It has taken me a good week to get enough perspective on this event to be able to muse about it publicly.
With the winter weather well and truly set in for the duration (it was -11C last week and -7C today, with ice on the INSIDE of our feeble windows both mornings), we have permanently weather sealed our front door that opens directly onto the living room. This means we are coming and going through the side door, using the internal door to the basement as our main access. Last Wednesday was the first day we had a visitor who came and went in this alternative manner. Ironically, it was Kathy from Parents As Teachers…
Unfortunately, as our guest left, she pushed the button in on the lower doorknob – something we never do. And since it was freezing in the stairwell, I pulled the door behind me to stop Kazuo from following us as he was still getting over a cold. But it was not until I heard the door click that I realised the unthinkable had happened – I had locked the baby in the apartment ALONE! I suddenly realised our lack of foresight in not secreting a key away in the basement or outside somewhere.
Of course, it was a day when I had driven Akira to work, so I couldn’t just summon him quickly on his bike with magic spare keys… but thankfully our kind upstairs neighbour, Laura, was home. She did an immediate mercy dash to the University to collect Akira’s keys. I stayed in her apartment to look after her two year old while she was gone.
This was the longest 20mins of my life so far. I was relieved that we had done most of the baby proofing of the apartment in recent weeks. But there were still a few trouble spots. Doors were open for little fingers to get jammed, spices still within reach, computer cables were covered, but still accessible… So of course I sat upstairs (running up and down every 5mins at first when I could not hear him… then he moved into the living room) and listened to my little poppet crying whilst trying to entertain the two year old and not think of all the horrid things that could be happening.
I was so amazingly grateful to Laura for her swift trip – and so relieved to see her drive back up the street. I was also still shaking when I managed to gain access to the house and find Kazuo in a teary mess in the doorway. Poor little guy was exhausted and needed some long hugs and some long sleeps that day. Incredibly, all he had done in my absence was go into our bedroom and pull all Akira’s underwear out of the drawer. So he was intact, and hopefully not scarred for life. Up until then, the longest he had ever been alone and awake was a few minutes when trying to settle to sleep. So that time felt like an eternity to both of us I am sure.
Here he is guarding that same door in his new-found wall cruising mode. I think he is much more inclined to make sure we don’t slip out now without taking him too – nipping down to turn on the dryer involves a whole new degree of speed and stealth. The next day I made a trip to the locksmith and we have spare and secret keys galore – and I walked around with them in my pocket for days. I really do hope this is my worst parenting memory…