Some sort of collision or accident in front of us while driving back home on the highway. My immediate reaction was to press the brake pedal as hard as I could, but it was too late and our car hit hard. As a result of the impact, my son was ejected from the backseat and hit the front glass. He was sitting on top of the backseat armrest located in the middle, and he had no seatbelt. Then my mind came back into reality. No accident had happened. It was just a possible scenario produced by my imagination. It’s amazing how much information out of brain can process in a split of a second.
We were indeed driving back home and my son was sitting in the backseat armrest with no seatbelt on, but he was fine. Nevertheless, the feeling that something bad could happen to him continued, as well as a whisper in my ear telling me that I should stop immediately and do something about it or I would regret it.
It has been a couple of weeks, or perhaps months, since Diego started to struggle with the seatbelt. Sometimes we had made an attempt to get him secured again, with little success, and sometimes we have let him be as he wants. We try to “Pick-Our-Battles”. But this time I feel different, and couldn’t ignore anymore the fact that he was not secured. If I had known at that moment the series of events that will follow, maybe I would have thought twice before stopping the car.
We were 15 to 20 minutes from home when I stopped at the side of the road. I don’t remember how long it took us, but getting there was a never-ending nightmare. At first it was the same struggle I’m used to, between what he wants and what I believe he should do. I began by telling him why he should have his seatbelt, but he started to complain and refused to follow my instructions. I thought that as on many occasions before, if I prove to be consistent he will do as he’s told. This time he became angrier and angrier with every passing second. He’s OCD kicked in, and he began opening every single drawer or compartment in the car. He got on the floor between the front and the back seat, and later on the front seat leg room space. I tried to get him back on his seat, but with every attempt he got more irritated. The tension and anxiety was high on all of us, but my wife was able to contain it all and was the one trying to calm everybody. He embraced her and hold on to her stronger and stronger. At one point we thought he was going to stay calm in the front seat but when my wife started driving, he jumped into her arms and she almost lose control of the car. Eventually I got him into the back seat were my wife held him as tight as she could, while he was kicking and screaming.
It was painful physically and mentally, and we were all stress out. Unfortunately our daughter witnessed all of it, and after a while she started crying. I think sometimes it must have been difficult for her to comprehend what’s happening with his big brother. We always explain to her what he is going through, and she seems to understand in a surprisingly mature way.
Ultimately we got home safe, but drained and exhausted. That night we may have continued with our lives as usual, but the psychological scar will remain with us for a long time. I will never know for sure if I should have ignored the voice in my mind or if I did what I had to do. I like to believe that there was a purpose for all to happen, and that our journey back home had to be delayed by any means. Anyway, I have to find a way for him and for all of us to be secured while being on the car.