Misadventures in mothering

by DaniGirl on August 8, 2006 · 29 comments

in Uncategorized

A while back, Andrea Gordon had a fun post talking about near misses and parenting calamaties, in the wake of all the Britney baby disasters. I didn’t contribute anything to her post that day – although I could have. I might have written about the more than once that Tristan barrel-rolled down the stairs, or the time at nine months old he fell off a bench in a mall and landed on his head on the granite floor – remember that panicked phone call, Jojo?

I was grateful that I’m not a celebrity and didn’t have an audience to broadcast my parenting foibles the other day – and yet, here I am, about to broadcast them to you. Because yesterday’s utter panic is today’s good blog fodder, right?

It was one of those blazingly hot days, and Simon had been completely resistant to the idea of a nap. I finally gave up and tossed both boys into the car and we went off to do a few errands which involved driving over a large part of the city. They managed to stay awake for the first leg of the trip, but by the time I arrived at my second destination, both were soundly asleep in the back seat.

I only had to run in and out. It was a tiny little shop and they were actually holding what I needed behind the counter – I would be five minutes at most. For the first time ever, I contemplated leaving the boys in the car, weighing the danger factor (practically none) and the panic factor should one of them wake up and find me not there (marginal, as both were snoring) versus the annoyance factor of waking both up, carting two sweaty, cranky preschoolers in with me for my one- minute errand, and facing the rest of the day with their slumber-interrupted crankiness.

I found a spot in the shade, debated for a long minute, and made the wrong choice. I figured I’d leave them in the car, and leave the car running so the air conditioning would stay on, but lock the doors and take my electronic remote key fob with me.

I ran in, concluded my transaction, and ran out again. The whole thing took maybe 180 seconds. I felt a little guilty, because I know better than to do something dumb like that, but it was a calculated risk and I told myself I would never do it again as I pushed the button to unlock the doors.

And nothing happened.

I pressed the button again, and a few more times for good measure. I tried the door, in case it miraculously unlocked itself in my absence, and tried to lift the back hatch. With desperation, I tried to use the remote on the back hatch, closing my eyes and wishing with all my heart to hear the familiar thunk of the trunk release when I pushed the button. Silence.

Did you see it coming? Did you know that if the engine is running, your electronic remote key fob doesn’t work? Great safety feature, isn’t it? Unless, of course, you have locked your sleeping preschoolers in the running car, that is.

All the air evaporated out of my lungs as I realized what I had done. I stood blinking stupidly at the boys in the back seat, imagining the phone conversation – oh god, look, there’s the phone right there on the front seat where I left it – that I would have with Beloved, trying to explain this. I pictured police with slim jims called to unlock the doors and liberate my now-awake and terrified children. I envisioned child protective services becoming involved, and the media, too, because you always see the story about the person who leaves their dog in the mall parking lot in 30C heat, so surely to god they’re going to run with the story of the dumb-ass mother who locks her babies in her car in 32C heat.

After a full minute of standing rooted in full-out panic, I realized I had another option. Tristan knows how to open the door. I tapped gently on the window near his lolling head, stage-whispering his name. Nothing. I thunked the glass, whapped the glass, pounded on the glass with all my might and bellowed his name, and he slept blissfully on. I finally – FINALLY! – managed to get his eyelids to flutter open, and he regarded me with unfocused confusion through the glass (I can only laugh to picture what my face must have looked like!) before trying to drift back to sleep. I thumped the window a few more times, and finally roused him enough to convince him to unlock his door.

My legs were rubbery by the time I dropped into the driver’s seat and pulled out of the parking lot. A few deep breaths later, I could almost see the potential humour in the situation, but mostly I was grateful that outing my stupidity would be my choice, and not foisted upon me.

So, I’ve showed you mine. ‘Fess up – what parenting misadventure made you grateful that the paparazzi weren’t lurking in the bushes ready to broadcast the whole thing on Entertainment Tonight?


{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

1 BeachMama August 8, 2006 at 2:21 pm

Oh Dani, my heart is in my throat.
I left J asleep in the car when I was dropping off some sewing. I was standing beside the car, just inside the door (private house) so I could see the car, but the tinting on the windows and the angle of the sun, didn’t allow for me to see that he was awake and crying. The window was open but the door to the house was closed. As soon as I opened it and heard him crying I started bawling myself. I never again stayed inside the door when making a drop.

2 BeachMama August 8, 2006 at 2:21 pm

Oh Dani, my heart is in my throat.
I left J asleep in the car when I was dropping off some sewing. I was standing beside the car, just inside the door (private house) so I could see the car, but the tinting on the windows and the angle of the sun, didn’t allow for me to see that he was awake and crying. The window was open but the door to the house was closed. As soon as I opened it and heard him crying I started bawling myself. I never again stayed inside the door when making a drop.

