I came from a time when kids basically raised themselves because our parents were usually at work. I had a single mother so I was a latch key kid from way back. A latch key kid was one who wore the key to their house on a key ring. Mine was attached to the front belt loop of my Jordache jeans.
I left school every day and walked the two or three blocks home. I would let myself inside and lock the door behind me. I occupied myself until my mother got home from which ever of her two jobs she happened to be working that day. Back then, our parents were pretty okay with our young independence.
Today, things are a little different. There are definitely stages of raising kids though. It is our job to teach them to be independent thinking adults one day and this requires life experiences, at age appropriate intervals. Sometimes the lines are confusing. You are never quite sure if NOW is the right time to give them a little taste of freedom. As a parent, I have learned that you are definitely always winging it.
One of these moments came up last week on our family’s beach vacation. One morning my oldest son asked if he could stay in the condo. He wanted a break from the sun and fun. I was already down in my beach chair when my husband made the executive decision (parental winging it) to let him stay in the room alone for a bit. He had a cell phone so he could call if he needed anything or wanted to come down later.
My husband instructed Jack not to open the door under any circumstances. He also told him to absolutely NOT walk out on the balcony. To say that Hubs has a healthy fear of balcony rails would be an understatement. He still yells at the 14-year-old that she should never assume the rails are securely attached. And the 19th floor is kinda up there.
Jack agreed to all the rules and his dad knew that as soon as he left the room, he would be lost in his electronic device of choice anyway. Dad trusted him. (kinda. Again, winging it) So Hubs joined the rest of the fam on the beach.
A couple of hours went by and everyone was ready for lunch. We decided to go back to the condo for a break. Hubs left before me with the other kids. I stayed to gather supplies. After about ten minutes I headed back up myself. So imagine my surprise when the elevator opened, I rounded the corner and there stood my family. Still not in the condo.
My husband had a look of concern on his face. As I approached he informed me that he had entered the door code only to find that he still couldn’t get inside. You know those swing locks that they always put in hotels and condos? The ones where you can crack the door and see who is outside. Jack had decided to utilize that lock after his dad had left.
So we were in fact locked out. Hubs had the door cracked and had been calling Jack’s name repeatedly and banging on the door. I asked him to let me give it a go. I put as much of my face as I could get into the crack and with my best Mom voice I called all three of his names and demanded that he come open the door.
I listened and the only sound I heard was a television. No response at all. At this point I am getting a little worried. A couple of us started calling his phone. Another tried to Facetime him on his iPad. He loves those devices like I love enchiladas. I knew he couldn’t be THAT far from BOTH of them.
We could hear both devices ringing from the hallway but he didn’t answer either. This is where everything changed. Was he okay? Had he fallen and hit his head? Had he choked on food? Was he locked out on the balcony? My Mom brain was swirling. We agreed it was time for action.
My husband turned and walked back down the length of the hall then spun around facing the door. He had a look of determination on his face. It was only then that I realized he was preparing to charge the door. He was about to break multiple bones in his upper body, all in the name of busting the lock. Dad Mode.
This was where being Mom actually came in super handy. I said OR instead of medical bills and property damage, we could call building security. Dad thought for a minute and decided that might just also work.
The security team was there in less than five minutes. My husband had already filled them in on the situation over the phone. They didn’t seem one bit concerned about busting into an occupied condo.
The first thing the head guy did was announce: “SECURITY! OPEN THE DOOR” followed by a series of bangs on the door. I am not going to lie. I was now not only concerned about my son but also a little mortified because you just can’t take the Bells anywhere without a scene.
Nothing from the other side. Time to force our way in. Security had brought a very high-tech gadget to get the job done. It was called cardboard. Yep. A small piece of cardboard. Questioning the security of those locks now, aren’t you?
It took four rounds of opening and slamming (I am sure you can Google the process) and we were inside. Dad burst through the door, followed by my daughter, whom I shoved out of the way and passed. We got to the living room just in time to see my oldest son, JUST NOW waking from what appeared to be the deepest sleep of his entire life. I guess there is no tired like beach tired. I thanked the security team and apologized for the trouble.
Being a parent means going from fearing that something is wrong with your child to wanting to strangle them with your bare hands, all in a matter of seconds. But Jack was okay and for that fact, it was a parental win.
Ready to wing the next thing.