Thursday, August 2, 2012

True Fear

"True Fear." That's how Melissa described our morning yesterday on her facebook page. Less than 24 hours after having a great compliment about how amazing we are as parents we found ourselves scared, standing with our mouths open, wide-eyed, and our hearts racing. Why? William had a little adventure time last night.

We have many of these door knob locks around the house. There's a certain level of comfort to them, but in all honesty, they are easy to bypass. With enough of a pull, the two halves will disconnect exposing the door knob and you're a twist away from freedom. William figured that out last night. We learned this as we were snuggled up on the couch watching some evening TV before Melissa turned in for her early bedtime. We were talking and trying, as usual, to clear some of our shows from the DVR, when up strolls William as calm and normal as he would at any point during the day. This, however, was not during the day! William was supposed to be in bed, and the knob safety device was supposed to be keeping him in his room.

We escorted him back upstairs to find the separated halves of the safety lock on the floor. I snapped everything back into place, double checking that it was connected correctly. We said our good night, after explaining that he needed to stay in his room and it was not safe to just run around on his own like that. After ten minutes, Melissa looks upstairs to see William going back and forth between his room and ours. We decide to up the level of protection. I once again attach the "safety lock" and additionally added a safety gate outside his door, hoping that if he decides to get the door open again, he'd be defeated by the gate in the way.

Long after Melissa had gone to bed, William had made no apparent attempt to escape and I decided to call it a night. I peaked into his room once more and found him sleeping soundly which always brings a smile to my face.

I have two alarms in the morning. One goes off as a reminder to make sure Melissa is up and getting ready to leave for work. Hey, sometimes even the best of us have a hard time waking up. The second is my time to start the wake up process and goes off right around the time Melissa is leaving the house. My second alarm began to ring as Melissa was leaning in to give me a kiss goodbye. We're as adorable as two puppies hugging three puppies. She opened the door and began to say something, but was interrupted by William running into the room with a very big smile on his face. Something else was on his face as well. Dirt?

The first thing to note here is that we were greeted by William who was happy and fine, so perhaps the second thing to note is that we were somehow greeted by William! I shot up out of bed with visions of poop-smeared walls or broken items in the house. The reality was much more terrifying. As I entered the hallway, the first thing I saw was the "safety gate" pushed out of the doorway. Let me be clear, I may not be the guy that the ladies want to see shirtless on the beach, but from hours of practicing drums I do have some arm strength. I do not mess around with locking the safety gates. Period. Freedom, it seems, was enough of a motivator for William to knock it out of place.

I turned to look down the stairs and saw several things had been moved around. I raced down, looking for glass on the floor or permanent marker drawings on the table, and that's when I saw it. The sliding glass door was open. I've never seen William make much of an attempt to figure out unlocking the sliding glass door. He does enjoy going outside, and clearly I need to remember my own advice that kids are perceptive beyond what we might give them credit for. Needless to say, my heart dropped and I got that uncomfortable pit in my stomach. As cautious as we try to be, William spent who knows how long, hanging out in the back yard. It might not seem so scary when I add that our yard is totally fenced in and I keep padlocks on the gates due to some issues with neighborhood kids feeling our back yard is a neat short cut to take after school. Just that idea though, of him being outside alone, the idea of having our comfort zone of control visibly ripped from under us was something I can't put into words.

As the day progressed and I waited for Melissa to get home so we could go find new safety measures for the house, William seemed to push on with his new found feeling of freedom. It was a difficult day to say the least, and I found myself a bit shaken in the task of trying to regain control of the household. It was perhaps similar to the idea of a person on say, an Olympic gymnastics team having a poor performance, setting off a chain of events in which other promising gymnasts also have terrible performances which cost them all hope of a medal. Too soon?

When I looked around online for a better door safety option, I was surprised (perhaps I shouldn't have been) to find that in general the standard purchase for door knob safety, the kind pictured above, is regarded as utterly pointless. One customer noted that her one and a half year old was able to separate them with relative ease. How scary is that? In the end we purchased this:

While time will tell if it will work, I will say this as a first impression. It seems durable, in the sense of I'm not worried that William will be able to simply pull hard enough on the door and just break it in half to get out. It was extremely easy to attach to the door, taking maybe two minutes. It's a very simple concept of, if he opens the door, it catches on the frame exposing a small crack of space. It also has a finger guard so if he opens the door, it won't close all the way. Eliminating the risk of pinched fingers. For the sliding glass door we purchased some track locks which attach with an allen wrench. Certainly something he won't be able to undo, but a little bit of a hassle as we will need to put them on and take them off every day. It seemed like William would figure out many of the other options. The track locks were cheap and there's just no way to take them off without the wrench. I don't care how many episodes William has seen of "Handy Manny", I don't think he'll figure them out any time soon.

I felt embarrassed that morning. Fortunate, but embarrassed. It's important as a parent to never let your guard down or get too comfortable with the way things are going. Life will smack you right across your mouth and face and chest and headface.

*Answers to questions you might have in your head already. William's door doesn't have a door lock, thus we were unable to turn it around and lock it from the outside. Yes, we will continue to look for other flaws in our safety/child-proofing system. Yes, I will drum for your wedding pending certain factors.

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