Friday, 26 September 2014

The Car: A Cautionary Tale

Or, the day that Alice, aged 3 was an actual Super Hero.

It was a long day. I had been stuck in traffic on the way in to work, and a long working day meant that I was tired and flagging. The rain had pelted the car on the drive home, the rhythmic sound of the wipers making my eyes droop at the wheel. Three hours in the car, I pulled up at my mother-in-law's house to collect the kids. Emily and Warren were staying late at open evening in the school. It was 7.30pm and I was shattered.

I chatted to my mother-in-law about the babies. "Good as gold - but that one is a little horror!" She pointed to a scurrying Rosie, massive cheeky grin on her face, making a dash for the door. I scooped the little rascal up in my arms and took her to the car, sat her in her seat and strapped her in. Next, Alice, who is three and more than able to walk herself to the car. Sensible Alice. Intelligent Alice. (She gets a bit whiny just before bedtime, but other than that she is as good as gold.) She holds my hand and climbs into the car herself. I sit her in the seat and strap the belt around her, chucking my handbag in the front seat as I do so.

It's still raining as I fish through my bag, looking for my car keys. They are not there. I must have left them in the house. I shut the door on the kids, and do a little skip back to the house in the rain, leaving the kids safely strapped in to the car, a poor old battered Saxo that has seen better days. "I've left my keys..." I say to my mother-in-law as I search around.

I haven't left the keys there. They must be in my bag. So tired, I haven't checked properly.

I go back to the car and pull the door handle.

It won't open.

I go to the driver's side. It won't open.

I try the boot.

It won't open.

I slowly start to panic. Why has it locked? I didn't lock it did I? Did Alice lock it? I look through the rain-stained windows at the two girls who are sat in the back without a care in the world. My mother-in-law looks at me, I look at her. At that moment we don't know what to do.

So we try and do what any normal people would do. Coax the three year old into opening the doors. Miming through the steamy windows, we tell her to undo her belt and climb out of her seat. She struggles and gets her leg caught, but breaks free. Too easily really - she is laughing and thinks this is a game. All the while I am wondering which window to smash because that is what you do when something like this happens isn't it.

The windows are electric so Alice cannot wind them down. We tell her to try the door handles. Alice doesn't really know what a car door handle is, I mean, why would she?? But sure enough, she finds the handle and pulls it. No joy. We then tell her to pull up the locks at the top of the door. They don't pull up, or Alice is not strong enough - her little fingers unable to pull hard enough on the jammed lock.

I sigh. I don't know what to do. Which window do I break and how do I do it? I'm sure that coat hangers open cars but I only have those fancy fabric ones or the little coloured, plastic baby ones and I'm sure that they won't be any use. Am I in the RAC? Yes, I am. But how long will they take to get here? What do I do? I can't even phone Warren - my bag is in the car and my phone is in it.Which window shall I smash and will it crack or shatter?

Rosie is getting restless now as she realises that us banging on the window and calling to them is not a game. She starts to moan - loudly. Alice gets a bit flummoxed, but only for a second. I stand up, and look at my mother-in-law over the roof of the car. I shake my head at her, neither of us sure of our next move. I see the sunroof on top of the car...

My really old battered car has one of the old-fashioned sun roofs that opens about two inches wide. Suddenly I think that this could be it. I bang on the window and ask Alice to pull back the shutter on the sunroof, "Now pull down the lever Alice, and twist it like you are opening a car window!" I shout. She is smiling and still thinks this is all funny. But she does it! The roof is open about two inches. Next I shout at her to empty my bag. "Turn Mummy's bag upside down and find the keys!" She takes great delight in tipping my huge bag upside down. Out falls my phone, my purse, my make-up bag, last week's train tickets, old receipts and... my keys.

"Now pass them up here Alice!"

Alice stands on the seat and stretches as high as she can, passing me the keys through the gap.

What a clever and thoughtful little girl you are Alice.

My Super Alice.

We all breathe a sigh of relief, open the door and drive home for tea and cake.

And wine. Lots of wine.


  1. Aww she did well. Well done for staying calm and not smashing a window. Super Alice to the rescue.

    1. I know - I was panicking but she seemed really cool about the whole thing! x :)

  2. Heart in mouth moment. Never been in that situation but always worry about it! You all did so good, yay for Super Alice! x


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