Friday, July 18, 2008

When Bad Parenting Happens

I’m no Super Nanny or Dr. Spock, and not even on a good day am I Brangelina minus the entourage and airbrushing. That knowledge drove me to Professor D’s parenting class about 6 months ago. And not to point fingers or anything, but he was the one who told me I could send my oldest child to his room and lock him in if he chose not to stay there himself. Which is why, 6 months later, I found myself locked in that same bedroom late one summer night with all three children huddled around me.

I won’t bore you with the ugly details. But I will say that in a moment of parenting desperation I switched the bathroom door knobs with the one in the boys’ room in order to have ultimate parental control by locking the door from the outside. I am mama, hear me roar.

And in my defense, I only had to lock Kaleb in two times before the lock was no longer necessary. Which was why I completely forgot that the boys’ room locked from the outside until Leah accidentally locked us in on her way back from getting a drink.

I shook the door handle. I tried to jimmy the lock with a wire hanger. I even began removing the hinges only to realize I would have to break the door frame in order to get past the lock.

And when I turned around Kaleb was sitting on his bed, arms folded and eyebrows raised. “Trust me,” he said. “We’re never breakin’ out of here.”

No one likes it when bad parenting comes back to thumb its nose at you, and in front of your own children.

“Are we going to die in Kaleb’s room, Mom?” Leah asked, blinking her dewy eyes at me.

No, I thought. We’re going to call Professor D and asked him to get us out of this mess. Only, I didn’t bring my cell phone to tuck my kids into bed.

So I went to the window and looked down the long slope of my metal roof. You might remember that 7 months ago, at Christmas time, I was locked out of my house and stood at the base of my roof trying to determine whether or not I could climb back in.

I took out the screen and straddled the window sill, thinking how much like a slide my metal roof appeared. Getting down will be a snap, I thought. That is, if I weren’t barefoot with a very thick application of Bath & Body Works sheau butter on my feet. This was not an escape plan but a new Olympic event.

I sat there for a few minutes, pondering my options, while Leah stood beside me, gasping periodically and saying something about having to rethink our family fire escape plan.

It was then that I noticed our neighbors, chatting pleasantly in their gazebo. I realized I had two options. One, I could slide down my roof, providing someone the opportunity to take great footage for America’s Funniest Home Videos. Or two, I could ask my neighbors to spring us from our Spiderman-themed prison. It may seem like a no-brainer, but I had to think about it for awhile.

Finally, I called them over.

Five minutes later my lovely neighbor was unlocking the boys’ bedroom door from the outside. She told me my house smelled nice and added, “It’s weird that the door locks that way.”


Weird enough that I lulled my children to sleep that night to the sound of door knobs being put back where they belonged.

And I could swear Kaleb wasn’t snoring but laughing in his sleep.

I’m guessing so were the neighbors.


SuburbanCorrespondent said...

Hey, don't feel bad. We had to reverse the doorknobs ourselves to show our two oldest (when they were 4 and 6) that we meant business. Let's face it - if they don't learn to listen to you when they are little, what are you going to do when they are 16 and decide that they should be able to take the car without asking?

But your daughter's right - where's your fire ladder?

Anonymous said...

Oh, I can't help but laugh. I wish I thought of turning the locks around. I don't know why I never thought of it!

I am so glad you did not slide down the roof. Body butter can make for some very slippery feet. Glad you have nice neighbors.

Your new picture of the children is adorable. They are cuties! They really do sound pretty wise too. Get that fire plan in place.

Hope everything else is going well. Nice to hear from you!

Love ya!

shauna said...

SC, that's exactly where I was at, and being a single mom made it all the more important. Dr. D was right--as soon as he realized I meant business, the locks were no longer necessary. But of course, then I would get locked in that same bedroom!

Eileen, I'm so glad you're still reading. I've been such a slacker lately and I've missed the blogosphere!

Erin said...

You may remember that this happened to us as well shortly after we moved into this house. And your brother made his pregnant wife climb out the window onto a table saw to go and unlock the door. We now have a strict "no shut door" policy. We also keep screwdrivers hidden in closets.