3 Renee August 8, 2006 at 2:27 pm

I forgot John M. in the car at a friend’s house once, when he was about 5 months old. For about 10 minutes. Luckily it was coolish outside and when I realized he was in there, I found him just looking around happily without a care in the world. I know, I know . . bad mother. But he was being so QUIET.

4 Renee August 8, 2006 at 2:27 pm

I forgot John M. in the car at a friend’s house once, when he was about 5 months old. For about 10 minutes. Luckily it was coolish outside and when I realized he was in there, I found him just looking around happily without a care in the world. I know, I know . . bad mother. But he was being so QUIET.

5 Rev. Dr. Mom August 8, 2006 at 2:30 pm

I once locked my sleeping infant son in the car while I was getting gas. Left the keys in the igntion, and closed the door, not realizing it would lock. Panicked big time when I realized that he was locked in. It wasn’t hot,so that wasn’t an issue, but still… Fortunately, the rear hatch was unlocked, and when I finally realized that I was able to crawl in the back and over the seat. He slept through the whole thing.

6 Rev. Dr. Mom August 8, 2006 at 2:30 pm

I once locked my sleeping infant son in the car while I was getting gas. Left the keys in the igntion, and closed the door, not realizing it would lock. Panicked big time when I realized that he was locked in. It wasn’t hot,so that wasn’t an issue, but still… Fortunately, the rear hatch was unlocked, and when I finally realized that I was able to crawl in the back and over the seat. He slept through the whole thing.

7 Lugina August 8, 2006 at 3:23 pm

Yes, yes, yes, I know all about the key FOB and the ignition. I tried it once. Lucky for me, I also have one of those keypad thingys on my door – the keypad on the door DOES work when the engine is running!!
My youngest has fallen down the stairs at least once and off the bed as an infant at least three times. He locked himself in the bathroom once and couldn’t figure out how to unlock it – I took the door off the hinges. My oldest didn’t get to “experience” as much – probably because I was a new mom and freaky about stuff! I think he fell off the bed once – in my husband’s care of course!!

8 Lugina August 8, 2006 at 3:23 pm

Yes, yes, yes, I know all about the key FOB and the ignition. I tried it once. Lucky for me, I also have one of those keypad thingys on my door – the keypad on the door DOES work when the engine is running!!
My youngest has fallen down the stairs at least once and off the bed as an infant at least three times. He locked himself in the bathroom once and couldn’t figure out how to unlock it – I took the door off the hinges. My oldest didn’t get to “experience” as much – probably because I was a new mom and freaky about stuff! I think he fell off the bed once – in my husband’s care of course!!

9 JoJo August 8, 2006 at 3:54 pm

I haven’t locked her in a car but the other night she woke in hte middle of the night and after a quick cuddle I put her in her crib. She wailed. This went on for quite some time and I was losing my patience. Jaimie suggested I change her diaper. Which I did, in the dark. We gave her some Camilia for her teeth. She didn’t have a fever. We both tried with her. Finally we just let he scream. She screamed on and off until 7am.
Jaimie went in to say good morning and change her diaper. He discovered a toddler with poop spilling out of her diaper. As he was cleaning her he kept saying it’s dried on. When he went to toss the diaper he discovered the diaper that I had changed in the middle of the night was full of poop. And so was her crib. d’oh!

10 JoJo August 8, 2006 at 3:54 pm

I haven’t locked her in a car but the other night she woke in hte middle of the night and after a quick cuddle I put her in her crib. She wailed. This went on for quite some time and I was losing my patience. Jaimie suggested I change her diaper. Which I did, in the dark. We gave her some Camilia for her teeth. She didn’t have a fever. We both tried with her. Finally we just let he scream. She screamed on and off until 7am.
Jaimie went in to say good morning and change her diaper. He discovered a toddler with poop spilling out of her diaper. As he was cleaning her he kept saying it’s dried on. When he went to toss the diaper he discovered the diaper that I had changed in the middle of the night was full of poop. And so was her crib. d’oh!

11 Sugarmama August 8, 2006 at 4:28 pm

You’re so kind to divulge this. I’ve been living with the guilt of leaving a sleeping 1-year old in the car for 7 years now. I was newly separated from her father and had to run an important, but brief, bank errand. I left her sleeping for just a minute, but she woke up and was crying in the car. Some bitchy old lady came into the bank demanding to know what horrible person left her baby in the car, and I had to make the run of shame out of the bank to rescue her while the old lady ran after me, yelling at me. It was awful, and I was so ashamed of myself during an already pretty awful, shameful time. But I never left a sleeping kid in the car again. Just remembering it makes me all freaked out all over again!

