Tuesday, February 21, 2006

And the worst mommy award goes to . . .

Beware of days that start out well. I had a good day writing. Didn’t get a lot of words written, but I got a lot planned and felt better about this book than I had in a long time. I paid the bills, and we actually had money left over. That hasn’t happened in a year and a half. I went to the chiropractor and got my shoulders unstuck, and my son got a sucker.

So it was in this happy mood that I went to the library to return the CD version of Pleasure of My Company by Steve Martin. This is definitely worth listening to as he reads it himself. And I had to pick up a collection of Flannery O’Connor short stories that Chris Fisher was talking about on his blog.

We take care of business at the library and get back into the minivan. I buckle my son in, toss all my stuff on the front seat, and close the door. I go around to get in my side.

The door is locked.

Oh crap.

Through the window I can see all the doors are locked, but I still pull on the door handle like somehow reality will change. I can see the keys sitting on the driver’s seat, along with my purse and cell phone.

But I know my son can unlock the doors. Except that he’s strapped in his car seat. However, childproof things have never deterred him before. I tell him how to get himself out of his seat. “Just push that red button.” He pokes at it, sucker in his mouth. Then he pushes harder, but he just doesn’t have the strength to get it. We try seeing if he can unbuckle the car seatbelt and free the car seat, but he can’t reach it.

There’s no hope. I’m going to have to call and get help. But my phone’s in the car, too, so I have to leave him to go back into the library. It goes against every instinct to leave my son alone in a car while I go inside. But, I think, if someone can break into the car to steal it (and who wants a 98 minivan with 180,000 miles on it?) I could at least get my son out. So I hurry inside to try to find a pay phone. Apparently pay phones don’t exist anymore. I finally ask the librarian.

She laughs. “Oh, I don’t think it works.”

Not funny. “I need a phone. I’ve locked my keys in the car with my son. I need to call somebody.”

“Oh, I guess you can use this then.” She moves her desk phone toward me.

Gee, thanks. I can’t believe she’s not shocked or astounded. Do people routinely lock their children in the car while they’re at the library? I call Peter, who luckily is at the office and not on the other side of the valley. He tells me to call AAA. I patiently explain that my phone and purse—with my AAA card—are in the van. Now, in the interest of full disclosure here, Peter has locked himself out of that car more times than I can count, to the point that he carries a spare key in his wallet. Said spare key was what I wanted him to bring to me. We won’t mention the fact that I think that is the only spare key since I lost his whole set of keys by leaving them on the bumper of the Expedition and driving off. Never did find those things.

Anyhow, on my way back to the car, there is this guy who has been outside the library trying to get people to sign his petition. I don’t know what for, and I don’t care. He’s seen me walk by now four times and starts pestering me to sign his stupid petition.

“I’m a little busy right now.”

“Doing what?”

Oh, the things that went through my mind. I didn’t say any of them, however. Let’s just say that the next dead body in my book will be a guy that looks a lot like him trying to get people to sign a petition. I just kept walking to the van where I hoped my son wasn’t a sobbing hysterical mess. He was frowning, but I think that was because he had dropped his sucker.

So I lean my head against this really dirty window—when was the last time Peter washed this thing anyway?—and talked to him. People driving through the parking lot stared at me. What was this crazy woman doing talking to a car? A police officer drove by. I watched him, half hoping he’d stop. He didn’t. I tell my son to go to sleep, and for once in his life, he minds me.

I'm really thankful it's only the upper 60s and not 112. I start thinking which window would be the cheapest to replace and look around for a big rock. Nothing. If it were 112, I have no idea what I could use to break the window. Well, he's asleep, Peter should be on his way, and other than people thinking I’m nuts, there isn’t any problem with waiting for him to get here. Just that my daughter gets out of school in 30 minutes and since our neighbors moved, there's not a house for her to go to if I'm not home.

I’m standing against the car, with not even a book to read. I watch cars go by, looking for a white construction truck. You know how many of those are out here? About every third car.

After about 25 minutes a tow truck pulls into the parking lot. It takes me a minute to realize Peter had called AAA for me. Hmmph. Here I was looking for him, and he sent a tow truck instead.

They guy gets out with all his equipment. Then he sees my son. “Hey, if we’d known there was a kid in the car we would have gotten here in five minutes. Why didn’t you tell us?”

“I actually didn’t call. I’m guessing my husband did.” Yeah, why didn't he tell them? I'm pretty sure I would have mentioned it.

The guy gets his equipment out and starts prying open the door with this little inflatable device. Very cool, though frankly I don’t care if he rips the door off.

Then a white construction truck pulls in. Peter.

“That’s my husband,” I tell the tow truck guy.

“Does he have a spare key?”

“I don’t know.” Because at this point, I really don’t. It might have been on that set that somehow got left on the bumper of the other car.

“I might.” Peter has a keychain that weighs more than our children. But somehow he pulls the right key out the first time. The door opens. My son wakes up. The tow truck guy packs up his stuff.

I think I’m going to throw up. That Flannery O’Connor book had better be worth it.


Malia Spencer said...

Oh my! Poor thing, you had an eventful day. I've locked keys and cell phone in the car too. Keys more than once. I average about two or three times a year actually.

But I have no kid to worry about. At least your son is okay. And who would have thought he'd actually listen to you today of all days and go to sleep? I'm telling you, God has a sense of humor. And so do you. I love the idea of a dead body based on the petition guy. Can't wait to see how it will show up. :)

Jeanne Damoff said...

