Sunday, October 21, 2007

Problem Solving Skills

A year or two ago Casey began escaping while I was in the shower. He'd just figured out how to open the front door. And he did. And he took little field trips around the neighborhood. One time, I discovered he was missing while I was in my towel and a neighbor had him back on our front stoop in the time it took me to throw on some clothes. As a result of this behavior and our acknowledgement that on occasion we'd have to leave him unattended while one of us was in the shower and the other one not around, we installed a hotel room-style safety latch. It's near the top of the door, as high up as I can reach with my arm stretched up toward the sky. This has worked like a charm. It's a little inconvenient when we have guests, because we have to remember to keep it unlocked. But for the most part it works well because we predominantly enter and exit the house through the garage door.

Today I stepped into the garage to collect some papers that had blown into the yard from the garage. The Santa Ana winds are pretty strong. And there's a brush far about 70 miles east. The high winds have picked up the smoke and dropped it squarely over our home. We did close up the windows and pump up the air purifiers to high, but the smell still permeates the house. I smell like I've been sitting at a bon fire.

I'd planned to take the kids out front with me this afternoon so we could hang up our Halloween decorations-- witch/skull streamers, a giant spider, and maybe a blow-up pumpkin with ghosts chasing each other inside. But the smoke has made that unhealthy. So instead, while I was in the garage putting away the papers I'd collected, I decided to at least hang our front door's welcome sign, replete with pumpkin costume on bear. In the box with all our seasonal welcome signs I found two wooden pumpkins that traditionally adorn our hallway table just inside the front door during October and November. Just then, the kids opened the door to the garage and poked out their heads, inquiring into my activity.

I handed each of them a pumpkin and asked them to take them inside. A minute or so later, I heard the doorbell ring. Again. And again. I thought this was strange since I'd just been outside and hadn't seen anyone approach the driveway. And the repeated rings suggested they were small hands busy at play. So I plowed into the living/play room calling for the kids, when I was stopped in my tracks. And darnit, I didn't have my camera on me.

There, in the hallway in front of the door was a kitchen chair and a little yellow playskool table chair pulled up behind it. The hotel-style lock had been unlatched, the front door unlocked, and I could hear little voices from the other side of the door.

I let the kids back in. They had misunderstood my directions and hand-carried the pumpkins through the house to the front stoop, where they lined them up in front of the door.

It was so cute, I just couldn't be mad. And even though I'm totally bummed Casey has used his problem-solving skills to figure out the hotel-style latch, I'm a tiny bit proud of him, too. And I suspect Marcie understood exactly what Casey was doing, as she had pulled up the little yellow chair so she could copy his activities.

So now I'm looking for new suggestions on how to keep my kids safely inside so that I can bathe every once in a while even if they are awake. Please share. Please.


Anonymous said...

Could you get one of those keypads that needs a code to unlock? Or, perhaps a deadbolt that needs a key entry from the inside for which only you and Jason have keys?

Seems to me I've seen special house safety locks or alerts on Extreme Makeover Home Edition when they're doing houses for families with disabled, autistic, or otherwise escape-prone children.


Andrea said...

No idea, my new 17 month old gets out of a pack n play (scared me when she just came sauntering down the hall one day). Our front door has to be opened with a key only so that helps. Good luck containing them!