Thursday, April 20, 2006

Adventures in Parenting by Jennifer Tiszai--Guest Blogger

Welcome today's guest blogger, Jennifer Tiszai! You can find more information about Jennifer at:

Her website.
Her blog.

Adventures in Parenting by Jennifer Tiszai

I love the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes. This year for Christmas my husband made a major sacrifice and bought me the complete three-book collection. I guess God also knew how much I enjoyed Calvin and Hobbes because he sent me my own little “Calvin” in the form of my four-year-old son. My Calvin creates adventures out of everyday life, much like his comic counterpart. He’s tried to burn the house down making toast. He turned the nativity scene into a battle against the bad guys (which actually isn’t a bad interpretation). But mostly he provides a lot of laughter and causes me to stretch beyond myself and rely on God on a regular basis.

One day, however, my little “Calvin” had to put up with an adventure of my creating.

We had gone to the library to pick up a book and were getting back into the minivan. I buckle my son in, toss all my stuff on the front seat, and close the door. I go around to get in my side.

The door is locked.

Through the window I can see all the doors are locked, but I still pull on the door handle like somehow reality will change. I can see the keys sitting on the driver’s seat, along with my purse and cell phone.

I know my son can unlock the doors. Except he’s strapped in his car seat. However, childproof things have never deterred him before. I tell him how to get himself out of his seat, wondering if I’ll regret this in the future. “Just push that red button.” He pokes at it. Then he pushes harder, but he just doesn’t have the strength to get it. We try seeing if he can unbuckle the car seatbelt and free the car seat, but he can’t reach it.

I can’t help but think how things were different when I was a kid. We had a van, but I don’t ever remember locking the doors on it. We certainly didn’t have child seats. In fact, we’d remove the back seats, spread out sleeping bags, and play in the back when we drove for any length of time. It would have been impossible to get locked inside.

I realize I’m going to have to call and get help. But my phone’s in the car, too, so I have to leave him to go back into the library. It goes against every instinct to leave my son alone in a car while I go inside. But, I think, if someone can break into the car to steal it (and who wants a 1998 minivan with 180,000 miles on it?) I could at least get my son out. So I hurry inside to find a pay phone. Apparently pay phones don’t exist anymore. I finally ask the librarian.

She laughs. “Oh, I don’t think it works.”

Not funny. “I need a phone. I’ve locked my keys in the car with my son. I need to call somebody.”

“Oh, I guess you can use this then.” She moves her desk phone toward me.

I can’t believe she’s not shocked or astounded. Do people routinely lock their children in the car while they’re at the library? I call my husband, Peter, who luckily is at the office. He tells me to call AAA. I patiently explain that my phone and purse—with my AAA card—are in the van. Now, in the interest of full disclosure here, Peter has locked himself out of the van more times than I can count, to the point that he carries a spare key in his wallet. Said spare key was what I wanted him to bring to me. We won’t mention the fact that I think that is the only spare key since I lost his whole set of keys by leaving them on the bumper of the Expedition and driving off. Never did find those things.

I walk back to the van where I hope my son isn’t a sobbing hysterical mess. He’s frowning, but I think that’s because he dropped his sucker.

So I lean my head against this really dirty window—when was the last time Peter washed this thing anyway?—and talk to him. People driving through the parking lot stare at me. What is this crazy woman doing talking to a car? A police officer drives by. I watch him, half hoping he’ll stop. He doesn’t. I tell my son to go to sleep, and for once in his life, he minds me.

I’m really thankful it’s only the upper 60s and not the 112 it can get here in Arizona. I start thinking which window would be the cheapest to replace and look around for a big rock. Nothing. If it were 112, I have no idea what I could use to break the window. Well, he is asleep, Peter should be on his way, and other than people thinking I’m nuts, there isn’t any problem with waiting for him to get here.

After about 25 minutes a tow truck pulls into the parking lot. It takes me a minute to realize my husband has called AAA for me. Hmmph. Here I was looking for him, and he sent a tow truck instead.

They guy gets out with all his equipment. Then he sees my son. “Hey, if we’d known there was a kid in the car we would have gotten here in five minutes. Why didn’t you tell us?”

“I actually didn’t call. I’m guessing my husband did.”

The guy gets his equipment out and starts prying open the door with this little inflatable device. Very cool, though frankly I don’t care if he rips the door off.

