Thankfully, seat belt use became accepted, if you will, when our boys were young. It wasn’t law yet but would become law soon. My generation didn’t grow up using them but I found it extremely comforting once we were on board. I remember if we dared to start backing out of the driveway before our younger son was buckled up, he would literally panic. It was a good habit to form from an early age.
Buckle up for safety, buckle up. Buckle up for safety always buckle up. Pull your seat belt snug, give an extra tug. Buckle up for safety, buckle up. Buckle up for safety, always buckle up. Show the world you care by the belt you wear. Buckle up for safety, EVERYBODY, buckle UP!
Beginning with car seats and progressing out of them as he got older, Jacob has always been buckled up. It wasn’t as if he was ever allowed to climb freely about the seats in the car. Yes, from day one, he was secured in a seat belt. *Until he decided it wasn’t necessary. He doesn’t have the fine motor skills to actually insert the buckle to make it click. But he can unbuckle. Sorta like he can’t really dress himself but he can undress. It goes without saying, for his safety, that of our family, and those in vehicles around us, wearing a seat belt is non-negotiable. Without fail, we buckle Jacob in as we get into the car. And, I often find myself singing the last line of the above jingle as I’m doing it.
*Until he decided it wasn’t necessary. REALLY? Of course, it is necessary. However, at some point years ago, Jacob realized he could unbuckle his seat belt. Probably most of you with children have had a time when one would discover they could do the same. And that was great if you had safely arrived at your destination and were ready to exit the vehicle. But, not okay if you were traveling.
We found ourselves needing something to keep Jacob’s seat belt secure while in a moving vehicle. At first, Mike rigged a small container that would snap over the buckled belt latch with Velcro. It worked pretty well. But wasn’t universal to different vehicles. We then ordered a device manufactured for seat belts. Again, it worked on some but not all depending on the style of the latch. A few years ago, we tried a different style and it has worked great 99% of the time.
What about the other 1%? Depending on Jacob’s mood, he has been known to shimmy under a latched belt to free himself of its confines. YES. HE. HAS. This has only happened when he is highly upset or agitated. He will slide down to where the belt moves from across his lap, further up his torso and chest, to his armpits, shoulders, and then over his head. It seems like he is going to get stuck around the armpit area or even strangle but somehow he manages. Hopefully, I catch on to what is happening by a glance in the rear-facing mirror. But he can also do it in record time. What comes next is scary. He will literally lunge toward whoever is driving and grab them. It is dangerous, to say the least. Remember he is already in an agitated state. Whether it is both of us or just me when this starts – quickly pull over and get him back in the seat (after an intense struggle). Then get home as quickly as possible.
If Jacob is happy and cooperative as we get in the vehicle, I’ll often choose to not use the seat belt safety lock. I like for him to be able to undo the latch when we arrive at our destination and leaving the lock off, allows him some control and freedom. When in use, it requires a straight edge (like a key or craft stick) to release the latch. Not hard but does take an extra step. Funny thing is, sometimes even when it seems all is right in his world, he will get in and then reach for the lock wanting me to put it on his belt. I don’t know if he is thinking, “I’m in a good mood but that could change so I better be locked in.” Or, “sometimes I do something I regret and having the safety lock may prevent that.” Maybe, “I don’t trust myself to behave today.” Whatever he is thinking, I’m definitely going to grant that request.
Whether a really short distance or a trip that takes hours, Jacob usually enjoys going for a ride. So, that’s an activity we can do to give him pleasure and expand his world. A safety lock helps us to be able to continue those outings. I’m so thankful for those things, no matter how small, that make our lives easier and provide an extra measure of security.
BUCKLE UP FOR SAFETY, EVERYBODY, BUCKLE UP!