Only Sophia

A little while back Sophia had some fun by saying that if she would have gotten her middle finger cut off she would have to say “give me four” when wanting a high five for the rest of her life.
I recently came across this picture, and wanted to share the funny story.
Raising Sophia is so much fun. She is hilarious. She is smart. She is beautiful. She is SWEET. And she is also blonde. Very blonde.
A few years back, as we were visiting my in-laws, for some reason, LeGrand and the girls and I ended up driving to church in Grammy’s van. Aunt Michelle was with us. Halfway to church, Sophia starts screaming from the back. We, being the experienced parents that we were, told her to knock it off. Michelle attentively found out what was going on. She calmly declared, “Her finger is stuck in the seatbelt.”
“Well pull it out”, I say. “It won’t come out”, Michelle says. Sophia is now crying with full force, which is slightly louder than a whimper. I forgot to tell you the girl is quiet. And although she has mostly outgrown it, she used to be terribly shy. I climb in the back of the van to take care of whatever it was that 22 year old Michelle couldn’t.
I was in for the shock of my life. HER FINGER WAS STUCK IN THE SEATBELT. What the heck? How did this happen? Sophia explained that she was just trying it on for size. You know, like a ring. What?.. had she worked her way up to the middle finger from the pinky? Well, she found the finger that it WOULDN’T fit. The middle finger was painfully and obviously TOO BIG. Honda Odyssey engineers must not have thought this one through. 3 year old stuck in a van + an empty middle seatbelt = an ultimate disaster.
I still thought I may be able to rectify things. I asked Michelle to hand me the A&D Ointment out of the diaper bag while thinking “thank goodness I still have one in diapers.” I slathered it good. The finger would still not budge. It wanted to keep that seatbelt on for the showing I guess. Sophia started really screaming good. I pulled hard to no avail. That thing, that ring, um, I mean that seatbelt was not coming off, and her finger was now swelling up good. The seatbelt started cutting into her skin.
By this time, we pulled into the church parking lot. LeGrand got in the back of the van to assess the damage. He calmly asked Michelle to go into the church building to get his dad. Papa came out and was astonished. Remember he is an engineer and he raised five kids….one of which, was Jordan. (a whole other story – one bragging rite was rescuing Jordan vs a hot water heater and although the hot water heater tried to shock Jordan to death, Jordan still won) Who would have guessed this could ever happen? Not any of us if we weren’t staring at it with our own eyes.
We decided I should try and get some ice from the church to see if we could get the swelling down. At this point, Sophia is resigned to be stuck in this van for a very long time. At least she had stopped screaming. The ice didn’t work. At all. It may have cooled her off a little but, that was about it. The only other thing we could think to do was call the fire department. I went in and found a NON EMERGENCY number and called. They questioned, “Her finger is stuck in the seatbelt?” “Yes”, I said, “but it is so much worse than that.” “We can’t get her out of the car.” With my brief explanation and their utter curiosity they said they would send someone out.
Meanwhile, we solicited the help from a prison doctor who happened to be attending church. He tried the trick of wrapping the string around the finger. It wasn’t even close to working. I guess it works on real rings…just not the steel kind. People from the earlier congregation start filling the parking lot as they were leaving. They looked over casually wondering what all these people were doing standing in the back of a van. It was July. It was hot. All of the sudden, you can hear the sirens. They are screaming from down the street and they are traveling fast. Could they possibly be for our Sophia? Why yes. They were.
First, the firetruck arrived. In LeGrand’s words, “Three big old firemen” all decked out in their flame resistant uniforms went to work. They assessed the situation and found a perfectly happy and shy little girl confined to a life in the backseat of a mini-van via seatbelt confusion. The confusion being theirs. They called the fire chief. He had to come and see for himself. Shortly after he arrived and checked things out for himself he said he had been the fire chief for thirty years and had never seen anything like this. Well there’s really no other way to celebrate America on the weekend of Independence Day, is there? The irony – no freedom to be found without the jaws of life.
