November 14, 2007

DTQ: Find The Car Seat Crazy In This Picture

Driving already, originally uploaded by plasticrevolver [and in no way related to the story below].

So the kid's cousin, who's about six months younger, just started at a pre-school in Salt Lake City. Rather hard to get in, very popular, etc. etc. [From the stories my sister tells, I have major issues with the curriculum, but I'm East Coast that way, I guess. Not the point here.]

At the curbside dropoff each day, parents stay in the car, no problem, but it's school policy to teach the kids to unbuckle their own car seat straps so the teachers can unload them. Then at pickup, the kids buckle themselves in. 2- and 3-year-olds.

There's major pressure to keep the cars moving, so what happens is that often, parents will drive off, then go around the corner to redo the kid's carseat.

So, am I the over-protective, under-empowering, over-reacting one for thinking that it's insane and/or irresponsible to teach and/or expect kids to operate their own car seat? And that if the school's going to compel parents to stay behind the wheel, the teachers or assistants who load the kids should be responsible for unbuckling and buckling the car seats?

Does this happen everywhere else, all the time, and we just happened to send our kid to the one preschool where the staff does everything? Or is this, as I suspect, the batshit batcrud [sorry, mom] craziest thing in the world?


One vote for batshit.

I would call Social Services AND the Police (do they have Social Services in UT?)...and I'm from neither coast.

Wha? Totally batshit crazy.

Unless your kid is a body builder and can properly adjust the tension on the straps after they're buckled in, I'd go with this being completely nuts. And I live in Texas.

i forwarded this to a friend that used to work with very small children and her response was: "wtf???? i dont get it? thats cuckoo!!!!!!!!"
and we live in new england.

I live in SLC and our preschool unbuckles and buckles, no driving around the corner, etc. However, the first time I dropped off I hopped out of the car to unbuckle my preschooler and his teacher told me that she'd take care of it in the future.

Thinking about it if I were running a preschool I'd require the parents to do it.

1. It is better for a kid not to know how to do it, IMHO. (I personally think they probably ask the kids to do it themselves because of the following reasons - but still wanting the car line to go quickly)
2. I wouldn't as a school want to accept the liability of if, god-forbid, a child wasn't buckled in properly somehow by the staff
3. I wouldn't want to assume the liability of messing around in the area the buckle is with a kid

Three was actually my first reaction. I thought, "Have we just given someone a license to mess around in a place we've told our kid no one should ever touch?"

I guess the above thinking is the product of being the son of a lawyer, but I personally would feel more comfortable doing that stuff myself. Who cares if everyone is delayed five minutes. I'd gladly give that time up a day to make sure everyone is safe.

Not to mention the fact that your kid will now inevitably unbuckle him/herself at the most inconvenient times. My kid knows how to unbuckle herself and has done it while we've been driving.

[I'm trying to find the story about the Utah kid who unbuckled himself from his car seat and climbed out of the car while his mom was stopped on the freeway; she didn't realize he was gone until a few miles later. Maybe I should check the preschool alumni magazine. -ed.]

At the school I work at (New England) we're required to buckle the kids in who are that age. Sometimes the parent will say, "He/She can do it." In which case I let them do it, but I make sure it's buckled before they drive away.

Maybe the school doesn't want to be responsible for their employees buckling the kids in- i.e. if the child was in an accident after the employee buckled them and the child was harmed, they don't want to be responsible. This came up at our school during a discussion, but in the end the school decided that we buckle them.

Also wanted to add that if they don't want to be responsible, then they should have the parents buckle them, not the kids. The pace of the carpool line should not take precedence over the children's safety.

[exactly what I was thinking, so it MUST be right. -ed.]

"The pace of the carpool line should not take precedence over the children's safety."

I agree.

Also, the pace of the carpool lane could be sped up (and this issue alleviated altogether) if parents would WALK their kids to and from school.

Heck, I live in LA and even I see more parents walking their kids rather than driving them now a days.

totally batshit crazy. our kid figured out the buckle early on and now we have it covered with a cloth. she knows its there but doesn't mess with it i cant believe they are _teaching_ kids to unbuckle themselves

Totally nuts. Nuts enough that I would never leave my kid there again. Tops on my list of care-giving qualities is this: The staff shall not put convenience above safety and common sense. Ever.

That's insane. But I'm also still trying to get my mind around the concept of drive-up preschool. We all walk our kids into preschool (lots of us walk TO preschool), chat with the teachers, say goodbyes, etc. Seriously, curbside dropoff? Is this really considered normal? Not only is it freakishly impersonal and abrupt, the idea of teaching my kid that it's normal for someone to reach in to the car and grab them out of their seats gives me the willies.

[see, we usually walk to school, and when we drive, we park and walk in, but the large majority of kids get dropped off curbside. It's a combo of very limited parking and a wide-ranging geography--i.e., it's not just a neighborhood school. Of course, in NYC, they can just send kids in the car service. -ed.]

Now, I'd teach the kids to get the belt off a few blocks away, then to open the door themselves as the parents approach the school dropoff zone. Then have the parents keep it to about 10mph so Junior can execute a neat tuck-and-roll onto the sidewalk.

No one has to stop -- that's an extra 45 seconds a day sitting at Starbucks reading the paper for Mom. Sweet.

[probably not starbucks in slc, but the slow roll exit is excellent. -ed.]

I would guess that it was the parents who came up with the moving-car-line-drop-off so they wouldn't be "inconvenienced", not the day care. PS-
Are we not from the generation who grew up without car seats? If your kid does unbuckle him/herself, pull over, rectify and move on.
I take my daughter to day care full time and am fortunate, I suppose, to be able to park. And I live on the East Coast.

Yeah, I'll just add my voice to the chorus--that's freaking nuts, and it would be a deal-breaker for me.

Of course, in DC (and perhaps in SLC) what should be a dealbreaker and what actually is a dealbreaker can be two different things, since waiting lists are months/years long. It's a bit hard to walk out in a huff if your most viable back-up childcare option is "quit work for 12 months while I wait to get into a new center."

Still, I would raise a stink about this, because it strikes me as a clear safety issue.

[a good point. what blows my mind even more is the apparent dearth of good preschool options in SLC. There are apparently one or two little programs with 3yr waitlists, where you have to sign up when the kid is born, or there's ye random daycare pretending to be a preschool, but that's it. You'd think such an over-educated, over-fertile population would spawn some more preschools while they're at it. -ed.]

Tally me under batshit crazy, too.

Wow, what a hot topic item we have here. Yep, totally BS. I agree with the rest, I will be responsable for my childs safety while in my vehicle. I will lock and unlock the buckle myself. If my daughter figures it out too soon I will do like others and find another way to secure it so only adults can access it.

Maybe it would be the next safety item to invent.

Crazy, yep. I can't believe more parents aren't kicking up a storm over that policy. I could understand it a bit more with kindergarten or even a pre-k, but 2-3yr olds?

And people are actually competing to get thier kids into this preschool? Only in Utah...

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