I remember shortly after my daughter was born receiving a free subscription to Parents magazine. I was fascinated by the “It Happened To Me” section where parents write in their cautionary tales as in, “It Happened To Me… my daughter got her head stuck in a pickle jar when I left her unsupervised to take a pee.” I would read each one carefully to ensure that I never left my children alone no matter how badly I had to pee and that all pickle jars were well secured. Three and three quarter years later and I find myself leaving my one year old son in the care of my three year old daughter so mommy can have a prolonged pee break where I casually flip through Oprah magazine completely unaware of my children’s proximity to unsecured pickle jars. So it should really come as no surprise that I ended up having my own “It Happened To Me” moment.
The other night I was tidying - going from one room to another putting away laundry and my son was toddling along behind, following me in and out of closets and rooms. He found something to amuse himself with in my walk-in closet and I continued doing what moms do - which was three to four hundred other small tasks around the house. I heard my son crying. I sent my daughter to see what the problem was (she is an excellent reporter; I think she has strong career potential in journalism). She reported back that my son had shut the closet door. This was no cause for concern as he does this quite often, going in rooms and closing the door. “Well, let him out” I instructed. “I can’t” she reported back, “It’s stuck!” I go into my room and try to open the closet door - it will not open more than a quarter inch. I realize that my son has pulled down the built-in laundry hamper door that sits just inside the closet door. It’s a drop down hamper door. This has created a draw-bridge effect and it blocking the closet door from opening. It is completely stuck. My son is now howling. My husband? Oh, he was out with his soccer buddies. We will discuss this later.
I do not immediately panic. I feel fairly confident in my handy abilities. After all, I have a hard hat. I have directed large cranes using hand signals. I can pass you a Philips head screw driver. I also know that the answer to most lock-out scenarios is a wire coat hanger. Unfortunately, my son had removed this as an option since he was in the closet, which is generally, where I keep the hangers. This is also Arizona, so there are no coat closets to scour - just flip flop closets. Hmm. I went to the kids’ room and came back with a plastic child’s hanger but it was too thick. Huh. My son is now hysterical and I ask my daughter to sing to him. This just creates more noise and confusion and I now feel myself wavering in my ability to solve this on my own.
My son though upset - is perfectly safe. The light is on, the closet is large and if need be I could slip a cheese slice under the door to sustain him. I fetch a pair of scissors. I am sweating. My three year old has stopped singing and is now sitting on my bed crying. “Mommy! Mommy!” “ WHAT??” I snap at her. “I really miss my brother” she cries. Oh lord. Okay, I surrender - I am calling in The Pacifier.
The other week my husband and I are sitting with the kids at a local bagel shop when a fella comes over and says “I just have to tell you when you pulled up in your minivan and unloaded the kids, my daughter shouted ‘look daddy, it’s the Pacifier’” As in, this Pacifier.
I choked on my coffee. Really? There was a literal physical reaction where I swear I saw my husband’s head grow three inches. I broke out the Benadryl to bring down the swelling. Of course I see no resemblance in my husband to Vin Diesel. (unless Vin Diesel was born on a small Caribbean island, is addicted to recreational soccer and spends his evenings watching the National Geographic Channel) Also – of course, I am jealous. I would like to be confused with a celebrity even if by a ten year old with glasses. Like – "Look mommy, it’s Malcolm In The Middle’s Mom!"
Okay back to my son locked in the closet. I give up. I call my husband. He “rushes” home. (by man standards) grabs some thingamajig from his work truck and has the door open in about… twenty seconds. Though annoyed, I am incredibly relieved and cuddle my little monkey into bed while my three year old recants the tale to my husband who is feeling like super-star daddy to the rescue. I remind myself to make sure he changes more than his fair share of poopie diapers to ensure he stays grounded. I take comfort knowing that The Pacifier can come in handy - if disaster should strike and he is not on the soccer field.
In closing - “It Happened To Me - my son locked himself in the closet and it took twenty minutes, fourteen rounds of Mary Had A Little Lamb, two snapped plastic hangers, one bent scissors, a wounded ego, an inflated ego and a thigamajig to free him."