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Crying at the lock…

October 10, 2011

Remember Mother Goose’s “Wee Willy Winkie”?  It is one of Joy’s favorite rhymes. Now I will smile every time I hear it, remembering a moment this morning at the new house.

Yes: this photo is a reconstruction. That’s why Hope is smiling. The crisis is over.

It was an ordinary (unmedicated) morning. Grandma and the girls and I were at the new house. I was unpacking. Everyone else was playing. I could hear Hope wasn’t happy about how something was going and was pleasantly surprised to hear her disengage from the action and stomp upstairs to her new room. Of course in a perfect world we could do without the huffy stomping. But it is real progress that sometimes she self-regulates by removing herself from whatever is upsetting.

Door slammed upstairs. Very long pause. “Mommy!”

I am shelving books. I calculate: Hope doesn’t know that in this house I can hear her stomp upstairs and slam the door. She thinks she didn’t get my attention. Her room is still empty, safe. I will pretend I didn’t hear her and see what happens.


I shelve more books.


Ah ha, I think. She is experimenting with volume. She’s not sure I can hear her.

“Mommy?” Mercy asks from the playroom, directly below Hope’s bedroom. “Hope is calling you.”

“I hear her,” I said. “I’m just going to finish the books before I go up to her. I don’t think it is an emergency.”

“MOMMY!” Hope said again.

I finished the shelf and nonchalantly walked upstairs.

“Hope, I’m finished now,” I said. “Can I help you with something?”

I rounded the corner and found a door handle on the floor. I looked up. Hope’s eye stared back at me through the lock hole.

“I’m stuck!” she said.”The door locked and the handles fell off. Now I’m stuck!”

Hmmm…the door did this to her. No agency on her part like, ‘I slammed the door and turned the lock.’

“Not a problem,” I assured her. “I can see the lock and I can unlock it with my fingers.”

I reached into the hole and manipulated the lock. Nothing. I manipulated the lock the other way. Nothing. I visualized the orientation of a key in lock and tried again. Nothing.

“Hmmm,” I said. “I think I need to call Daddy and have him bring over the tool box. With a tool we could unlock the door.”

This is why I have a cell phone: for emergencies, right?

Except that Daddy was on his work line and not answering his cell.

“Not a problem,” I reassured Hope. “I will go home and get Daddy and we’ll get you out. You put some books on your shelf in there, right? You look at them for a few minutes and I will leave Grandma here while I go get Daddy.”

Home and Daddy were only three minutes away. I walked into his office. He was on the phone. I made our family signal for “time out” and mouthed, “Hope locked herself in her room and the door handles are on the floor. I need your help to get her out.”

Need his help because he noticed how many of the interior doors at the new house have locks, and that we have keys for none of them, and just last night was at the house taking inventory of how many of which kind of handle set we need to replace. He said he had figured out which doors had a “Plan B” way in if Hope locked herself in one of those rooms before he got the new handles installed. I hoped her bedroom door had a “Plan B”.

He is a very good Daddy. You see, two weeks ago Hope locked both of Daddy and Mommy outside our house for the first time. The long-ago-placed emergency key was found to be missing. But God arranged to have Mercy home, who unlocked the door for us when we knocked on her window. Mommy put, “Get a duplicate emergency key” on her to-do list but did not get to it in time to prevent Hope locking us out a second time. So Daddy has become even more lock-conscious.

This morning, just as I was putting the toolbox in the van for a return trip to the new house, the phone rang. It was Grandma. She had liberated Hope.

Grandma is the hero-of-the day. She had the good sense to instruct Hope to pick up the handle that had fallen into the room and to hold it in position while Grandma picked up the handle in the hallway. Working together, they turned their respective handles and unlatched the door.

The door wasn’t even locked. The tongue was simply engaged, which is why my manipulating the lock mechanism accomplished nothing. The solution was brilliantly simple and I’m sure there is a lesson in it somewhere if I take the time to think about it.

But you’ll excuse me if I don’t do that right now. I need to go out and duplicate a house key.

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