In Which Our Son is Trapped Inside His Own Room

I put John down for a nap this afternoon, and then went for one myself. Ethan woke me up when he came home from work. “John’s locked himself in his room.”

I groaned. “Fine. Get a bobby pin.”

Ethan found a bobby pin and fiddled with a door. “How do you do this?” he asked.

“Seriously? I had to do this all the time when I was little,” I said. “Andrew locked himself in all the time.” I went to help him out, and saw him trying to jimmy the lock. I was about to show him how to straighten the bobby pin when I realized why it was so hard—it was an actual key lock. (How have I never noticed this before?)

“Well, crap. The bobby pin’s not going to work.” We then tried our house key. Apparently, our house key is not the same as the bedroom door key. I wonder if our landlord has a bedroom door key. We certainly don’t.

I asked if we could card the door, but there’s some trim in the way. Sneaky trim. Ethan went to find a bookmark, explaining that sometimes at work he accidentally gets locked out of the closet. and a bookmark is more flexy than a card.

The bookmark trick accomplished two things:

  1. Breaking the bookmark.
  2. Waking up John.

Now, imagine that you decide to take a nap one peaceful, warm afternoon, just after coming inside from playing basketball. You lay down on your bed, pull up your fluffy monkey blanket, and drift peacefully off with the sun gently shining in the window. When you wake up, it’s been about four hours, everything is pitch-black, the door is shut, and there’s something scratching to get inside.

Now imagine you’re only two years old.

The poor kid was traumatized. We tried talking to him cheerfully to get him to stop screaming, but I think we might have just made it worse by informing him that his parents were, indeed, still alive, and didn’t care enough to come help. We were just calling, “Hello, John!” and ignoring his death-cries and panic. What heartless jerks. And since he was too terrified to come toward the door, turning on the lights was not an option.

The real frustration at this point was standing outside his door, listening to him scream, and knowing that if we could just get him to calm down and jiggle the doorknob, he would be free. But of course, John was not to be placated. We tried persuasion, flashlight beams, fingers under the doorway (which, in retrospect, might have been more terrifying than not), and pushing a freshly-toasted waffle under the door. He would not be baited. Eventually, I got him to calm down enough to form words by pushing my phone under the door with “Winnie the Pooh” playing—but it wasn’t enough to get him to the door, and after a few seconds, he remembered he was stuck and started screaming bloody murder again.

Our upstairs neighbor was trying to help us think of ways to get in, but we discovered that our apartment is surprisingly secure. The bedroom door opens in, so the hinges are on the inside. There is trim in front of the door, so you can’t card it. We have dowel rods on the windows, so you can’t force them open without actually breaking them. (All of this would normally provide comfort, ironically.) We were considering calling a locksmith, our neighbor’s brother (who apparently has lock-picks), the police…

I’d like to take a moment to appreciate my husband. He’s remarkably cool under pressure. I flatter myself that I’m pretty good, too. At any rate, I think we only snapped at each other once, apologized, and then just went back to solving the problem. Well done, us. Give our marriage a pat on the back.

Anyways. While Ethan and Tom were examining the doorknob itself (which can’t be taken off from the outside), I went to call my dad. It’s a strange conversation starter, but “What do you know about breaking and entering?” can actually tell you a lot about someone. My dad knows a lot about breaking and entering. I’ll let you decide what that says about him.

Dad explained a few ideas—most of which involved literally cutting a hole in the door with a saw. We went with his most conservative idea, and used a putty knife to pry some of the trim loose, then tried to card the door with the putty knife. It almost worked. (John was screaming.) Ethan ended up using the putty knife to get a gap in the trim while I inserted a butter knife, then Ethan hammered the butter knife in, up, down, and eventually through. (John was freaking out of his mind, while I tried to get him excited about the hammer. It didn’t work very well.) The butterknife finally pushed the mechanism back, and the door came open! The floor was littered with debris, the butterknife was still sticking in the doorframe, and John was free (and traumatized)! He came running and buried a swollen, red, tearstained face against Ethan’s shoulder.

“Are you okay?” Sobbing.

“Was that scary? Sobbing.

“Do you want a waffle?”

“Yeah!” Crunch. Sniffles. Some sobbing. More waffle.

He went in and out of traumatic crying for the next twenty minutes, depending mostly on how close the nearest waffle was. Apparently we have an emotional eater—he had three waffles, a cup of chocolate milk (from the neighbor), and a quarter-pound cheeseburger before he went to bed. He asked for more chocolate milk, but we were pretty sure he was just milking it at that point (pun intended).

Ethan got the butterknife out of the doorframe and turned the doorknob around, so now the lock is on the outside. We’ll have to vacuum the chipped paint and trim later. I don’t think we’re getting our deposit back whenever we move. ♦

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