Don't believe for a second that parenthood is just birthday parties, zoo trips, and lemonade stands. Raising children is not only tough, but it's also physically and mentally taxing. Of course, some parents have their work cut out for them more than others.
And if anyone knows this, it’s Michelle Fortin, a mother from Scottsdale, Arizona, who thought she had the whole motherhood thing figured out. Until one day, her daughter did something that really tested her limits. Left with no other choice, she reached out to the local authorities to help her handle her three-year-old.
Wearing a Seat Belt is Important
Getting ejected from a car after a crash will most likely result in terrible injuries or death, which is why seat belts are the best way to prevent that. Seat belts keep the driver and passengers secure while a car skids or spins. It’s why buckling up is one of the most important things a family can do before turning the ignition on and driving off. Since they first came into use, seat belts have become invaluable at saving lives.
10,421 Lives Were Saved by Seat Belts
Between 1975 and 2013 alone, approximately 10,421 children were saved by seat belts or child safety seats after a horrible car crash. But despite the evidence, some people don’t wear seat belts for a number of reasons. As you can imagine, a lot of those reasons don’t make a whole lot of sense. In fact, many of the excuses people make about not buckling their seat belts are downright childish.
Some People Only Use Them Because It’s the Law
Most people use seat belts to avoid being seriously hurt and to set a good example for their kids. But the main reason they do so is simply because it’s the law. The last thing they want to do is risk being pulled over by a cop and getting a ticket worth hundreds of dollars.
On top of that, if they get caught multiple times not wearing a seat belt, they run the risk of having their license suspended from too many infractions. But this doesn’t stop others from defying the law... or making ridiculous excuses for not wearing seatbelts.
Some Reasons Why People Refuse to Wear Seat Belts
There's a number of reasons for people to not wear a seat belt, each one more ridiculous than the next. Some don't want to get their clothes all wrinkly. Others claim they're uncomfortable, or worse... they think seat belts are pointless. Other choose to rely on other safety measures inside their vehicles to keep them safe in the event of a car crash.
Airbags Aren’t Enough
Some people don’t wear their seat belts because they believe that airbags will keep them safe from serious injuries. These safety innovations are obviously an incredible asset. Most airbags are hidden in the dashboard and in the steering wheel and they provide cushioning for drivers and passengers during a crash.
Without them, a person will likely smash their heads and torso violently against the steering wheel and dashboard on impact. But airbags alone aren't enough to keep people safe.
Being in a Hurry is No Excuse
It seems like everyone’s in a rush in the morning. Many people have kids they need to get to school and important meetings to attend. Sometimes they have to run a couple of errands too, like dropping a letter at the post office or paying a bill before heading to work.
When police pull them over, these reckless drivers claim they were in such a hurry that they simply couldn't afford to buckle up. To most responsible adults, none of these excuses make much sense!
Children Don’t Know Any Better
There are rules in place for a reason. There’s simply no excuse for a grown up to defy these regulations that were put in place for their own well-being. But kids don't understand how the world works, of course. They'll eventually understand why putting on your seat belt is so important.
In the meantime, they rely on their parents and teachers to teach them the difference between right and wrong and to enforce certain rules. But this doesn’t always work.
Kids Must Learn About Consequences
Rules teach kids what’s acceptable and what isn’t. This allows them to control their behavior and avoid getting hurt. But getting your kids to listen to you is not always as simple as it sounds. Sometimes, they will test you out by doing the exact opposite.
But kids don't know any better and they can't understand the consequences of their actions, which is why they need to be taught how to act responsibly from a very young age. Well, that's exactly what this mother from Arizona did when her young daughter wouldn't listen to her.
Kids Can Be Annoying
Anyone who has ever been in a car with their kids in the backseat knows how annoying they can get. They’re constantly asking questions, babbling, or yelling. But when they’re not asking mommy or daddy a ton of questions, they’re fighting with their siblings or throwing toys around. And that’s just for starters.
Kids Scream a Lot
When you aren’t giving them enough attention, many kids will start screaming or throwing a tantrum. They’ll unleash a powerful wail that can pierce your eardrums and make you want to stop the car dead in its tracks. Luckily for Michelle Fortin, she had become quite a pro at tuning out her kids when they're getting rowdy in the back. But there have been moments when Michelle felt like they were testing her patience.
They Always Pushed Her Buttons
Michelle’s children always managed to push her buttons when they were in the backseat of the family car. But one day, her daughter’s behavior became particularly more annoying than usual and it was driving her insane. Then she noticed that she had done something that Michelle found completely unacceptable. At that point, she knew that this was too big of a problem for her to handle on her own. So, she called the cops.