PS--our fire ladder was next door in the girls room.

Thelissa said...

And this is why you are on my blog list! I need a good laugh every now and again! This is so funny! I do feel for you though!

LikeAstaR said...

funny. When we bought our last house, I noticed one of the bedroomsnot only locked from the hallway-side but was keyed. THey mujst have gone to the same parenting class.

shawn said...

OMG !!! I'm almost gasping for breath here ... THIS IS TOO FUNNY !!

sorry to find humour at YOUR expense, but ... this is a funny turn of the tail ... the closest to this I've even had was when Ms H slammed the door on the way in to her brother's room and the century old latch mechanism gave up the proverbial ghost leaving her, her ticked off brother and HIS giggling buddy trapped in a second floor bedroom ...

In torrential rain, I climbed up and through the second floor window (the house has 12 foot ceilings!!) to take the door off its hinges and set them free ...

Oh the things we do as parents ... is sucks though when they are incidents of OUR own creating ...

BTW for bathroom locks, a thin long nail tucked on the top of the door frame comes in handy !!

Thanks for a GOOD start to a grey and rainy day ... glad to have you back !!

Candygirlflies said...


I learned my lesson about door locks at an early age... When I was 16 and babysitting for the neighbourhood terror and his baby brother, I found myself locked in the bathroom with a squalling infant, while the three-year-old laughed manaiacly out in the hallway. He had locked the door. From the OUTSIDE. Who the h*ll puts BATHROOM locks on the OUTSIDE??? The parents who were soon hard-up for a Saturday night babysitter, that's who...

It took me well over an hour to talk the little bugger into letting us out... luckily, before his parents got home.

I keep three copies of a "skeleton key" in strategic places, dotted around our house... just in case!

Lots of love! xoxo CGF

Gustogirl said...

AGGGH! Don't you hate it when your best laid plans come up and bite you right in the backside! I am impressed that you can actually change out handles. That is beyond my skills!

Crazed Mom said...

My kids knew that my metal meat skewers unlocked all the doors in the house we lived in 2 places ago. They were 4 and 2 when we moved in and 12 and 9 when we moved out. My locks were useless. However, my son used to slam his door over and over when he was confined to his room so I took the door off for about 2 years. That taught him...almost nothing. Maybe this is why he sneaks sex with his his gf in when we just downstairs. YUCK!(Yuu'd think he'd realize I'm not a complete moron and way too smart not to figure him out)

Melodrama Mama said...

Way to be the boss!

*Note to self:
1. bring cell phone when tucking kids into bed
2. lube feet only after kids are safely tucked in

Chris said...

I have to chuckle, I really hope you are writing a book. I would buy it. I think it was the right choice not to slide down the roof. Maybe you could have split the money with the funniest home video winners, I am sure it would have won. :-)

Midwest Mommy said...

My dad did this when we were little however his reason was because we were always locking ourselves in when we were in trouble! Can't be punished if you never come out :-)

Spammon said...

See, I would have learned that each room would have needed it's own mini-fridge and TV from that experience. And most likely, I would be locking myself in that room more often.

jane - mom generations (formerly Pinks & Blues) said...

Oh gosh! This is too funny and I can see myself getting into the same situation. I like the idea of that becoming a new Olympic event, though. Just for moms to compete in. :-)


Carrie Wilson Link said...

We, too, put a lock on the outside of our daughter's door, once upon a time, for that same reason, she would NOT stay in her room, and if she didn't, I knew I would kill her with my bare hands. We only had to do it a couple of times, too, but when we sold the house, that's the one thing that got everyone freaked out.

Love this story, love the detail of the Bath & Body Works feet!

jen said...

Of all the luck! That is hilarious. kaleb's comment was awesome. I'm glad it all worked out okay or I would feel very bad for laughing. I am very glad that your neighbors were there so you didn't have to slide down the roof.

kristi said...

That is hilarious! It probably wasn't funny at the time though!