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Diplomatic Relations

Maybe I can get the car-seat thing right the third time?  It seems I’ve made two parenting errors where these safety devices are concerned, one by overestimating my child’s size and readiness and the other by underestimating the same.

Just before Simon turned one, we were planning a family road trip and were quite eager to face him forward in the car. The rule is 20 pounds and one year old before they can face forward. Our trip was scheduled for one week before Simon turned one. Three hundred and fifty-eight days was surely just as good as three hundred and sixty-five. Could just 7 teeny tiny little days really matter?

“Yes,” said my lawyer friend immediately. “If God forbid something happens, the first thing I would do if I were your insurance company, the other driver,  etc. would be to determine if you were using all safety materials according to spec. You would not be in compliance. And even aside from the legal angle, you’d never forgive yourself. Wait until he’s really one.”

She made a compelling case, and we waited several weeks after Simon turned one before graduating him from his infant car seat (since bequeathed to friends who had twins) to his Britax Diplomat. Of late, Matt has been complaining that the Diplomat is too small and that we need to get a booster. For ages, I’ve been demurring; Simon can get in himself, for one, and the sucker is rated for up to 40 pounds, for seconders. Simon is nowhere near 40 pounds! “Just make him get in himself,” I argued. “We’re good.”

Except we weren’t. I began looking at boosters for our second car, a pure luxury item, when I happened upon the specs for the Diplomat. And there before my eyes was a truth I had not yet considered: The seat is rated for children up to 40 pounds (See, I was right!) and 40 inches tall (What! There was a height cut-off?).  I’m pretty sure Simon is 40.5 inches, if not a full 41. And really, the length of leg spilling over the seat and the awkward set of the shoulder straps should have alerted me ages ago, but I am disinclined to consider upper height limits. Since when have I been to tall for anything, after all?

I’ll be ordering our new Recardo Vivo booster seat today. And not a day too soon, either. Because a week from Thursday, my friend Gabriel’s wife and daughter arrive from Khartoum. Little Agotich just was 18 months old and will need a seat for her ride home from the airport and thereafter.  How lovely and serendipitous (a theme of late, no?), that this child, whose arrival I have been anticipating for nearly a year now and whose welcome party I have begun planning, should start her new life in America just as I was about to consign another bulky item to my attic of undo attachment.

The Diplomat is dead. Long live the Diplomat.

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