I’m here to raise awareness about a serious issue affecting all parents at some point in their lives. As a survivor of Toddler Door Locking, I believe I can offer insight into this growing epidemic that touches hundreds of homes every year.
Let me paint the picture:
I live in a townhouse consisting of three floors. When you enter my house, you are greeted by the fairly sizeable living room, half bath, a small dining area, and an even smaller kitchen. The lowest level is the garage/basement area. This is where the washer and dryer are. It is also where we keep all the junk that we may or may not use someday (but that is more important to us than sheltering at least one car from the elements).
I go downstairs a lot to do laundry. I usually occupy my two-year-old with an activity or tv before heading downstairs. I’m rarely gone more than a minute or two.
On the day in question, I sensed something amiss. This little rascal I had spawned was out to get me. I could feel it, but I chose to ignore my instincts. Instead, I chose to go about my usual business of doing the laundry.
I tossed in a load of clothes and walked back up the steps. When I reached the top, I could hear her fiddling with the knob. I tried to turn it.
I was locked in the garage. My child had finally learned to turn the lock, and dammit if I didn’t have to find out the hard way.
I considered my options. My cell phone was in the living room, so I couldn’t call anyone. (So much for my generation being glued to our phones.) I could go out the garage door and have a neighbor call the landlord. Or I could wait twenty minutes and hope my husband didn’t decide to stop anywhere on his way home or that my child wouldn’t break any limbs in the meantime.
I decided to try secret option number three. I knocked on the door:
“Honey, where are you?”
I heard a giggle and then a tiny voice answered:
“I right here, Mom!”
“Please unlock the door.”
More giggling and then footsteps growing fainter.
I raised my voice a little:
“Come back! Unlock the door for Mommy, please!”
The pitter patter of the footsteps grew louder again. And then:
“Mommy? Are you stuck?”
“Yes, I’m stuck. Please unlock the door.”
More fiddling with the knob and then the footsteps ran away again.
I sighed, turned the knob… and the door opened!
I stepped into the living room, and my little girl was running in a circle, squealing and giggling.
“Thank you for unlocking the door,” I said.
“You welcome! I can have some fruit snacks, please?”
She released me from my prison because she was hungry. At least she was polite about it.
This scenario could have ended much differently. I might have inconvenienced a neighbor. My child might have watched an extra episode of Dora the Explorer. I am thankful that she unlocked the door and those disasters were avoided.
Just in case the rest of you are not so lucky, please keep these two things in mind to avoid falling victim to the next Toddler Door Locking incident:
1. Toddlers are jerks unless they want something.
2. Never, ever leave a room without your phone and keys.
I hope this serves as a cautionary tale so other parents can avoid what I went through. I was one of the lucky ones. But there are bigger toddler jerks than mine out there – ones that can climb the counter and get their own fruit snacks. Stay alert, parents. Constant vigilance!