Guilty, or not Guilty?

December 12, 2008 12:00 AM by

Ben is approaching 20 pounds and just about done with his infant car seat. He’s ready to be a big boy. Of course that means buying a $200 car seat. Or does it?

I took our car in the other day, at the wife’s insistence, to have our car seats checked and tightened by a local police department, because apparently my tighteningskills are lacking. After the officer did a thorough job with both seats, we started chatting about kids and expenses,
and I told him we were about to upgrade anyway to a bigger seat for Ben. He pulls me aside with a whisper and I am thinking, is he about to share a secret way to raise my kid for free!?

He says, “I don’t know what your finance situation is,” and then proceeds to explain that basically, his department has a whole bunch of new and beautiful car seats through a grant that they have to get rid of, and well, if I’m interested he can hook me up. I swear, I felt like he was offering me a bag of pot. Was I interested? Do babies projectile vomit?

Driving home, though, a wave of guilt rushed over me. Sure, money’s tight. But we’re hardly destitute. Others are much more needy than us. Could I really accept a free car seat from the police that was intended for the less fortunate? I debated with myself until I got home and then debated with my wife.

We both agreed. Yes, we can take this. It was a genuine offer. The department probably wants to get rid of them by the end of the year to get the grant again and hasn’t been able to unload them. That’s their problem, not mine. So a few days later, my wife drove the car back and we now have a brand new Graco Nautilus for Julia and Ben has taken her old seat. So why
do I still feel guilty?

Doug Most is a dad, a husband, a runner, and a writer and he does them all in Boston, where he is also the editor of the Boston Globe Sunday Magazine.

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