To understand this post, you will need to first read this post (with your sense of humor plugged in.)

After work, I picked up the girls from Sonja's house and we headed to the pool. On the way there, I discussed with Liberty what behavior would be acceptable. We had four rules:

1. When Mommy says "Stop," you need to stop immediately. Liberty nodded her head, "Yes, Mommy."

2. When Mommy says "Come here," you need to come to me. Liberty nodded, "Yes, Mommy."

3. If we are walking somewhere, you need to hold my hand or my shirt all the time. Liberty nodded, "Yes, Mommy."

4. When I say "It's time to go home," you need to obey and not cry about it. Liberty beamed, "I be happy, Mommy."

"Okay!" I grinned at her. "Let's go!" I gathered my things. This took twenty-seven minutes. Finally, laden down with three bulging plastic bags, one canvas bag, two lunch bags, Mercy in one arm and Liberty clinging tightly to my other hand, we made our way through the parking lot towards the pool.

Whose bright idea it was to put double turnstiles at the entrance to the pool, I do not know, but when I find them, I will be sure to inform them that it was a very bad idea.

Did you know that it is possible to get a plastic bag handle so twisted onto a turnstile prong that your sanity could be at risk?

At the payment window, I nodded downwards at my paraphernalia and asked, "Can I just drop all this stuff off and come back to pay?" They agreed, and we happily journeyed to the far side of the pool. I set my bags down, maintained a death grip on Liberty's hand, balanced Mercy in my other arm and searched through my bag for the credit card. Liberty was dismayed to see us heading back towards the entrance. "Where we going, Mommy?" she asked. "To pay for the pool," I informed her.

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"To pay for the pool."

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"To pay for the pool."

"Where we going, Mommy?"

That's when I quit answering. She began to whimper. The exit drew nearer. She began to cry.

I took pity on her, "Liberty, we are not leaving yet. We are just going to pay so that we can swim."

"Where we going, Mommy?"

I stopped at the window to pay. "We only accept cash or checks. Sorry," the teenage girl informed me nicely.

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"Back to our bags to find the car keys."

"We going home, Mommy?" this said with a hint of tears in her voice.

"No, honey, after we get the car keys, we're going to the car to find some money so we can swim."

The trip back to our bags elicited no questions from Liberty, but when we turned around again and walked towards the exit she piped up.

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"To the car to get some money, but we are not going home. We're just getting some money so that we can pay to swim. It's going to be FUN!"

"Where we going, Mommy?"

"To get some money."

"Where we going, Mommy?"

The exit was too close to bear. She began crying, and her hand slipped from my grasp, but she kept pace with me.

When we arrived at the turnstiles, with the parking lot just beyond, I reached for her hand, "Remember what we talked about in the car?" I asked referring to the fact that she needed to hold my hand.

She sobbed, "No crying!" She breathed, attempted to be brave and then sobbed again, "I be happy!" Much sniffing and hiccuping ensued as she slowly stopped her tears.

I tried hard not to laugh.

"You are doing a great job, Liberty! I am so happy that you are obeying. Let's hold hands while we walk to the car."

Once we were legally paid for and able to swim, and since it was one of those days, I fully expected one of my girls to drown or at least need to be life-guarded to safety, but we made it there and home again safely. We didn't even experience a small choking episode during our pool-side supper break!

I sighed with relief and dared to hope that the pox had lifted.

We wore our dripping bathing suits home, making sure to thoroughly wet the seats in the car. I just adore a moldy car smell, don't you? Liberty escaped into the house while I concentrated on freeing Mercy from her car seat and changing her into something warm. I considered changing out of my own dripping bathing suit first, but instead opted to change the girls and then myself. I spread Mercy's wet suit out on top of the dryer and went to find Liberty. She was in our neighbor's yard watching him dig a trench so that his downspouts could continue underground.

She looked up when I arrived on the back porch. "Yook, Mommy, I helping Gampa Chuck!" she announced happily and held up a couple handfuls of dirt.

"That's great, Lib. Let's go inside and get changed so you can come back out and play."

Chuck noticed her hesitation and began walking with her towards the porch. Then he stopped to talk with me. My wet hair and bathing suit enhanced the wind speed and soon goosebumps covered my flesh, but still we chatted. Liberty obeyed and disappeared into the house, but still we chatted. Mercy, in her sweatshirt and pants, attempted to launch herself over the side of the kiddie pool, but still we chatted.

