Would it be too conspiracy theorist of me to say that I think my apartment is trying to kill me?
To be fair, the apartment is really a condo and completely our home at this point. And to be even more fair, if this place is trying to kill, the kid and the condo are definitely in cahoots.
Two weeks ago, in a fit of some kind of almost-four-year old insanity, Lil E had a tantrum. While peeing. At the peak of the potty meltdown, I ordered a self-imposed mommy time-out and headed to the kitchen for the comparable quiet of unloading the dishwasher. I have my moments as a silly, rule-bucking mama, sure. But if there is one thing I am not down with, it's being screamed at by a preschooler from his potty seat. Over the clank and clatter of glassware and sippy cups, I heard the bathroom door slam and then a sudden and complete silence.
I breathed in, then out, then walked slowly down the hall. I mentally prepared my oft-repeated speech on why slamming doors is so not cool in
our house, then took one more big breath for good measure. Perhaps I
should have taken three or four. Perhaps I should have taken a shot of
something strong. It was too late, and I realized that the moment I
placed my fingers on the door handle. It was locked.
LOCKED. Locked. Locked. And on the other side, there was still silence. I rattled the handle, a stupid but inevitable reaction.
I stepped back, peered at the clock. Seventeen minutes until Lil E's dad would arrive to take him for his Wednesday overnight. I breathed in again.
"Lil E," I said, "open the door, honey."
I was calmer than I expected. For ten of those minutes, I was collected and spoke in soothing voice that almost startled me. I was even calm as I dialed my parents and spoke into the phone with a direct request for immediate assistance.
"Do not laugh," I said firmly to my mother who answered. "DO NOT LAUGH. Please send dad over here immediately. Lil E's locked in the bathroom and his dad will be here in a few minutes. Do not laugh. Just send dad over here. Right. Now."
Inside the bathroom, there were tears and little fingers trying desperately to turn the lock. There was lots of talking through the door, and there were plans and strategies flying through my mind about how to hold off the Almost-Ex while I tried to knock down the door with some semblance of Zen and grace.
When my dad arrived, Lil E let out a wail of fear that he'd be in the bathroom forever. As tempting as that was, I turned the unlocking over to another responsible adult.
And my dad, like grandfathers amazingly and irritatingly and always do, walked in, put a random key in the slotted lock of the door handle and popped the door right open.
There stood Lil E, hands still poised as I instructed him from the hallway, pants down and terrified. I bent down and breathed in again.
"You must NEVER do that again," I said as I reached for him.
But he was already in my arms, nodding and near tears. He was afraid enough; I didn't need to go on. Instead, I pulled up his pants, helped him wash his hands and instructed him to thank grandpa for saving the day.
We had a few minutes to spare before his daddy rang the bell and Lil E rushed off to an evening of videos and pizza and Rescue Heroes that would help him forget his potty imprisonment.
At least for a couple of weeks. At least until last Friday, when he was overcome with a need for privacy or pranks or just being a preschooler and slammed his bedroom door when I was only a few feet away. Locking himself inside.
This time, though, we were separated by a key lock that couldn't be popped open by a rescue hero of a grandpa. Oh no. We were separated by a stubborn door that had never been opened with its long-gone key and was so stuck that it required a skilled locksmith (hello, friend)to unpeel it with tools I've never seen before, pulling apart the inner workings of what was once a pretty little upgraded door handle and became shards of shiny metal on my hallway floor.
A half-hour of trying, an hour of waiting for the locksmith, yelling, tears, praying, notes passed and fingers met under the door, $85, a now-jimmied and not-so-shiny replacement handle and two hours past bedtime later, Lil E and I were hugging again.
This time, less afraid (him) and having a harder time breathing through the anger (me). This time, we had to find a way back to each other quickly and resolutely so Lil E could get to sleep. This time, a few lullabies and kisses on his sweaty forehead did it for both of us. He fell asleep soundly, door wide open and emergency clearly forgotten. I had a glass of wine, worked for a few hours and fell asleep before I curse the kid, with his independent streak and need for privacy slammed in my face, and the condo, with its unnecessary locks and missing keys.
That night's sleep, and probably surviving both incidences just fine, made falling down the basement stairs while carrying a box of wedding china seem a little less painful. It made me worry a bit less about the crack that now runs defiantly up my mirrored closet door, made effortlessly as I stumbled putting on shoes a few mornings later, nudging it ever so slightly with my knee as I hit the floor.
I'm resolved not to let these plots to Off The Mommy (or at least debilitating bodily and mental paralysis) so the kid can take finally full reign of the apartment (cheese-filled pretzels and non-stop Curious George episodes for all!) get me down. For long anyway.
Oh no. I'm coming back to the front lines with duct tape, Neosporin and my new discount card from the locksmith on my hip. And I might be bruised and out of breath, but I'm ready. I am so ready.