It was a regular day, about 15 years ago, and I was taking Jacob to his Day Hab program. I don’t recall why he wasn’t picked up that day as 95% of the time they provided transportation to and from our home. Either way, I had just turned out of our neighborhood and probably wasn’t going 20 MPH when things turned dangerous. Jacob reached for me. And, it wasn’t in an endearing way.
Note: When he is agitated he often takes it out on us. That usually means pulling on us in some fashion. Grabbing and pulling our arms or hands is usually his first M.O. If that doesn’t get our attention he will reach for the neck of whatever clothing we are wearing and proceed to pull using every muscle. Or better yet, put his hand/arm all the way down wearer’s shirt. Yes, he does. Could be the front or back but it’s a maddening act that he knows gets attention. It is simply impossible to ignore him when his arm is down your shirt. More than once, he has reached for the neck of a shirt I had on and in the process either broke my necklace or gotten his fingers caught in one of my earrings. Frustrating doesn’t begin to describe it! And you can imagine if you are driving when this occurs it could be bad news!
Back to my story. As he reached for me that morning, instead of pulling on my arm, he grabbed the steering wheel and in the process knocked the gear shift out of drive! MY STARS! It scared me to death. Well. Almost. We didn’t wreck but we could have. As it was, I only ‘appeared’ to be under the influence!
There wasn’t another car in the oncoming traffic or in my lane. I am positive angels were watching over us and had an imaginary road block set up. I quickly pulled over into the gravel parking lot of a horse stable and just sat there shaken and shaking. We were in Mike’s small truck and there wasn’t a full back seat option that would work. I turned around and we went home. I knew in my heart that was the last time Jacob could be a front seat passenger.
Fast forward to present day. One afternoon recently, I was at Jacob’s Day Services program to pick him one. As I was waiting on him, I stood in the parking lot talking to another parent. Jacob came out and circled the van. He often takes his time like he is playing a game about which side to enter. He opened the driver’s door and closed it. He opened the front seat passenger door. Hmmmmm … Sometimes he does so looking for a certain DVD to hand me. Not this time. He climbed in! UH OH!
He proceeded to throw out a couple of store flyers that were in his way. I talked a bit longer and then asked him to get out and climb into the back to his regular seat. NOT having it. He dug his feet into the floorboard and stiffened his legs. He was determined to ride shotgun! I couldn’t physically pull him out. I considered getting one of the male staff members to help me. How were we going to get home if he didn’t behave?
I decided to get in the van and see what he would do. Wait him out. Thinking he’d realize he never rides up front and would make things ‘right’ and move to HIS third row. “You’re not going to be able to watch a DVD from the front seat Jacob.” My reverse psychology had no affect. He wasn’t moving. I buckled him up and warned him, “if you touch me I am pulling over.” He reached toward me as if to see if I meant business. But quickly went for the dashboard controls instead. I turned on some music and that made him happy.
Slowly, I pulled out of the parking lot. Praying. Lots of praying – #JesusTaketheWheel. Literally. We had 1.5 miles to get home. We would pass the city police station. Maybe I should pull over there and ask for help. How odd would that be? Walk into the lobby and hit the microphone to connect with someone on the other side of the locked doors, “excuse me, my grown son won’t get out of the front seat. Could you send an officer out here to assist me?” I decided against involving the law. There was one busy intersection to cross. I drove super slow inching along and gripping the steering wheel ’til my knuckles turned white.
Thankfully we made it home without incident. (Again, angels watching over us!) Jacob never reached for me or the steering wheel. He did adjust the music volume and each time I reminded him to put his hands back in his lap. He was actually perfect. I’m quite certain that I held my breath the five minutes it took to get home. I’m not kidding. I was terrified that he would cause an accident. When I told Mike what happened, his eyes got big and he said, “that’s not good.”
Oh how I wish we could go back to the days of him riding up front and controlling the music. However, Jacob’s behavior is unpredictable and can be off the charts. The good thing is, these days he can watch a DVD for entertainment and that seems to be better anyway. Since that incident a few weeks ago, he has not attempted to ride in the front seat again, yet. And to stay a step ahead of him, I try to be sure that door is locked just in case.
Arriving home, I breathed a sigh of relief. And whispered a prayer of praise for our protection. Once again, I wasn’t pulled over for driving under the influence. Jacob’s influence.