I had a facepalm moment yesterday. A really big one. One that I’m still trying to completely recover from.
I locked Delilah in the car.
It was only for 15 minutes but they were close to being the longest 15 minutes of my life.
We had just left family daycare and she was excited to go home. I guided her to the car, holding her hand, my keys, her bag and her baby doll.
Somehow after opening the car she got a hold of my keys and had a bit of a play. I was distracted trying to secure her in her car seat and once I prised them off her I automatically threw the keys onto the front seat unaware that she had locked the doors.
I made sure we had everything (bag – check, baby doll – check, toddler – check) and closed the door ready to leave.
Except we couldn’t leave. I couldn’t open my door. Or any other door.
With rising panic I surveyed the front seat of my car to find my keys sitting there, mocking me, alongside my mobile phone.
I tried to stay calm. I didn’t need Delilah catching onto my growing concern and becoming upset in the car but I was struggling to think of the best thing to do.
It was hot again yesterday and I knew I couldn’t leave her in there indefinitely.
I considered for a brief moment trying to break a window to get to my keys, so very tantalisingly close to my grasp. That would have certainly been the quick option but I didn’t want to harm her or the car, if I didn’t have to.
I have to admit here that I never gave a thought to ringing my husband, who would have had our second set of keys and would have been only a 10 minute drive away.
It’s curious (and damn inconvenient!) how stress renders your mind completely blank in moments of panic, isn’t it?
So instead, I dashed back to the door and asked her daycarer to use the phone to ring the NRMA (roadside assistance for those of you outside of NSW or Australia) and then darted back to the car to make sure that Delilah was doing okay.
She was doing fine. She even pulled some faces at me – thank goodness she thought it was part of a fun game…
The NRMA roadside patrol then rang back to let us know they were about 10 minutes away and suggested that we hose down the car while we waited to keep it as cool as possible.
So while Delilah’s wonderful carer and her husband helped hose down the car, I tried to keep Delilah entertained by singing nursery rhymes about the rain.
Despite my efforts, I could see her starting to become upset and confused and it tore me up to see her put her arms up to me and not being able to scoop her up and comfort her.
Thankfully the NRMA turned up soon after and quickly set to work breaking into my car. It’s quite confronting to see how easily it can be done but I could not have been more relieved when the doors unlocked and I was able to get to my baby girl again.
She was fine, a little upset and hot, but otherwise unharmed. A big drink and some cuddles saw her smiles return and good humour restored.
As for me, I felt like the biggest failure alive. It’s a pretty stupid thing to do. I should have kept hold of my keys. I should not have let Delilah touch them. I should have paid more attention to what I was doing.
It was a dumb thing to do but if you focus on the “should haves” you then quickly move onto the “what ifs” and they are ten times worse.
What if the NRMA had not been so quick to come to my aid? What if I hadn’t have parked in the shade? What if Delilah had become more distressed?
I know I feel incredibly guilty for locking my child in my car.
I know I feel unbelievably relieved that she did not come to any harm.
I know I feel amazingly grateful to the NRMA and to Delilah’s carer and her husband for their help in my time of need.
I know that stress and fear and anxiety do not help you think straight.
I know that I will NEVER let something like this happen again!