Saturday are Sleep-In Days. Seven-year old Grace is kind of getting the hang of that idea . . . after seven years of life. She usually comes into our room and asks if she can use the master bathroom (I have no idea why she doesn’t just use the bathroom adjacent to her bedroom). I always mutter, “Yes,” and go back to sleep.
And so it came to pass that on Saturday morning at 8:34 a.m. I was sound asleep when the telephone rang.
I reached for the phone, noted the unfamiliar name on caller-i.d. and said, “Hello?” in my most wide-awake voice.
“Hi, Mom. This is Grace. I’m at the neighbor’s house across the street, you know the one the boys helped? I got locked out of the house.”
“Okay, I’ll be right there.” What? Huh? WHAT?! You WHAT?
I sprang out of bed faster than I ever have before, getting dressed while trying to explain to my husband what had happened. I couldn’t quite understand how she got locked out and how she ended up across the street. And furthermore, what kind of Mother am I to be sleeping while my baby girl is at the neighbor’s house? What?!
By the time I opened the front door to go retrieve her, the neighbor-man was walking her back to our porch. I thanked him for bringing her back and for helping, hugged her and closed the front door.
I peeked into the family room, saw our 11-year old son and said, “Were you here the whole time this was happening?” And then he explained that her screaming woke him, but by the time he got on his coat and shoes, the phone rang, so he listened in and didn’t go looking for her.
She seemed remarkably calm despite her early morning adventure, so I hugged her again, asked a few questions and went back to bed. Later, I put the whole story together.
It seems that Roy, one of the cats, wanted to go into the boys’ room. (They were gone at a sleepover.) She came downstairs to let the cat into the room. While standing in the doorway, she heard the boys’ alarm clock ringing. She decided to cross the room and turn off the alarm.
After she did that, she saw that Smokey, the crankiest cat in the world, was blocking her way back through the doorway. Smokey has been known to swipe at people who walk too closely to her, so Grace decided that she would avoid Smokey by going out of the boys’ room through the other door, the door that leads outside. She figured once she was outside she would go to the front door and reenter the house.
She realized her error when she reached the front door and discovered it locked. She returned to the boys’ door and found it was also locked. Although she was barefooted, she scampered across the driveway, into the backyard along the sidewalk and checked the patio door. Locked.
At least she was wearing heavy fleece pajamas since the temperatures have been freezing overnight.
Now crying, she ran back to the front door. However, our doorbell is broken. She banged on the door, crying and now screaming. The screaming woke Zach, but as I mentioned, he reacted a little slowly. My husband and I continued to sleep through this whole ordeal since we keep a fan running in our room to block out noise and sleep with the door closed. (See: Fourth child; no need to monitor nighttime noises. Please, we’re old. Let us sleep.)
Seven-year old, barefooted Grace realized she was in some trouble. So, within a few minutes she decided she should go next door to the neighbor’s house because she knows them. When she reached the street–all the while crying and screaming–the neighbor across the street opened the door to investigate the shrieking. He told me later he thought it was a cat.
She recognized the neighbor–the boys have done some yard work for him–so she headed across the street. He told her to come in and she informed him she knew her phone number. So she called us. At that point, she sounded so completely rational and calm. I am still impressed by her problem-solving skills–she analyzed her problem and came up with a solution all by herself.
Pretty amazing for a girl who had the “worst day” of her life–all in about ten minutes.
The moral of the story: Better to get scratched by the cat than to lock yourself out of the house on a Saturday morning while your whole family is asleep and you are wearing only pink fleece pajamas and no shoes on a frozen December day.
[Note to self: Get the doorbell fixed.]