It was a typical cold winter afternoon in New England and I finally finished running my afternoon errands. I had about a 10 minute window of time to get Maggie down for a nap before the school bus arrived. I have a very systematic routine to ensure a smooth evening . As I write that, I laugh. Yeah right! System my ass. Ha! No matter how hard I try, the evenings at our home are the most chaotic. The house is full of energetic kids. They are famished the second they walk in the door. There is so much to do in a few short hours. I make snacks, cook dinner and help with homework. Occasionally I taxi kids to various after school programs. Thinking about the craziness ahead made me panic a little. I quickly change Maggie’s diaper and give her a kiss before I put her down for her nap. In 3 minutes the bus would be here. The bus driver has to see my face or he won’t let the kids off for safety reasons. I check on Teagan in the playroom as I make my way toward the coat closet. She is completely distracted working on a Barbie puzzle. “I’m walking down the driveway to meet the big kids Tea. I’ll be right back.” “Awwwww….can I pwease come wif you?” I admit it. This aggravated me a little. She is slow and I was desperate for a few minutes of peace. But I simply cannot say no to those big blue eyes. Especially when the request is so simple. “If you hurry. You have to hurry, and grab your coat, OK? They will be here in exactly 1 minute.” She grabs her coat and moves faster than I have ever seen her move. I walk out the door and she is not too far behind me. Then I say something stupid! Something very stupid. “Please close the door Teagan! You are letting the cold air in!” She looks like she wants to tell me something but clams up. I hurry her (another dumb thing for a mother to do). “Close the door please!” She panics and closes the door.
As we walk toward the end of the driveway she looks back at the door at least 50 times. “Did you forget something Tea?” She shakes her head no. “Why do you keep looking at the house?” “Umm. I just like to.” “Huh?” That was a weird answer. Does she really like to look at the house? Doubtful. The bus arrives right on time and Molly and Flynn greet us with Friday afternoon excitement. It’s cold so we walk back up the driveway at a brisk pace. Flynn runs ahead so he can be the first one inside. Everything is a contest with that boy. He gets to the door and turns the door knob left and then right and then left again. “It’s locked. Do you have a key?” “What are you talking about?” I catch up with him and I’m in an absolute panic. I know for a fact that I did not lock that door. Maybe it was frozen or something. I try the door myself. There is no doubt about it. It’s definitely locked. I mutter profanities to myself and then glance at Teagan. She is avoiding eye contact. I rewind my thoughts to the moment when she hesitated after I asked her to close the door. The story is starting to make sense. She must have locked that door but I wouldn’t dare say a word. If Flynn or Molly catch wind that Teagan caused the lock out, they would never let her live it down. Molly and Flynn begin their whining. “Moooom! What are we going to do? It’s freezing out here! I’m hungry.” Oh boy! I can already tell, this is gonna be fun. The time was 3:45 pm and it was 43 degrees outside. The sun was going down and Maggie is inside sleeping. Ming is out-of-town. Nobody has a key and I have 1 bar left on my cell phone battery. I remain calm but in my head all I am thinking is “Ohhhhh f–k, we’re screwed!”
Molly immediately went into survival mode. “Quick Teagan, take out your barrette. Give it to me. I need to pick the lock.” Now, let me just say that the barrette was way too big to fit inside the key hole but I give Molly credit. It sounded cool and at least she was trying to solve the problem. “I don’t think it fits Molly . Good idea though. Where did you learn that?” “Scooby Doo of course!” “Yes. Of course” I pause and try to regroup my thoughts. “What are we going to do?” We check every single window and every door to see if there are any unlocked. No such luck. Then I call Ming. I was dreading this call. No matter how I try to explain the situation, I know that I am going to look like a complete idiot.
Me: “Hey? When will you be home?”
Ming: “I donno, 2 hours or so, why?”
Me: “I’m locked out of the freakin house.”
Ming: “Huh? Locked out. Who are you with? What happened?”
Me: “Flynn, Molly, Teagan and myself. I’m not sure what happened. We got locked out after we met the bus. Oh…and I only have 1 bar left on my cell.”
Ming: “Wait. Where is Maggie?”
