under no circumstances should they ride in a car without a seat belt on, though now I evidently need to add the caveat “even if it’s Grandma”.

What would you have done in this situation? I would really love to hear your thoughts.


3 Responses to “The Dirty Seatbelt”

  1. Dick Naegele October 7, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    I am in your corner Beth. I never move my truck without buckling up. I have instilled that in my boys who are now grown. I have worn a seat belt for so long that it is automatic. I climb into a vehicle, I BUCKLE UP and then I start the vehicle. I have a friend that I frequently give a ride home from bowling. He told me the first time I reminded him to buckle his belt that he NEVER wears seat belts. I was adamant in telling him that when he rides in MY vehicle he buckles up or he doesn’t ride. He thought I was kidding and was a little put out when he found that I was serious.

    When my neighbor’s son played football, he carried a men’s full length trench coat from the thrift shop in the car for him to put on when he rode home dirty and muddy. It protected the seats, and allowed for the seat belt to be used even around the muddy kid.

    It is not a case of being rude to your mom. It is simply a case of being “insistent” and also very much correct in insuring the safety of your child.

    • Beth - Realist Mom October 10, 2011 at 11:49 am #

      Thanks! The trench coat idea is a great one. Maybe I’ll just get her a big towel to keep in the car.


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