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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Toddler Tuesday: Why Doesn't Everything Have a Drive-Thru?

Today I'm asking the question I think many parents want to know: Why isn't there drive-thru everything?

When you first have a child, everything is a balancing act. You have to time outings according to his feeding schedule; you have to set your alarm to wake you up as quietly as possible so as not to wake him up; you basically build your life around an unpredictable, naturally moody infant. (And it’s great, for the most part.)

So why aren’t there more drive-thrus? I’m serious. When you have a sleeping child in a car seat, why can’t you go to a drive-thru gas station? Grocery store? Walgreens?

My husband watches our son during the day, but as any parent knows, 5pm-bedtime is “the witching hour.” I have the lucky job of taking our son on a 45-minute drive home most nights of the week, during said witching hour. If he’s not screaming, it’s because he has a bottle in his mouth. If I have to take him out of the car and put him back in to run an errand on the way home, it’s World War III.

My husband asked me why I thought it was so hard. “I take him everywhere,” he told me. “He’s great in the car.” This is true, yes – during the daytime.

Today I embarked on my 45+ minute journey with Johnny with not enough gas. Simple enough: I’ll stop at the gas station.
There should be a drive-thru where this guy is handing me a bottle full of milk.*

The first pump wouldn't take my credit card, which means a trip inside. I looked at Johnny. He was psyched at the idea of getting out of the car seat, of course. We went inside. I paid the cashier while Johnny screamed that I wouldn't let him push all the buttons on the cashier’s keypad. Suddenly, the cashier frowned.
“It’s not letting me put gas on that pump, ma’am. Can you pull forward to the next pump?”
Well sure, yes, I can, but that means I have to strap him back in the car seat (which he resists like it’s torture) to pull up four feet. I did it.
“Great,” said the cashier. “That pump seems to be working. Go ahead.”
Great! I set Johnny down in the bed of Matt’s truck so he could roam around while I pumped gas with my eye on him.
But nope. Nope, it wasn’t working. We went back inside. Now there was a long line.
“Excuse me, Sir?” I said plaintively. “It doesn’t seem to be working.”

“Hmm,” he said. “Let me see.” After checking out several of the people in line (while Johnny screamed again because he wasn’t allowed to punch the buttons on the keypad) the cashier gave me the go-ahead.

We went back outside. I put Johnny into the bed of the truck, as a man passing by loudly told his wife, "See? She lets her kid ride in the bed!" No I don't, I wanted to shout, but I was busy keeping one eye on the gas pump and one on Johnny.

Putting a willful one year-old into a car seat (or high chair, or saucer) when he doesn't want to is a challenge: they buck and squirm and - of course - scream at the top of their lungs. To any observer it probably looked like I was abusing my child as I tried to contort his body into the constraints of the safety buckles.

In conclusion, I implore you, retailers of the world: It is 2014. For us parents, can you please build drive-thrus everywhere? Then my son would more often look like this:

The Mom of a Willful One Year-Old


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