Monday, October 26, 2009

Adventures in Housebreaking

I am a felon at heart. And worse, so is my son.

The other day, I rushed and rushed to get my kids out the door and into the car so that we could head over to the local superstore for beer essentials. I'll admit it. I was in a hurry.

Once everyone was buckled in, I reached into my pocket. The tell-tale combination of weight and jingling left me confident we'd be on our way in no time. But instead of keys, I found eighty-five cents and a paper clip.

Rats. Locked out.

No problem, I thought, I'll get the spare.

But whoever had used the spare last (probably yours truly) hadn't put it back.

I unloaded the kids from the car. Fortunately, it was a sunny fall day and they were thrilled to play in the leaves for a while Mom figured things out. I contemplated breaking a window. I contemplated calling my in-laws. Both options (for obvious reasons) were off the table.

I contemplated calling my husband. Too much trouble. He would be home in an hour and I was planning on having my errands done by then.

What remained? I searched my memory banks and flashed back to a time I was in similar situation. I was eight years old.

The year was 1980. I was a flip-haired flare-wearing third grader. Life was good. That is, until my kindergarten-age brother and I arrived home from school one Spring afternoon to find the doors locked and the garage empty. We were perplexed. Where was Mom?

At first, we sat on the front porch steps, waiting. I have no idea what we were waiting for, but whatever it was, it never came. There was no sign of Mom and our street was as deserted as a Utah ghost town.

It occurred to me that, sitting out front like that, we were sitting ducks for a child predator of some sort. After all, Nancy Reagan had told me to be careful of that sort of thing. Someone could see us -- no Mom in sight -- and try to sell us drugs or something.

I suggested we go around to the back patio. Everyone knows drug dealers wouldn't be caught dead on a patio.

We waited, seemingly, forever. In reality, it was probably twenty minutes. Still no sign of Mom, though.

It was then that my eyes spied a way in. The kitchen window had been left open a crack. If I could just get the screen to pop out, we'd be in like Flynn. I pried. I finagled. I coaxed that screen open. My younger brother Drew mopped sweat from my brow. The screen came loose! And my tiny fingers reached through to ease up the latches and remove it from the window. With a hearty shove, the kitchen window opened, and we scrambled up and onto the kitchen floor.

I was flush with success. I thought, breaking into houses is exciting! I could do this for a living!

Nancy Reagan, I was sure, would have been ashamed, but I didn't care.

My brother and I helped ourselves to some snack and started in on our homework. My mom walked in about 10 minutes later. We grilled her about where she'd been and regaled her with the tale of our amazing feat. As she eyed the bent kitchen screen, I was sure I saw pride at our self-sufficiency gleam in her eyes.

I was wrong. It was fury.

As a mom now myself, I recognize that the angry words that flew through our harvest gold-applianced kitchen too fast for the eight year old mind to process were really just the guilt talking. She hadn't been home when her children got in from school, but rather than beat herself up about it, she decided yell up one side of us and down the other. Honestly, I can't remember much of what she said... but it was something like we were supposed to go to the neighbor's and get a spare key and now the screen was ruined and also darnit our house isn't as secure as we thought...

We went to our rooms until supper. We were in that much trouble. But for the first time in my life, I don't remember being hurt that she was upset. Even if I didn't get dessert for a week or was grounded or (God forbid) had to wait until Dad got home... I was on cloud 9. Because I had just successfully perpetrated my first felony.

Fast forward to 2009.

As the kids started a battle-royale with the fallen leaves, I turned to my house -- seemingly impregnable -- and was filled with a sense of challenge. All the tools I would need were in the garage to which, fortunately, I had access.

All I needed was an accomplice who was lithe and agile -- and willing.

My eyes fell on my eight year old third grader.

He'll do, I thought -- perfectly.

- Midwest Mom


  1. LOL I have been in the same situation.. once I left newborn Matthew in our apartment while he was sleeping to take out the trash.. luckily we live on the first floor so I was able to break our screen and get in!

  2. Laurie,

    I have been so fortunate never to have locked one of our babies anywhere. I always feel sympathy for the freaking out Mom who has accidentally left a child somewhere.

    ... But you're lucky the screen you broke didn't belong to my Mom... Or you'd still be grounded.

    :D - Julia

  3. Awesome thinking! I've had to break into my own house, too. Once when T was 1. I told him to Stand Still on the driveway and shimmied through a basement window. By the time I made it back upstairs and out the door to him he was hysterically crying, thinking I'd disappeared forever. He may still be scarred...


Talk to me.