Have you ever had to use a ratchet to take a seat belt apart to get your child out? Well, yesterday I did. My 11-year-old managed to get the seatbelt twisted all around him and then the seatbelt “locked” and he got stuck… good times, good times.
So here’s what happened. Yesterday was Sunday. Jeff and my middle child went to the early service because they were going to a Flyers game right after church. My oldest was still sleeping, so I took him and my youngest to the second service. On the way home from church, we stopped at Giant to pick up a few things. My oldest hates running into stores, and like normal, he whined, “Awwwwww man, the stooooorrrrre, can I stay in the van?” Since he’s 11, I often let him do this, so I said yes. I let my 5-year-old stay too. OK, before you get on your soap box about what a horrible mother I am, remember many 11-year-olds are babysitting so I figure 5 minutes in the van should be fine. Well, apparently I was wrong!
I give them my normal, I’m leaving you in the van alone spiel, “Don’t get out of the van, don’t get out of your seats, don’t unlock the doors for anyone, if anyone comes to the van, even a policeman, tell them to wait for your mom who will be right there.” And off I run into the Giant to pick up bakery bread, frozen pizza, and frozen vegetables. I quickly go through the self-check out and head back to the van. As I approach it, I can see that my youngest is upset, he yells that his brother’s stuck.
“What in the world?” I think.
I was gone maybe 7 minutes, how can he be stuck? What could he be stuck in? So I open the door and I see. He managed to get the seatbelt all twisted around himself and then it locked, so he couldn’t get any slack to get out of it. At first I kind of chuckle, thinking it won’t be a big deal to get him out. But then as I work at it a few minutes I realize that I can’t slide his arms through it to get it over his head, I can’t slide it down over his butt, even with him trying to maneuver out of it. I start to get a little frustrated… OK, a lot frustrated.
I’m not worried about my son, because I know that I can always cut the seat belt and he’ll be fine. I’m worried about having to cut the seat belt and then pay to repair it. We already have one seatbelt in the back that is stuck so we don’t use that seat. I don’t want to be down another seat. And as I think about it, I start to get angry.
“How did you do this?” “What were you doing?” “Why weren’t you just sitting there like I told you to?”
From what I can piece together, here’s what happened. He reclined the seat to lay down as he was playing his DS. He then put the shoulder part of the seat belt behind him so it wouldn’t be in his face. He must have rolled around a little. He then decided that the seat belt was too much in his way, so he unfastened it. But remember the shoulder strap was behind him? So when he unbuckled it, it was as if he was inside the seatbelt, which he also twisted a little. Somewhere in the time frame, the seat belt locked and so he could get no slack, and every time he moved, more of the seat belt went down in.
After realizing that I wasn’t going to be able to get him out, I had the “genius” idea that if we get him as close as possible to where the seatbelt goes in then maybe enough would go in to unlock the seatbelt. So we maneuver him as close as we can, but instead of the seatbelt unlocking, he’s just closer to the wall with even less slack than before. Great!!!!
As I begin to think that my only solution is to cut the seatbelt, I get angrier and angrier, and monster mommy makes her unwelcome appearance. I start saying some really unkind things and I start yelling and I even dropped an “F” bomb – and I don’t curse, ever! (Well almost never.) Thankfully my kids don’t even know that word, so they didn’t know what I said.
I wasn’t worried about my son, because I knew physically he’d be fine. I didn’t take anytime to console him. I never once stopped to think how upsetting it must be to have a seatbelt twisted around you and getting tighter and seeing your mom get angrier and angrier. I had no kindness for my 5-year-old who’s watching the whole scene and crying the entire time.
Did I mention that this happened right after we left church. During which we had a beautiful communion service where I made sure my oldest son understood what communion was before I let him participate, only after he and I prayed together. During which I sang songs praising God for who He is. Right after I listened to my pastor read and talk about Colossians 3, including verse 8 which says, “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips.” I sat there, and nodded, and agreed. But then I was put to the test less than 20 minutes later and I failed! My pastor talked about how we need to be showing people more of Jesus and less of us. Well, I certainly wasn’t showing my children Jesus.
In the parking lot, I confessed my anger to God and asked for Him to help me get my son out without having to cut the seatbelt. I calmly went back in the van and looked at the seatbelt itself. I saw how it was attached to the wall. I was able to snap the cover off and saw that I would need a tool to unscrew it. I decided to drive home, with my son kind of propped up on his side leaning against the wall. Very unsafe – but we made it.
I’d like to say that all of my anger was gone after I prayed but pretty much the whole ride home I was yelling at my son, telling him he’d have to figure out which toys to sell to raise the money to fix the seatbelt if I couldn’t get him out. Apparently I hadn’t yet rid myself of all those things!
We got home, I got our ratchet set out. I found the correct size and began unscrewing the seatbelt from the wall. I had my son hold the seatbelt right where it goes down into the wall and told him to hold it with everything he had and to not let any of it go down in. We needed all the slack we could get. I got the seatbelt unattached and he held on to it. I then took hold of the seatbelt and there was enough slack for him to get his arms out and for it to go over his head. Praise the Lord! He was free and I didn’t have to cut the belt.
He thanked me for getting him out. I reattached the seatbelt and went inside, again confessing my anger to God. I apologized to my sons for how angry I got, and told them both that I was wrong to yell like that. I also told them that I could no longer leave them alone in the van. We ate lunch, took my youngest to a birthday party, then came home and I fell asleep reading on the couch. A much needed nap after all that drama!
Thank you God, for enabling me to get my son out. Please forgive me for how angry I got, and for the words I allowed to come from my mouth. Please help me Lord to have a gentle and patient and kind heart when situations like this arise… but please, next time, let me learn from the pastor without needing a life lesson!