While driving down the road, she sees a truck with a rear facing carseat in the front seat, with a kid actively in it. Carseats don't really belong in the front seat, and especially not if there's an airbag. Everyone can easily know this, because the picture on the visor looks like this:
Even if you can't read, or don't want to, it's pretty clear just from the picture, what you shouldn't be doing here, right? Okay, we're clear on this. But an airbag can be disabled, or sometimes simply turned off.
So my friend sees this truck with a baby in the front, and becomes outraged. So outraged that she wants to call the police. And this confuses me. First of all, she doesn't know that there is an airbag. She thinks she MIGHT know, because she knows someone with a truck that's the same make/model, so she assumes there's an airbag and it's not turned off.
It's weird for me to think of myself as an optimist, but I guess I am. We all make assumptions, every day, based on what we see. While my friend assumes this car has an airbag, I choose to assume it doesn't. I choose to assume that someone who will put his kid in the car rear facing, even when the seat CAN forward face, probably realized (because of the above warning) that you shouldn't do it with the airbag active, and has taken further steps to ensure the safety of his child (beyond just rear facing her). I almost always choose to assume the best case scenario, and it confuses me why other people don't.
Do you WANT to be upset with this person? What will that accomplish? Maybe if you knew him, or know where he lived, or even knew his name, then being upset and assuming the worst would matter. But you will probably never know if the truck had an active airbag, and if that kid was safe or not, so why waste energy thinking she wasn't, when you can just as easily think she was? All yous are general - I don't think this friend even reads Momland (but if you are reading, I'm not picking on you, I swear! You're just my most recent example!)
And the same thing goes for so much.
I choose to assume that a kid turned forward facing on his birthday was turned that way for the same reason I turned Luke around - the parents were concerned their child would aspirate the vomit that accompanied every rear facing car ride, and die.
I choose to believe that the majority of people don't know, rather than don't care.
I choose to assume that someone selling a car seat that expires in three months legitimately believes that someone will buy it only intending to use it for three months. There are plenty of reasons to buy a car seat for only three months - vacation, spontaneous visit from family, a family emergency - and I also choose to assume that anyone who buys a seat that expires in three months will only use it for three, maybe four months (because let's face it, they don't spontaneously combust on their expiration date, but I wouldn't push it too far).
I've seen this quoted at 80%, 90%, and 95%, so I'm gonna go with 80% (again, assuming the best). 80% of car seats are used incorrectly, in one way or another. Some misuses are more dangerous than others, but still 80%. That means that whenever I see an occupied car seat on the road or in pictures, there's an 80% chance I'm gonna have a reason to be steaming mad. And that's not counting the "misuse" that occurs when kids aren't even IN car seats. It seems like a huge waste of energy on my part to get mad every single time.
Maybe I'll carry around little notecard print outs to stick on windshields in parking lots, or put a bumper sticker on my car, but I can't possibly get upset at every single case. I have three kids, I haven't slept "enough" in over four years, and I have several other health issues that sap all my energy from me before I even get out of bed in the morning.
Maybe I'm too apathetic, maybe I'm not dedicated enough to my cause, or maybe I'm just too freakin tired to care, but I can't fathom getting violently ill every time I see a car seat misused, or a child in Publix who's parent isn't staring directly at them at all times. Either way, I choose to get upset at the worst cases:
Assuming they drive like this (I choose to assume they don't), THIS would make me ill.
When there is obvious, without a doubt misuse that could legitimately risk a child's life in even the basic of colisions, I will get Mommy Bear Killing Spree Raging Mad. Otherwise, I will silently throw up a prayer for the child in question, and then try to put it from my mind. I guess I just realize that you can't save them all, you can't help people who don't want to be helped, and when there's nothing you can do about it, it's best to not think about it.
I have been known to go out of my to create a scenario in which something would make sense, just so that I don't have to get upset about it. Daddy has baby rear facing in the front seat of a two-seater truck. Well, that's obvious - it's the only car he has because the car with an available (safer) back seat is in the shop, or was just stolen, or wrecked. He has no choice where to put his kid, and is doing the best he can. I have other examples, but this is just long enough already.
I have a hard time understanding why people don't always agree with me on everything, ;) but especially on this. To me, energy is precious - it is not something to be squandered fretting about things outside my control. I wish I had the energy to fight with Craigslist over expired seats, but I will e-mail first, THEN flag. I will always give people a chance to correct their own mistakes before doing it for them. But that's a whole other blog post for a whole other day.
I've used car seats as an example this whole time, because it's the cause I choose to champion (seriously, you have to have noticed that by now, yes?), but really it applies to everything. I pick my battles with my husband, I pick my battles with my children, and I pick my battles with the world. There are stupid parents everywhere, and even the best parents sometimes make errors in judgement. Sometimes choices are limited because of finances or other factors.
If someone's baby falls in a pool, I choose to think it was a freak accident until proven wrong. I will not automatically assume this mother never supervised her child ever, and was a terrible, neglectful mother.
Someone's dog gets run over by a car, and rather than I assume this dog was always allowed to run loose, I choose to believe it was a one-time "oops, the kids left the door open" incident, until someone proves me wrong.
I don't get upset over parents who use leashes for their kids, or over parents who feed their kids solids at four months (I used to, but not so much anymore). I don't get upset over parents who use walkers (I choose to assume they've taken precautions), and I don't get upset over someone getting an epidural, or even a repeat C-section as opposed to a VBAC.
There is so much REAL abuse and REAL neglect in the world, that these don't even register on my radar. I hardly notice them, and make it a point to not get annoyed or upset by them. I feel this keeps me sane.
If you're the type to get upset about these things whenever you see them, you should try it my way and see if you like it. ;)