One of the things I always pictured myself doing when I had children was taking them to the library. I'm a reader. I don't ever remember not being a reader. When I think of summer, I think of the days my mom would take us all the way in to Longview to go to the library. Seriously - all the way in to town. I remember watching the Velveteen Rabbit in the old library and I remember when they moved to a brand new fancy building. I remember spending those hot August days like today encamped in my room building up books to add to my summer reading program list. Sometimes I'd grab a snack and head to a tree with branches that drooped just enough into the horse pasture behind us for me to climb up into a cosy fork. The lazy summer clouds would pass me by as I lost myself on Prince Edward Island with Anne of Green Gables.
So imagine my horror when I toted a few-months old Shelby to the local library only to be told they most certainly did not have a children's story time. In fact, that did most certainly not seem to encourage children's presence in the library at all. I was aghast! Don't all librarians want to bring up a new generation of readers? It would appear I had been hoodwinked as here before me were two who didn't care one iota if any children learned to love books as long as their realm remained unchanged. Silent. Clean. Orderly. Stagnant. Sterile.
Last year all that changed. I don't know exactly what happened and it really doesn't matter, but we were blessed with a changing of the guard. Now every Wednesday a growing group of children show up at the Cameron Public Library for story time with two ladies who love them, and love books. New children's books are flooding the shelves. Decade long gaps on those little "due date" stamp cards are filling up with fresh ink. A few weeks ago Shelby was crying because the book she wanted was already claimed and I got to teach her about reserving a book so that she could have it next.
Today we left story time (and an impromptu meeting of homeschooling moms and grandmother) with her Disney Princess book under one arm and a Three Little Pigs craft in momma's purse. I had started strapping the girls into their seats, but even with the reflective sun-shade up it was stifling in our car. Reaching between the front seats, I started the car and cranked the AC up to full blast. Shelby was asking for music, so I plugged my phone in and turned the bluetooth on.
Now our car, a 1994 Toyota Land Cruiser, does some things that were quite innovative at the time it was new. You cannot lock the doors with the keys in the ignition. However, if you start the car with all the doors closed, it automatically locks them.
I'm pretty sure the door next to Victoria's seat was open. So I'm not sure why what happened next happened, but clearly it did. I finished getting the girls strapped in and exited the vehicle. Clearly the door must have been unlocked or ajar for me to do that. As usual, I closed the door and grabbed the handle of the driver's door.
And pulled. And pulled. And yanked. Jerked. Stared, stupefied. What was going on here? I tried the door I had just come out of, but it was locked too. Something welled up in my chest as my adrenal glands sighed into my bloodstream. I may or may not have been running as I checked all the doors, in vain. It is mid-August, in Texas. My two beautiful children are locked in the car. In the sun. With the keys inside. With my phone inside.
Chills ran down my spine and bile climbed my throat as fresh adrenaline coursed through me now that danger was doubtless. Mother bear raised the hairs on the back of my neck as I ran through ideas of Things That Would Break A Window. Now we know that, in a panic, I don't lose my mind. The sensible side of me (yes, there is one!) talked down the bear. We are at the library. They have a phone. The car is running, the AC is on. Your daughters, climbers and key-turners though they may be, are safely restrained.
They couldn't see me fly to the door because the sun shade was still up. My face must have reflected my terror because everyone seemed to look up as I opened the library door. I didn't even need to interrupt anyone to request that "whoever you call when you've locked the children in the car" be called. A couple of the other mothers came out to stand with me and chat as we waited. Periodically I looked in at the kiddos and Shelby told me "drive momma." They had no idea.
As my friends reassured me that I am no a bad mother, a police cruiser and a wrecker pulled up. Too relieved to be embarrassed, I watched them work. They never even asked my name or how it had happened. It felt like it took longer for them to break into a 21 year old vehicle than I would have expected, but soon the window was down and the car was unlocked, and Shelby was asking to "go out to eat."
Once upon a time I'm sure I wondered how parents "let" things like this happen. It is easier than you think. Thank you to my friends, Cameron Police Department, and C&W Automotive for making a "bad mommy moment" into a thankful memory full of praise to God that it wasn't serious. I barely even got to thank them ... no questions asked, no exchange of information or money.
Keep calm, ask for help, withhold judgement, and count those blessings - in a moment you could find that you had more than you realized!