There had been murmurs of dissent in the weeks leading up to the seatbelt standoff. Yelling from the back seat with shouts of “Mummy I can’t lie down” and “This seatbelt hurts my twinkle” were becoming increasingly common. Her arms were repeatedly coming out of the four point harness as she sought to burst her way out of the seat, grabbing on to the driver headrest to create more leverage. Every time she did this I would stop and explain that if we crashed she would be chopped in half or I would go to prison but none of this deterred my little madam from seeking to escape. “I don’t care if you go prison, as long as I have my freedom I don’t care about yours,” she would have said, if she could.
Usually once she realized that she didn’t have the strength to break out of the seat she would dissolve into tears, or I would manage to distract her with food or an episode of Team Umizoomi on my tablet, and we usually made it from A to B. But this was not the end of the matter. Like an evil genius she continued to plot her escape and one grey evening on the way home from nursery all hell broke lose.
It started the same way that it always did. “Mummy I can’t lie back,” she wailed as she sought to recline, tired after a hard day of playing. “I don’t want my seatbelt on,” she yelled and dragged her arms out of the straps. I firmly told her to put them back in. She ignored me. So I pulled over and put her arms back in.
As soon as I started driving again she yanked them back out. I stopped again. She tried to hit me. I tightened the straps as far as I could so that she couldn’t pull her arms out. “Mummy it is too tight”she wailed as we set off again.
And then it happened. She worked out how to pop the button that released the harness. Both thumbs and most of her bodyweight were needed for this operation and once her mission was accomplished she stood up defiantly and did a little victory dance. “Mum she has taken her seatbelt off,” yelled my 6 year old who was in raptures because
a) he was the good one
b) siblings getting into trouble is just utterly brilliant
c) he thinks she is really funny when she has a tantrum.
“Right. I am stopping the car and we are not going anywhere until you wear your seatbelt properly,” I said pulling over into a nearby car park. The standoff had begun.
At first she enjoyed the freedom, climbing into the front and giving me her biggest smile. I ignored it and told her that I was not happy because I wanted to go home. She began stroking my hair and trying to win me over with her massive cuteness. But I was not having it. “Get back into your seat so that we can go home.” I said. “And if you don’t Rainbow Bear is going back to the shop.”
This stopped her for a moment and she got into her seat. Rainbow Bear is the softest bear in the world and he sings “Let it Go”from Frozen. She could not love him more. I did a mental high five and gave her brother a knowing look as I fastened the seatbelt. No sooner had I started the ignition but she undid it.”Mummy the seat is itching me,” she wailed pulling at the seat cover and crying out as if in mortal agony from the pointed spikes that were surely ripping open her skin. Of course there was nothing wrong with the soft padded seat.
It was time for Plan B. I pulled out the chocolate that was in my bag and gave some to her brother for being so good. “You can have some too if you sit nicely and keep your seatbelt on,” I said. “No” she yelled. “NOOOOOOOO NOOOOOOOO.”
It was time for Plan C. The plan of last resort because it means admitting that I was being outwitted by a three year old. “Right that is it. I am getting Daddy to come and help me,” I said. “Unless you are going to be a good girl?” I asked daring to hope that she might decide to comply rather than face the wrath of no nonsense Dad. “NOOOOO” she screamed. Shit. I admitted defeat and rang The Husband.
Fortunately he was on his way home from work and made a detour to come and help. He would use his practical skills to fasten her in to the seat in such a way that she could not undo it. As soon as he arrived the three year old sensed that the tide was turning in favour of the parents and she was livid. The scenes that followed were like something from The Exorcist as she screamed in her Dad’s face and tried to batter him with her little fists. Her brother and I couldn’t help but laugh as she pounded her father with the ferocity of a rabid dog. She then spat at me for good measure.
As Dad got into his car and we set off home in convoy my daughter realised that she had only one weapon left in her arsenal: “Mummy I am going to wee on my seat,” she said in a sing song voice. “Don’t you dare,” I said. She dared. “I done it,” she declared. It was a liquid “fuck you” to her loving mum. “You may have won this battle,” she was saying with her urine, “but I will win the war.”
*Since writing this I purchased a Belt-Upp for £17.99 as recommended by a lovely friend. The three year old has therefore been an angel every time we have got into the car. She must know…..