Ah, the good ol’ days. Remember when phones had cords? When people used typewriters? When cartoons were almost solely for Saturday morning enjoyment? When kids bounced around unrestrained in cars…and it wasn’t considered illegal or even unsafe?

Times certainly have changed.

Parents reading this blog today probably spent a good chunk of their childhoods unrestrained, or at least under-restrained, in cars. Looking back it seems scary, but at the time, it’s just how things were.

I was born in the late 1970s, and my mom was actually quite progressive about keeping me safe. I almost always used a car seat (albeit a dinosaur by today’s standards) until I was 4 years old. In fact, I distinctly remember the afternoon when my mom was washing our Chevy Nova in the driveway and asked if I’d like to stop using my car seat. I agreed, and I felt so grown up that I insisted on sitting in the back seat (buckled up) as she pulled the car into the garage.

Today my mom admits that having me ride in the car seat was less about safety and more about helping me see out the window. Still, she took car safety seriously. She always wore her seatbelt and insisted that I do, too, even if I did “graduate” to the front seat as soon as I graduated from the child restraint. I did often wear the shoulder belt behind my back, but she always reminded me to keep the lap belt on my hips, not my tummy (something that was often easier said than done).

I also remember a time when my mom was transporting a group of kids to some sort of YMCA event. She told everyone to buckle up, and a girl (I didn’t know her, but for some reason I remember her name was Pam) said that she didn’t have to wear a seatbelt because she was 16. My mom replied “I’m a lot older than 16, and I have to wear a seatbelt, so you do, too. Buckle up.”

Like I said, buckling up might have meant a shoulder belt behind my back, or lying on the back seat with a lap belt “secured” loosely around my waist during a long road trip, but it was (slightly) better than nothing.

Then there were the times I wasn’t with my mom, like the time my grandparents took me on vacation to California (we lived in the midwest at the time) when I was 6.

The trip involved staying a few nights with some distant cousins who had a convertible jeep. The dad decided to take us out for a ride, so my grandpa sat in front and two older cousins and I sat in the back. By “back” I don’t mean the back seat. I’m pretty there was a back seat but we sat on the back sill and held onto the roll bar. I remember looking behind us as we sped down an iconic palm-tree-lined Southern California street…and feeling nothing but sheer terror. Even at 6, I knew that balancing on the edge of a fast-moving car was probably a stupid idea. Perhaps that’s where my interest in child passenger safety began.

What cringe-worthy moments do you remember about riding in the car as a kid? Did you have a car seat? Did you use seatbelts? Did you stand up in convertible cars? Did you narrowly escape harm because you were restrained, or despite being unrestrained? Did your experiences play a role in how you go about restraining your own kids?