From best to worst in three miles.
January 15, 2010

I remember reading a Dave Barry article once that said that the one thing that united all Americans was our fundamental belief that we all drive better than anyone else on the road.  And in my case, this is absolutely true.  I don’t care if the heavens part and angels come down singing praise about your driving – I am the best driver that ever was.

Or at least I was the best driver that ever was.  But then a seven-pound beast tore out of my womb.


Now an eighteen pound beast, and lovely as can be IF I DO SAY SO MYSELF.

Charlotte hates the car and she always has.  From day one, that child has shrieked like a banshee if we even so much as glanced in the direction of the car-seat.  I mean, you meet the occasional child who loathes driving, but MY CHILD?  Oh, my child puts them all to shame.

When she was still an itty-bitty seven-pound beast, Charlotte’s cry was pretty quiet.  Her cry may have made me squirt milk in twelve directions at once, but when I was behind the wheel, I was pretty well able to ignore her car-seat protests.  Donald, on the other hand, was constantly contorting his body into all manners of bizarre Cirque-du-Soleil type positions to try to comfort her from the front seat.

But then she grew.  She grew and grew and grew some more, and pretty soon there was an active, gurgling baby where a freshly wrinkled infant had once been.  Then, last week, a certain lovely somebody found out that she has these GLORIOUS! FANTASTIC! WONDERFUL! things called LUNGS!  And do you know what lungs are good for?

LUNGS ARE GOOD FOR SCREAMING!  IN THE CAR!  ABOUT HOW THOSE OLD FARTS STRAPPED YOU INTO A CAR-SEAT, THE NERVE!

I’ll tell you what: it is much, much harder to be a good driver when a crazy banshee is hollering loud enough to deafen people on the other side of the world.  Yesterday, after I buckled Charlotte into the car after story-time at the library, I pulled over no fewer than THREE times to comfort her.  Three times.  THREE.

That’s once per mile.

So I am pretty much never leaving the house again, Amen.


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  1. By kbreints on January 15, 2010

    My first LOVED the car—second… HATED it. Still does a bit… but I used to have to sing the entire time I was in the car. That was the only way he would shut up!

  2. By laura on January 15, 2010

    Cameron went through this phase too. I completely dreaded leaving the house and wouldn’t do it unless my husband was going with me and could be tortured too, err, I mean could help me. ;) After a while he got better, and although he doesn’t like it, he doesn’t throw much of a fit anymore. So take heart! It is just another phase.

  3. By Andrea on January 15, 2010

    Maddox HATED the car, still kinda does.  I think this is why we wore him so much. No buckets for this baby.  I echo the singing comment.  We would sing and sing and sing about nothing.  I would talk to my hubs and sing “how was your day?“ with a songed reply of “very well thank you for ahhhhhh-sking!“

    I think once he was front facing things started to get better.  Still at 28ish months, 2 hours is his max.

  4. By Sarah A. Schlothan Christensen on January 15, 2010

    Another phase?  I’ll take a phase of tolerating it!

  5. By on January 15, 2010

    I so feel your pain.
    I have already chalked up about 5 years of therapy for my baby due to “forceable car torture”.  We do a 3.5 hour drive (more if there’s traffic) about once or twice a month to visit my in-laws.  He is fine once we get on the highway for exactly 3 of those hours. and then the walls of sanity come tumbling down upon us.  I climb into the back and whip out a boob and perform amazing in-transit acrobatics to get him to eat (because he is insulted by the bottle and pacifier) (and also because we cannot stop and take him out to eat, because he will never ever allow us to put him back in. how dare we even contemplate it.)

  6. By Mailis on January 15, 2010

    Oh no, Sarah. That sucks in the most hardcore of ways…8-/ Maybe Charlotte’s logic is…she finally clawed her way out of that cramped, claustrophobic uterus…and then you strap her down? No WAY!!!

