The Torture Chamber

Putting kids in carseats is so much fun. I live for it. 

We just recently moved Vivienne out of her infant carrier into a convertible carseat. It was time because she was really starting to get heavy in that baby seat. But once we switched her to the “big girl” carseat, I realized I would face a dilemma every time I tried to go anywhere – Do I put Vivienne in her seat first and pray that Jonah stays nearby or do I put Jonah in his seat first? And if I put Jonah in first, what am I supposed to do with Vivienne? I know it’s not rocket science, but these are things a mom of two little ones must consider.

First of all, there is absolutely no way (no way! do you hear me?) that Jonah would stay near the van while I got Vivi buckled. I mean, who am I kidding? If we are in a public setting, he makes it his business to sprint in the complete opposite direction from me as fast as he can. A couple days ago, he wriggled his hand free from mine and ran toward the parking lot at my gym. I’m sure everyone in the gym was laughing at me (or judging me) as I awkwardly ran after him while toting Vivienne on my hip. It was super fun. Who needs a treadmill when you have a two-year old? 

So… Guess who gets in his carseat first now?

Here is the sequence of events that must take place every time we go for a ride.  Every. Time. I open the van door and tell Jonah to climb in. While he’s climbing in, I put Vivienne down in the floorboard with one of her toys (or a shoe or a dirty towel or whatever happens to be down there). (Yes, she’s the third kid. Don’t judge me.) When I look up, I see that Jonah has bypassed his seat, naturally, and has taken over the backseat. First he sits all the way to the left and I say, “Jonah, come get in your seat.” He then moves to the middle and I repeat my command a little more forcefully. He then moves all the way to the right, and by this time I am climbing over the middle seats, reaching for the little turkey, all the while making sure Vivienne isn’t tumbling backwards out of the van or eating leftover goldfish crackers off the floor. I can usually wrestle Jonah into the second row area of the van but occasionally he gets by me (he’s like a ninja!) and he makes it all the way to the front seat. And he does all this while sporting a great big grin. Gracious, he wears me out!

Anyway, eventually I get him into the seat but apparently carseats are now a new form of torture because he then starts crying. And flailing his arms and legs. And then he stiffens his whole body. Seriously, little man? It’s ridiculous. And by the way, it’s impossible to put a 35 pound child who is practically half my height into a carseat when he won’t bend. I really don’t understand what the big deal is. He used to love going for rides. And actually, he still does love riding in the car. I guess it’s just the process that he despises. Why won’t he realize that I use this carseat “torture” because I love him and want to protect him?

Jonah has also become a backseat driver. Now, when he isn’t really thrilled with the direction we’re going, he points to a different road and yells, “That way!” What the heck? The first time he did this, it just so happened that I needed to turn down the road he pointed to. So he thought he was big stuff. And I may have reinforced his pride just a bit by telling him “how smart!” he is and “what a good boy!” he is. Sometimes I need to learn to keep my mouth shut. Because the next time he yelled “That way!” I didn’t need to go “that way.” He was devastated and proceeded to cry uncontrollably. Really, I never know what will set him off. It keeps life interesting.

To be honest, Jonah reminds me a lot of myself. There are plenty of times when I want to sit in everyone’s seat but mine. How often do I judge others? “I could teach those third graders better than Brie’s teacher.” “This Bible study facilitator doesn’t know what she’s talking about.” “If only Peter would do this my way, our household would run more smoothly.” But in reality, I was not put on this earth to be those other people. I was put here to be me and to take care of my family all while hopefully bringing glory to the Lord.

I also must admit that there have been times when I wanted to go one direction but the Lord had different plans for me. And He had to drag me, kicking and screaming, to the place where He wanted me to be. He often says to me, “If you will just bend My way, this will be a whole lot easier.”

I am constantly amazed by the things the Lord teaches me through my children and their little personalities. And obviously He’s not finished teaching me since we now have three little people at our house. But I’ll be thankful for every moment that He uses to mold me to be more like Christ. I’ll even be thankful for the carseat torture chamber battle. I think…

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