October 20, 2013

Buckling up

Bringing a child who is barely 5 years old to a parent’s workplace is hardly an everyday occurrence or a common encounter here in Bangkok; especially not when the parent is a taxi-driver.

So, imagine my surprise when I realized that there was a young child on the front seat of the cab, sitting next to the taxi driver just 10 seconds after I got into the cab;  not strap-up and let loose as the father drove on to send me to my destination.

The first thing that came to my mind was not the fact that there was a child in the taxi, but the fact that he wasn’t buckled up as he should and was allowed free-range in a moving car. In my 15 minutes ride to get to my client’s place, the barely 5-year-old boy was standing, doing acrobats in the front seat, tried to sit on his father’s lap and changed his seating positions at least 20 times.

Did his father say anything? Well, kind of. He just told the boy to sit down repeatedly while I sat in the back worrying if god forbid! I would witness a child flying out of the window screen! In my heart, I could only hope that the child would not be accompanying him for too long while he was on duty.

Perhaps my western ways of parenting got the better of me and surely, not strapping a child to the car seat is not a big deal. After all, I have seen parents, who, with a newborn on one hand (I am not kidding!) and a steering wheel on the other, managed to steer the car effortlessly as she dropped off her oldest kid to school. That must have been such amazing driving skills to have!

On that note, I have also seen kids being allowed to run around in a moving car while an adult is driving like it is the most normal thing to do. The same goes for carrying a really young child with one arm as one of the parents ride a bike in the busy roads of Bangkok.

I am pretty sure these folks are all very proud of their excellent driving skills and how skillful they are with their ability to maneuver their vehicles accordingly and that no harm would ever come to them as they are the safest drivers they know.

The thing is, no matter what excellent driving or riding skills one has, there is no compromise to a child’s safety. Or yours. Even as a passenger, I find it distracting if a child gets restless while strapped in the car seat, let alone if you are doing the driving and allowing the child a free-range.

I have, time and again declared that I am extremely paranoid when it comes to safety, and when it comes to that, I’d rather have the kids kicking and screaming while being strapped to their car seats, rather than appease them and let them loose.

I snapped a couple of pictures while seating in the back-seat and all the boy wanted was,to engage with me.

This…is Thailand.

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