    The carseat is our saving grace. And, once that carseat is actually in the car, it’s smooth sailing. Jude cries a bit when he initially finds himself strapped in, but is otherwise lovely. In fact, since he seems to have a phobia surrounding his crib, he SLEEPS all night, every night, in his carseat these days…(he has developed issues about his Boppy, too…*sigh*)

  7. By on January 15, 2010

    My Charlotte is content in the car if and only if she has a pacifier. Lately the care is almost the only time she’s interested in a pacifier anymore.

    Of course, she never hated the car THAT much.

  8. By on January 15, 2010

    Oh man, the things we do to kids that make them unhappy because we know it keeps them safe.  Once my sister turned 8 she was no longer required to use a booster seat in our state, and as soon as that was the case, she started bugging me to let her sit in the front seat of my car.  No way!  She’s little and my air bag cannot be turned off, so no, no, no.  Now she’s 9, and we still have this conversation every time we get in the car.  “Can I ride in the front?“  “Why not?“  “But I wanna ride in the front seat!!“  “ But why not?“

  9. By Trenches of Mommyhood on January 15, 2010

    The radio.  BLARE IT.  And then go to your happy place in your head.

  10. By Sarah A. Schlothan Christensen on January 15, 2010

    Liz - So true!  And those airbags are pretty serious things.  When I was 14, I was in the front seat during a car crash on a freeway onramp.  It was low speed because we hadn’t yet merged or anything, but that airbag came out full force anyhow.  It’s a good thing it did - we had just enough speed and I went forward violently enough that things could have been much worse - but even at the age of 14, I didn’t have what it took to stuff the airbag back in.  The driver did it for me.

    Kiki - If it weren’t totally weird, I would beg to see those acrobatics.  So far, I’ve taken her out, fed her, and strappde her back in.  And yeah.  It goes over about as well as you’d think.  As with your baby, Charlotte is best on highways and freeways (although still not great, still a big fan of yelling herself hoarse).  Stoplights are my worst enemy.

  11. By Alicia S. on January 15, 2010

    From my experience so far, It only get’s better - depending on what you can tolerate more. My son is two and has found more creative ways to drive me slowly insane behind the wheel. This morning I made the mistake of saying “Let’s hit the road, Jack!“ and then, you know, sing the one and only line I know of the song. He liked it so much that he FORCED me to sing it all the way to daycare at quarter of six in the morning! Yes, forced. He all but had a gun to my head. If I stopped for even a split second to breathe in between singing the same sentence over and over and over again, he’d scream “SING BACK JACK, MOMMY! SING BACK JACK!!“
    I could have given him a talking-to once we got out of the car, but after ten minutes I actually found myself getting into it, dancing like a lunatic to my own singing at 5-something in the morning. They suck you in, Sarah, they suck you in.

  12. By bethany actually on January 15, 2010

    Oh man, that sucks. I loved the carseat when Annalie was little because it was about the only time all day that I wasn’t holding a baby. Not that I minded holding her, but it was nice to get a break once in a while. And the car was the only place Annalie tolerated that without crying.

    When she was a bit older and cried in the car, I adopted the habit of just describing our route, very loudly and cheerfully, to her. “Annnnnd here we are on College Avenue! That means we’re really close to our house, baby girl, all we have to do is turn left on our street. There’s the park! When you’re bigger you’re gonna love the park. Oops, up OVER the railroad tracks, that’s better, almost there! Now I’m putting my blinker on, and here we goooo turning left, and there’s our house! All we have to do is turn into the driveway and we’re home, yaaaay!“ And so forth. I’m sure it would have sounded insane but for some reason it calmed her down.

    Also, when I played Steven Curtis Chapman very loudly, that made her happy. Not kids’ music, not classical, not any old music, but Steven. Curtis. Chapman. Go figure!

    Good luck finding that thing that will magically calm Charlotte in the car! I’m sure it exists, it’ll just take trial and error to find it. :-)

  13. By Stephanie on January 15, 2010

    Jasper HATES the car. He actually gets motion sickness…have you looked into that for Charlotte?

