Saturday, March 26, 2011

What do I need to do, tie cans to my back bumper?

Got rear-ended once again, at the Somerville Circle -- AGAIN -- while heading back from a lovely birthday party (well done, C). I swear to you, at exactly the same spot I last got hit at this circle a few years back. I slowed down to check for oncoming Rt. 28 traffic, and bam! Because apparently slowing down at these things is so passe.

Granted the Somerville Circle is at least the eighth circle of hell, right there with the Lambertville Circle and other Horrible Places to Drive Through in New Jersey (other spots: the Turnpike at the 8A merge, Rts. 4 and 17 during rush hour or Christmas shopping season, the "spaghetti bowl" in Wayne where a bunch of highways converge for no rhyme or reason, the Parkway, oh, anytime). The nice cop who came to take our reports admitted as much: "It's the traffic circle. This happens a lot." In fact we had to wait a while for him to show because the department was already dealing with another accident further down the same road. Fortunately we had goodie bags to keep us busy while we waited. Unfortunately, the Chinese yo-yos did not survive the encounter. Ah well.

The last time I got rear-ended there, it was such a small bump and so clearly no damage that the other driver and I shrugged it off and left. This time, a harder BUMP. I didn't see damage but I did see the imprint of her license plate on my bumper, plus I was livid that someone had hit my car with my children in it, so after jumping out and having a minor hissy fit at the other driver (who, to be fair, also had a small child on board), I called the cops.

I'm assuming he wrote her up or whatever, though I haven't checked yet. The car seems OK (the imprint, or what we were referring to as the car's tramp stamp, seems to have washed off in the rain), and frankly it's so old that angsting over its appearance is a little bit overkill.

But these still aren't the only times I've been rear-ended. Once on my way to work, and again no damage, but the other driver -- who was already freaked about the job interview he was heading to -- was nice enough to give me his info just in case I noticed something later. I didn't.

Once again on my way to work, this time right after dropping kiddo off at day care, this time bad enough to require repair work. Idiot girl was driving parent's car, wasn't paying attention, didn't notice the light was red, blamed the sun for being in her eyes. So wear sunglasses, genius.

And most memorably, one whale of a smashing-into in South Jersey, about a week after we'd confirmed I was pregnant with kiddo. I mean the car (DH's, that time) was undrivable. I'd been applying makeup before we got to our friends' house, and the compact flew out of my hands. (I found it later under the back seat.) After I caught my breath, I jumped out of the car and yelled, "I'm bleeping pregnant, you bleeping bleep bleep!" at the idiot teenager until DH convinced me to get back in the car. The kid cowered in his (smashed-up) car and called out, "Sorry!" "Bleep you!" I said. Not my most mature moment, but considering the kid had fake insurance and we never did get that deductible back, I don't regret it. Bleeping kid.

I just don't get it. Is there some irresistible force of attraction between chronically distracted drivers and my car's rear end? Did someone glue some magnets down there when I wasn't looking? Should I get a big bumper sticker that says "DON'T HIT ME"?

Some would say the problem is that New Jersey drivers can't drive. Except that they can't drive in Florida, New York, D.C. or Boston either. Or anyplace else I've been, ever. Except Nantucket, because there just aren't as many drivers -- island -- and you can't really gun it on cobblestone streets anyway.

So I don't know. I'm glad our family's latest car misadventure was so much less serious than the last one. But none of this convinces me I should ever like cars.

Now a hovercraft, that would be cool.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The mighty kiddette

We have the crib immobilizer and no free time with which to install it, on account of you have to take the drop side off entirely and insert these metal things into the frame and do some other arcane things that obviously I am letting DH do because tools and hardware and instruction manuals make me zzzzzz. But, you know, we have it so that should count for something or other. Maybe a half-point.

In the meantime, kiddette is developing some Supergirl qualities. She's tough enough to giggle it off when her brother accidentally pushes her over (again). She's quick enough to outrun Daddy when he's trying to get her pajamas on her, and she flies down the hall in a diaper and nothing else, laughing madly.

But the kicker is her pen. The circular gate-type playpen, set up over one of those big alphabet mats, originally went up for her 1st birthday party, so that the smaller kids expected to attend would have a trample-free play zone. Then we left it up, because it was a nice convenient place to plop her in the morning so I could have my tea. She even likes it in there, until she realizes how much of the house is left to explore and she hasn't got all day to do it. Then she agitates for an early release program.

This week, she realized she could push the pen and it would move. So she pushed. And pushed again. She pushed it all the way across the room. Its nice hexagonal shape warped into a trapezoid. Then she ripped out most of the letters from the mat. The whole setup looks like some tantruming five-year-old rock star barged in and trashed the place. Kiddette, however, is only 18 months.

She seems a little surprisingly strong for a girl. More accurately, for a girl who came from me. Being the type who was picked last for every team, ever, in the history of school, and then sometimes the team captains fought over who had to take me. (Hey, if we'd done archery more often I might've been more into gym class.) I'm guessing kiddette won't have that problem.

I'm glad she's tough. It's good for girls to be tough, I think. But I have no idea how I'm getting to have my tea tomorrow.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

The government would like to inform you that your crib is a deathtrap

So the CPSC has posted an extended FAQ of sorts about the new crib standards. As of June 28, "it will be illegal to manufacture, sell, contract to sell or resell, lease, sublet, offer, provide for use, or otherwise place in the stream of commerce a crib that does not comply with the CPSC’s new standards for full-size and non-full-size cribs. This includes manufacturers, retail stores, Internet retailers, resale shops, auction sites and consumers." Apparently, if you need a new crib before June 28, you're on your own in making sure the crib meets the new standards (which apply to slats, mattress supports and hardware in addition to drop sides). 

Also, owners of drop-side cribs are encouraged to get immobilizers. If your crib was in a recall, the manufacturer is required to provide one for free. If your crib was never recalled but you figure better safe than sorry, pony up $10, sucker, and be glad we didn't charge you for shipping.

Does the immobilizer make your crib safe according to the new standards? No. Also, the CPSC only tested and approved immobilizers for recalled cribs. You with your non-recalled crib, you are, once again, on your own.

And you over there with your perfectly functional stationary crib? Don't be so smug:

 "Is a study, non drop-side crib okay for a consumer to use?
It is unlikely that your current crib will meet the new crib standards. The new standards require stronger hardware and rigorous testing to prove a crib’s durability. If you continue to use your current crib, you are encouraged to check the crib frequently to make sure that all hardware is secured tightly and that there are no loose, missing, or broken parts."

Obviously, you can't resell or give away your old deathtrap. The CPSC suggests you dismantle it and discard it. Gosh, maybe we could all have a big bonfire and invite the manufacturers whose shoddy manufacturing caused this big, expensive, fatal problem in the first place. Want to bring the marshmallows, guys? I'll get the graham crackers and chocolate. I know you can't afford much, what with all the recalls and the immobilizer kits and all that. You poor things.

So what to do if you're still using your deathtrap and don't really have the money to go out and buy a non-deathtrap crib in June? Check the hardware frequently, or consider switching to a play yard. Because there are never any recalls associated with play yards. Nope. Never. Not a chance. No way.