Her Daughter Never Listened
Most kids are generally defiant towards their parents at some point or another, but Michelle felt that her daughter was defiant all the time. She never listened to anything she and her husband told her to do. In fact, whenever they told her to do something, she did the exact opposite. Most of the time, the Arizona mother could handle her rebellious streak, but this was not one of those days.
She Was Driving Her Kids Home
On one fateful morning, Michelle placed her kids in the back seat of the car. She made sure they were buckled in, and then headed off. She figured it was going to be an uneventful weekday morning, but things didn’t turn out that way at all. And once she took a quick glance at her rearview mirror, she knew this was going to be one of the most challenging days she had ever experienced as a mom.
Fighting Among Kids is Common
As she drove away, she overheard her kids screaming at one another. Sibling fights were pretty normal, especially when the kids were so young. But she swore that she was seeing and hearing what appeared to be a WWE wrestling match in the backseat of her car.
At first, she tried ignoring it because she assumed they would calm down on their own. But suddenly, her son let out a desperate cry.
Her Son’s Urgent Cry Shocked Her
Even as she looked back, she wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, at least, not at first. She did have to look ahead, after all. If she focused too much on what was happening in the back, she risked losing control of the car and driving into oncoming traffic or a telephone pole.
But she just couldn’t pretend like nothing was happening anymore. Just when Michelle was about to snap, her son yelled something that sent shivers down her spine. "Mommy! Mommy! She unbuckled her seat belt!"
She Started Experiencing Parental Stress
As a parent, there are times when handling your own children is virtually impossible. Nothing you say or do will get through to them, no matter how angry you get. That day, Michelle had enough! Between the incessant whining, crying, and yelling, she was at a breaking point. She wasn’t sure she had the patience to handle the situation. But she knew she had to intervene, and she had to do it fast.
Keeping Her Kids Safe Was a Priority
Keeping her kids buckled up and safe while they were in the car was her top priority. But this had become terribly challenging since her little girl was being tumultuous and refused to listen to anything she had to say lately. In fact, she had been defying her authority quite a bit. Michelle thought that the terrible twos were far behind her, but it turns out that three year olds can be just as unruly.
Michelle Pulled Over
Her son told Michelle that his sister Camille was unbuckling her seat belt. Camille was only three years old. As soon as Michelle heard his desperate cry for help, she turned around and realized that he was right.
Camille had unbuckled her seat belt, and if there had been an accident, she could have flown through the windshield and suffered life-threatening injuries or worse. In a fit of rage, Michelle got out of the car, opened up the back passenger side door and buckled Camille in again.
Michelle Tried Reasoning With Camille
Michelle had tried to explain to Camille why it was so dangerous to ride in a car without a seat belt. She thought that she could reason with her and that she wouldn’t try testing her patience again, but there was no reasoning with this 3-year-old. She called her mother’s bluff and what happened next really sent Michelle off the edge. Why couldn’t she understand that she was doing this for her own good?
Camille Continued to Unbuckle Her Seat Belt
Camille kept unbuckling her seat belt and Michelle was forced to try buckling it up again. But no matter how many times she did, the little girl did not heed her mother’s warning. At this point, Michelle did not know what to do. What Camille was doing put her in serious danger. But at that age, kids can’t fully understand the consequences of their actions. So, her mother tried a different approach.
She Grabbed the Phone and Made a Call
Michelle came to the conclusion that enough was enough and by the time she got home she knew what she had to do. But she realized that the plan she was about to implement was something most parents would never consider doing to their own kids.
And yet, she no longer felt like she had a choice. So, she grabbed her phone and made a call. Only time would tell if her next course of action would convince Camille that she could not unbuckle her seat belt while she was in the car.
She Dialed the Non-Emergency Number
Michelle didn’t call 9-1-1 because this wasn’t a life-or-death situation. So instead, she dialed the non-emergency number and asked if it was possible to make an appointment to have two officers come over. She wasn’t sure how they’d react since cops are always busy keeping order on the streets and taking out criminals who disturb the peace. Would they simply laugh at her and hang up? There was only one way to find out!
She Asked Cops for Help
Michelle hoped that the Scottsdale Police Department would help her out with the situation. But authorities were used to handling calls related to theft, domestic disturbances and car accidents. They had never gotten a call quite like this. So, she hoped that they wouldn’t laugh at her request. Luckily for this desperate mom, the cops were willing to help.
She Needed Them to Take Extreme Measures
Michelle was convinced that only extreme measures would teach her daughter a lesson. So, she waited for the cops to get there. A couple of minutes later, she heard the sound of a police siren, so she and her kids looked out the window just as a cop car drove up to their driveway. At that moment, she started to have second thoughts. Was this a good idea, or would this backfire on her?
The Cops Came Knocking at Her Door
Michelle gave her kids a worrisome glance as the cops knocked on their door. She answered it and asked what this was about. She was obviously pretending not to know since she was the one that called them, but she had to put on a good show or her kids would see through the ruse.