Ming: [Now he feels my panic.] “Inside???”
Me: “Yup. Hurry home. It’s freezing”
Ming: “OMG. You are f–ked! Holy shit Ronda. How did that happen?”
Me: “Don’t ask. I donno. I’ll be here waiting in the cold with 3 whiny kids . Please hurry home.”
At least at this point I knew that we would not be cold for more than 2 hours. Maggie was in her crib so at least she was safe. We were depressed. We huddled on the stoop together for warmth. I was hungry, cold and aggravated. Then Molly remembered that she had 4 cupcakes left over from her class party and things started looking up. We each had a cupcake. Cupcakes make everything better. Somehow they seemed to motivate us. Molly shared her new plan with us “I’m going to throw a brick and break a window.” “Ummmm? No you aren’t.” I point for her to sit back down and quit hunting for a brick. Then Flynn said something practical. “The only window that might be open is my bedroom window but that is on the second floor and we can’t reach it.” I perked up. “Really?” “Yes, our guests open it when the house gets hot.” I think he was right. They do. Maybe, just maybe we will get lucky and it will be open. “Well, there is only one way to find out.”
I open the tool shed and pull out the tallest ladder I can find. All 3 kids are giving each other high-fives. It felt good to have a plan. Carefully I prop the ladder against the house and make sure it’s locked.
I begin my climb. I pray to the roof climbing angels. “Please Lord don’t let me fall. It will scare the children and it will probably hurt.” I put my cell phone in my pocket so I can call for help if needed. The ladder is wobbly as I carefully make my way to the top. How do I get myself into these circumstances? Good grief. My hands are freezing cold as I grip the metal rungs tight. I am about half way up and I glance over my shoulder at the kids. They are watching me like a hawk and they all have their own feelings about it. Molly thinks I’m a superhero “Mom! Awesome! You can do it! [she chants] Gooo Mom! Gooo Mom! Oh yeah!”. Teagan completely trusts me and Flynn is scared to death. All he can think about is what he will do if I fall. “Please don’t fall mom. We can wait for Dad. Come back down.” “No way. I’m almost there. Let me at least take a look and see if it’s unlocked.”
I climb a little higher and lean to the left. “Guess what guys?” They pause and wait for the news. I smile. “It’s unlocked.” The crowd goes wild. I’m not sure how I got my fat ass off of that ladder and onto a roof but somehow I did it. In my mind I totally looked like this
But I think in reality I looked more like this…
I carefully edged my way over to the window. The only thing between me and warmth was a window screen. I yelled down for Flynn to go inside the shed and find something I could use to rip the screen. He did as he was told and came back only minutes later with a screw driver. “Hey Mom. Will this work?” “I think so. Throw it up to me but be prepared for it to come back toward you if I miss it, OK?” “OK, Mom!” He threw it up and thanks to those years of baseball it landed right in my lap. “Nice throw buddy!” He smiles a proud smile. I didn’t waste any time and within a few seconds I shred the screen and reached inside to push the window open. My kids went nuts! “Yeah mom! You rock! Great job Mom!” I have to admit, I kinda enjoyed that moment.
Then I basically rolled into the window head first and knocked everything in my path onto the floor. I am known for my grace. Why would breaking into my home be any different? Once inside I celebrated privately. I laid on the floor staring at Flynn’s bedroom ceiling. “Oh thank god! It’s warm. Maggie is still sleeping. I did it.” I felt the cold air pouring in from the open window and heard the kids calling my name in the distance.”Mom? Let us in! It’s freezing out here!” I got up and waved to my burglary team from the second story window. It was almost dark. I gently closed the window and made my way downstairs.
I opened the back door and greeted the kids like nothing ever happened. “Oh! Hello children! How was your day at school? Come on in and get a snack. It’s warm and cozy in here.” They giggled and we gave each other a group hug. I made them each a cup of hot cocoa and we sat around the dinner table and recapped our afternoon. Life is one big adventure. I think we can all agree that every problem has a solution. Whining about a crappy situation gets you nowhere but we all do it. It always amazes me how even the biggest problems seem small when they are over. But then again, it’s much easier to think clearly in a warm house sipping cocoa.
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