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My Toddler Locked Me Out

These days, it seems, my toddler has a knack for getting into everything. Drawers get opened, food is stolen from the refrigerator and entire rooms have to be barricaded shut. The more off limits I make something, the more enthralled she is by figuring out the mysteries of said off-limits area.

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Lately, her obsession has been with doors. This kid of mine has started standing on her tiptoes and opening doors, granting herself access to whatever it is that resides on the other side. She has even figured out how to turn the locks, and in some cases — how to fit a key right into the hole.

I wish I was kidding. I’m pretty sure she is well on her way to becoming a secret service agent. Or a petty thief.

It’s become a game in some ways though, me searching for innovative ways to keep her from escaping the house and her trying to figure out how to outsmart me. But this past weekend, that toddler of mine won. Without a doubt.

And I, clearly, lost.

We have a sliding glass door that leads out to our small deck. Most of the time, I don’t mind my girl playing out there. But I have never liked the idea of her heading that way without my knowing, simply because our condo is one story up and I would prefer to watch her while she is out there.

So a while back, I purchased a wooden rod to place in the crevice of the door in order to prevent her from sliding it open. This also served the dual purpose of keeping any potential intruders from being able to do the same, since my daughter has a habit of unlocking the door and leaving it unlocked without my knowledge.

Bringing us to this weekend.

My first Stitch Fix box arrived, which if you haven’t heard of it, is kind of like Christmas for mommies. It’s basically a box of clothes, handpicked for you by a stylist who claims to know just what you need.

Anyway, I was excited about it and wanted to take some pictures of my new loot. But my house felt dark, so I decided to step out on the deck to take my selfies in the natural light. All totally reasonable, right?

Not 30 seconds after I walked outside, though, did I hear the door shut behind me. My little girl thought she was being funny by closing mommy out. The problem? Just as I heard the door shut, I also heard that wooden rod slide into place.

Trapping me on the deck while my toddler looked on from inside.

The panic set in as I realized I really didn’t know how I was going to get back in to my daughter.

I had my camera but no phone, and no great way of getting on the other side of that door. My options included breaking the glass or cutting the screen on our deck and jumping to the ground, where I would then need to find a neighbor to let me into the shared garage where I keep a spare key.

Neither option sounded great to me. First of all, I was pretty sure that breaking the glass would be expensive and I had no confidence I could find someone to come over a holiday weekend to fix it. And jumping sounded a bit precarious for someone like me, who has a history of being fairly accident-prone. Plus, that would have then meant losing sight of my girl, relying entirely on the hope that someone else would be home over the holiday to let me into the garage. A pretty iffy hope in Alaska, where people tend to get out of town as often as possible.

The panic set in as I realized I really didn’t know how I was going to get back in to my daughter. Thankfully, after her initial bouts of laughter subsided, she realized pretty quickly that I was actually trapped. And once she figured that out, her own panic set in and she remained firmly planted by the door – where she could see me and I could see her.

So at least I knew she wasn’t off wreaking havoc throughout the house.

I made several attempts to coach her in removing that wooden rod and freeing me (“See that stick, baby? Get the stick! Mommy doesn’t want to break the glass, so pick that stick up! Please?”) But it was wedged too tightly and her chubby little fingers just couldn’t get it out. Despite the fact that she really did try.

So instead, I sang to her through the door and encouraged her to dance – hoping to keep her from growing too scared while I tried to figure a solution out.

I knew at some point, I was going to have to bite the bullet and break that glass. But I was dreading it, hoping a more reasonable solution would present itself soon enough. About 20 minutes in, one finally did when a guy who happened to be walking by heard my cries for help.

The whole thing was unbelievably embarrassing. I couldn’t even give the explanation to my savior with a straight face.

It took a minute for him to figure out where I was and what had actually happened, but once he got up to speed — I was able to tell him where in the garage I kept my key. He then had to knock on several doors before finding a neighbor who was home and willing to let him in, but once he had the key, he let himself into our condo and freed me from the deck.

My daughter only mildly regarded this stranger when he entered her space, as I said a silent prayer for him to be a good guy and not a deranged kidnapper. He was very kind, though. Talking softly to her as he gently reached past her shoulder and removed that rod before opening the door, finally allowing me back into my home.

The whole thing was unbelievably embarrassing. I couldn’t even give the explanation to my savior with a straight face.

“I was taking selfies… out on the deck… no phone… she shut the door,” it all just sounded ridiculous.

Which, of course, it was.

He was nice enough not to make me feel like a total idiot, though. And I’m pretty sure he decided not to call CPS after leaving our home, despite the fact that my daughter had clearly emptied the entire contents of my bedroom drawers all over the living room. Including a forgotten bottle of KY lubricant, which she had thoughtfully placed right on the coffee table for all to see. So that’s a win.

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As for my little girl? She is now obsessed with figuring out how that door works, messing with that wooden rod every chance she gets.

It’s only a matter of time before she learns how to remove it and let herself out on the deck without me hovering nearby. But when she does — I may just have to trap her out there myself.

Payback, right?

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