couples

"It was a mistake. Why would people call me a f***ing bitch?"

As I watched my babies through the glass, tears streaming down my face an elderly man walked past.

“Selfish f**king bitch” he snarled at me. “Typical of your lot.”

His words hardly registered, at the time I was too frantic about my two children – aged just four-weeks old and 23 months – strapped in their car seats centimetres away and yet unable to be reached.

I had locked my kids in my car. It had taken just a moment’s distraction, just a fraction of thoughtlessness.

In seconds I had gone from the midst of a calm ordinary day to my world spinning.

In seconds my world was spinning.

My two children, both under the age of two, one only four weeks old were in danger and it was my fault.

I write this in the wake of US country star Carrie Underwood doing the very same thing.

She announced to her social media followers that her dogs had managed to lock her five-month old son in her car. She was forced to break a window to free the two dogs and her baby boy.

For me it wasn’t the dogs. It was simply my fault.

I had stopped to get a coffee. Blinded by the exhaustion that only the mother of a four-week old knows incredulously I parked the car, loaded myself up with bags and belongings, with the kids still strapped into their car seats I pressed the lock button on my keys while the doors were open. For some reason I still can’t get my head around the fact that I threw them on the front seat after picking up a bag, before shutting the door, and walking around to then try and open the back door to let my children out.

But it was locked and the keys were inside.

What a bloody idiot I thought later.

Oh my god. What have I done?

At the time I simply though oh my f**king god what have I done?

With no way to fetch my spare set I rang the NRMA who advised me that they would be there in minutes, but that I had to ring Triple-O as well.

Two fire engines soon arrived, a police car, an ambulance and a crowd gathered watching me.

With sirens wailing and lights flashing the scene in my usual quiet suburban suburb was like something out of a news bulletin, except this time the ‘offender’ was me, and the ‘victims’ – my own children.

This video on a baby locked inside a hot car has had over 16 million views. Post continues after video.

What the crowd saw was the police trying to get into a car with children locked inside. They imagined the worst.

I saw those gathered glance more at the pub across the road than the coffee shop I was parked in front of. (As much as I could have done with a drink after the whole scenario it was only 11am.)

ADVERTISEMENT

I know why they leapt to the conclusions they did, why they began to judge. But I don’t know why they they were not quiet about it.

What is it with mothers like you one said.

You don’t deserve children spat another.

Bloody disgrace.

The kind policewoman gave me sympathetic smiles but my thoughts were more focused on the kids who had now been locked in the car for 20 minutes than on what the crowd thought. At the time I could hardly hear them through my panic.

It being a cool day the police and NRMA were focusing on trying to teach my 23-month old son to undo his seat belt hoping they could instruct him to climb into the front and push the unlock button.

Just press the orange latch mate the young officer said.

Through tears I tried to explain to him that at 23-months my son simply had no idea what he was talking about.

Luckily for all involved my newborn baby was soundly asleep buckled in beside his big brother.

It has been too long they told me. We have to take other measures.

After repeated attempts to turn my toddler into a baby Houdini the officers and paramedics decided it had been long enough.

We need to smash the back window luv they explained. The kids have been in their long enough.

With relief I watched them begin to prepare. But the kindly bloke from the NRMA asked for just one more chance to try a “little trick” he knew.

After procuring a piece of wire from the back of his vehicle he pulled a stunt known to car thieves world wide and managed to force the coat-hanger type device inside the window seal and get it at just the right angle that he could press the unlock button himself.

Can you imagine the relief? The embrace. The warmth of their bodies as my panic finally subsided.

I vaguely remember the gathered crowd cheering my sons’ rescuers and moving on. Excitement over.

The RACQ (Royal Automobile Club of Australia) estimate that they rescue on average eight children a day who are accidentally locked in a car.

Many, we know, are a deliberately consequence of lazy or careless parents. Others, like me, are just busy, tired, or simply make a mistake.

In my case I was lucky. Shaken though to the core. What it did was make me extra cautious about my car and my keys and extra thankful that we live in a society where our emergency services are so very vigilant.

Have you ever locked your kids in the car? What was your experience?