Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Responsible One

In my family I was always known as "the responsible one." I'm the oldest of five children, so I guess I came by the nickname naturally. (I'm also known as Bubbles and Moochie, but explanations for those terms of endearment are not for this post.)

Because of the experience I had today, I think one of my siblings is going to have to take the title away from me, as I am no longer deserving of such an accolade. I hang my head in shame to admit to the following story, but those of you who follow my blogs understand that I am entirely capable of doing this brainless thing.

It all started very innocently. Christina was accompanying her second grader on a field trip today, so she asked me to take her foster daughter, "Angel", to her visit with her mother. No problem--I've done it before, I could certainly do it again. The one-hour visit went well and Angel and I returned to my car. I unlocked the passenger side of my two-door T-bird, threw my keys and purse onto the console, and securely fastened Angel into her car seat in the back. I slammed the door and went around to the driver's side to get in. Lifted the door handle, but nothing happened. I figured I hadn't hit the button from the other side that would unlatch both doors, so went back to the passenger side to do so. Lifted the handle--nothing happened. Yep, right there in the parking lot of DHS I had managed to lock a 2-year-old foster child in my car!

What's a grandma to do?? Angel smiled at me from the back seat, enjoying the yummy treat Mommy had given her during their visit. I yelled through the window that I would be right back, and ran through the icy rain to the back door of DHS and rang the button that would let them buzz me in. When a man answered and said I could enter, I opened the door and said to the faceless voice on the intercom, "I need some help!" He came out and I explained the situation, feeling like a complete idiot. (I kept an eye on my car this whole time, though the chances of someone being able to drive off with Angel in my locked car were pretty slim!)

Long story shorter, the case worker came out and stood in the rain while I went in and called AAA. I couldn't give them much info, as my AAA card was locked in the car, but as soon as they heard I had a two-year-old in a locked car in wintry conditions, and eating a snack that she might choke on, they said they'd make it a high priority call and get someone there as soon as possible. I went back to the car and spent the next fifteen minutes making faces through the window and singing Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star to an adorable little girl who stayed happy and didn't choke. (The case worker and I decided we'd break a window if necessary.)

Finally a tow truck pulled up and a big old guy got out, hitching up his pants as he made his way to my car. He worked and worked, putting wedges in the door, snaking a wire in to try to lift the door lock. (Every time he moved, his pants slipped down, his shirt slithered up and showed off an over-indulged stomach, but he was still a hero to me!) He tried for nearly 20 minutes, but wasn't having a lot of luck.

Another tow truck pulled up then, dispatched by the local police department. The guy got out and brought his tools around to the driver's side and started working. I've heard of dueling banjos, but dueling locksmiths? Forty-five minutes after trapping my keys, purse, and ... oh, yeah, a child in the car, I was rescued. The first man was able to get a wire to grab hold of my bunch of keys and bring them out through the wedge in the door.I was chilled to the bone from having stood in a big puddle all that time, and was ready for lunch, but oh, so glad that Angel had found the whole episode hugely entertaining and hadn't fussed at all.

Yes, I will be exceedingly careful to keep my keys in my hands or pockets at all times when I'm putting Angel in the car (if Christina ever trusts me with her again,) but the bigger lesson in all of this was for Angel. It was a day of teaching her opposites: warm--cold; dry--wet; full--hungry;
responsible--not so much!


Anonymous said...

I fear the pressure of having to be "perfect" all these years may have exacted too steep a toll on you. I'm glad you can finally relax.

Trust me, the perfect attendance pin for Sunday School breaks as soon as they give it to you!

Partial Bestower of "Moochie"

Robin Johns Grant said...

I love your stories! They make me feel not quite so alone!

Actually, my cousin had a similar experience with her twin babies. She said between going to so many doors to put babies and strollers and shopping bags in through various doors, she got confused and locked them in. She was dealing with it fairly well, though. She called her husband who wasn't too far away to bring her the extra key to the car.

However, a crowd began to gather in the parking lot, and they weren't nearly so calm. Someone called a fire truck. The police came. People started getting onto her about leaving her poor babies in a car--as though she had done it on purpose!

Maybe it's a good thing I don't have children. I can only imagine what I would do.