I could both see and hear her, the young mother, gratefulness in her eyes mixed with what appeared to be embarrassment. She was talking quite a bit with her hands as if trying to explain herself and then pointing to the vehicle, lights on and motor running.
Then I saw the firefighter pull out his gadget. He showed it to the young mother explaining that it may cause damage to the vehicle, but the young mother, deciding she had no choice, nodded giving permission for him to proceed.
With one swift motion the vehicle was unlocked. The look of gratefulness quickly changed into one of grief as the young mother was being questioned. The firefighter was saying, “Just how long were the children in the car sleeping?” The young mother stammered and stuttered that it hadn’t been longer than the time it took for the fireman to get to the parking lot. They answered, “Um-hm, yes, and wrote something on a form”. She signed the form and was further humiliated when told not to call the fireman again for simply opening a locked vehicle, that perhaps a locksmith might do the trick, but that in this case, it would be ok since there were three children asleep in the vehicle.
I’m chuckling to myself at this point because yes, this young mother was me. It did seem an extreme solution for me to call the firefighters, but at the time, I felt so alone and desperate that I became unable to come up with a sane solution to my dilemma. What does one do when they’ve locked the only keys they know of inside of a vehicle while their children sleep quietly inside the running car? My husband of course was out of town at the time, so he couldn’t rescue me either.
Maybe somewhere in my brain, I thought of a locksmith, but at the time, I didn’t want to leave the children alone in order to go look up a phone number of a locksmith. I merely had a cell phone at the time, not an I -phone. So, I did the only thing I knew would work, I dialed 9-1-1.
After all, it seemed an emergency to me, I mean what I feared the most, but I didn’t share with the fireman was that my oldest, (four at the time) would wake and see his mommy out of the car and unable to get to him.
I was also fearful that being the able and bright child that he was, he would try to “rescue” his sisters and himself by reaching for the keys. The things I knew four year old’s were capable of had sent me into this state of panic.
So, yes, at the time, I felt my situation warranted a visit from the fire department. Heck, they have all kinds of vehicles; perhaps they’d send the small fire chief car or something like that, but that wouldn’t be the case, they sent the giant fire truck with siren blasting! But thank God, even this didn’t wake the children. No, they slept soundly through it all, not even when looked over by the firefighters!
I thought I’d share this humiliating story in order to humbly encourage parents out there who find themselves in a real pickle, making mistakes like locking their keys in the car or whatever.
Days like this happen to everyone, experienced or not. It wasn’t the first of my crazy days or my last in the adventure of parenthood.
Hang in there, things do settle down and the children do grow up. Then even become pretty darn good at taking care of you since you’ve modeled to them that you’ll do whatever it takes to keep them safe and care for them like I did, albeit to an extreme this day!