Then a white construction truck pulls in. Peter.

“That’s my husband,” I tell the tow truck guy.

“Does he have a spare key?”

“I don’t know.” Because at this point, I really don’t. It might have been on that set that somehow got left on the bumper of the other car.

“I might.” Peter has a keychain that weighs more than our children. But somehow he pulls the right key out the first time. The door opens. My son wakes up. The tow truck guy packs up his stuff.

I think I’m going to throw up. And I thank God that even though more than one of us in this family manages to turn daily life into an adventure, He still writes the ending.


At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger michael snyder said...

Great story. Well-told. And I'm thrilled it ended well. But it does beg the you still talk to parked cars?

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger Cara Putman said...


I can so relate. I did the same thing, only my daughter was one at the time. She'd been screaming at me about getting buckled in the carseat and I put the keys on the hump-thingy between the front seats. Strap her in, close the door and groan. The doors are locked, and my purse and keys are inside the car. A friend has a house key a mile away, but that won't do me any good because my husband has the only other car key with him in Pennsylvania - mind you we lived in Arlington, VA at the time. A neighbor arrived and called AAA. They told her to call 911. Soon my dilemma was entertaining the neighborhood as a firetruck and police car race into our cul-de-sac. Abigail didn't shed a tear while locked in the car. As soon as the cars were unlocked, you guessed it, started wailing again. :-)

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger Jennifer Tiszai said...

Oh, Cara, I feel so much better! I'm actually amazed it doesn't happen more often. We always have our hands full and the kids get whiny and upset. But I guess we've given our kids good stories to tell their friends. :)

And, Mike, what do you think? You know I talk to my computer, so there's probably a good chance I talk to other inanimate objects too.

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger A. M. Wilson said...

As one mom who made her husband SWEAR to hide the Calvin and Hobbs books when our son started to read, I can only imagine. I'm thankful we've only had cars which require a fob or manual locking by pushing down the REALLY hard knob on the '66 El Camino. :-D Yep, "I used to drive an El Camino, and I'm not even sure it's a car, oh..." Name that tune! :-)


At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger Dineen A. Miller said...

Hey Jen! Great to see you here. Great post. Sounds familiar...LOL!

At Thursday, 20 April, 2006, Blogger Jenny said...

I'll name that tune! It's my theme song--I'm Not Cool :-)

Don't tell my kinders that, though, because I've convinced them otherwise.

Our youngest, who is now nearing her twentieth birthday, keeps informing me I've given her plenty of fodder for her psychiatrist--what with her abandonment issues and all. Good grief, it was all so innocent! My husband thought I brought her in the car, I thought he brought her in the truck. Neither of us got her home--at least twice. Oh, and then of course, our neighbors who were supposed to give her a ride home after a youth event forgot her. But the topper I guess is the Sunday my hubby and I sat through Sunday School and Church together and then, as we were leaving, he asks, "Didn't you bring Meg?"
"No, I thought you did." We both raced out of the parking lot and home at high speed only to find she was still in bed asleep--like it really bothered her. Okay, it's not as if she's a only child--there were three others, too, so I figure we've got a good excuse no matter what her shrink says.

Yeah, I probably won't be in charge of the grandchildren that often.

Abundant blessings!

At Friday, 21 April, 2006, Blogger Tricia Goyer said...


Knowing me so well, my husband put a "hideaway" key on my mini-van. It's a cool magnet thing that holds a share key inside. And I, uh, have used it more than once!

Speaking of leaving kids behind, my oldest was left at church too. Both my husband and I thought that other had him, until the pastor called. Ooops.

At Friday, 21 April, 2006, Blogger Jennifer Tiszai said...

Thanks for having me, Tricia. This was a lot of fun. And thanks to everyone who stopped by and shared their stories of adventures in parenting.

At Saturday, 22 April, 2006, Blogger Gina said...

Jennifer, thanks for sharing your adventure with us!

I can't remember ever locking my kids in the car(though that doesn't mean it didn't happen :), but I've locked myself out of the house MANY times while rushing the kids out the door becaue we're late getting to preschool, or gymnastics or music or something. Luckily my husband was always a couple of miles of way and we now have a key at the neighbors house!

At Tuesday, 25 April, 2006, Blogger Tricia Goyer said...

My garage door has a keypad. I never have to worry about a key . . . which is a good thing!


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