Local mother, driven to depseration, breaks into house

It all started when lambie went missing.

Zora’s lambie is her “thing” (Lambie is a hybrid blankie/stuffed animal…basically, sort of the baby version of those animal skin rugs with a head, but this one being a small lamb.) She’s not completely obsessive about her “thing”–she has an alternative thing at my mom’s house, this one a spotted pink elephant version of lambie, which, for complicated reasons that I won’t get into here, she calls “pink puppy”. And, if need be, she can nap without either lambie or pink puppy, but life is easier and naps happen better when she has them.

After her last trip to Grandma’s, pink puppy came home with us, and this has caused some confusion about who is where.

So, we come to naptime, and look in Zora’s crib. There’s pink puppy. There’s her pillow. There’s a blanket. But where’s lambie?

“Zora, where’s lambie?” I say (because Zora is actually pretty good at remembering where things are).

“I took him to Miss Dee’s house.” (Miss Dee is her daycare person. Lambie goes along to Miss Dee’s house, but I know lambie came home with us.)


“Yeah. I took him outside.”

“Show me.”

Zora goes to our front door, I open it, and there, on floor in the hallway (we live in a 9 unit buiding, 3 floors), is a plasitc shopping bag with a dirty diaper in it.  I figure Zora must have grabbed diaper I forgot to send down the hatch of the diaper champ, bagged it up, and put it in the hall, just like at Grandma’s. (Further explanation: my parents also live in a condo unit, but their elevator lobby only opens onto 2 apartments and the utility landing. Diapers go in a plastic bag and down the garbage chute. Zora often helps.)

And if she managed to do that without me noticing, maybe she also decided to pretend that lambie was going to Miss Dee’s house.

So I hoist Zora onto my hip, and step out into the hall to look for lambie. I’m a little frazzled at this point because it’s 1:00pm, Zora’s late getting dwn for her nap, I need her to take one so that I can shower because I’m still in my pjs and bathrobe, barefoot. She’s dressed, so I figure we don’t look completely trashy, and probably none of the neighbors are home anyway because it’s the middle of the day on Friday.

We check the first, second, and third floor hallways of the building. No lambie. So we’re back to searching the apartment.

Except that I forgot to check that the door was unlocked when I stepped out into the hall.

Reminder: it’s 1:00pm. There’s no one else in the building. I’m in my bathrobe (oh, dang, and it’s my shortie bathrobe, too), barefoot, no socks, tired toddler on hand. No keys, no phone, husband 40 miles away. No one has a spare key, but how would I get there anyway?

Zora seems to understand what’s going on, but she is impressively calm.

“Somebody has a key. Daddy has a key. He will come home.” She says.

We find a small wire on the floor. I try to pick the lock. No luck. Zora tries to pick the lock. Nope.

The car is in the parking lot, not the garage (the garage being used as a staging ground for the painting project in my bathroom…oh, yeah, I’m just a little covered in paint, too, and since it’s shades of brown, it kind of looks like a skin disease from far away), and there’s a garage door opener in the car. Maybe, just maybe I forgot to lock the car last night.

I prop the front door of the building open, and walk, barefoot, with toddler on hip, across the parking lot to my car. Just in case you are ever in this situation, road salt is really painful to your bare feet.

The car is locked.

Zora’s bedroom windows look out onto the parking lot. They appear to be locked.

I say a prayer that no one comes and moves the container that is propping the front door open, and we walk around the building to the very public, major thoroughfare, street side, and I walk through the 6 inches of snow to check if our bedroom windows are unlocked (toddler still on hip). I’m not sure they are,  and I can’t quite figure out how to remove a screen without breaking it a little.

We go back to the front door, and it’s still open.

I start ringing bells of other units. There’s someone home! I think it’s the nice little old lady! We talk over the intercom.

“Hi, I’m Erica from unit x. My daughter and I are locked out of our unit.”

“Oh, dear. I’ve been there too!”

She buzzes us into the building (which we don’t need because the door is still propped open). I walk upstairs to her unit. The door is closed. I knock, no answer, knock again, no answer, but I hear a TV on loudly. Then I hear a toilet flush. Then I hear the shower start up.

I start thinking through the options:

  1. Find a utility closet in the building and sit there until Erik comes home…Oh, wait, Erik’s expecting us to pick him up at the train.
  2. Walk the two miles to church, perhaps sticking to the undergrowth on the side of the road so that no one sees us and reports me to DCFS.
  3. Break a window on the car so that I can get to the garage door opener.
  4. Run into the middle of the street and just go with the whole crazy-woman motif, because at least they will take us somewhere warm.
  5. Prop the front door again and hope against all hope that there’s another window that’s unlocked and, if not, that the front door remains unpropped so that we can get back inside.

5 sounds closest to sane at this point. I prop the door, grab Zora, and head for the windows.

Except for Zora’s bedroom, every room in our place is ground-level along a sidewalk (with 4 feet of landscaping between the sidewalk and the building) on a major street, at a major intersection, in the middle of town. There’s a stoplight. Which means there will likely be a line-up of cars who get to watch me for stop-light-entertainment while I try to break into my own home in my shortie bathrobe with no shoes or socks, and a 2 year old on my hip. I look like crap. At least Zora is dressed. And, to my credit, I’m not in tears or hysterical yet.

Into the snow. I figure I might lose a toe, but at least we’ll get back into the house. And I can use my cell phone to call 911 if I need something amputated.

The very last window (of course) is open. With a full audience of stopped cars, I thank God for the architect and developer who put nice big windows in our place. I lower Zora into the living room. I step into the living room (In the process, I’m sure, giving the car-audience quite a show).

I figure I have about 10 minutes to get Zora down for her nap and get showered and dressed before the police arrive to check on the reports of a break-in.

All afternoon, whenever I hear sirens, I figure they’re coming for me.

And what about lambie? Oh, it turns out that lambie was all tangled up in the blanket, safe in Zora’s crib the whole time.

6 Responses to “Local mother, driven to depseration, breaks into house”

  1. maria Says:

    Oh my God. This had me and husband in tears from laughter! Thanks for sharing, and, yes, I have been there too. Minus toddler, plus all of our furniture. In rain.

  2. Marcia Van Drunen Says:

    WOW!! I almost had an anxiety attack just reading this! :) Praise God that you finally found a way back in. The no-shoes in the snow thing–yikes. And of COURSE lambie was in the crib the whole time. Of course.

  3. Susie Says:

    I don’t know if you read Motherlode on NYTimes, but she just posted a column about this :) Gotta love the timing. And thank goodness you live on the ground floor!

  4. Meika Says:

    Ay. Yi. Yi. Now THAT is insane.

    I’ve never been quite that locked out before, but Mike has a good story from his bachelor days about having to go over to the neighbors’ in his underwear when he locked himself out one frigid winter morn. The whole family, sitting around the breakfast table, and in he walks in his undies…not boxers, either. I’m sure he’ll be really happy that I shared that story with you. :)

  5. Viv Says:

    I’m glad you didn’t lose any appendages..that you’re ok. I thoroughly enjoyed how you told the story. :) I’ve locked myself out and have been so frustrated, but didn’t have the cold and snow to deal with. I climbed in a porch window on more than one occasion after removing the screen.

  6. Kirstin Says:

    Wow. Quite the story! I love the ending. Of course lambie would be in the crib. Jeepers.