Goodbye Rear-facing Toddler! Helloooo Backseat Driver!

Yesterday 3 year old Miss M spiked a high fever just after dinner. She had been battling a cold since playing soccer in the rain last weekend but the fever concerned me. The fact that she screamed in pain when I put the thermometer in her ear made me think it must be an ear infection. I rushed her down to the walk-in clinic where the clinic doctor kindly asked her what was wrong before examining her. In her most dramatic voice, Miss M whined “I have a whale in my tummy…and in my back!” The doctor chuckled and then looked at me for a translation. “She has a fever and pain in her right ear.” I will never know where she got the whale thing from. What a kid!

Sure enough, she had an ear infection! The doctor asked me for her weight. I never mess around with guesstimating weight at the doctor’s office. This is what they use to determine the prescription dosage so it needs to be accurate. The nurse happily directed Miss M to the scale. She weighed 44 lbs! My very first thought was “Holy crap! I need to check the weight restrictions on her car seat!” I knew she had done some growing but I didn’t realize it had been 44 lbs worth of growing! We have convertible car seats, meaning that they can be rear-facing up to a certain weight and then can be installed as forward-facing seats beyond that point .

I am a firm believer in rear-facing for as long as possible. I obsessively read everything I can about this and other toddler safety topics and have vowed to keep both of my kids rear-facing for as long as we possibly can. Both of our toddlers (now 3 years old and 2 years old) are tall. However, they either cross their legs or stretch them up on the back of the seat and haven’t complained about riding backwards. They don’t know any other way.

After picking up Miss M’s prescription and getting her settled into bed, I immediately went out to the car to check the weight limits for rear-facing. Sure enough, it was time to turn her around. I was a little sad as this seemed like a really big sign that she was growing up. The end of an era. The rear-facing era.

Hubby and I wrestled Miss M’s 2 car seats (one for each of our vehicles) into place, referencing the car seat user manual and both car manuals. There really is a science to making sure these things are installed correctly… Which is fine by me. It’s “life or death” important. The most horrific part of the reinstallation was pulling the seat out and discovering what has been collecting underneath it on the bench of the car. We found a collage of old milk spills, veggie straws and a small Goldfish cracker graveyard. This prompted a long, overdue car cleaning. Gross.

The next day was Miss M’s first day in the car as a “forward-facer.” I was really excited to see her reaction to seeing where she was going. Her jaw dropped when I opened the door to the backseat. “Mommy! My seat turned around! I climb in!” She hopped in and happily stretched her legs out in their new-found space. Then I put 2 year-old Mr. C into his still rear-facing car seat. He looked over to see his sister, stretched out, living the forward-facing life, and immediately started to cry “Mine too! Mine too!” Sorry buddy. Not yet.” Though I’m sure he will be maxing out the weight limit in 5-10 minutes.

Miss M was so excited as we backed out of the driveway. “Mommy! I can see you! I can see the sky! I can see the sun! I can see the trees! I can see the flowers!” It was like she was seeing the world for the first time. As we pulled out of our subdivision, things got a little more intense for her and she switched gears into full-out backseat driver. She wasn’t used to seeing our car drive towards other cars. As we approached another vehicle (or another vehicle approached us), she would scream “Mommy! Watch out for the car! Mommy! Watch out for the truck! Mommy! A bus! Look out for the bus! Mommy! Look! A doggie in that car! Mommy! Be careful! Mommy! Stop! Mommy! Turn the wheel! Good job Mommy!” While quite hilarious, it was also a bit distracting and annoying. I started wondering how much a new car seat with a higher weight restriction for rear-facing would set us back.

Then she started boasting to her brother about the luxurious comfort of her forward-facing seat. “Look! I’m stretching my legs out like this! Can you do that?” No. I can’t do little guy whimpered in disappointment. “I’m a big girl! You’re a baby!” Wow. I did not foresee this drama.

That night, I filled Hubby in on the fact that our sweet, little 3 year old had transformed into the worst car passenger ever. I don’t think he believed me… Until he drove with her. She has a full windshield view of hat is going on around her and does not hesitate to say what’s on her mind. The worst was when I was sitting at a red light at an intersection. Mr. C said “Look Mommy! It’s Uncle Josh!” While sitting at the light, I looked over at the ads in store windows to see what he saw that reminded him of my brother-in-law. As I did, Miss M randomly yelled “Mommy! GO!!!!” Thank goodness I realized it was my impatient 3 year-old that was barking orders because my split-second instinct was to go and that the light had turned green while I was looking to my left, the way you would if you were looking away as a sane, adult passenger who knew the rules of the road alerted you that the light had changed. Saying that my 3 year old told me to go would have been a tough excuse to sell to a police officer if u ran a red light.

We are now working on teaching her about traffic lights. Red means stop. Green means go. She figured this out quickly and now each stop at a red light is followed by her chanting “It’s still red Mommy. Still red. Still red. Look Mommy! It’s green! Go Mommy!” It’s very cute except for the fact that 2 year old Mr. C is looking all over the place in his rear-facing seat repeating sadly “I can’t see it. I can’t see it!” Heartbreaking. I continue to remind myself that turning him around so that he can see the things his sister sees is a really stupid reason to prematurely abandon his rear-facing car seat.

Besides, I’m not sure that I could handle TWO little backseat drivers!

andbabymakes3imean4 is one mom’s adventures while tap dancing on the brink of insanity, juggling a full time job, marriage and 2 babes, 11 months apart…with one more on the way! If you liked this post, please subscribe to my blog or like my page on facebook to be the first to know of future posts. Thanks for reading! Xo



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