Today one of my worst self-inflicted parenting horrors came true. I had to go down town to pick up a walker for my mom. We made it there all right, got the walker and went back out to the van, with me holding the baby on one hip and dragging the walker behind me with my 3-year-old's "help." I fumbled around for my keys to unlock the van. At that point I realised I had left my purse in the waiting room. So the three of us and the walker trekked back into the building and down the stairs to fetch my purse.
Back out at the van, I unlocked the doors, buckled the baby into her seat, tucked the walker into the passenger seat, stopped my boy from running into traffic, and buckled him securely into his car seat. Exhausted yet relieved to have the down town portion of our day nearly finished, I slid the back door closed, then pulled on the handle of the driver's door. It was locked. I tried the back door again, knowing that it would be locked too.
There I was, banging my head on the van and uttering all the worst words I know. Words like "frick!" and "darn!" and "crumb!" My cell phone innocently rested in the cup holder instead of in my pocket. I wondered if I could find a phone to use somewhere inside. Gone are the days of payphones on every corner, and besides, my purse was locked in the van too.
Cupping my hands on either side of my face to block the light, I peered through the tinted window. The two little kids stared back at me. I'm sure they were wondering what on earth I was doing out there. "Nick!" I shouted through the glass to my 3-year-old, "Take off your buckles!" He looked at me. I couldn't hear him, but it looked like he said, "Can't, Mommy!"
"You can do it! Squeeze harder! Use your muscles!" I kept yelling encouragement at him. He squeezed those buckles with all his might. They remained fastened. "Can't." He said again.
"Nick! I'll give you ice cream if you take off your buckles and unlock the door!" Even with such incentive, Nick couldn't do it. My mind kept running to all the things I had left to do, not the least of which was picking up my mom from the hospital in Leduc and taking her home. I did not have time to wait for someone to come unlock this door!
"Nick, look at me." I had to try again. "If you don't take off your buckles and unlock the door I'm going to be stuck out here forever. Now try again." The poor boy looked like he was about to cry, but he worked on the top buckle. I cheered him on, earning strange looks from passers-by who no doubt were wondering why I was leaning against the van yelling.
Finally he got one buckle undone! "Unlock the door, Nick! Reach it!" He now could reach the lock even though the bottom buckle was still securely fastened. But his tiny little fingers couldn't pull it up! "Keep trying Nick! You can be a super hero!"
Thunk! went the lock. I opened the door cheering and congratulating my strong boy! And he burst into tears. I think the stress was just too much. So we cuddled a bit until he remembered that I had promised him ice cream. Which I was happy to buy for my little hero.