I unloaded my pockets. Trains for Cubby, princess stickers and candy reinforcers for Pudding, tissues for my streaming nose. Even with these things to keep them occupied, it wasn’t enough. Pudding and Cubby cavorted around the room, causing mayhem. They’re little kids, and they spend too much time in waiting rooms. Too many consultations, too much time driving to appointments, too much time in therapy, and too much time on the therapist’s homework. It isn’t fun any more, and 4 year-olds and almost 2 year-olds need fun. If they don’t find fun, they make it. In this instance by playing with the expensive spectacles on display, or tossing pamphlets in the air.
Finally we were called, and I quickly stuffed their things into my pockets. The optometrist repeated the same hand-eye coordination tests, and Pudding performed worse than last time, though we’d practiced the exercises almost every day. Damn. I watched him get on the floor to demonstrate some balance and coordination techniques. He is easily 80 years older than Pudding, but unlike her, he could coordinate his body. For all her energy, her hyperactivity, these basic tasks were beyond her. Damn.
We left the office with more homework, and instructions to call him when I wanted to schedule the next session. I retrieved my car keys from my backpack and put Cubby in his car seat. Pudding was fiddling with the car door, but I didn’t pay much heed. Better she was doing that than running around the car park. Needing both hands to fasten the buckles, I moved to put the keys in my pocket, but they were still full with the trains, stickers, and candy that had proven so ineffective earlier. Instead, I dropped them on my seat.
Pudding ran around and grabbed my backpack, ran off a distance, then abandoned it. A game. Because if they don’t find fun, they make it. She runs back, full of mirth. I go back to retrieve it, and hear her slam Cubby’s door closed. This is a game too. Playing Mummy. I go to open the door again, but it is locked. I go to open the driver’s door, and it doesn’t budge. Damn.
Cubby and my keys are locked in the car!
Now I panic. I try every door, but they are all locked. Pudding tries her door too, demanding that I open it. she hears the edge in my voice as I tell her we can’t get in, that the keys are locked inside. She isn’t playing now. She asks me to get the keys, and I shout back that I can’t. She screams back in response. Cubby, who had been oblivious, looks scared too.
Luckily, the backpack, containing my phone is outside of the car. It had fallen out of my pocket at the weekend, but somebody had found it. It was even fully charged. This wasn’t going to be so bad. I’d just call my husband, and he could get off the metro and take a taxi out to meet us. It was 5.20, he’d gone in early, so he should be on his way home already. If I spoke to him, I could have him get off the metro a stop early and he’d just be a 10 minute ride from us.
I called, but he didn’t pick up, so I left a voicemail. He is probably listening to his music. Not to worry, he’ll get the message soon. I turn back to the kids. Cubby is quiet, but looks worried. Pudding is still sobbing. I give her a hug, and apologize for shouting. I tell her we have to wait for Daddy to come with his keys, but it won’t be too long.
I want Mummy! Cubby has worked out that something is wrong. I try to reassure him that I’m right there. Pudding goes back to trying the door, and telling me she wants to get in her car seat. I want to get out! And so begins a round of one child begging to get into the car, and the other pleading to get out, and being unable to help either one. I find the stickers in my pocket and hand them to Pudding. They buy us a few minutes of calm.
After 20 minutes, I’m surprised not to have heard back from my husband. I begin calling repeatedly, it keeps going to voicemail. He probably had his earphones on and missed my other call, but if I keep trying him, I’ll reach him before he takes the bus. Of course, she has to go potty, and I have to take her, even though that means leaving him alone locked in the car for a few minutes. The moment he sees me return, his screaming commences.
I tried my husband again, and still no response. It was almost 6pm now, so even if he hadn’t checked his phone, he’d almost be home. I called our home number. No reply. I sang Old McDonald, and Wheels on the Bus. I tried again, and he answered! His phone battery was drained, so he had no idea what was going on, but promised to rescue us as soon as he could.
Around 20 minutes later, I saw a taxi stuck in traffic. It was too dark to see, but I knew it was him. As soon as he was close enough, he opened the doors with his remote, and I pulled open the door, to a very relieved Cubby. I smothered him in kisses. Instead of granting his wishes to come out, I reached into my pockets and handed him his beloved trains. It was a full hour after I’d first locked him in. A delighted Pudding had already opened her door, and I strapped her in. I finally got in, and started the car, ready for home as soon as Spectrummy Daddy joined us.
These things happen, but I can’t help but think that like my pockets, our schedule is just too full lately. I think we’ll revisit vision therapy at a later date, but it is just too much for right now. These kids need less time stuck in the car, and a lot more fun, lest they make their own.