Today was awfully busy.
I went to Zumba … unpacked some more stuff at the house … hung a few pictures … locked my baby in the van with my cell phone and car keys … and then lost the baby. Yes, the very same one.
Those of you who have never met me probably wonder what is up. Well, I don’t know what’s up except that I have a lot of kids. Believe me, I find myself wondering what the hell is going on here many, many times per day. How do people with more than three kids do it? I guess if we had one more, I’d just give it to Maverick and tell him to take ownership.
People several generations ago used to have lots of kids and I think they have probably blocked out how hard it was, because that’s really the only way to go about it, until they see a strung-out woman at the fruit stand with a gaggle of children. Then … they remember. I know this because they like to stop and tell me about it, which is actually nice because then I know it is possible to do what I’m doing and live through it.
Today was totally typical until I lost track of time and realized I was running late to pick Maverick up from school. I got everything together and cranked up the van because it was hot outside. I put Pepper in her car seat and started the process of buckling her in. My backpack containing everything under the sun was in my way so I threw it on the front seat, and when I was done I shut her door and took Asher by the hand to walk him to his side of the van.
There is always an “except that.”
Except that I couldn’t open the van, because he had done something to the locks when I wasn’t paying attention, and the van was now locked with the baby inside. I couldn’t get back in my house and I couldn’t call for help. Naturally, today was the day that I thought to myself, “It doesn’t matter what I look like, I won’t get out of the car anyway.” I don’t even want to go into what I was wearing. Just know that it was bad.
I took Asher by the hand and forced myself to remain calm as we went across the street to start knocking on doors. There was no answer at the first two we tried. The third house was the one right next door, and they were home and more than happy to help us.
Dan and Jo look to be in their 60’s and they have five grown children, the youngest of whom is my age. His name is Paul. He was there working when we arrived, and after introducing himself he immediately ran next door with a coat hanger to try to unlock the van. “Mrs. Jo” took Asher outside to play with her grandchildren, ages 5 and 2.
“Mr. Dan” had the unique experience of getting to watch me freak the freak out as I tried to hold myself together and at the same time look up phone numbers in the phone book and use an actual telephone that was connected to a wall. It’s been a very long time since I have done either of those things. I was frazzled and upset, knowing that Maverick was now sitting at school wondering where I was just made it worse. I couldn’t get through to my husband at work, and MY BABY WAS LOCKED IN THE CAR.
Mr. Dan was unbelievably kind and thank goodness I had someone with sense to talk me through what to do. When I get in these situations, I do a good job of remaining calm but I mentally blank out. I can’t think, I can’t perform simple tasks. All I could think about was Pepper locked in that van and how I couldn’t get to her. But then I had to take that thought and put it away because I have two other kids and one of them needed to be picked up from school, and if I totally lost my shit these nice people Mr. Dan and Mrs. Jo would have no clue where to go to get him.
And so … I rallied.
Since the car was running with the a/c on, I didn’t call 911. I called Pop-A-Lock and they said they would be there within 15 minutes. I finally got through to my husband and he said he would come right home. Asher was happy playing in their backyard. Paul, still working with the coat hanger, said he would stay with the baby until my husband or Pop-A-Lock arrived. Mr. Dan offered one of his vehicles to me so I could go pick up my oldest, and then changed his mind as he watched me continue to struggle to operate the cordless phone. He said he would be happy to drive me instead. I agreed that was wise.
We picked up Maverick from school.
On our way back into our neighborhood, we saw the Pop-A-Lock car leaving. My husband’s car was in the driveway, so Maverick and I got out and I told Mr. Dan I would be right over to retrieve Asher. As he backed out of the driveway, Husband came running out of our house with a stricken look on his face. “WHERE’S THE BABY?!” he asked.
To which I replied, “WHAT DO YOU MEAN, WHERE’S THE BABY?!”
I have no recollection of what I did or said after that. As he tore through the house, I choked down irrational fears and forced myself to think and believe that she was safe with the neighbors. And that is when I heard her crying. She was with Paul, who said that Pop-A-Lock unlocked the van at no charge since there was a child trapped inside. Since neither of us were back yet, he just carried her back next door with him.
Pepper was really upset and it took her a long time to calm down — she required that I hold her for nearly an hour after that, until finally she started acting normal again.
So here’s what I’m taking away from this. I think that crazy things are going to happen regularly because I am outnumbered. I think that my control freak tendencies and overly-ordered way of doing things can’t even stop the madness and it’s high time I accept it.
Most of all, I think that it’s an answer to my mother’s daily prayers for God’s protection over us that Dan and Jo live right next door. They told me today, “nothing surprises us.”
Well … we’ll see about that.