12 Sugarmama August 8, 2006 at 4:28 pm

You’re so kind to divulge this. I’ve been living with the guilt of leaving a sleeping 1-year old in the car for 7 years now. I was newly separated from her father and had to run an important, but brief, bank errand. I left her sleeping for just a minute, but she woke up and was crying in the car. Some bitchy old lady came into the bank demanding to know what horrible person left her baby in the car, and I had to make the run of shame out of the bank to rescue her while the old lady ran after me, yelling at me. It was awful, and I was so ashamed of myself during an already pretty awful, shameful time. But I never left a sleeping kid in the car again. Just remembering it makes me all freaked out all over again!

13 Rebecca August 8, 2006 at 5:01 pm

I haven’t left a sleeping baby in the car, but I might’ve in your place. I didn’t know about the key fob either – GOOD TO KNOW!!!
When my older son was 4, I took him to the school playground practically next door to our house. I was sitting on a bench watching as he ever-so-gracefully fell head first to the ground and broke his arm in an extremely painful-looking greenstick fracture. You could see the red spot on his arm where the bone bent. I know there was no way I could’ve caught him, but in hindsite, he probably shouldn’t have been on that particular piece of equipment to begin with.

14 Rebecca August 8, 2006 at 5:01 pm

I haven’t left a sleeping baby in the car, but I might’ve in your place. I didn’t know about the key fob either – GOOD TO KNOW!!!
When my older son was 4, I took him to the school playground practically next door to our house. I was sitting on a bench watching as he ever-so-gracefully fell head first to the ground and broke his arm in an extremely painful-looking greenstick fracture. You could see the red spot on his arm where the bone bent. I know there was no way I could’ve caught him, but in hindsite, he probably shouldn’t have been on that particular piece of equipment to begin with.

15 Ingrid August 8, 2006 at 5:33 pm

Poor You! I can imagine that horrible feeling, wishing the clock could be turned back.
I dislocated the elbow of my 1 year old super energetic daughter, trying to avoid having her sit on a pile of tent pegs. I cried more than she did, and still feel horrible (16 years later). At the ER I was asked a lot of pertinent questions (I’m OK with that since it hopefully lessens the incidence of child abuse).
So I can relate to your agony and shame.
Amazing how children make it to adulthood, despite their parents!

16 Ingrid August 8, 2006 at 5:33 pm

Poor You! I can imagine that horrible feeling, wishing the clock could be turned back.
I dislocated the elbow of my 1 year old super energetic daughter, trying to avoid having her sit on a pile of tent pegs. I cried more than she did, and still feel horrible (16 years later). At the ER I was asked a lot of pertinent questions (I’m OK with that since it hopefully lessens the incidence of child abuse).
So I can relate to your agony and shame.
Amazing how children make it to adulthood, despite their parents!

17 twinmomplusone August 8, 2006 at 6:36 pm

Wow Dani, just reading your tale fills me with anxiety, I can just imagine how you felt.
I didn’t know that the key doesn’t open the car if the engine is running though. Good one to know.
I’ll admit to having left the kids in the car to run in for a quick errand. I’ve never left the engine on though and just open the windows before leaving. Just did that today aobut 7 times but big sis was there with them too and they were all listening to a Jack Johnson CD and singing 🙂

18 twinmomplusone August 8, 2006 at 6:36 pm

Wow Dani, just reading your tale fills me with anxiety, I can just imagine how you felt.
I didn’t know that the key doesn’t open the car if the engine is running though. Good one to know.
I’ll admit to having left the kids in the car to run in for a quick errand. I’ve never left the engine on though and just open the windows before leaving. Just did that today aobut 7 times but big sis was there with them too and they were all listening to a Jack Johnson CD and singing 🙂

19 jo(e) August 8, 2006 at 7:14 pm

Once when I was unloading groceries, I dropped my keys on the counter instead of putting them safely somewhere up high. My three-year-old son took the keys, walked out to the car, AND STARTED IT.
I can’t tell you how panicked I felt when I heard the car start and I looked out the window to see just the top of my son’s head through the windshield.
Nothing bad happened but that sure made me vigilant about putting the car keys away …

20 jo(e) August 8, 2006 at 7:14 pm

Once when I was unloading groceries, I dropped my keys on the counter instead of putting them safely somewhere up high. My three-year-old son took the keys, walked out to the car, AND STARTED IT.
I can’t tell you how panicked I felt when I heard the car start and I looked out the window to see just the top of my son’s head through the windshield.
Nothing bad happened but that sure made me vigilant about putting the car keys away …