You're not a bad mommy. Just a human one.

In a way it's nice to know he couldn't bust out of his carseat prison. I'm imagining Calvin with seatbelt releasing skills. Yikes!

Flannery's amazing. You'll love her!

michael snyder said...

Yikes! That doesn't sound like any fun at all. But I must agree with Jeanne...not bad, normal.

And I have a request...name the petition guy Mike or Michael.

And Flannery is just the best. Her stories get better with multiple readings...wish mine did.

Jennifer Tiszai said...

And the day didn't actually end there. He came running out of the bathroom later saying the toilet was exploding. I find the toilet overflowing and a box of empty baby wipes on the floor. ARRGGH.

Then he got into peanut butter candy which I was saving for my dad because Peter is highly allergic. I should have just thrown it out. But I couldn't find all the places he'd touched. Peter came home and immediately wondered who had peanut butter and found all the places our son had touched. Luckily Peter didn't end up in the hospital.

I agree, Jeanne, about the car seat thing. I was thinking that while I was trying to get him to undo it, wondering if I was just creating a bigger monster down the road. Now I think I'm glad he couldn't get out.

Mike, are you sure you want to be the petition guy? I have no problem killing you off in one of my books, but I was thinking I could make you a more sympathetic character. However, if you prefer ...

BTW, All Healed Up gets better with every reading.

And I am looking forward to digging into Flannery O'Connor. It's still sitting by the front door. I haven't read her since, hmm, mid 80s? When I switched from English to Comparative Literature. So Jeanne and Mike, plan to be bombarded with thoughts and questions from me.

Ooh, lucky me, I get to cook all day. Let's hope it doesn't give me anything else to blog about.

Robin Caroll said...

LOL...I can SO relate! LOL

Dineen A. Miller said...

Well, you know my story, so I'm not gonna repeat it. LOL! You're not the first and you certianly won't be the last. In fact, I bet somewhere in this world a mom is locking her kid and keys in the car. If only she knew she'd just become part of a special community. LOL!

Jennifer Tiszai said...

Thank you, Dineen, for publically admitting you've done the same thing :) I was beginning to wonder if I got a little too blonde on the last trip to the salon.

Anyone notice how quiet it's been around here since Peter hasn't been commenting? He hasn't read my last two posts. Hmm.

Malia Spencer said...

I noticed it's been quiet around here, at least male wise. No wise cracks, yet. Of course they could over to Phil's blog right?

Glad to hear that Peter is okay, despite little Calvin's getting into the deadly peanut butter. Remind me to tell you about the little Calvin I used to babysit in high school. Your son is 4, can't imagine what he was like at 2, the age I took care of little ADHD Calvin. I'll e-mail or blog about some of our adventures. I'm sure you'll identify immediately. :)

Peter said...

...and all I can say is;
"Where's my dinner?"

Signed, the savior driving a white construction truck. Or should I say the "hungry" savior who is losing weight while driving a white construction truck.
That kind of sounds like an announcement for a wanted felon!

I do love it when my wife is "human". I cannot tell you how many times I locked the keys in my vehicle.

And guess who got to fix the "exploding" toilet when he got home from work!

Jennifer Tiszai said...

Oops, spoke too soon.

Your dinner? Check the freezer. I spent seven hours cooking yesterday so there are at least 30 meals out there. I don't want to hear any more complaining.

Malia, let's just say when "Calvin" was two, we had all the dining room chairs bungee corded together because our rental house had all tile floors, and he would push the chairs around to get into EVERYTHING. I found him on top of the refrigerator once. I think he was chasing the cat.

Corina Bowen said...

LOL! I am afraid I already won that award.. sorry! :-) I remember once when the boys were little they went to grandmas and she had made them grilled cheese.. they each picked up the gc too look at the bottom. When questioned they said "where's the burnt side mawmaw? Mommy puts burnt side down." Yeah, I was informed that she would give me cooking lessons so my kids didn't have to eat burnt food! OH, that went over well! :-) Good thing she didn't know about me taking the smoke detector down before cooking supper, huh! OH, by the way I did get better....... kinda :-)

Jennifer Tiszai said...

Corina, think of it this way: you're not burning food, you're expanding your children's palate. When they learn to cook for themselves they'll appreciate it. :)

I have to be so careful when I'm cooking. I'm so easily distracted that I forget I've got something on the stove or in the oven. I was roasting red bell peppers and jalapenos in the broiler, cooking soup on top of the stove, had something in the microwave, and was talking to my mom on the phone. Remembered everything but the peppers. They turned into carbon crisps.

Jenny said...

At our house, the smoke detector is the dinner bell.
And just chalk this episode up to one more thing your Calvin will have to tell his psychologist when he's all grown. At least that's what my youngest tells me. She has abandonment issues for the number of times she's been left--at church when we all went home, at home when we all went to church (okay, there's a reasonable excuse. We were taking 2 vehicles and Phil thought I had her, I thought Phil had her...), the time the neighbors forgot to bring her home from church as promised, etc.

She got so she wouldn't trust me so when I would arrive to pick her up, she'd already left with someone, sure I would forget or something. Even her preschool class (at church--a reoccuring theme, I guess) left her--she was in the bathroomroom when it was time for recess. She came out to an empty classroom.

There's just something about that girl.

But the good news is, she did grow up, I wasn't arrested for child endangerment, and she has great fodder for a shrink when she can afford one:-)

Just keep Gloria Gaynor playing in the background and you'll survive.

Abundant blessings!