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That Time I Locked My Kid in the Dark

Photograph by Twenty20

Have you ever hit a point of total frustration with your kid when what comes next could either be classified as a genius move or a complete parenting fail, depending on who you're talking to? For me, that would be the night I pulled the breaker.

My daughter had been having an epic meltdown. It started when it was time to leave swim lessons. I knew she was tired. It had been a long day and I don't think she was feeling especially well. But dammit, she did NOT want to get out of that pool.

Me, being the mean mommy I am, I forced her out anyway (she'd had PLENTY of warning that the time to leave was coming). So, she cried, fought me in the shower, refused to hold my hand on the way out to the car and sobbed the whole way home while shouting every mean thing she could think to shout at me.

When we got home, I told her to go to her room and that I would be right there to brush her teeth. She went to her room, but instead of waiting for me there, she immediately slammed the door.

I immediately knew she'd locked it.

Our bedroom/bathroom locks aren't anything special—you can turn them with a butter knife—so I could have opened it pretty easily, gone in and we could have fought about it. But I was just so irritated at the audacity of my preschooler going in there and locking herself in that I decided to do something else instead.

I turned around and flipped the breaker, plunging her into complete darkness.

It was one of those moments that was either genius or a completely crappy parenting move. I'm honestly not sure which.

She immediately screamed. That sheer panic type of scream that would normally send me sprinting her direction. "Mama!" she yelled out. "Mama, help me, it's dark!" She cried, the first hint of something other than rage from her in about 30 minutes.

I stood outside her door and said, "Sorry, honey. I can't help. Your door is locked."

Yeah, like I said, it was one of those moments that was either genius or a completely crappy parenting move. I'm honestly not sure which.

I heard her stumbling to the door, likely having to maneuver over all the stuffed animals she'd thrown off her bed in anger. Finally, she got there and unlocked it to find me standing on the other side, waiting for her.

"Mama!" she cried out, throwing herself into my arms. "What happened to my lights? I need my lights."

I, very calmly and while brushing her hair back from her face with my hands, said, "God must have turned them off."

I have no idea what possessed me to say that. I really don’t know where it came from. It felt a little blasphemous even as I said it. But, it worked. My daughter was sweet and apologetic the rest of the night—and she hasn’t locked herself in her room since.

So … it was worth it.

Hopefully God has a sense of humor about these things because as much as I love my daughter (and I do, she makes up the biggest piece of my heart for sure), sometimes she pushes me to places I never thought I'd go, like pulling the breaker and blaming it on God.

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