Liberty gave up waiting for me inside and came back out to the porch. She slid the patio door closed behind her, and I heard a distinct click. NO! My brain screamed. It felt like slow motion: I turned to the door and yanked it sideways. It did not budge. I yanked again, knowing full well the result would be nothing. I sighed.

"All the other doors locked?" Chuck stated, looking like he was trying to hide a grin.

"Yes," I breathed, and mentally walked the perimeter of the house. "And all the windows are closed and locked."

We stared at each other, and then I looked at Liberty. I started giggling, which turned into gasps of laughter. Chuck allowed his grin to surface and ruffled Liberty's hair. "With this one around, you're going to need a spare key made to put outside." We walked around the house checking all windows and doors. All locked. I sat on the back steps and pondered.

"Well." Chuck removed a pack from his front shirt pocket and tapped it against his palm until a cigarette fell out.

"Would the police be able to help?" I wondered out loud.

He paused in his cigarette lighting and handed me his cell phone. "Let's find out."

Mr. Officer arrived and parked his jungle gym in our driveway. At least, that's what Liberty thought he did. He was actually driving a car with a special black climbing toy on the front conventionally used to push bad guys' cars out of the way.

He, too, circled the house multiple times and came up with nothing. He called his boss. Together, they decided the very best solution would be to KICK one of our doors in. I let that thought roll around in my brain for .1734ths of a second. Hmm, would it help our chances of selling the house?

"Or," I volunteered, "I could call a locksmith."

Yes, they agreed with a touch of reluctance. I could do that.

And that's when all of the time I'd spent sitting in my wet bathing suit on the front porch praying while I waited for the cops to arrive and come up with a good solution paid off. God flashed a clear picture of the sliding patio door into my head, and this time I noticed that the outside lock was not installed. Instead, a hole about the size of a quarter sat where the key mechanism should have been. "HEY!" I jumped up, startling Mr. Officer and leaving a wet butt print on the concrete steps. "Can we use a screw driver or something on that sliding door?" I described the hole, and we all took off for the backyard.

Two seconds later, we were inside.

Liberty was overjoyed, expecting all of her new friends to join us in the house. "No!" she yelped when Mr. Officer indicated his departure. "Stay with me." She wrapped her arms around his leg. "Stay in my house."

He smiled and knelt down by her, "Sorry, kiddo, I have to go."

"Stay with me," she lured him. "In my house."

He traded a sticker for his freedom, a gold police badge that said Jr. Officer. At bedtime that night, Liberty handed me the surviving half of the badge. "Yook, Mommy. My peaceman give me ticka."

I stood in the bedroom doorway and fondly looked at my girls. Mercy slept soundly in her crib, her right arm flung up over her head. In her own bed, Liberty's golden curls splayed out over her pillow and she smiled, satisfied with her "peaceman ticka."

I closed the bedroom door and walked down the hallway, reflecting on the day. The bumps along the way had enhanced instead of detracted, and I smiled to myself. "I will remember this day for a LONG, LONG time."

"This is the day the LORD has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it."
Psalm 118:24
2 Responses
  1. Beth Says:

    Oh my goodness, what a day! Just gotta tell you of my locked door experience...
    When my youngest (of 5) was about a month old or so, my preschool daughter, the baby and I had just arrived home, the other kids were in school. I put the baby in the house in her car seat, got my Jennie (4) in the house, then went back outside to get the mail. WEll, Jennie decided to run out after me, closing the locked door behind her. So, there we were, outside the house with my newborn INSIDE the house! I tried all the doors and windows and nearly panicky, I discovered that the window over my kitchen sink was unlocked and open just a bit. I hit upon a plan to lift Jennie up and into the sink, explaining to her how to lower herself out of the sink and onto the floor. I then told her how to open the front door and let me in. She was really very very reluctant to do it, but finally I convinced her that she HAD to do it and be our hero! (heroine?) So, I lifted her up and she was finally sitting in the sink...then I had the "sinking" feeling that BOTH of my babies were in that locked house and I was outside! Then I started really getting worried...what if Jennie FELL out of the sink onto the hard slab floor??? I just imagined me having to call the police and explain why I put my little girl into that sink, etc....Well, to make a long story short...sort of...Jennie and Becca are no longer locked in that house and Jennie was the hero of the day...she was able to do the whole thing without a problem...
    Just thought that maybe you could relate...

  2. Marie Says:

    What an adventure! All is well that ends well. Liberty sounds like a very neat kid!

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