Yesterday I locked my daughter in the car...there, I said it! In what I thought would have been a normal day picking my kid up from daycare turned out to be one of the scariest experiences ever. It all happened so quickly. I placed her in her car seat and strapped her in. While doing so, one of the daycare parents walked up behind me and started talking. As I engaged in conversation with her, I remember closing the door not realizing that I didn’t have my keys in hand. Next thing I know I hear the car door lock sound. Uh Oh! I go to open the door and it’s locked. I look at my daughter and she has the keys in her hand laughing. She has no clue that she is locked in the car……she’s only 2! At first I try to remain calm. “JuJu unlock the door. Press the bottom button. Come on Ju please unlock the door”, I plead but she just kept laughing while re-pressing the lock button. After about 3 minutes of this I start to panic. The daycare mom who I was talking to was still standing there trying to coach my daughter on how to unlock the door. By this time I’m sobbing. My distress caused other parents to come over and try to assist. I suggested that they just break the window, but they just kept trying to calm me down. At one point my daughter starts crying because she sees that I am upset. I end up calling the fire department and within minutes they arrived on the scene. As soon as they drove up my daughter pressed the unlock button and the ordeal is finally over. Filled with so much emotion, I grabbed my baby and hugged and kissed her over and over. I also apologized to her. Mom guilt is real guys! Although it was a mistake, I felt terrible. As a parent, one of the most painful feelings is when you can’t help your child; you just feel so hopeless. From this experience, there were some “lessons learned” that I want to share with you.
1. Remain Calm. Our children feed off of our vibes. If we are visibly upset and shaken it can alarm them and cause them to become upset. Although anyone would be upset in these types of situations its best to play it cool for the sake of the child.
2. Assess the situation. Look at the situation and decide what course of action will be best. What is the temperature outside? Is the car running? Is the child old enough to be coached to open the door? Don’t make bad judgement calls based on emotions. Try to think things through quickly and use the best course of action.
3. Ask for help. Call 911, the local fire department, ask people who are in the area to assist you. You never know when a locksmith may be near.
4. Break the window if you must. Life threatening conditions inside a car can develop quickly. If your child is locked in a hot car, you need to break the window immediately. This also goes for if you see a child that has been left in a hot car. There are laws that protect you from being held liable if you do so. Just make sure that all doors are indeed locked, call 911, and then break the window that is opposite of the child. You could actually save a life.
5. Have a spare key made. Even if you have the key chip with push button start ignition, you can still get a key duplicated for your car doors. Once this is done, use a magnet to hide the key under your vehicle.
I earned my “locked my kid in the car” parent badge on yesterday, and although most of the time I am an overachiever, one badge of this type is more than enough for me. I hope my “lessons learned” come in handy in you’re ever put in the situation. Parenthood is all about learning and growing with every experience so try not to beat yourself up to bad.
Juliet was all smiles after the entire ordeal.