Monday, April 18, 2011

More Mistakes

After my very unkind posting for public consumption of my cousin's unfortunate baby launching, I realized that I have endangered my children in more ways than just banging one in the head with a pot or stepping on the other's face. Let's be clear, I have never harmed my children intentionally, so please don't call any agencies.

A little over two years ago, when IR had just turned three and ML was about six months old, I was home alone with them during the day. It was springtime then as well, and just like now I started to get a manly hankering to grill some meat. Sorry, the words grill and meat just naturally follow words like manly and hankering. Not the same when you say something like "I had a manly hankering to drive my minivan," or "I had a manly hankering to put pigtails on my daughter." But I need to get back to my story, as I said, the nice weather put me in the mood for some grilled meat. We live in a townhouse, and kitchen is on the second floor above the garage with a sliding glass door that opens onto a small porch that is cantilevered over the parking lot.

I made the necessary preparations for cooking some pork chops, like starting and cleaning the grill etc... It was still a little cold outside, but I had shorts and a t-shirt on, which is my normal uniform for being home with the girls. IR was in the wonderful territory of learning who she was and what the world was around her, and ML was just starting to crawl. IR was already being a good big sister and trying to coax her sister to some toys across the room when I stepped out to check the pork chops. I slid the door shut behind me and turned to see IR hanging on the handle and pressing her face against the glass. I pretended not to see her and was going to open the door with her swinging on the handle. I pulled on the door, but I realized quickly that IR had accidentally locked it. The lock is a little black lever that sits right under the handle.

"You locked the door sweetie." To which she responded with muffled giggles and dropped from the door.
"IR, you locked the door, can you push that little black lever up for daddy?" I don't know why parents start speaking in the third person, that is the subject of another blog. IR didn't understand so I pointed to the black lever and pretended to push it up. Her response was to mimic my movements on the glass. If I wasn't standing on a porch, ten feet off the ground, in shorts, a t-shirt, and barefoot in forty degree weather, I might have thought it cute how she put her little finger adjacent to mine on the other side of the glass and moved it up and down with increasing intensity.
"Honey, no, push the black lever, the black lever, please sweetie, push the black lever up!" My increasing intensity seemed to take the fun out of the game so she ran into the living room. It was then that I realized that I couldn't see ML, who was just barely crawling at that point. I imagined her chewing on a power cord or falling down the stairs. I banged on the glass. "IR! IR! Please come here!" She came back, but slowly--she thought she was in trouble. I can't blame her, I was mad and a little frantic. "Honey, please push the black lever." I said after I had tried to calm myself. She came to the door and sat down facing me. "Please, sweetie, I will give you some candy if you push up the black lever."
"Tandy?" She replied, standing up.
"Yes, I will give you two candies if you push the black lever." I held up two fingers to the glass, and she responded by putting two fingers on the glass. We repeated the earlier exercise. I pointed to the black lever and she pointed to the tip of my finger. I got frustrated again, and she ran away again. This time I pounded the door with the palm of my right hand in frustration. "IR, get back here right now!" I knew this wasn't going to work. I knew that none of it was going to work, so I was allowing myself to be angry. She didn't return, so I started to consider other options. I thought about breaking the glass, but I didn't know how and I couldn't help think of the cost.
I thought about jumping, but I was barefoot and for some stupid reason the fact that it was chilly out made the blacktop seem even less inviting. I climbed over the rail and tried to hang from the floor of the porch to gauge the distance, but I couldn't tell, and I couldn't let go. I tried to hang from the satellite dish that the former residents of the house left behind, but it was really flimsy. I looked up to see IR hanging from the door handle again and was relieved to see that I was forgiven for my earlier outburst. It was then that I jumped down onto the hood of the truck we had at the time, and luckily was parked under the porch. It wasn't too bad, but the cold blacktop did sting a little as I jumped from the hood. I opened the garage with the keypad on the door and went upstairs.
"Daddy, are you okay?" IR asked as I picked up ML and was relieved to see no injuries.
"No sweetie, you locked me out." I know, I know, it wasn't on purpose and I shouldn't have been mad at her, but I was. "Look daddy, I can do it! I can do it!" She said.
"What can you do?" Her response was to run into the kitchen and push the black lever up, unlocking the door. She couldn't have been more proud of herself, and though I am very proud of her for many things, pride was not on my mind in that moment.
Later that day, they were in the truck with me on the way to drop them off with their mother. It was a circumstance of us both working. To get to my class on time, I had to take them to my wife instead of waiting for her to get home before leaving. I was going through an intersection and was surprised by the car in front of me stopping in the middle of the intersection to avoid a pothole.
My wife called me later to tell me that IR had told her all about our day together. First, IR told her mother that I locked her out of the house, and second she told her mother that I had said a bad word in the truck.

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