I am a stickler about car seat safety. In the field day of motherhood there are many events. Breastfeeding advocacy might be yours, or perhaps homeschooling. Mine is car seat safety. I'm a car seat Momzilla. My son looks like an oversized baby in his Britax. At five-years-old, he belongs in a booster seat, but I stress about his freedom of movement and the fact that his positioning, not the exceptional design of the car seat and straps, will determine his level of safety. I'm going to suck it up in August and get the kid a booster seat but, until then, my son's shoulders are still below the straps and I plan on making good use of that pricey seat.
I'm especially cautious when I have other people's children in the car with me. Every other Friday, I pick up my friend Candice's son, Cody. He goes to school with my son and they are great friends. I take them to lunch and then to my house for some play time. For this reason, I keep an extra car seat in my car, strapped in and ready to go. I had removed it, though, and moved the rear seat to move some big items so I had to reinstall it in the car line. I'm a stickler about installation and I always tug at the seat before Cody gets in it to make sure it hasn't loosened since the last time it was used. I went through this whole process when I picked Cody up last week. I made sure all three kids were strapped in well and I set off towards the golden arches.
There's only about a mile and two stoplights between McDonald's and my son's school. I was chatting with the kids about the day's activities when I stopped, rather abruptly at the first light (it was pink). I heard a thud and looked in my rearview mirror. Cody was gone. Disappeared. Vanished. I freaked and called his name,
Me: Cody? Cody?
Cody: (calm) I'm here.
Me: Are you OK?
Cody: I can see heaven.
Thankfully, "heaven" was the sky, not the afterlife. While I had expertly installed the car seat, I had failed to lock the actual rear van seat into place (our seats flip back for tailgating purposes when they aren't locked). When I stopped quickly, the seat (with Cody in it), had flipped back so that Cody, still strapped into the car seat, was essentially lying down. He had been cushioned by the car seat so didn't bat an eyelash but it was pretty jarring to suddenly notice that one kid wasn't in the car anymore!