Yesterday was "Bring a Friend Day" at our church's Vacation Bible School so I invited the twins on the next block figuring one stop and each of my kids would have a friend to bring. I got my three kids dressed and fed breakfast, picked up their friends, and safely deposited all but Seth at church. I usually go home after dropping the kids off, but I wanted to be close just in case one of the twins had issues being dropped in a strange place only knowing my kids so Seth and I headed to the pet store for hamster treats.
Seth and I took our time looking at the birds, fish, guinea pigs, and other furry rodents. We picked out treats for Sarah the hamster and also found treats for the dog and a few tiny toy mice for our cat. Seth convinced me that he absolutely *had* to have the green squeaky ball for himself. Ball is one of the only words that the kid says on a regular basis so how could I say "No." with him looking up at me with those beautiful baby blues, pointing and repeating "Ball, ball, ball."? Yeah, I'm a sucker. We looked at all the cats for adoption and I had to drag myself away reminding myself it wouldn't be fair to the wonderful kitty we already have.
Seth and I killed over an hour poking around the pet store, but he was not ready to go when I took his hand and steered us toward the door. He launched into a full blown tantrum so I scooped him up, threw him under my arm and continued out the door. At this point, I get a text from my friend so I call her back as I'm approaching my car. You need the visual on this: screaming 2yr old under one arm, shopping bag and purse hanging off the other arm with keys in hand, phone pinned between ear and shoulder.
I unlocked the car with the remote key chain, opened Seth's door and plopped his sobbing self in. I closed his door, opened my door, dumped my purse and bag in the driver's seat, put the keys in the ignition, did not start the car, but turned the accessories on so the A/C would start as I continued to chat with my friend. I shut my door, turned to open his door to strap him in and, as I was reaching for the door handle, I heard it... *click*. H-o-l-y S-h-i-t!!! My kid, mischievous little monkey that he is, scaled the center council and pushed the lock button... with my keys inside the car!!!
My stomach dropped to my knees as my heart jumped into my throat. I briefly explained to my friend what had happened and hung up. I spent the next ten minutes trying to coax Seth to "hit the button for, Mommy." which he did, repeatedly relocking the car. I may not have had my purse or my keys or my kid, but I did have my phone so I sent the husband a text, "Call me now." He responded, "I'll be on lunch in 30 minutes." To which I replied, "911, I need you now!" He called back, I explained the situation, he left work to rescue both his trapped son and panicked wife. Thank God he is in training this week. He cannot leave his work station unattended which means he has to wait for backup to be called in if he needs to leave mid-shift. He would not have been able to leave to help me if he was working his normal job.
I still had at least 20 minutes until the husband and his set of keys would arrive so I called my friend back going straight to voicemail twice. I pleaded with her in my messages to call me back as I began to realize I had other problems... the four kids that I had dropped off at VBS were going to need to be picked up. The thought of this sent me into another wave of panic. I don't know the parents of the twins all that well. We are neighbors, their mom was an aide once a week at Gwen's preschool, we sat together at the kids' T-ball practices and games. We are friendly and I really like them, but we are still in the getting-to-know-you phase.
I was terrified at the thought of having to call them and explain that I had been irresponsible enough to let my 2yr old get locked in the car the first time that I was entrusted with their children. They don't know that this is the first time in the 6.5 years that I have been a mom that I have done anything remotely this stupid. I just saw our relationship and maybe the relationships of my kids and theirs grinding to a screeching halt on the premise that I'm a negligent parent and a bad mother.
As you can probably tell, this is the point in the story where the stress was starting to get to me and I was starting to overreact. My friend got my messages and showed up to stand just as helplessly at my side in the pet store parking lot. Her arrival signaled to Seth for the first time that something was wrong. Up until this point he had been bouncing around, relocking the doors over and over, enjoying the freedom of not being tethered to the car. Seeing both of us standing outside looking in at him triggered something in that little head of his and he started to cry.
People were noticing through this whole ordeal what was going on and were asking if I needed help or if there was anything they could do. With the husband on his way and the A/C going inside the car, everything was as under control as it could be. Seth's crying did add another sense of urgency and panic, though. A woman had walked by and made comment that I should call the police because it was probably getting hot in the car. I assured her that the A/C was running but, as she walked away, I started to question whether or not it was. Seth was crying harder now and starting to break a sweat. Was he sweating because he was crying or was he crying because he was frying to death?
With this new doubt, I started calling the husband every five minutes for reassurance that he was getting closer and wasn't stuck in traffic or encountering any other delays. My last call to his cell placed him 3 minutes down the road. The relief that this would soon be over, that my child would soon be free and that I would have enough time to get to church for the other four kids began to edge in through the panic. That small ease in the stress lasted all of 30 seconds before the police showed up. Damn it! Someone called the cops.
In hindsight, I don't blame the caller one bit. At that moment, however, I was pissed as a whole new set of worries came crashing in. Could I be in trouble for neglect or endangerment? Would the police question me and how long would that take seeing as I just figured out that I could actually make it to VBS pick-up on time and not have to rat myself out to the twins' parents?
I told the cop that my husband was on his way and only two minutes down the road. He asked if I wanted him to try prying the lock and I said, "No, since my husband is almost here, but I understand if you want to hangout and make sure." He did a once over of the car taking in my crying child, keys dangling from the ignition, purse and shopping bag on the front seat. He didn't get the chance to ask me any questions before Seth's daddy was pulling up along side us and setting our child free. By the time I turned around, the cop was gone.
The rest is fuzzy. I was in a daze once it was all over... 40 minutes of intense panic gone in an instant left me a little dizzy and sick to my stomach. The husband and I had a few words before he headed back to work, my friend went off to run her errands since she was out, Seth and I picked up the kids as if nothing had transpired while they were at church. The one thing that I do remember clearly is hugging my sweaty child (the A/C was running), kissing him multiple times before looking into those beautiful baby blues and yelling, "You don't touch buttons!"