21 Trixie August 8, 2006 at 8:33 pm

Last week I found myself screaming like a banshee (*whose* voice is that, I wondered) when I caught my 3 year old son and nephew in the middle of the street half a block from the house … eyes on the sky! They’d spotted a hot air balloon out my son’s window and, avid fans, headed out to track it. Thank goodness they speak in readily identifiable high-pitched “there’s a HOT AIR BALLOON!” voices, or I’d have remained out back in the veggie garden, resting obliviously assured in their common sense and adherence to House Rules. I know better now what being 3 means!
I write this as I munch happily on a Charleston Chew: just one of the many treats in my fabulous prize bag (adorned with a sunshiney yellow balloon) that Dani dropped in my office moments ago! I’d missed the weekend posts while out of town and forgot to read the archives this morning when I contacted the mothership for my daily dose of fun conversation. So her Sweepstakes-style drop-in was that much more surprising! Thanks so much for the contest and the yummy rewards, Dani–I’m happy to risk the exposure of my secret identity for the fun of nibbling on a candy necklace and blowing double bubbles:)

22 Trixie August 8, 2006 at 8:33 pm

Last week I found myself screaming like a banshee (*whose* voice is that, I wondered) when I caught my 3 year old son and nephew in the middle of the street half a block from the house … eyes on the sky! They’d spotted a hot air balloon out my son’s window and, avid fans, headed out to track it. Thank goodness they speak in readily identifiable high-pitched “there’s a HOT AIR BALLOON!” voices, or I’d have remained out back in the veggie garden, resting obliviously assured in their common sense and adherence to House Rules. I know better now what being 3 means!
I write this as I munch happily on a Charleston Chew: just one of the many treats in my fabulous prize bag (adorned with a sunshiney yellow balloon) that Dani dropped in my office moments ago! I’d missed the weekend posts while out of town and forgot to read the archives this morning when I contacted the mothership for my daily dose of fun conversation. So her Sweepstakes-style drop-in was that much more surprising! Thanks so much for the contest and the yummy rewards, Dani–I’m happy to risk the exposure of my secret identity for the fun of nibbling on a candy necklace and blowing double bubbles:)

23 Rebecca August 8, 2006 at 9:33 pm

Strange – a colleague of mine did the same thing last week. Her baby was playing with the electronic key fob inside the car while she put shopping in the boot, and when she closed the boot lid all the doors locked. Baby went to sleep. Thankfully it wasn’t hot. She had to get a man to get spare keys for her…

24 Rebecca August 8, 2006 at 9:33 pm

Strange – a colleague of mine did the same thing last week. Her baby was playing with the electronic key fob inside the car while she put shopping in the boot, and when she closed the boot lid all the doors locked. Baby went to sleep. Thankfully it wasn’t hot. She had to get a man to get spare keys for her…

25 Jen August 9, 2006 at 2:22 am

A couple of weeks ago, we were running late for a playdate and it was pouring rain and I got my son and daughter into the car. When we were a block from our destination, my daughter said “mommy are you going to do up my straps?” I’d totally forgotten to strap her in. Yikes.

26 Jen August 9, 2006 at 2:22 am

A couple of weeks ago, we were running late for a playdate and it was pouring rain and I got my son and daughter into the car. When we were a block from our destination, my daughter said “mommy are you going to do up my straps?” I’d totally forgotten to strap her in. Yikes.

27 Kate August 9, 2006 at 5:00 am

OK my turn. Last month, I left a sleeping Alice inside one night while I sat outside in the backyard with Matt and some friends. In the past, I would take the monitor outside with me in case she woke up and I couldn’t hear her (and the child is a LIGHT sleeper, so that happens often) But of course I have been telling myself to stop being so anxious about stuff like that and to let things go. Hmmm. That didn’t go so well this time, as Alice did wake up and starting looking all over for me in a panic. I, of course, was oblivious to all of this as I chatted up a storm outside. After 20 minutes I came back inside and I could hear the wall of screams as soon as I entered the house. There was my 3 year old standing at the top of the stairs soaked, just SOAKED in tears. It was obvious she had been screaming for a long time as it took her a long time to catch her breath. I felt terrible, of course, and was up those stairs faster than you can say “future notes for Alice’s therapist.”

28 Kate August 9, 2006 at 5:00 am

OK my turn. Last month, I left a sleeping Alice inside one night while I sat outside in the backyard with Matt and some friends. In the past, I would take the monitor outside with me in case she woke up and I couldn’t hear her (and the child is a LIGHT sleeper, so that happens often) But of course I have been telling myself to stop being so anxious about stuff like that and to let things go. Hmmm. That didn’t go so well this time, as Alice did wake up and starting looking all over for me in a panic. I, of course, was oblivious to all of this as I chatted up a storm outside. After 20 minutes I came back inside and I could hear the wall of screams as soon as I entered the house. There was my 3 year old standing at the top of the stairs soaked, just SOAKED in tears. It was obvious she had been screaming for a long time as it took her a long time to catch her breath. I felt terrible, of course, and was up those stairs faster than you can say “future notes for Alice’s therapist.”

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