Now that we have three children in carseats, the family van requires some arranging. The trick is putting three carseats across the middle. Sure, we could install one in the rear. RU did a brief stint back there when little Z first came alone (which was only, like, 4 weeks ago). But that won’t do for a long trip when we’ll need to pass food and things back to her, and we’ll need to lay the rear seats flat for cargo room. Getting in there to buckle her is a real pain, anyway.

We drive a 2011 Toyota Sienna, with no frills. There are two middle seats with a removable “8th seat” that can be fixed between them. It is too small for an adult human to really fit on — half your ass must be perched on one of the adjacent seats — and the back must be reclined at the same angle as the seat it’s attached to. Which is pretty far back when you have a car seat installed there. In case you can’t tell, I’ve had to endure squeezing between the two girls there when transporting another adult.

We have Z in a Chicco bucket behind the driver and Me-Too in a rear-facing Britax behind the passenger seat. I’ve managed to fit RU’s forward-facing Britax booster in the space between them, but it only works if all the seats are in alignment because RU’s must actually rest on the sides of the two seats adjacent to it. The 8th “seat” is too narrow. The contours of the seat it hooks up to would push RU’s carseat over at an angle without another one to balance it out. It’s got a real solid, tight install (I love the seat belt install mechanism on this thing; actually easier than a latch install), so I’m not worried about safety. In an ideal world, I’d be able to slide Z and RU’s arrangement up and Me-Too’s seat further back, so the two sisters can’t reach each other.

In moments of harmony, it is good to have RU in the middle to put Z’s pacifier back in his mouth when he gets fussy or to pass Me-Too’s food back to her. Mostly, however, it’s all “Ow! Ow! Me-Too is bothering me!” And, “Keep your hands to yourselves! RU, stop touching Me-Too!” And, “Are you sure that one of them won’t install on the roof?”