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Getting to Know the...

Getting to Know the Neighbors (Part 1)

Well, I had said that I wanted to get to know the neighbors better. I was thinking more like having a neighborhood BBQ, but God does have a sense of humor. I was walking from door to door dripping wet in the rain, wondering what I should say. “Hello, I’m your neighbor of seven years. We spoke six months ago I think. Or was it last summer? I helped you catch your run-away bunny last year. Do you have any more kids? I still have two. Oh, and could I borrow a screwdriver?” Could I leave it at that? Neighbors should be able to borrow screwdrivers without an explanation right? Maybe you have to have interaction a little more often to not have to offer a reason. I stood on the steps ready to knock and looked down at my slippers and decided I probably had to give an explanation.

My neighbor and her two young children answered the door. Again, I wondered why we weren’t friends since she only lived two doors down and I knew she was “trapped” in her house just as much as I was trapped in mine. Well, maybe not as trapped as me ... She smiled and tried not to look shocked by my presence at her door. I smiled and calmly said, “Hi. I was wondering if I could borrow a Philips screwdriver.” She hesitated. I filled the gap. “I’m sort of locked out of my house.” “Oh dear!” she said, “I think so, let me check.” She left me at the door to explain to her young children why I was locked out of my house. “Why?” They asked. “It’s a long story,” I said. “Why?” they replied. She returned, “Is Philips the one with the bumps?” “Yes,” I said as she handed me two. “Do you need a phone? Do you need anything else?” she asked and I knew I had to tell her more. 

I took a deep breath. I’m sure this happens all the time. Ok, no it probably never happens, but still stuff like this must happen all the time. “No, I’m ok. I’ll come back if this doesn’t work.” “You’re locked out of the house?” she asked. “Well … we’re more locked in my son’s bedroom.” I replied, trying to remind myself that someday I would think this was funny.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. About a year ago my son was exploring his new big-boy room when he noticed a small circle that turned on his doorknob. We had put him to bed and prayed he wouldn’t come find us in the family room (again). We missed the crib. I started hearing a strange clicking noise from his room and I went to investigate. The doorknob was being jiggled ever so slightly. I reached for the door ready to give a lecture on how late it was and how he needed his sleep, when to my surprise the door was locked. My son was locked in a dark room by himself. My heart sank and I called for my husband. We sat by the door trying to stay calm (ok I was trying to stay calm) and coach my son on how to unlock the door. I figured if he can turn that thing to lock it, he can turn it again to unlock it. There was just a lot of jiggling and giggling. I was thankful he had no idea what it meant to be locked in a room. Finally, my husband resorted to a screwdriver and took the doorknob apart. We opened the door and I hugged my three-year-old son as if he was returning from war in another country. I never wanted to feel that way again. So, my husband put the doorknob back on the other way with the lock on the OUTSIDE of the door. It seemed like a good idea at the time.

That’s how it happened. I was proud of myself for getting the kids in the bath and out of the bath and into their PJs early. I could see the finish line. We were so close. I couldn’t wait for the silence and time alone! I didn’t pay much attention to my daughter playing with doorknob to my son’s room. I helped him get his pajamas on as she shut the door and moved a stool close to the bookshelf so she could climb. I tried to hurry so I could prevent whatever catastrophe she was about to cause. I finished with him and grabbed her off the stool and went to the door declaring it was “time to brush teeth” when to my surprise the doorknob didn’t turn. It took a moment before my mind rushed back to that night a year ago. Then I saw that both of my kids were with me and realized this was going to be ok. I just had to think.

 “What’s wrong mommy?” my son asked. “Did you lock the door?” I asked him. “No.” I looked at my eighteen-month-old daughter. I had just discussed her quickly developing fine-motor skills with the pediatrician that morning. I wasn’t feeling so proud anymore. Ok, I had to assess the situation. My husband was on a plane to Chicago so he wasn’t going to be able to help this time.  The phone was locked on the other side of the door. What did we do last time? Think, think, think … a song from “Tigger and Pooh” began playing in my mind. I looked around the room not sure what I was searching for. I could climb out the window. But, shoot! My husband was out of town so in my neurotic craze I had locked every possible entryway to my house and garage. I thought I should try anyway.

“Ok sweetheart, mommy has to climb out the window.” Oh great, let me teach you how to exit the house without your parents knowing …” but we NEVER climb out the window.” “Only mommies?” he asked. “Right, only grownups. You NEVER climb out windows. Actually, grownups don’t climb out windows either, we use doors right?” “Right” he said with a giggle. “But it’s ok because this is an emergency.” An emergency? Great, freak the calm kids out. Stop talking! “But it’s OK.” I said as I pushed a chair up to the window, took out the screen and cranked it open. I put one leg through and thanked God I wasn’t pregnant. This was going to be a tight squeeze. I looked back in his room and pushed the chair with my leg a “safe” distance away from the window realizing I had just made it very difficult for myself to get back in. “Sweetheart, you’re in charge” I almost laughed looking at my poor four-year-old in his Spiderman pajamas. “Ok mommy” he said with a serious look on his face. “Your job is to keep your sister away from this window.” I couldn’t believe I was saying this—but what other option did I have? I knew that it would be virtually impossible for either of them to get to the window, but I still felt like I should set the rules.

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