Locked up

So Kates has parent/teacher conferences tonight. Which means I’m flying solo with Phoebe.

It was a fun night with the little one …

I got her fed. Watched her shove peas into her mouth by the handfuls, along with a mix of some pieces of turkey and rice, while I sat alongside her eating a cheeseburger Hot Pocket and the leftover peas.

We played. And played. And played some more … As usual, our living room floor was littered with toys and gadgets by the end.

And then, when the yawns got wider and longer, and her legs were so wobbly she could hardly pull herself up, we began getting ready for bed. At 7 o’clock, right on schedule … Changed her into pajamas, let her play some more in her room, read a couple books and then gently slipped her into her crib about 20 minutes ago.

Yep, I did well. A pretty good night.

Except …

I locked her in the car this afternoon as we were leaving the daycare -- with my keys inside the car.

Let me explain.

See, Phoebe loves to grab and play with our keys as we’re walking from the house to the garage, the garage to the house, getting into the car, wherever. When she sees the keys in our hands, she takes hold.

So this afternoon, I was leaving the caretaker’s place and Phoebe grabbed my car keys as we got to the car. And just before I was about to strap her into the car seat, she pressed the automatic lock button. I heard the car horn signaling all the doors had been locked, but it didn’t faze me.

Following my usual routine, I took the keys from Phoebe’s hands, tossed them in the front seat for me to pick up when I got back in the driver’s seat, and I strapped Phoebe into her car seat.

Then I shut the door and walked around the car to the driver’s door. The door was locked …

And my heart sunk.

Meanwhile, Phoebe’s in her car seat flapping her legs and smiling away.

Back inside I went. Told our caretaker what had just happened and she grabbed a phone to call police. Apparently, they're quick to the scene whenever a child is locked in a car.

Great. I’m going to be writing about myself in tomorrow’s police reports.

While we waited, the other kids joined me in standing outside the car, delighting in the sight of Phoebe looking back at us, still smiling and kicking in her car seat, having absolutely no idea what her father has just done ... And as the other mothers arrived to pick up their toddlers and heard my story, the stories poured out of their experiences locking children in the car.

Great. So I’m part of an exclusive club now.

Within a few minutes an officer pulled up. He got out of his car and sauntered up the driveway with a smirk on his face.

“All right, whose fault is this?” he asked.

“It was me. The proud father,” I confessed.

The officer peeked in the car at Phoebe -- who was, yes, still smiling and kicking. “License and registration, please,” the officer said to her.

The officer then looks back at me and proceeds to tell me he’s going to try to unlock my car for me, but the police department is not liable for any damage caused to my car in the process, and that he’s unlocked hundreds of cars without having to break into one, but he needs to make sure I understand that I can’t hold him responsible if he has to smash a window.

“Yes, I understand that,” I said, and he turns back toward his car to retrieve his tools.

Please don’t break my window.

The officer returned with a long pink wire that had a hook on the end of it. Then, as me and a couple of the boys watched from the driver’s side, he extended the wire inside the car like a surgeon. He put the hook right under the locking switch and pulled up. Like magic, he’d unlocked the car.

“There you go,” the officer said. He folded up his equipment and started back toward his car while I erupted in a thankful smile.

“Phoebe’s never playing with my car keys again,” I told the others as I got into the car.

Like I said, it was a fun night with the little one.

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