Thursday, March 15, 2012

Today I learned that my four-year-old can open the back gate

Alyce (four) and Shira (almost two) play together in the backyard a lot. Now that the winter is behind us for the most part, they are outside throughout the day, usually bickering about who gets to push the plastic grocery cart. I don't always stay outside with them, but since the patio doors are off the kitchen, I can see and hear them while I putter around. This afternoon, a few moments after my stepfather came home from work, the front doorbell rang. I was halfway wondering who could be at the door when I realized. I mean, I really realized. In a matter of a millisecond I peeked in the backyard, found no children, and ran to the front of the house. I found Alyce on the front porch and Shira ON THE ROAD.


I ran to the street and scooped her up. She was fine. Thank God. I turned to Alyce and saw that look on her face, the one where I can see that she's embarrassed, upset, worried, and all with a smile on her face. After the second time I asked she admitted that she had opened the back gate and walked Shira out to the front yard. She explained that she had tried to hold her hand, but that Shira was too fast and ran down to the street.

Of course Alyce thought she was big enough to look after Shira. She knows that she isn't allowed to leave the backyard, but she's also four years old and spends most of her time trying to impress me with how awesome she is. She thought she could handle it. I get that.

I didn't get angry with her. I told her that under no circumstance was she ever to let herself or Shira out of the backyard again. And then I gave her the biggest hug I've ever given and thanked her for knowing when to get help. If she hadn't acted quickly and rang the doorbell to get my attention, Shira might have been hurt. I was so proud of her and I told her so. And then I nursed Shira and held her for approximately eleven hours.

I wanted to share this tonight because I obviously could have used a reminder that Alyce is growing up and can do things like unlatch an enormous gate. My eyes were off them for minutes, that's it, but it was long enough. Parents can't watch their kids every single second, it's just impossible. But I won't be taking my eyeballs from them for a long while.

Next thing on my to do list? Buy a lock.


  1. That is scary! When my youngest was little, we had hooks on the top of every door, the gates to the play-yard latched on the outside, and he still managed to escape and scare the daylights out of me. The house was like Fort Knox. But we lived on a very busy main street, and he survived in one piece.

    I'm so glad your little ones were ok :)

  2. Thanks, Nicole. We do so much to protect them and then you turn your back for just a moment! It was a good reminder. We're getting hooks. And locks. And maybe a herding dog.