She was actually very surprised the authorities had sent someone to help her out. But would they actually agree to do what she asked of them after realizing her daughter was so young?
The Cops Knelt Beside the Little Girl
She immediately pointed at Camille and the officers looked in the child’s direction. There was something about the little girl that told them right away that this would not be easy. She was a rebellious one, but they were used to handling cases like this.
So, they got on their knees so they could be at eye level with Camille. Then they told her that they wanted to have a talk with her. Would she be open to listening to the officers or would she do what she normally did when Michelle and her husband spoke to her and simply look away?
They Explained the Importance of Seat Belts
The police officers weren’t trying to scare the little girl, of course. All they wanted was to get her to see how dangerous it was to be inside a moving vehicle without a seat belt.
They continued by telling her that if another vehicle crashed into her mom’s car and she didn’t keep her seat belt on, she could be seriously injured and die. Had they gone too far by using the D-word or was this exactly what Camille needed to hear to start following the rules?
Drivers Are Unpredictable
"We don't know what other drivers will do," Scottsdale cop Corey Snead told Camille. "Other drivers might not pay attention and run into the back of your mom, or side of the car. If you were not buckled, your body is going to hit something." The lesson wasn’t just for her but her other siblings as well. And Michelle hoped that she wouldn’t be forced to call the cops again on any of her kids now or in the future.
The Cops Used Stuffed Animals
Kids love stuffed animals and Camille was no different. So, Officer Snead used stuffed animals to show the toddler how a seat belt was attached and why it was so important to wear one. Michelle told CBS News, “I handled the situation, but I also decided to take another step to drive the point home,” when she called the cops. The last thing she needed was for her kids to assume that seat belts were simply a mommy and daddy rule.
They Told Her She Was Breaking the Law
As Michelle watched, she realized that Camille was actually listening to what the officers were telling her with an open mind, but she looked absolutely terrified. And yet, the officers weren’t done scaring the little girl. They also told her that by not wearing her seat belt, she was breaking the law and could get into trouble. At that point, Camille saw the error of her ways and admitted to her mom that she had been wrong.
Camille Agreed to Wear Her Seat Belt
"I will always wear a seat belt, and I won't take it off until the car stops, and my mother says it is okay to take it off," Camille said. But Michelle had a great deal more to add before she was ready to let her daughter off the hook and forgive her for all the times she had defied her in the car.
And while some folks would say that the little girl had already had an epiphany, Michelle needed to be 100 percent sure that everyone understood why she did what she did to teach her the difference between right and wrong.
Michelle Justified Her Actions
Michelle explained: "There might be people who are going to think I took the situation to the extreme. However, I believe it was a teaching moment." It’s not like she hadn’t tried other methods to teach Camille, but the little girl had failed to listen. So, calling the cops on her kid was really more of a last resort. And it had clearly worked as her daughter had learned the errors of her ways and was ready to obey.
The Cops Sided with Michelle
The cops were more than happy to help Michelle teach Camille a lesson and they didn’t judge her at all. If anything, they thought that she was a great mom for doing everything she could to make sure she was safe in the car. In the end, it became evident that the conversation that the cops had with Camille had worked and more importantly, it might have even saved her life should an unforeseen event happen on the road someday.
A Reckless Driver Can Change Everything
The officers were glad that Michelle had reached out to them and that the little girl had listened because this could have turned out very differently. As cops, they had dealt with accidents involving a reckless driver who hit another driver and destroyed that person’s life.
In some cases, the victim or victims inside the vehicle weren’t wearing their seat belts and suffered injuries that left them permanently paralyzed, in a coma, or worse. They didn’t want Michelle and her family to ever deal with such a tragedy. But this story didn’t end here.
The Story Went Viral
Soon, the media got wind of the story about what Michelle had done and before long she was getting interview requests by shows like ‘Inside Edition’ and ‘Good Morning America.’ They even invited the two cops on air who answered the Arizona mother’s call and spoke to Camille about the importance of wearing a seat belt. All of a sudden, Michelle and the officers found themselves feeling like local celebrities.
Her Daughter Was in Danger
"Her safety was at risk," Michelle explained to ‘Good Morning America.’ "It was the first time she'd done it, but it was something that could affect her life and her health and it was not an issue I was going to compromise on and I felt like by me just telling her ... it wasn't quite getting through." But she had a great deal more to say about the whole situation.
Camille Knew She Had Messed Up
She continued: "She knew she did something wrong, but to have another authority figure back up what mom was saying was really beneficial for her. She's 3 years old and she's learning the boundaries and she needs to know what's right and what's wrong and it's my job to tell her that and to teach her and to raise her to respect authority. And so, any nervousness she felt toward the police officers were out of respect.”
