Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Some assembly required

I haven't been doing a lot of reading lately, outside of whatever news I see online ("swine flu freaks out millions in the U.S., mildly sickens some") or whatever children's book I read to Kyle ("the three little pigs give the wolf swine flu"). I just haven't found the time to pick up a good book. Back when I was commuting everyday, I'd read all kinds of novels. Now I find that the only material I have time to pick up and read is the instructions for the latest gizmo I need to assemble for Kyle. It's no Shakespeare, though at times it's just as complicated.

One classic I've read over and over again is a little book called the instruction manual for a car seat. It's wonderfully illustrated and color-coded, but its plot is weak and its instructions leave much to be desired... that is, when they make sense. Sometimes the book gives you lines like "Save the bar for future use by replacing the bar," and your mind just gets blown away. Maybe that's why so many people need therapy after doing this sort of thing.

This wasn't the first time I had to install a car seat for Kyle. We had an infant-sized one that I put in just before the little guy was born (seen to the left, with a much smaller Kyle, on one of our typical trips out), but he quickly grew out of that one. As his feet started dangling over it, I began to wonder if the seat was protecting Kyle or if Kyle was protecting the seat. So one Saturday afternoon I removed it from the car, dumped out all of Kyle's loose pocket change from the cushions, and threw it in a box for storage.

Then the head-scratching began. I sat there, in the back of my car, next to a much larger car seat, trying to figure out how to install it so it faces the rear, since our kid is still too young to face forward. The biggest hang-up was the straps, which were, for some reason, not in the right spot for what I needed to do (the car seat came out of the box in "slingshot" mode, in case you need your kid to get to his destination quickly). I had to follow the instructions on how to get these straps in the right spots. If I failed to do this correctly, as the gazillion warning labels point out, the seat either will be very uncomfortable or will devour our child. The straps needed to be fed under the cushion from one side of the seat to the other, which looked like a simple task in the illustrations. What the they failed to show is that the hole for the strap is too thin for a sheet of paper, never mind my hands. This whole process took a while, as the straps kept getting tangled under the cushion, and I'd occasionally pause to regain circulation in my hands.

Once the straps were set, the remaining steps were much easier and far less painful. Soon the seat was installed, and we tested it with Kyle. He seemed to be leaning forward a little, but we thought it wasn't so bad. When we went out the next day, though, the seat turned Kyle into a human bobble head. He was trying to sleep, but was kept awake as he rocked his head to fight gravity. The seat was too far forward for him to rest his head. So I had to take another stab at the thing, and after another hour at it, I got the seat in the right position.

Last Friday, I had the seat checked by one of those government-approved inspectors. He wiggled it around and then actually got on top the seat himself (I guess that's in case Kyle has a really big growth spurt). He then approved it. Hooray!

Kyle is riding in style, and this task is complete. Now let's see what I can do with Kyle's new stroller...

1 comment:

Craig said...

Just wait until he's in the booster seat and eating Cheerios back there. You'll never worry about starving to death if you get locked in.
Speaking of Cheerios, they also come in handy as emergency traction if there's a lot of ice on the road. And they're environmentally friendly once they're ground into mush by your spinning tires. Try it sometime next winter.