Monday, December 16, 2013

Triangle Trauma

I expect that I won’t be blogging as much over the next few weeks, with the holidays approaching, but I’ll check in as I can! And, if my child continues to pull stunts like the one on Friday night, I’ll have so much material that I may need to write twice a day for the next few months.

Friday night was Mark’s company Christmas party. Every year it’s at the company owner’s home, a beautifully restored Vermont farmhouse. It looks like it was probably built sometime in the 1800s. The renovations are lovely – very tasteful, simple, and true to the history of the house. Little corners have been lovingly painted with ivy, and salvaged antiques complete the scene. During the holidays, the sitting room houses a real Christmas tree – wide enough to fill one entire corner of the room, and a fire burns brightly in the fireplace adjacent.

It’s like walking into a movie set, and Ellie seems as eager as I am to explore each corner of the house, play with the cats, and eat Christmas treats.

In fact, I always feed E dinner before we go, so that she can just snack on whatever she pleases and play happily while Mark and I eat our dinner. That’s exactly what we were doing when I noticed that E had a dirty diaper. I was in the middle of eating, and Mark was just sitting down, so I asked him if he would mind changing her quickly.

“Sure,” he said, then took her to the coat room off the entryway, adjacent to the bathroom. He came back a few minutes later without E.

“Wow, that was fast,” I said.
“Well, um… honey, E locked herself in the bathroom.”

He says these things so calmly, as the realization of what just happened slowly spreads over my face and I stifle an “OH MY GOD” scream and run past him. In an instant I’ve pressed my ear to the bathroom door.

“E, sweety?? Are you okay?”
“I can’t get out!!”
“Okay, okay. Don’t worry. We’ll get you out. Can you try to turn the lock?”

Mark quickly describes the lock to me – it’s a tiny gold knob, about 6 inches above the doorknob. You have to turn it, about 3 times, counter-clockwise to unlock it. It’s a mini deadbolt. I quickly scope out the hardware as the owner, Nicholas, and the rest of the party gather outside the door.

“Nicholas, can this doorknob come off?” There are screws.
“Well, yes, but the lock is a separate piece, above the doorknob,” he explains.
“Okay,” I say as my brain, and everyone else’s, search for every other possible means of removing the door or lock, while E starts crying.

“It’s okay,” I tell E. “Don’t worry. See my hand under the door? You can hold my hand if you want,” I try to sound calm, while panicking on the inside.

“Is there a window in the bathroom?” No.
“A vent?” No. I’m desperate here.

E starts screaming now as we try to explain to her how to open the door. I can see her little, pouty lips through the keyhole. Though she’s still crying and occasionally panicking, I do see her reaching for the knob and trying to turn it. We praise her for her efforts, but she still cries, “I’m trying! I just can’t do it.” Some of the other women help me calm her down by talking to her in peppy, sing-songy voices.

“Okay, just keep trying. We’ll get to you eventually,” I say, though I have no idea how.

I hear the men discussing the situation behind me, all our options – “remove the molding” or “cut through the door” seem to be our best options, but even tearing down the molding won’t give us access to the deadbolt. Nicholas disappears and returns from the garage with a skill saw. They quickly make plans to cut through the door and start unwrapping the wire from the saw, plugging it in.

Oh boy, we’re really going to do this. “Okay, E,” I explain, “this is going to be loud. We’re going to cut through the door.” I mimic the sound of the skill saw and tell her that it will even be louder than that. I tell her that she has to get down on the floor, while images of her fingers being sawed off pop into my brain.

Nicholas drills a hole in the door to insert the blade of the saw. One of the other men prepares to saw. Again, I remind E to get down on the floor. He looks at me for my okay to go ahead, and in this moment, I have to trust my daughter.

I have no idea if she has gotten down on the floor. Time stands still. She’s quiet. I nod. The sawing begins, and it is LOUD.

He makes the first cut, and before he makes the second, it’s silent.

“Are you okay?” I ask, terrified of the silence.
“Yep,” E says. She sounds calm.
“Okay, we’re going to cut again.”

The sawing starts again, another side, of what will eventually be a wide triangle, complete. Again, I ask E if she’s okay and get a slightly shaky but confident “Yeah.” I nod again, and the triangle is complete – just large enough for a hand to reach through and unlock the door.

But first, I want to make eye contact with my child. I peer through the door and see – nothing. Empty bathroom. My heart skips a beat. I get closer to the cut-out and look down at the floor, half expecting to see my toddler passed out, missing some fingers.

She’s lying flat on the floor near the door, face pressed to the tile, and I see her start to get up. No blood anywhere. I sigh happily. She looks out through the hole, sawdust in her hair. She has a concerned look on her face. I quickly reach through and unlock the door, open it, and scoop her up in my arms.

Then I cry, hugging Mark’s coworkers, my shoulders literally shaking as I sob. I check every inch of E and see that she’s fine, just a little shocked. She takes in the scene around her – all of us wiping our eyes, even some of the guys. I hug her tightly. I tell her how proud I am of her, for staying so brave and for following Mommy’s instructions and laying on the floor.

She finally gets a little smile on her face, throws her arms in the air, and says, “I did it! I did it all by myself!” Um… okay. Sure. She continues to report about life on the inside, “I get locked in baffroom! Cookie-cutter come to get me out! I scared of triangle.” I put her down, and she picks up the triangle cutout at her feet. She holds it up to Nicholas’s wife. “What’s dis?” E asks her.

“Well, honey… that’s… my door.”

Mark and I apologize profusely and insist on paying for it. They refuse – they’ve raised 3 boys themselves and happily claim that “these things just happen,” that they can easily repair it.

Well, this experience is brand new to us, and I think we’re still a little bit in shock from the ordeal. It still seems like a bad dream. E seems to have forgotten about it save a few mentions of the “evil triangle.”

Mark still had that “Oh my God, what just happened?” look on his face before we went to bed that night. I soothed his fears with lines like, “This comes with the territory. Let’s celebrate the positive. We have a very smart, brave, not-even 2-year-old! Maybe Nicholas and his wife were drinking and, come morning, they won’t even remember how that hole got there…”

Everything looked better in the morning, and we forged ahead toward a fun weekend with family, celebrated our anniversary early, and came home Sunday evening to begin preparing for my parents’ arrival this coming Thursday.

As we got E settled in bed, I decided to have a hot cup of decaf coffee before I went to sleep. I lazily reached for the coffee-mug cupboard door. It fell off into my arms. The whole door. Just fell right off the hinges. As I wondered how one family could have such horrible luck with doors, I proceeded to tuck it away in a closet and rearrange my kitchen to put all my pretty dishes in my new “display cabinet.”

Oh! And an email was just forwarded to me from Nicholas with this photo attached! Subject of the email: “All Fixed! :-)” Thank God.

P.S. If you want to read about the last company party, check out:
Dinner Parties and Toddlers 101

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