  14. By Jen on January 15, 2010

    This may sound somewhat insane in itself, BUT my son in his infant years hated the car seat. And then we lived far from family and had to travel 8 hours, and so doing so with an infant can push any parent to the brink.

    BUT what we did find that worked each and every time was turning the radio to static. Once you hit the static turn it up until it becomes louder than your baby and I swear to you, it silences them every time! It is the white noise, and it worked until my son was 8 months old.

    There is nothing like going through a drive through with a screaming infant and the radio blasting on static to make people look at you a few times.

    Try it…

  15. By on January 15, 2010

    When my oldest three were small there weren’t the car seats and car seat LAWS we have now where the little ones have to ride backwards in the backseat. No wonder they holler! When number four arrived we had to adhere to the new laws…only this time we were older and wiser. One or the other of us rode in the backseat, right next to our child. It makes all the difference in the world. Give it a try!

  16. By *emilie* on January 16, 2010

    haha. alice just started acting up in the car. she absolutely hates it when we drive in the dark.. i think she’s scared. i can’t believe some people actually take car rides just to sooth their kid !! it would never fly in my vehicule.

  17. By on January 16, 2010

    Wow! 18 pounds already? My little girl didn’t weigh that til she turned one. You must have arms of steel!

  18. By Heather @ The Joyful Kitchen on January 16, 2010

    yikes!  i’ve always heard that kiddos love the car since it puts them to sleep…or maybe it’s parents love the car because it puts them to sleep?  still very funny either way :)

  19. By The Urban Cowboy on January 16, 2010

    Now I’m the best driver!

  20. By Sarah A. Schlothan Christensen on January 16, 2010

    Urban Cowboy - Do you think I can try again for the title in, like, twenty years?

    Lynn - The problem with one of us in the backseat is twofold.  First, if either of us is back there, she wails louder and throws her arms out to be held.  Second, I am the family driver and Donald’s legs are too long to fit comfortably in the backseat for longer than about twenty minutes.  We just try not to go anywhere unless she’s full of milk and it’s naptime!

  21. By Heidi on January 17, 2010

    God, I hope my kid doesn’t lose her/his shit in the car. In fact, this post has encouraged me to take my future children on long road trips. I’m nothing if not obsessed with the OPEN ROAD and if my progeny loses it every time I strap ‘em into a car seat, I’ll be incredibly sad.

  22. By maggie may on January 17, 2010

    that’s exactly how my Lola was! she cried constantly in the carseat. i feel ya. those little stuffed lightbug toys that sing and light up helped.

  23. By Wendy on January 20, 2010

    My little one was like this. Until I accidentally discovered a solution. No idea if this will work for you, but for my son it was the classical radio station. I turned it on by accident and blasted it just to try something (anything) to drown out his screams. And he became quiet…as long as it was the classical station and it was LOUD. Anyway, I know every baby is different..but hey, it might work for you.

    Hang in there mama!

    Best, Wendy

    P.S. At 14 months, my little one is much better in the car now as long as he has his books to look at. It’s getting him in and out of the car seat that causes the screeches and the wonderous back arches.

  24. By on January 22, 2010

    My younger sister was the same way as a baby.  As she got older she always got car sick when we drove anywhere.  She still gets car sick very easily.  My mother has always believed that as a baby my sister felt bad and that is why she cried so much. Thankfully my daughter falls asleep the instant she is buckled in the car.

  25. By Julia on January 24, 2010

    Been there and done that!  It didn’t totally get better until we faced him forward.  I don’t believe he’s cried in the car since!  I can also hand crackers back though if he’s getting close to crying - always works :).

  26. By Alinta on February 03, 2010

    Hi Sarah

    My second hated the car, he literally SCREAMED the whole time we were in there. When he was about 6 months old I discovered one of those baby mirror things, the big round ones that you put over the back headrest, so that they can see themselves and you to a degree. He stopped crying, instantly!! (this was while he was rear facing still). I also went as far as to print out a photo of me on A4 paper, and tape it to the seat as well!!!

    Goodluck, they do grow out of it… eventually!!!


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