Cardboard car seat. Really.

disposable car seatWhile sifting through a thrift store, my carpenter hubby was drawn like a magnet to this book, “Nomadic Furniture,” by James Hennessey and Victor Papanek (Pantheon, 1973). Awesome rambling subhead: “How to Build and Where to Buy Lightweight Furniture that Folds, Inflates, Knocks Down, Stacks, or Is Disposable and Can Be Recycled. —With Many Easy to Follow Instructions.”

There are lots of cool projects, including a drop-down table (it becomes a pin board, when not in use!) and a bean bag bed. Our favorite, though, has got to be the disposable car seat.

We live in an age where children are required by law to be five-point-harnessed into expensive, crash-tested hunks of strategically-padded plastic, whereas our parents were free to simply cobble a booster seat from an old case of Hamms and toss us into it, face forward and seatbeltless.

It brings back fond memories of our family trips, with my little brother and I knocking about in the way-back of the old maroon wood-paneled station wagon. We’d set up our sleeping bags and organize our toys and move about as we pleased. It was a like a giant, speeding play pen.

Those were the carefree days of helmetless biking, knee pad-free skateboarding, and lawn darts with actual metal tips—my god, anyone else remember those emergency room-visits waiting to happen? I know we’re safer now, and that’s a very good thing. But I have to admit that part of me mourns the innocence lost.

It’s quite possible that this is just a new parent talking, but it feels to me that there’s a whole lot to worry about these days. More so than back when a cardboard “car-safety” seat was a completely earnest craft project.

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  1. by Joanne

    On June 8, 2011 at 10:31 am

    Let’s return to the innocence. After getting drawn into the mama-hype during my first born’s baby years, I received some sage advice to scale it back. I refuse to spend these early years paralized by fear. We live in a society that seeks to warn then point fingers. Don’t get me wrong, my kids sit in car seats, wear bike helmets and know I mean business when I say, “be careful”. But my control over them stops there. If they fall, they get a bruise. If we end up in the ER sometimes, it happens. By overprotecting our children, we are robbing them of the drive to explore. Research shows the kids don’t know how to roam around the woods anymore. My kids are 6 and 3 respectively and they get dirty every day.

  2. by mdt

    On June 8, 2011 at 10:41 am

    Huh. My dad used a Heineken box. Maybe we were better off than I thought.

  3. by Berit Thorkelson

    On June 8, 2011 at 11:21 am

    Word, Joanne. I love my new-parent inklings taking shape from the mouth of a tell-it-like-it-is veteran mama. mdt: laughed out loud. (Had to spell it out for full effect.)

  4. by Julia

    On June 8, 2011 at 11:50 am

    Haha I love this. I have been known to say that I should have gotten a doctorate in carseat installation rather than dentistry. Maybe I wouldn’t need one if I could just stick her in a cardboard box. Hmmm…

  5. by Stefanie

    On June 8, 2011 at 1:25 pm

    It’s funny how every few years the standards are completely changed – when I was a baby, I was to sleep on my side, my younger sister was to sleep on her tummy, now it’s back only – I’m thinking this disposable car seat won’t ever come back in…perhaps you should send this to SNL as a sketch idea;)