We were supposed to go to the park, but it was 99 degrees and I wasn’t feeling up to it. So we play in the wading pool in the backyard until 6 or so. Rob always tries to be home around then. Both kids are starving, flushed, sweaty and in their underwear when we head in to set the table for dinner. Carrying Graham I follow Violet to the back porch. She goes up the steps into the house, closes the door and locks it. Great. The side gate is locked from the outside and I can’t reach over the top of the fence.
“Open it,” I say through the door in my stern-mommy voice.
“I can’t!” she whines, gripping the lock as hard as she can. I know this is true, which is why we haven’t had to put an eye-hook lock on the top of the back door to keep her from randomly escaping.
“Fine,” I sigh. “You’ll just have to play on your own until Daddy gets home.” Any minute. The house is childproofed enough that I can leave her for a few minutes if I need to put Graham down for his nap or, say, I’m locked in the backyard.
A few minutes later I hear “Mommy! MOMMY!” from the side of the house. Is she calling from her open window? I go investigate. No. She’s in the front yard calling me from the fence gate. Apparently I forgot to lock the (clearly necessary) eye-hook lock on the front door. Damn. “Mommy, I came to open the gate for you.”
“Sorry, neither of us can reach the lock.” (Rob later asked me why I didn’t get some lawn furniture and open it that way. Well, because my brain obviously turns to goo when locked in the backyard in 99 degree heat. And, I kept thinking he’d be home any minute.) “Okay Violet, I need you to go back in the house right now. Run. I’ll meet you at the back door.”
She’s already there when I arrive. I think about shouting for the neighbors, but I know they’re inside with the air conditioning blasting their ears. No way they’d hear me. That’s okay. Rob will be home any minute. “Violet, let’s call Daddy to see where he is. There’s the phone on the table. Push the “talk” button. It starts with “T”. Good. Do you hear a buzz? Okay. Now push these numbers.” She manages to do this, although it’s such a painstaking process that I can’t tell if the call actually goes through.
“He’s not answering! I’ll leave a message: Hi. Hi. Okay.” And she hangs up.
“Okay, Violet. Could you please bring the phone to the gate?” She nods and runs out the door, gripping the phone. I meet her at the gate and she pushes the phone underneath. I call Rob and leave a message. “Now, Violet, I need you to listen to me. You have to go back in the house and close the door. Don’t go anywhere else. Do it now and run. Okay?”
“Okay. I’ll meet you at the back door.”
“Good. Now run as fast as you can!” I go to the back door, dialing Rob again. When I get there, she’s not there. Rob answers. He’s just walking to his car, which means he’s at least 20 minutes away. Violet is still not at the door. I begin to panic. Still holding the phone and Graham I run back to the gate and peek through. To my horror, there is a car parked in front of my house. The driver’s door is open and the driver’s seat is empty. Violet is nowhere. NOWHERE. I start to scream. I scream for Violet and scream for Rob to call 911. I practically throw Graham onto the lawn and start trying to climb the 6 foot impossibly smooth fence. The baby is screaming in terror. I’m screaming in terror. Someone is taking my 3 year old girl right in front of me and there is NOTHING I CAN DO.
Then my next door neighbor appears from around the corner of the house. It’s her car.
“Did you know that Violet is running around the front yard in her underwear?” I don’t know if she actually used those words. I was too insane with fear and panic.
“Yes! She locked me out here. Could you let me out?” I thank her and absolutely sprint into the house, probably leaving her shaking her head and pondering a call to CPS.
Violet is inside crying. (She did not quiet understand why I was so upset, but it obviously scared the pants off her… if she had been wearing any.)
I call Rob to tell him everything is okay, but just get his voice-mail. So I call 311 to cancel the 911 call. Too late, though. The police are already at the door. Thankfully they seem to understand the situation and don’t threaten to cart me to jail for reckless endangerment. They even give Violet a little stern talking to.
They leave. I do that “on-a-very-special-episode-of-Family-Ties” thing where I angrily tell Violet to never do that again and then hug her while trying not to burst into tears.
Later, after we finish putting the kids to bed, Rob doesn’t let me do anything but sit on the couch, where I zone and occasionally twitch.
Here’s a picture of the stroke-inducing child: