Cars, front seats, and airbags.

You might have heard that we were having trouble with Cheryl’s lemon Saturn.
When Cheryl’s car goes caput, I go to my parent’s house for a loaner. This last time the loaner was none other than THE MR-2. A little two door, mid-engine, sports car made by Toyota. My dad has a fun little manual five speed.

The next morning I realized an opportunity for some daughter-father bonding, so I suggested to Cheryl that I could take the kid to school. Since I’m the one that usually drives the loaner, this meant I’d be taking Beth to school in THE MR-2.

Beth and I walked out the door. Beth went first and walked up beside THE CIVIC. I took the route less traveled, and went to unlock THE MR-2. Beth exclaimed, “are we going in grandpa’s car daddy?!?”

“Yep,” I feigned casual.

Beth ran up to the passenger side of THE MR-2 and cautioned, “daddy, grandpa’s car doesn’t have a back seat and I’m not supposed to ride in the front.”

What’s a father supposed to say to that? I try to explain things to Beth when she asks, even if it won’t be entirely understood. I said, “well Beth, most cars have an airbag that pops out when you get into an accident, but it’s only in the front seat. Airbags can be dangerous for little kids because kids are really little, and airbags are really big and really fast. But, grandpa’s car doesn’t have airbags, so it’s not like our cars, and in some ways it’s a little safer for kids in the front seat.”

Beth wasn’t just o.k. with this explanation, she reveled in it. During the five minute drive to school, my normally talkative child uttered just one sentence:

“Daddy, this is REALLY cool!”

She sat in that seat like a queen on her throne, looking all around, unaccustomed to the unobstructed view.

Now fast forward to yesterday. We finally decided to send Cheryl’s lemon Saturn down the river. It was well past time we took a do-over, so we bought a car. (Yes, we bought; but that’s another story.) Cheryl and I left work early, but the deal still wasn’t done when it came time to pick up Beth. Since we were close, I left to get Beth and brought her back to the dealership. I brought her up to speed on the way back, and she was eager to get a close look at mommy’s new car. We went inside and walked up to the equivalent model in the showroom. Beth walked around to the passenger side, opened the front door and climbed in. She turned to me and asked in an innocent and hopeful tone: “daddy, does this car have airbags?”

Is it better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all?

Ask Beth.