The Next Family

By: Heather Somaini

Every March here in Santa Monica is a design and architecture event called CA Boom.  Unfortunately, CA Boom seems to have gone by the wayside in the last couple years which makes me sad.  But before the babies, Tere and I walked the exhibition floor gathering up new ideas and generally checking out all the cool things designers were doing.  We would also go on a home tour – an inside look at some of the most amazing houses on the Westside of Los Angeles.

Just before the babies were born, I realized that they would be about three weeks old for the next CA Boom.  I really wanted to go and for some reason, Tere said ok.  As the day approached and in my usual “what’s the best way to do this?” fashion, I started to realize we needed a plan.  I knew we couldn’t keep loading and unloading a double stroller onto the little tour shuttle.  Everyone pointed me to the Pump Station – they would have a solution!

I showed up there on a Thursday and they could clearly see I had no idea what I was doing.  They showed me the only carrier that could be used with twins – the Baby Pouch Sling.  To call it a baby carrier to my untrained eyes seemed ridiculous.  It was just one long piece of cloth!  The woman proceeded to show me how to wrap myself in this thing and then put both babies inside.  I was awestruck and completely scared out of my mind at the same time.  What if that big knot came loose and the babies fell out??!?!

I went home and showed Tere.  She laughed.  And then she made me watch the DVD that came with it and then tie the sling around myself over and over and over again until she was sure that I wouldn’t let my precious cargo slip out.

On the day of the event, we went out confidently and toured the exhibit with the babies in the stroller.  As we expected, it was great and we were suddenly acutely aware and fascinated by all the “kid” stuff.  Soooo many designers had adult-friendly kid furniture – solutions for families with design in mind.  It was awesome.  When it came time for the architectural house tours, I wrapped my newly-purchased sling around me, tied the knot tight, situated both of the babies inside and off we went!  It was an excellent tour and we enjoyed the houses immensely.

It was about half-way through the tour when I suddenly realized that we had been getting on and off the shuttle with our three-week-old babies ONLY wrapped up in the sling and attached to me.  I had no seatbelt on and needless to say, the babies were not in car seats.  In what time and space would that be ok?  I looked around to see if anyone was looking at us funny.  They were not.  The shuttle driver never said a word either.  I asked Tere if she was concerned at all that none of us had seatbelts on and could fly forward at pretty much any moment.

And this memory is what leads me to a common issue that I fear many of us are victims to.  Why do we take every child precaution known to man while we are in the city we live, but when we’re in another city everything is fair game?  Have you ridden in a cab in New York with your three-year-old jammed between you and your spouse in the backseat with no seat belt on?  We did.  Have you let your two-and-a-half-year-old ride an airport shuttle just sitting next to you, again with no seat belt?  We did.  Have you ridden the bus, subway, ferry or any other mode of public transportation and barely had a hold of your little one?  We’re totally guilty.  What is wrong with us?

I wonder sometimes how we all survived as babies or kids before seat belts.  I was just discussing it with my parents and until I was about ten years old, we didn’t really use seat belts.  When we moved to Europe, their laws were much more strict, and kids were relegated to the back seat until about 15 years old.  Now that I think about it, I sort of wonder about that rule…maybe my mom just didn’t want us in the front seat.  My brother and I became the seat belt police and demanded that everyone wear them.  To this day, I won’t go anywhere until everyone’s seat belt is firmly latched.

I wonder how we all made it this far without infant car seats and with games like lawn darts.  It’s a dangerous world out there but did that make us stronger?  Should we loosen our hold on our children a little?  Are we too scared to let them learn?  I don’t have the perfect answers to these but I think it’s better when they fall more and scrape their knees often.  It makes me feel like they’re actually experiencing life and will be more confident for it.  But for now, I’ll try to keep them in car seats until they turn six or weigh 60 pounds since that’s “technically” the law here in California.

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