The Cops Shared Their Opinion
The hosts on the shows asked the cops how they initially felt when Michelle called them about the tiny terror in her life who refused to wear her seat belt. They admitted that the call had caught them completely by surprise but that they were happy to lend a hand. Then they said something else that neither Michelle nor anyone in the studio or the audience watching at home would ever be able to forget.
Accidents Happen in a Split Second
"Accidents can happen in a split second. If the child is not wearing a seat belt, the results can be tragic," the cops explained on camera. It’s why they appreciated what Michelle had done and the way they included them in her plan to teach Camille. It’s important that parents teach their kids to wear their seat belts while they’re in the car.
A Lot of Accident-Related Deaths Are Preventable
This incident with Michelle and her rebellious daughter occurred in 2016, but a year earlier, in 2015, over half of teens and adults died in car crashes that year for simply not wearing their seat belts. These deaths could have easily been prevented had they been wearing them. Unfortunately, it was too late for them, but there was still hope for Camille and her sibling.
Don’t Rush to Use Adult Seat Belts on Kids
Some parents rush to get their kids to use adult seat belts, but these types of belts are only effective in keeping them safe from ages 8 and up, depending the child’s size, of course. So, it’s always best to keep using that belt positioning booster seat on kids younger than 8. But how can parents be sure if their kids are ready for an adult seat belt? There are some easy ways to check.
When to Know if Kids Are Ready for a Regular Seat Belt
It’s important to check that a child’s knees bend at the edge of their seat when their backs are against the seat. Their feet should also be touching the floor comfortably and that’s not all. The shoulder belt must fit comfortable across their chest and shoulder. If the belt is across their neck or face then they aren’t ready for a regular seat belt, in which case they need to stay in their booster seat.
The Cops Drove the Point Home
Later, Michelle told ABC 7: “I guess it was an extreme choice on my part to call police, but…I knew that was gonna drive the point home better than just hearing it from mom.” This is often the case with kids of all ages. They’ll typically listen to an authority figure like a school teacher, a coach, or in this case, a cop, much better than they ever would their own mom and dad.
She Had to Get Creative with Her Discipline
Michelle, who had been driving her kids home after a trip to the dentist, will never forget how scared she was when she realized her daughter had unbuckled her seat belt. “I know my kids better than anyone else, and I know that sometimes we have to get creative with our discipline,” she told CBS News. “My daughter is 3; she doesn’t necessarily think that rules apply to her.”
Kids Love to Challenge Parents
One of the main reasons kids throw a tantrum is to test boundaries and see if they can get anything they want by misbehaving. Naturally, some parents are soft and leave their kids’ behavior to go unchecked, which can result in terrible consequences. By giving in to them, kids begin to believe that being challenging is how they get their way. Once this becomes a pattern, it can be difficult to change this behavior.
Kids Shouldn’t Be Making All Their Choices
It’s one thing to allow kids to make their own choices because it teaches them to feel empowered, but allowing them to make decisions about their lives all the time can often lead to chaos.
The takeaway here is that kids aren’t capable of running their own lives, which also means that like Camille, they don’t always know right from wrong. “Parents need to hold their ground, you know,” Michelle told CBS News. “Sometimes we have trouble trying to communicate ways to correct our children.”
She’s Gotten Backlash
Although Michelle’s tactics worked, not everyone was onboard with the way she handled the situation with Camille. “I’ve had individual people challenge me on this decision, say they would never do this,” she said. “I really stand my ground on this. I made the right decision for my kid, and it made an impact. We’re all just trying to raise meaningful citizens.”
She Never Said She Was the Best Mom
Michelle never said she was the best mother in the world, but she hopes that people will give her a little credit for being the only mother she knew how to be. One thing she does know for sure is that Camille has seen the light and knows that mommy’s rules are there not because she wants to annoy her but because she loves her and wants what’s best for her.
But just in case she forgets, Michelle will know what number to call if she needs some reinforcements.
She Wanted to Teach Camille a Lesson
Had Michelle not done what she did, Camille would've had a rude awakening when she realized that she’s not the center of the universe and the world certainly doesn’t bend to her whims. In general, we don't have much patience for grown-ups who behave like toddlers. Fortunately, Michelle feels like she might have taken the right steps in curving her daughter’s defiance, at least as far as not wearing a seat belt is concerned.
It Was Tough Love
Michelle knew that there were times when a mother could teach their child a valuable lesson with kindness and love. Then there were other times when you need some tough love to get the message across. As crazy as it sounds, calling the cops on her own toddler was the only way she could get her toddler to listen to her.
Regardless of whether people think she was too harsh, her plan was a complete success. And aside from the occasional sibling squabble in the backseat, Michelle would never have to deal with Camille unbuckling her seat belt again.