I don’t recall why I walked outside- I was speaking to a delivery person of some sort I think, either medical supplies, UPS, or produce delivery. In any case, I stepped outside a few weeks ago, and as I was turning around to reenter the house, I heard Rowan giggle, then the click of the front door shutting and then the distinctive THUNK of the deadbolt sliding into place. Rowan thought this was hilarious- it was only the second time he had turned the deadbolt successfully, so he was very proud, too. I, on the other hand, was acutely aware that my children were locked in the house without supervision and June didn’t even have her pulse-ox on, which means she shouldn’t be unsupervised (“unobserved”) for more than 60 seconds or so in case her trach gets blocked.
“Rowan,” I said sternly to our decorative accent window by the door, where he was undoubtedly hiding. “UNLOCK the door.” More giggles. I realized he probably doesn’t even know what unlock means, and it was likely that he couldn’t execute it on his first try anyway.
“Turn the switch the other way!” I instructed. No response.
Thank*ful*ly our garage door has a keypad on the outside, so I entered our code and was able to get back in through the attached garage. Rowan then received a 15 minute lesson on how to lock AND unlock the deadbolt, and when he was allowed to do so. Though he had dismantled the “child proof” door handle covers many months prior, he still wasn’t strong enough to pull the front door open by himself. Yet. But in preparation, Greg and I had stressed for months that he is not allowed to go outside without our permission. For this lesson I added that he’s not allowed to lock the adults outside either.
Many a parent might suspect what happened next.
One morning later that week, over the baby monitor I heard Rowan wake up and leave his room at the usual time. Greg and I were talking so we waited for Rowan to bound into our room and say “Dada!!” as was his habit. After about ten minutes we realized Rowan never appeared, so I went to investigate. He wasn’t in the living room and his bedroom door was closed, so I figured I must have imagined him waking up. But on a crazy, paranoid whim I decided to open the front door. Rowan was standing beside Greg’s truck uncertainly, dressed in his Elmo pajamas. He saw me and quickly exclaimed while jumping up and down,
“Mama, I want to wash the cars!!”
His dead bolt lesson had apparently inspired in him a determination to open the door, but he didn’t know how to operate the thumb latch handle on the outside to get back in. So again he got an extended lesson on operating the front door and all the associated rules.