Getting the right car seat on a budget is not the same for this dad and his wife
Parenthood and home ownership have one striking similarity: you are always one unanticipated cost away from walking outside to unleash a string of expletives under the sonic camouflage of the lawnmower motor—which sounds like it could use a little oil. Goddammit.
Toilets break and kids grow faster than you expect. When you’re on a budget, you try to delay those unexpected costs as long as possible. No big deal when it means not using the half-bath by the living room because you haven’t gotten around to fixing a plumbing issue, but it’s a little tougher to push back the purchase of a new car seat when you look over and see your freakishly tall five-month-old with his ass in the air and feet on the floor.
My son has learned to escape a level one car seat, but gives me a befuddled look whenever I try to get him to hold his own bottle so I can get things done while he feeds. Bullshit, Houdini.
Normally it’s cause for concern when my wife tells me to get in the car and drive to the house of a stranger she met on Craigslist, but these things seem reasonable when following the aforementioned budget, and said stranger claims to have a car seat for $30 under retail.
After a 30-minute drive to a suburb on the other side of Dallas, we pulled up the the house of the woman selling the car seat. The house was in a nice semi-affluent neighborhood in the kind of suburb where everyone has the same shit and looks pretty happy about it. This is also the type of neighborhood where the local news interviews people who can’t believe their quiet, church-going optometrist neighbor had a rape room in his basement and tortured 26 women between 1996 and 2011.
The last bit didn’t occur to me until I looked up and realized I had been checking Facebook on my phone for 25 minutes while my wife was inside the house, a curious amount of time since the woman had originally brought the box containing the car seat to the door with her.
At this point I confronted the reality that I may have to barge into what I had determined was a suburban torture chamber and save my wife from impending doom. Of course that would have meant releasing my son’s car seat from the base and carrying him into the firestorm with me, because in Yuppie Suburb America assault and murder can be swept under the rug, but leaving a child in a car unattended for three minutes—even with the air on—while you save your beloved from a Craigslist serial killer is the second most damning act you can commit. The first, obviously, is striking a dog for any reason whatsoever.
So I resorted to a very direct, yet understated method of rescue…
Text message: problem?
Shortly after, Summer emerged from the house without the car seat. Son of a bitch, I was right, she’s making a run for it!
Actually the woman had spent most of that time explaining to Summer that the car seat was probably not right for her, laying out an explanation that covered weight, rear-facing vs. front-facing, and neck muscle development of the typical five-month-old.
Knowing that one out of every two Craigslist postings is a front for sexual deviants, we decided not to go back to the well, instead shifting gears and going to Target to pay full price on a car seat like a couple of hip-hop moguls.
The car seat selection at Target is vast and overwhelming if you allow it to be. Because I am above all that, I simply looked for the cheapest model containing the desired features we agreed upon. Summer, predictably, took my liking of the economically sound, reliable-looking $100 car seat as an act of careless parenting.
I’m convinced the only reason the $100 car seat is on display is to make people feel better about getting the more expensive model, despite the fact there is little to no difference in quality. It wouldn’t shock me at all to learn that everyday they just switch the price tags around based on inventory.
But I’m not here to hate the hustle, and it worked like a charm, as my wife pointed out the $180 seat was on sale for $150 and there was only ONE LEFT!!
“Baby, we lucked out! Do you realize how lucky we are?!?”
So lucky. In fact, in that very moment I felt a tingle in my loins usually encountered after surviving a near-death experience. My wife experienced a similar carnal rush ten minutes later when she stopped, weak-kneed in the coffee creamer section.
“Yes!!! Holiday flavors already!”
We are different creatures, men and women.