It’s a Lock

Door knockers... only useful if you're on the outside.

Door knockers… only useful if you’re on the outside.

Miles run today: 4.5

Temperature this morning when we ran: 63

Gnats washed off of my face and hair in the shower afterwards: 3

So I locked a kid who is not mine inside our house this weekend.

I called seven sixth grade boys and one fourth grade girl to the car to leave for my son’s birthday party. They trooped past me, and I locked first the door handle lock and then the deadbolt.

That’s when I heard the tapping on the glass.

And when I looked up, a gangly sixth grader, eyes somewhat troubled, peered through the window at me.


I unlocked the door and gave him a sheepish look. I’m sure he told his mom, and now she will never let him come over again. I will forever after be the mom who locked her baby in our house.

In my defense, I was going to count them when I got to the car. Really.

The funny part about locks is that people are always locking themselves out of things. But not me. No siree bob. It’s even scary when you get locked in; even when you (theoretically) can unlock the lock yourself.

When I was four years old, I played with a horrible boy named Patrick.

One of the things that made him horrible is that he came up with games like the one where he locked me in his room because he was some kind of weird jail dude.

I became hysterical, sobbing and screaming to be released. I sat on his bed and stared out the second-story window. I would never get out of there. Or at least not until my mom came to pick me up.

I heard the little terrorist tapping on the other side of the door.

“Anne! Anne! You’re going to have to unlock the door!”

“But [sob sob] you locked me in here!”

“Anne. Turn the lock on the door knob. I can’t get back in my room!”


When the power shifted, I seriously thought about not letting him back in.

Roughly 25 years later, my son and I got into a similar situation.

It was a brutally hot July day, and my 18-month-old son and I had just been to the grocery store. No trip to the grocery store with an 18-month-old is a good one. Trust me on this one. He had a penchant for rolling around on the hard floor and rubbing his hands all over the places where people’s shoes had just been. Then he would suck on his fingers.

But I digress.

I was six months pregnant, and not much of anything is a lot of fun when you’re six months pregnant.

So we arrived home at lunchtime with bags and bags of groceries that needed to be unloaded. I unstrapped little Unclean Child from his car seat and walked him inside.

I set the keys on the stairs and walked back out to the car to get the groceries.

And when I returned carrying six bags, belly huge, sweat rolling down every single part of me, the front door was closed and locked.

Just that morning, he had learned that doors had locks. Just that day at lunchtime, when my stomach felt like it was eating itself, I forgot that he had learned that doors had locks.

It was not a good moment.

I calmly knocked on the door, the sweat leaving tracks on the thick wood.

“Hello! Please open the door!”

“Mama! Mama! Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!”

Trauma. Crying. Tantrums. Door pounding.

We do not keep a key outside the house. My husband was at work over 45 minutes away. My neighbors were all at work like normal human beings. And I didn’t own a cell phone.

My main fear was that my son would get hurt, and I wouldn’t be able to get in to help him. The lucky part was that he was stationed right at the door and hadn’t lost interest in his traumatic experience.

After several minutes of trying to talk to him, I ran two houses down where I thought I’d seen movement.

A random teenager let me in and allowed me to call my husband, who immediately called the police.

And then I made my way back to the house to talk sense to an 18-month-old hungry child.

The sobs had turned to sniffles, and I called in to him: “Hey! Can you turn the lock? Can you open the door for Mommy? Then we can get lunch.”

I heard tinkering at the door handle, but nothing happened. He got upset again.

“Hey! Why don’t you go get Bear?! He’ll help you open the door!” Bear was a huge, furry stuffed bear who I was pretty sure my son thought had super powers.

I heard baby footsteps retreat from the front door. I could only hope he wouldn’t lose focus.

Too many moments later, I heard the footsteps coming back.

Then I heard the lock turning, and when the door squeaked open, my son was standing there clutching Bear, smiling through his tears.

“You did it! You unlocked the door!” I pulled them both into a huge hug. “Now… never ever ever lock the door again. No lock. Okay?”

And that is why, to this day, I carry a key with me if I even step out onto the front porch. Or into the garage. Or if we’re eating on the deck. Key. Pocket. At. All. Times.

The police officer may have done a little eye roll when I showed up at the front door a few minutes later, clutching a tear-smeared toddler, a mangled bagel and a ring of keys.

Have you ever had Lock Trauma? Do tell.