He Said/She Said: Mom’s Side of the Story
Lockdown: How I Accidentally Locked My Baby in the Car
~By M. Deptula
My husband, 1-year-old daughter, and I were leaving Whole Foods recently after our weekly grocery store outing when all hell broke loose. It started innocently enough, when I realized on the way back to the car that we had forgotten to buy some bottled water. No sooner had I mentioned this oversight than my darling husband tossed me his keys and he sprinted back to the store. I was immediately annoyed: why did he automatically get the fun job of running back to the store while I got stuck buckling in the 13-month-old car-seat hater?
During this time, my sweet car seat–hating baby was keeping herself occupied by arching her back, screaming, and begging for my husband’s keys, which she could see me holding. To calm her down and save my eardrums, I relented and handed her the keys while I finished strapping her in. Finally, some silence and contentment. Or so I thought.
Once I had firmly strapped her in, I shut the back door on one side of the car and ran around to the other side to hang out with her until Daddy returned. Big mistake. By the time I reached the other door, it was locked. I tested the driver-side door. Locked. Then the door I had just exited. Locked. Then the trunk. Also locked. Holy shit, I had just locked my one-year-old baby in the car!
At this point, I was wildly dancing around my car in a total state of panic. My brilliant child had clearly pressed the “lock” button and was now stuck inside the car, the car that would – I was convinced – be lacking in oxygen within five short minutes. “What do I do?” was my first thought. My second? “My husband is going to kill me.”
As I stood there watching my baby girl playing happily with the keys, I plotted how to get back in. I was ready to break a window, but there were two things stopping me: 1) I had nothing to break a window with other than my not very strong arm and 2) I knew my darling husband would be really ticked off. Besides, he’d be here soon and would surely know what to do. Thankfully, my daughter seemed to be having the time of her life, playing peek-a-boo with her frantic mommy, who was still waving to her from the outside.
At long last my darling husband returned to the car and I explained the terrible situation. His response, far from the supportive “Poor you, it’s OK” I was still secretly hoping for was instead an angry and accusatory “How did this happen?” ARGH! I left him to stare at baby girl and this time I ran back into Whole Foods. The customer service guy called security. When I got back outside, darling husband had decided to hop in a cab home to get our second set of keys while I would stay to deal with security and try to get a locksmith.
I have to admit that I felt like a huge loser standing outside my car in the parking lot flanked by two security guards. Unwilling to admit defeat, though, I tried hopping up and down trying to entice my baby girl to press the unlock button on the key chain. My plan might have even worked had she not dropped the keys a few minutes later and started crying. Sweat began pouring down my body as I watched her face get redder and redder as she fussed.
I kept futilely trying the handle until a rather shady-looking guy approached us and offered help. Not making direct eye contact, he muttered, “Excuse me, um, I can get into your car with a tree branch. Would you like me to?” I’m not sure I made any verbal response, but my wide eyes and tear-stained cheeks sent him out on a frantic search for foliage.
The next 2, 5, or 15 minutes (time was a blur) were the longest of my life. I stood crying, watching my baby cry, and thinking – more like screaming – to myself, “Babies die like this!” The security guard took pity on me, patting me on the back and repeating, “She’s fine. If we need to, we’ll break a window.” (Apparently his arms were stronger than mine.) He even shared the story of his wife dropping his daughter off the bed years ago and assured me that one day this would all be funny. Very funny.
At long last, I heard a beep, tried the handle, and the car door opened. My husband’s taxi soon rounded the corner and he jumped out. I went straight to my sweet little baby, who was red, covered in sweat, and so very sad. As I turned to see her dad valiantly leaping up the staircase, the sketchy man followed him with a scraggly and now unneeded tree branch, while the locksmith trailed uselessly behind. I’m told that my babygirl, who is now completely fine, won’t remember what happened. As for her mom? Well that’s an entirely different story.
Wonder what Dad was thinking the whole time? Find out here!