Well, before they went as drastic as the jaws of life they decided that they would consult with their buddies, the paramedics. The paramedics offered nothing, except for some real eye candy for the people leaving church. We had a lot of gawkers. Not to blame them. How could they not wonder what was going on?A little girl in the back of a van. Emergency workers each taking turns checking out the situation. An array of emergency vehicles, inlcuding, but not limited to: a firetruck (with lights and sirens), an ambulance, a couple of police cars, and the truck of the fire chief.
Oh yeah, after putting all their heads together, what did they come up with? They were gonna have to cut her out. That was all they could do. They cut her out of the seatbelt and gave us their best advice, “Head on over to the emergency room to see if they can figure out some way to remove the metal from her hand”. “Oh, and tell your other kids not to play with the seat-belts in the future.” “Why thank you. Thank you so much.”
LG, Sophia, my father in law(Duane), and I head on over to the emergency room. We get to start it all over again. At the front desk. “Hi.” “hi.” “How can we help you?” We all look totally fine and we are dressed to the nines compared to the rest of the room because our Sunday worshop was apparently happening on their floor of the hospital. LeGrand starts to explain, “This is our daughter Sophia, she got her finger stuck in the seatbelt.” Blank stare. Me: “let me show you.” I held up her hand to the receptionist who immediately dropped her jaw in astonishment.
This exact scenario happened at least 20 more times while visiting the hospital. We finally just started throwing her hand into the faces of the medical gawkers. Everyone wanted to see what a finger looked like on a little girl who stuck it in a seatbelt. Nurses, doctors, janitors, desk workers, x-ray technicians. You name it. None of the emergency room docs knew what to do either. They tried the string trick, ice, but gave up shortly before the second round of A&D ointment.
It all ended with a visit from the orthopedic surgeon who declared, “we are going to have to do surgery with our diamond saw.” Are you kidding me?
As he started to explain that he was pretty steady with the saw, but there were still all kind of tragic possibilities including the loss of a finger, I quickly reminded him that LG was in law school and he better not screw up. He didn’t appreciate that. I started crying and begging him to not cut her finger off. He assured me that if he did cut it off, he would be able to most possibly successfully reattach it.
That was the longest hour of my life. The surgeon did a great job. I never did tell him that LeGrand wouldn’t have sued him even if he cut her whole hand off. I was so relieved that she was all in one piece.
Today, Sophia is really proud of two things. One- she was in a movie and two – she has a beautiful and modern ring that is an original. (I haven’t had the heart to tell her that has probably happened to someone else out there in this big world) The ring is cut into two pieces in her box of keepsakes and she is free to try it on whenever she feels a hankering. We figured that would be the surest way of keeping her away from the same exact seatbelts in our current van.
I wish I could have been at the Honda Dealership when my father in law was explaining the situation. He had to pull out a picture of WHY the fire department had actually cut the seatbelt out of the van. “She got her finger stuck in the seatbelt” just wasn’t cutting it.
Our hats go off to Honda who has a lifetime free replacement for their seatbelts. Maybe one of these days they will call to let our children safety test their vans. I am sure there are other possible disastrous scenarios that their engineers haven’t thought of. Adding a blonde child to their team could only help their safety regulations. I know four children that could give them a run for their money, as long as they won’t lose any fingers.
Adding this video in on 1/24/2014 for your reference to the string trick mentioned.


  1. I can't believe she was able to remain so calm for the majority of the ordeal. Great to have a story like that. did I ever tell you about the time I got my whole body stuck in a seat belt? (as in, I couldn't unbuckle it) You've inspired me, I'll have to write that one up.

  2. The story is hilarious, and your writing is superb. Me and my girls laughed and laughed. I laughed so hard I was crying! They say time+tragedy=comedy, and you have done a fabulous job of turning a mini tragedy into a fantastic piece of comedy! Thanks so much for sharing. I needed a good laugh. 🙂

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