I've alluded to The Lockout several times on the blog, but never got around to telling you blog peeps about it. I'm not going to lie, it was a pivotal moment in my parenting of the C-dawg, and part of the reason I didn't want to talk about it for a long time was that it still caused a bit of fire to come out of my eyes and ears just thinking about it. But around October I decided I would use it in my message at the women's retreat where I spoke. I had to whittle it down and yet refine the punchlines, so I practiced reciting this story several times. By the time Thanksgiving came around, I was using it as a charming anecdote at family gatherings. But I've never forgotten the emotions of that day and my shock at the sheer will and appalling guts of a then-four-year old. So, I apologize if you've already heard this story, but those of you who haven't (aka Shannan, who's been asking for it), here it is:
One lazy morning in August the kids were up EARLY and ate breakfast by 7am. By 8:50, Carson wanted a snack. None of us was dressed, and I figured this was a good motivator to get the day started, so I said he could have a snack when dressed. Cue: falling on the floor screaming and kicking at the unfairness of it all. When these melodramatic rants occur (which was almost daily this summer) I have a choice in how I handle it. This morning, I chose to completely ignore it. So, the schtick got louder, more dramatic, more violent--a sister passing by got a kick in the shins. A brother got a timeout.
But if you've been following along this here blog, you might remember that if Carson doesn't approve of being given a timeout (and why would he ever?) he just doesn't STAY in time out. I wrestle with him to get him to stay in the room long enough for me to close the door, then hold it closed for five minutes or until he calms down. Well, this morning, he never calmed down, and after five minutes I offered to help him get dressed. We got to the part where the clothes come OFF, but never got anything ON. Then he bolted. I was ticked. We have this CRAZY rule in our house that you have to wear at least underwear. I KNOW! I'm so mean. And now I was chasing a naked preschooler around the house and we were both angry. We ended up back in the bedroom, after he had clocked the sis on the way down the hall. Wrestling again, with me trying to get some Lightning McQueen underoos on this dang kid, and him swinging and kicking like a maniac. I know. It's ridiculous and insane. I am not saving space for my mother-of-the-year award. But that's what happened.
Sydney was crying and getting a little scared, so in the mayhem I made a split-second decision. I told Carson that Sydney and I were going to step out on the front porch to get some fresh air and try to calm down. See, I knew he wouldn’t go out there with no unders on, because he’s embarrassed for the neighbor girls to see him. And I was right. I was not 4 steps out the door when I though, “Hmmm, I should grab my ke—“ and CLICK. Carson had locked the deadbolt behind me. I was standing on my front porch with no keys, no phone, no shoes, no bra. In my PJ's.
I ran to our keypad, unlocked the garage door, but it took so long he had also locked the door from the garage to the house. I was in shock. At first I banged and screamed on both the front door and the garage door. (Fun moment when our neighbor Terry was getting into his truck and asked if I needed help. "OH no! Everything's fine!") Then I lapsed into about 10 minutes of silence. Figured I'd psych him out and he'd open up. I FIGURED WRONG. I peeked in the windows and listened at the doors. Nothing. So I alternated: quiet, freakish pounding and threats, then quiet.
Over 20 minutes (!) had passed, and the thought that someone whose bottom-wiping skills are mediocre-at-best was waltzing naked around my home and sitting on my furniture was enough to almost make me lose my ever-loving mind. I decided I needed to try the gate to the backyard, but I can't really reach the latch. So I got my huge rain boots out of the garage, put them on over my pj pants, and went to try to partially climb the fence to unlock the gate. As I’m struggling at the gate, I look into the window next to me and see my son. Sitting on the couch naked. Watching me. We made eye contact.
He stuck his tongue out at me.
Oh no he di’in’t.
I was in shock. I wanted to physically jump through the glass and throttle him, but also, this was the first contact he’d made—the first time he’d shown his face, and I felt like a hostage negotiator, who has to tread v-e-r-y c-a-r-e-f-u-l-l-y and calmly talk the crazed lunatic with the gun (and therefore all the power) into being reasonable. “Hey buddy,” I said quietly but firmly. “You need to open that door right. now.”
To be honest, I don't remember a lot of the details after that because it's all just a big angry red BLUR. Eventually, obviously, he let me in, he put on underwear and by the grace of God I didn't strangle him with my bare hands.
I don't know what you see as the moral of this story. I made some changes and made some calls that day and with the hubs chose some very comprehensive and long-lasting consequences. But here's my take-away and my advice to all parents of strong-willed children:
GET A HIDE-A-KEY.