Strapped In

Our child likes to be restrained. He likes to be “strapped in” to whatever straps exist to confine him, whether that be in his stroller, his carseat, or even his highchair. We’d stopped strapping him into his highchair ages ago, but lately, it’s turned into a kind of game. He can sort of do up the buckles himself, though he can’t get them undone, so there’s a lot of back and forth. “Strapped in?” “Out?” “Strapped in?” “Out?”

At Parc Safari last week, my mother thought Owen might see better from the front of the minivan, so she took him on her lap in front. (Parc Safari is a zoo that you drive through, with the animals coming up to eat out of your hand). Anyway, rather than relishing the newfound and unexpected freedom, Owen lasted about 5 minutes in front before insisting that he return to his seat to be “strapped in.” On the other hand, whenever we go to put him into his stroller we have to undo the straps first because, inevitably, Owen has buckled them.

Our child has always been ever so slightly obsessive. He gets very concerned when he finds dirt (“Oh oh. Dirt, dirt”), and we have to tell him alternately to “lick his finger” (if it’s fresh food dirt) or “put it in the garbage” (if it’s, you know, dirt). He likes things to be straight. Neat. Tidy. Of course he makes messes, but even with birthday frosting all over his hands, he’s worried. “Dirt. Dirt.”

The desire to be restrained in the child-appropriate harnesses might be because of his desire to have the world properly ordered, his love of puzzles, or his need to feel safe (or all three? or am I just reading into this way too much again?). It’s funny to watch, though, because I would have expected a child to rebel against restraints at this age; instead, for now, he’s happily confined to his own little place in the world.