Love you Joey

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Last week my brother Joey came to visit with his girlfriend. We had a great time together hiking the Gorge, walking the beach (above), and exploring the Ape Caves. We enjoyed each other’s company and even talked to each other like adults after dinners. These are good memories that I will forever cherish and remember.

It wasn’t always like this between him and I. Before I went to law school, before I had kids, before I left Utah for the great Northwest, and before I got married, we tolerated each other growing up. We weren’t really close, much less friends, before he had kids, and before he served our country in Iraq (Happy Memorial Day buddy and here’s to you and SSGT James Cawley). In fact, growing up we  were downright enemies most of the time. I’m eternally grateful that changed.

I’m the big brother. Being the big brother comes with certain, shall we say, “responsibilities”. When we were younger, say 5 and 3 respectively, I had a devilish desire to get  him in trouble, on purpose, because it was fun. And boy was I good at it–or so I thought. One day I wrote “JOEY” in crayon on the closet door of our bedroom. This was sure to work. Why would I, Scott, write “JOEY”, if it was me, I’d write “SCOTT”? Only thing, in all my infinite wisdom, I failed to understand that because Joey was only three, and not yet able to write, I was destined to be discovered as the author of the scrawl.

She knew, of course She knew. How couldn’t She? She knew just as surely as this mom knew:

Red-Crayon-Fault

I, of course, was in trouble.  My cleverness and ingenuity got the best of me and this wasn’t the last time it did so.

It couldn’t have been a few months later. Back in those days, nobody really used child car seats or booster seats for their toddlers. Our mom was trying to teach my brother to keep his seat belt on while we were driving. When he took it off, he got in trouble. It only took witnessing this once or twice to ignite my older brother “responsibilities.” Slowly, cautiously, I reached across the back seat and unbuckled his seat belt. “Mom…Joey took his seat belt off again.” She pulled the car over, slapped his hand, buckled him up again, and continued down the road. This was brilliant, even better than my rookie crayon fiasco. Emboldened, I did it again. “Mom…Joey took his seat belt off again.”  With more consternation and determination, She pulled the car over, slapped his hand, buckled him up again, and continued down the road.  Giddy, I did it again. “Mom…Joey took his seat belt off again.” Dismayed, She pulled the car over, slapped his hand, buckled him up again, continued down the road, and adjusted her rear view mirror. Unaware, of the prying eyes watching me from the driver’s seat, I boldly did it again. “Mom…Joey took his seat belt off again.” Silence. Abhorrence. She couldn’t do anything, for if She did, she would have killed me. No doubt. Eventually she calmed. My punishment, for the next I can’t remember how long, was punishment for every bad thing Joey did. Looking back, this was absolutely appropriate and clever.

Today, children have car seats, and booster seats, and seat belts.  We have laws that require that such devices be used to keep our children safe. In Washington, the laws are clear and straight forward:

  • When “practical to do so”, children under 13 years of age MUST ride in the back seat positions in the vehicle (RCW 46.61.687(c));
  • Once a child turns 8 or reaches the height of 4′ 9″ he or she MAY use the vehicle safety belt system (RCW 46.61.687(a));
  • Until a child reaches the age of 8 or the height of 4′ 9″ he or she MUST be restrained in a child restraint system that “complies with standards of the US Department of Transportation” and is “secured in the vehicle in accordance with instructions of the vehicle manufacturer and the child restraint system manufacturer” (RCW 46.61.687(a));
  • Children should be kept in each restraint type (rear-facing car seat, forward-facing car seat, and booster seats), “for as long as possible before moving them up to the next type of seat.”

Bottom line, let’s keep our kids as safe as possible by properly restraining them in our vehicles. Gone are the days of holding a child in your arms while in a moving car–man I hope no one still does this.

Looking back, it’s a miracle my generation survived despite the lack of proper restraint systems. More miraculous, is that my brother survived despite my ill-conceived attempts to get him in trouble. I’m glad he did. We have a lot of good memories to make while raising our own kids, and some day, our grand kids. These generations of memories could have been lost in a moment because we weren’t properly restrained. I would never have been able to live with myself if my carelessness…I can’t even say it.

Keep your kids safe. Buckle them up.

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One Response to “Love you Joey”

  1. Jim Gay Says:

    I love all of your postings but this has been my favorite by far!

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