Yesterday I had kind of a weird day. It started with my out-of-town aunt calling, just as I stepped into the shower, to ask me to please go pick up my grandmother and take her to the emergency room. Which I did, of course, and she's fine and feeling much better now that she has some antibiotics. But after we were back in the car and headed to the pharmacy to fill her prescriptions, I took kind of a hard left at a stoplight, trying to get through the intersection while the light was still on yellow. (I am a "yellow means go faster" type of driver, just so you know.) And as we skidded through the intersection, I threw out my right arm gently against my grandmother, as if the G-force and her seatbelt wasn't enough to hold her in her seat.
"You can't help that, can you?" she said to me. I thought about it for a second. "Nope," I replied, "although normally the only thing sitting in that seat is my purse."
I have only a few times driven a car with a child sitting in the front seat. When I was in college and a nanny, I had an older model car without an airbag, and I usually put the car carrier of the infant in my care in the front seat, backward of course, so that I could reach her and put that damn pacifier back in her mouth every time she spit it out as we drove around town on errands. This was how the child's mother showed me how to do it the first time she strapped the baby into my car, and this was back before it was suggested so plainly that children should always be in the back seat, before passenger airbags were standard. My ten year old has ridden in my front seat exactly twice: once when coming home from a freezing boy scout camp outing, where I allowed him to sit in the front seat so that he could use the butt warmer; and the other when I was taking a twin mattress to someone and had all the seats down in the back of the van.
My grandmother said, "I did that, too. I always put my arm out to hold your aunt or your dad in, but we didn't have seat belts then." It didn't always help. In about 1950, my grandmother and my aunt were in a car accident so bad it was amazing to many people around them that both survived.
So where does that instinct come from? What other instincts do you have that don't seem to come from experience?