|It's not unusual for a parent to inadvertently get locked out of a car but when a baby is locked inside, it's time to call 911,|
July 11, 2011
There should be a sign on our front door that says "Entering Crisis Zone." Hardly a day goes by without some emergency commanding our attention.
Today's crisis occurred minutes after Ralph and I lay down for our midday rest. We were settling down on the bed — me with a book in hand, Ralph already sprawled out, ready to snooze — when the phone rang. It was on Ralph's side of the bed, so he picked up. Our daughter was on the line in near hysterics.
"What happened?" I heard him ask before he switched on the phone's speaker. "You locked yourself out? Where? And the baby's in the car?"
"In the parking lot at Target," my daughter explained. I could hear the trembling in her voice. "What should I do?"
Our 23-month-old grandson was inside my daughter's locked van in a Target parking lot. Unfortunately, the clicker and keys were in the car, too. When her shopping was completed, Amber had fastened the tired baby into his car seat, shut the door and instantly realized that she had locked the baby in — and herself out of — the vehicle.
It's an easy mistake to make. I once locked myself out of my car twice in one day! However, I never locked myself out with a baby in the car, and never in the middle of one of Florida's hot summer days.
"Let me call Target and see if the security guard can help," I said, as I hurried to the computer to look up the Clermont Target phone number.
While I talked to a helpful employee, Ralph used the cellphone to relay information to Amber.
"The security officer is trying to find you in the parking lot," he told her. "Wave your arms or do something so she can find you."
Unfortunately, in her anxiety, Amber neglected to tell me which Target she was patronizing. I assumed it was the one in Clermont, but I assumed wrong.
"I'm not in Clermont," Amber explained. I could hear our grandson's cries in the background. "I'm at the Target in Winter Garden."
Back to the computer I went, searching simultaneously for Target's Winter Garden phone number and for local locksmiths. When I got the Target representative on the line, her response was unexpected. "We can't help you," she said. "Call 911."
The locksmith said the same. "If the child is under 2," he explained, "you need to call the fire department. They'll come right out."
And they did. Our daughter called 911, and help quickly arrived. The van door was unlocked, and our grandson's tears stopped as soon as his mother picked him up. Everyone was fine, if a bit shook up.
"Well, that was unexpected," my husband said, as we walked back to the bedroom. "You never know what's going to happen."
He's right. You never do. The entire episode probably took less than 20 minutes, but it was 20 minutes of adrenaline- pumping tension for everyone involved. That's how life is. One minute you're lying down, ready to take a nap. The next minute you're in crisis mode, calling 911.
Maybe the only sign I need on my front door is one saying "Parents Live Here." Being a parent — no matter how old your children are, or even if your children have children of their own and no longer live at home — means living in a never-ending zone of crisis.
"Putting out fires," my husband said. "That's what we're good at."
I couldn't agree more.