Take the Guts Out
There’s a joke about how silence is a blessing unless your kids are also in the house, then silence equals terror. I’ve not had this experience really. I’ve never lifted the lid to discover a toy shoved down the toilet or walked back in to a room to a wall scribbled in marker (Farrah Star only does that on paper). My kids are either very brazen or very respectful or never alone.
Very often my kids like to play in the utility closet. They did this the other morning when suddenly … that silence everyone jokes about. Hairs on end, I stopped making my bed and rushed to the closet door. The door that had no doorknobs as of 20 minutes earlier.
The knobs had broken right before my husband had to go to work so he set them on the counter and left – without removing the guts. Unfortunate, as now my children, 6 and 3, were locked in the utility closet, the very closet which stores all of our tools.
I took this picture to send my landlord whom I called for help, but it captures more than the mechanics. My son is locked on me. He will move as I direct him. He will mirror what I display. And as his eyes lock on me, I know his little sister is locked on him.
The silence of my children behind a locked door did equal terror. This was a moment in which I could easily panic – in fact I could feel it rising – but as I looked into the mirror of my child, I swallowed it down and projected instead only confidence and calm. Arlo came into this world comforted by the sound of my heartbeat. He laid his head upon my chest and at my breast for more than three years. We are tethered to this day; as my heart rises and falls, so does his. I will not let him down and he in turn, as our connection passes through to his little sister, will hold her hand in comfort.
Eventually, I did figure out the lock mechanics and released the two little sheep from the closet, shaken but unsheared. I removed the toolbox and took the guts out.
The rest of the morning was spent in silence, mine as a type of recovery, and theirs scanning Mommy’s mood. The air was serious but not angry or fearful.
Buckled in the car after school six hours later, Arlo said, “Remember this morning when we couldn’t get out of the closet? I was scared me and Farrah were gonna be in there forever.” His air was serious.
“I understand you were scared Arlo, it was scary, but I would never let that happen. I would
go to the neighbor’s house and get their tools
call the Fire Department and ask for help
run to the construction site across the street and get their saw
I would do whatever it takes to make sure you were safe. I wouldn’t stop until you were out.”
Calmly and with confidence, he and I tethered through the rearview mirror:
“I would do whatever it takes. I promise you.”