My daughter is very excited that I'm writing on this topic.
"The Battle of the Booster Seat," she keeps yelling, pumping her fist in the air.
She thinks she's going to win this one.
You see, there has been a battle going on in our house and car for some time now. My daughter, now almost 6 years old, still rides in a car seat.
That's right — not a booster seat with a seat belt, but one of the bulky contraptions with a five-point harness that is a pain to get her in and out of. She is old enough to do it by herself now, which also means that she's old enough to notice that most of her friends are out of the car seat and into the booster seat.
Our current car seats can hold her until she is more than 60 pounds. We still have almost 20 pounds to go. And while I know that those are maximum weight and height standards and she is big enough for a traditional booster seat, we still think it is safest to have her in a five-point harness.
We do have some backup. Carsafe.gov, a division of the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration recommends that you "keep your child in a forward-facing car seat with a harness until he or she reaches the top height or weight limit allowed by your car seat's manufacturer."
For us, that is more than 60 pounds. But more than that, logic points my husband and I to this decision. The five-point harness secures her at her shoulders, chest and across her hips. This seems safer and more secure than the booster.
I'm not judging anyone who uses a booster seat, and this includes most of my friends. I know they are good parents and their children's safety is their No. 1 priority. And this is also why I am okay with letting my daughter ride in a friend's booster seat if necessary.
My daughter really wants to be grown up, which makes it doubly hard to keep her in the child seat.
I feel bad that she's so upset about it and I do take that into consideration. But, I want to make that decision with my husband, not my child.
If we stick to the guidelines of our current car seats, she'll be there for a while, maybe until she's 7 or 8 years old. I doubt that's going to happen.
For now, we continue to discuss it.
The next battle (who am I kidding, I'm sure there will be many in between) will be taking her out of the booster seat. NHTSA guidelines say a child should be in a booster seat until they are 4 feet, 9 inches, 80 pounds, and 8 to 12 years old. That could mean that she is in a booster seat until middle school.
We'll take it as we go, but if you see me in seven or eight years driving a sullen tween around in a booster seat, you'll know what we decided.
Elizabeth Freid Vocke is a married mother of one who lives in South Tampa.