Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Adventures in Parenting: The Importance of Contingency Plans

{Pictures of various shenanigans, January 2014. Counter height table + tile floor = bad news when your toddler figures out how much fun it is to climb}

Contingency plans are an essential part of parenting. They are the reason diaper bags exist, the purpose of Poison Control magnets, the impetus behind first aid kits, the motivation that brought us Tide pens and travel-size Kleenex and outlet safety covers and single serving fruit snack packs. 

{Writing checks}

In my two years of parenting experience, I have learned multiple times that no matter how well-laid my plans are, no matter how many spare outfits or diapers or snacks I carry, there is always something that will catch me unawares. I constantly find myself in situations I'm ill-equipped to deal with. Part of this is because, once I've figured out how to avoid one set of shenanigans, Kate's abilities level up, increasing her disaster-capacity tenfold. It's toddler Darwinism, and her evolutionary leaps leave me swinging in the proverbial tree.

{Flour floor}

Last week, after a Costco/Winco run, Kate was in the house while I toted in loads of groceries from the garage. I had just grabbed the last couple items and saw that the door I had left ajar was shut. Panic mounting, I wrenched the doorknob--it was locked. 

My keys were in the house. Despite my better judgment, we don't have a spare key planted outside. I checked just in case, but both the front and sliding glass doors were locked. 

{On tiptoe, stealing handfuls of cheese}

I knocked on the garage door and wiggled the doorknob. "Kate, can you unlock the door?" I asked. "Can you turn the lock so Mommy can come in?" In response, she rattled the doorknob and banged her small fist on the door. "Outside! Outside!" she demanded.

Now, this situation could have been avoided. Kate had occasionally fiddled with the lock on the garage door before, and I remember commenting recently to Jay that we needed to have a backup key in case, well, in case the situation I was living at that moment ever happened. But like it goes with so many good ideas, I didn't act on it.

{Also note the mess behind her--pulling stuff out of cupboards is a favorite pastime.}

I left a message for Jay at his office ("Please tell him to call me as soon as possible. No one is hurt, but it's kind of an emergency."). I wasn't sure what to do, and I wasn't thinking very clearly. I knew that Kate would be fine in the house by herself, but her little voice was starting to sound panicky as she scrabbled unproductively at the doorknob. 

I ran around again to the sliding glass door and matched my outstretched hand with hers on the glass. "Kate," I said, my voice still very calm, "can you go unlock the door?" And I mimed twisting with my fingers. She ran over and touched the garage door and ran back. 

{September 2013. Buying in bulk is smart, except when you have a toddler who learns to open boxes.}

"Kate," I tried again, suddenly taking a different tack, "can you push up that little lever? Push it up." And I motioned at the locking mechanism for the sliding glass door.

She did it. I threw the door open, scooped her into my arms, and spun her around. I was a bit teary, and she squirmed at the confinement. Jay called just then, so I released my hold on a relieved Kate and grabbed the phone.

{October 2013. This is what it looks like when Kate wants something she can't have.}

I realized (right before Jay said it) that I probably could have gotten in the house through an unlocked window. I felt silly I hadn't thought of it in the moment, but was also grateful that my round pregnant self was spared the indignity of shimmying through a tight, waist-level space. 

All's well that ends well, and we've added another contingency plan to our growing list. I give it about two days before Kate finds another vulnerability in our defenses. 


  1. This reminds of a time when I nannied and locked myself outside. O was in his playpan happily. The fire dept came and let me in. That was fun ;)

    I'm so glad it all worked out, and that you didn't have to squeeze through a window. Now, go hide a key somewhere or else get one of those lock boxes with a code.

    1. How on earth did the firemen get in? That is so crazy. Glad I'm not the only one :).

  2. I can't tell you how many times I've seen this scenario play in my mind, and we don't have a hidden or garage key either...suddenly it's back on my to - do list. Glad everything turned out fine!