It was a typical Tuesday night. I had some vague plan to start editing Easter pictures once the kids were all tucked in, but I doubted I'd get far after a long day of solo baby-wrangling. For whatever reason, hyperactivity was in the air (for the under-four crowd, anyway), and Tom and I were having a tough time getting from point A to point B along the usual bedtime schedule.
Finally, however, we'd made our way to the top of the stairs and passed through the bedroom door, which I distractedly pulled shut behind me. As I heard the click, I just knew. We had a problem, and not a small one.
Ever since Abby graduated to a toddler bed, we've had the lock switched around to keep her in the room. Initially, it was to discourage her from wandering back out as we weathered the difficult process of training her to stay in bed of her own accord. Later, we kept it that way to ensure her safety until we had a chance to put up a gate at the top of the attic stairs, which I still don't feel comfortable allowing her to ascend or descend without supervision. Now, we are still using it overnight since Abby knows well how to operate the gate, and I fear her one day deciding to take those stairs alone for the first time in the middle of the night. Not least of all, though, it remains in anticipation of the day that Michael breaks loose- although he may not know it yet, he could easily scale the side of his crib at any time, and I'm quite sure that when I least expect it he will attempt to do so.
Because Tom and I are both heavily involved in the entirety of the bedtime routine, and because we shut the door behind us when we enter the bedroom to keep distractions to a minimum, we must always take care to check the lock. We're generally very good about it, and the one time that we weren't the neighbors were luckily home and amenable to popping by to let us out.
When the first occurrence finally happened, I'd been saying for awhile that we should hang a key somewhere in the room. We did actually locate that key shortly after, but it never did get brought up to the bedroom because we determined around the same time that someone had stuffed paper into the lock, rendering the key rather useless. What followed was some unfocused discussion about getting a new lock altogether.
Ultimately, no action was taken, and that was the first regret that came to mind when I lifted my hand from the doorknob that evening. Immediately, I grabbed a hold of it again to confirm my worst fears: it had, indeed, been locked when I shut it. Catching Tom's eyes, I did not initially read a whole lot of concern in them. "We'll just call someone," he said. "You have your phone, right?"
Though most nights I do, since I like to mess around on it while Tom reads to the kids unless I'm otherwise needed, I had left my phone downstairs that night when I saw that Michael had picked a story of his own that he would likely want read to him as Abby listened to the one of her choosing from her father's lap. It was my second regret of the evening, though truthfully I'm not sure if our friendly neighbors were even around to help this time.
As Tom stood, stunned, I began opening closet doors and drawers searching for tools we could put to use. Tom seemed to think it would be too difficult to kick down the door from the side we were on, not to mention the fact that we wanted to avoid the frame damage and possible nightmares for the children after watching us wreak havoc in their bedroom. I found some drawer handles and random screws, but not much else.
Tom followed suit and picked up a heavy cardboard tag still attached to the large stuffed tiger in the corner. The tag was thick and hefty, but not as sturdy as a credit card, so he couldn't get it to push the latch back in as he slid it between the door and frame. I was a bit skeptical that it would even have worked with plastic; isn't that something that only happens in movies?
I turned my attention to the hinges, instead. The lower one looked promising but the top one was well stuck. However, since they seemed to be our only option, we set about trying to work them out. Amazingly, Tom did get the bottom one out with very little effort, but the top would not budge despite multiple attempts from both of us using screws and door handles as leverage.
As I tried to quell my growing panic, Tom began to pull at the one loose section of the door, getting it to come slightly ajar from the bottom hinge. Interestingly, the children did not seem to pick up on our alarm and were keeping themselves well-occupied and happy as we frantically worked to free ourselves. It probably helped that as I searched the closet, I was tossing out random books that they had not seen in a long while and depositing them in the middle of the floor.
Once we had pulled the door as far out from the hinge as we could, Tom returned to the handle side and tried to work at the latch again. The tag was still not doing the trick. Suddenly, I noticed that Tom was wearing a belt and suggested that maybe some part of it might be useful. He took it off and tried to slide the narrowest part up and down in the same way that he'd been using the cardboard tag, to no avail. It was a little too thick to wedge between latch and frame.
I, however, was more interested in the leverage it could provide. I asked for a turn and set about using the center piece of the buckle to press the metal frame of the latch further into the wood of the door. I hoped that if I could budge the frame, the latch would come with it. Unfortunately, I started off a little too timid, and was about to throw that idea out after a few attempts when I suddenly felt a little bit of give. Just one more good push after that and I found myself flying headfirst into the door frame as the door swung forward and out.
Thankfully, my glasses took the hit and stayed in one piece despite the abuse. Though Tom was rushing to my side to make sure I was okay, I was looking at one thing: the light from the now-accessible hallway. We were free.
Of course, there were still bedtime stories to be read and bedtime songs to be song, and somehow, we did them all. And when we finally made our way downstairs to settle in our usual nighttime spots, I felt far from interested in doing much at all with those Easter pictures. Somehow, the lack of motivation has haunted me all week.
As for that key, we really will be getting on that, I promise. Until then I will most certainly be triple-checking that doorknob, and keeping my phone with me at all times. After all, there's no one on the other end of the baby monitor listening out for Mommy and Daddy if they cry...