I don’t know how it is in other minivans, but in our minivan, the seatbelts for the middle row can be anchored at either the middle row seats or the back row seats.  I can think of a very good reason why you might want this feature on one side of your minivan–the side where back row seating is accessible from the side door and you don’t want the shoulder harness getting in the way.  In our minivan, that shoulder harness isn’t usually in use because that’s where the baby’s car seat is, and I honestly have no idea how what we do with that seatbelt most of the time, because as long as it’s not in my way, I never think about it.  But in theory, I can understand the practicality of having this kind of flexibility in seatbelt anchoring–on that side of the car.

What I’ve had trouble wrapping my head around this morning is why you would need this feature on the other side of the car–the side of the car where no one can get to the backseat without crawling over the people in the middle seats and therefore it is the people who are in your way and not the shoulder harnesses per se.  I wouldn’t be thinking about this issue at all, if it weren’t for the fact that the release buttons for these shoulder harness anchoring thingies are only accessible through a slot that is about four millimeters long and two millimeters wide.  At the middle row–the row where open doors create space between the seat belt anchors and the rest of the world–there is room for an adult human hand to maneuver a thin metal object, such as a car key, into this tiny slot and thereby release the shoulder harness from said contraption.  At the back row, where there are no side doors, there is no room for an adult human hand to both hold and maneuver a car key to release the shoulder harness, should it be anchored in that location.  I know this because when Elvis got in the car this morning, the shoulder harness was anchored at the back row–why?  because Elvis put it there yesterday.  But this morning he didn’t want it there.  He wanted it back at the middle row, where it belonged.  And because he wanted it, and because it was 8:05 a.m. and Mister Bubby was already late for school and I wanted the screaming to stop before my ears started bleeding, I tried to resolve the issue.  I was unsuccessful.  We had to buckle his seatbelt with the shoulder harness anchored from the back.  He got over it, my ears didn’t bleed, and MB was five minutes late for school, as I’d originally planned.

Everything’s fine.  The seatbelts are functional.  People can get in the back seat.  The car can be driven safely.  But for some reason I can’t stop thinking, why, why, WHY would you want your seatbelt shoulder harnesses to have this theoretical flexibility of anchorage locale and simultaneously want it to be impossible to disengage aforementioned seatbelts from the back seat, should you get a wild hair and decide to mix things up a bit?  It makes no sense to me.  Who are they designing this car for, except an autistic five-year-old boy who wants to drive his mother insane?  Why do you need the shoulder harness for the middle row seat on the driver’s side–where the backseat is not accessible from the side door–to be anchored anywhere but the middle row seat area?  What would be the purpose?  I suppose I don’t do enough camping and outdoorsy stuff.  I’m sure if you’re hauling sports equipment or timber or something, the purpose reveals itself rather rapidly, but in the abstract, it is eluding me.   In the five years of owning a minivan and installing child safety seats in said minivan, it has never occurred to me to anchor the shoulder harness in the back row on that side of the car.  Perhaps I don’t know what I’ve been missing.  I suppose I will find out, as it is now stuck there for life.  Unless my husband decides it needs to be moved, in which case he will release the shoulder harness with his secret man powers while I’m not looking and then refuse to tell me how he did it because I’m a smart girl, I took calculus, and he won’t believe I can’t figure it out myself, I am obviously just being lazy, and why don’t I make some cookies so the boys will like me?

Mmmm.  Cookies.

A metal nail file would probably work.  Or a letter opener.  Hey, a letter opener–why didn’t I think of that?