Life 101: On Being Stupid

Yesterday was just another school day. I was thankful it was nearly over as six-year old VGood and I studied in the car, waiting for achi Patchy to be done with her Chinese tutorials. I parked along the side of the street right outside the tutorial center, as I always did. Since it was cool and breezy, I decided to turn the engine off and open all the windows. Other cars were also parked. Drivers and yayas waiting for their wards were standing nearby, goofing around.

I sat in the car with VGood, going over her new spelling words. Somewhere along that time, a migraine began to set it. When we were done, VGood fell asleep on the back seat. It was getting darker, and mosquitoes were flying into the car. So I turned on the engine and closed the windows.

My head was throbbing and my eyes stung from lack of sleep the previous night. I tried to amuse myself by watching the yayas and drivers, trying to figure out who were items. You know, the ligawan that goes on among them…

Anyway, Patchy seemed to be taking forever! I better go check on her. But how? My exhausted VGood is fast asleep. A bulb lit up in my mind.

I know, I will leave the engine running, take the door lock remote and quickly go check on Patch. When I return I will use the remote to open the door.

Brilliant me! Some of you who are reading this must be shaking your heads now and saying “tsk tsk tsk, stupid mom!”

I was only gone less than a minute. When I returned to the car and tried to open it with the remote, I realized my grave error. WTF! How, why did I expect the car would unlock when the key was inside, the engine running??? It’s an anti-theft feature. The doors will definitely not unlock! Of course not!

Patchy and I figured we’d wake VGood up, so we shouted and pounded on the closed windows. “Mom, she’s a heavy sleeper,” Patch said factually. I knew that, so it was nearly impossible to wake her up from outside. Especially with the engine humming and the radio on! To make things worse, I decided to leave my bag, cellphone and all in the car. In case you’re wondering where the spare key is, it’s with my husband. I got myself and my kids into an unbelievably stupid situation. *bonks self 100000000x*

Some of the drivers and basketball players in a nearby court noticed our little commotion. They started gathering around. Some offered suggestions, others questioned my wisdom.

“Naku, ba’t nyo iniwan sa loob? Di dapat iniiwan ang bata sa loob.”

Aaaaargh! It was agonizing – to hear that, to know that, and to have actually done that!

The yayas were shaking the car, knocking on the window, shouting Vera’s name. Someone got a wire and tried to pick the lock, but unsuccessfully. I asked if anyone knew a locksmith nearby, but it seemed they were as frantic as I was. The crowd was getting thicker, cars were stopping by to watch. I heard a man shout “Naku, baka patay na ‘yung bata!” Yeah, great. Thank you ha, that was very helpful. Images of news I saw weeks ago about a dead child forgotten and locked inside a car flashed through my mind. My heart began to race.

I borrowed another mom’s phone to call my husband. But I was in such a state of panic, that I could not even remember his number. He would have known what to do, or where to look for a locksmith. This has happened to him several times in the past, though not with a sleeping child in the back seat!

Someone suggested we break the quarter window on the opposite side where VGood was seated. (“Mura lang ‘yan sa Banawe!”) I knew it was tempered safety glass so I agreed.

A man got a rock, and broke the window. Another reached through the window to open the lock. There was a collective sigh of relief as one of the men carried VGood out of the car. VGood was so sleepy that she went on dozing even after I put her down on the front seat. There were lots of chuckling; I was gushing my thanks. One of the men got a cut on his forearm; another got a broom to sweep the shattered glass. I don’t even remember their faces. I was just so thankful they were there. The crowd slowly dispersed. Whew.

I was still a bit shaken with what happened, but we had to get home. As I drove, I heard Patchy sniffing at the back. I assured her everything was alright now, and that I will never make the same mistake again. Ever!

VGood, on the other hand, woke up at around 8pm, an hour after we got home. Imagine how long it would have taken if we waited for her to wake up! Of course, she had no recollection of the events earlier. Husband, at first, was furious at my stupid mistake, but was altogether glad we were okay.

Lessons learned:

1. Don’t panic, stay focused on solving the problem, and filter out unhelpful comments.

2. Keep a spare key with you at all times.

3. Do not procrastinate. I’ve put off having my own a spare key made too long. It could have easily solved my little dilemma of checking on Patchy.

4. Memorize your husband’s or wife’s or closest kin’s cellphone number. You never know when you will find yourself without your ever-handy cellphone and its directory.

5. Never, never, never, never, never leave a child inside a car unattended. I thought VGood was big enough, surely she’d be able to open the door locks. But I forgot what a heavy sleeper she was.

6. None, luckily (but unluckily, if this happens again), of the drivers are potential car-nappers. Whew!

I hope you never will make such a mistake as I did. But if, unfortunately, you do, I hope you remember these Life 101 lessons on being stupid. πŸ˜‰


Translation Notes:

1. “Achi” is Fookienese-Chinese term for big sister.

2. “Yaya” is Filipino term for caregiver/nanny.

3. “Ligawan” – courtship

4. β€œNaku, ba’t nyo iniwan sa loob? Di dapat iniiwan ang bata sa loob.” – “Oh no, why did you leave your child in the car? You’re not supposed to do that!”

5. β€œNaku, baka patay na yung bata!” – “Oh no, the child must be dead now!”

6. “Mura lang β€˜yan sa Banawe!” – “That (quarter window) comes cheap in Banawe Street.” Banawe Street is a place in Quezon City, Philippines where one can find all sorts of car parts and accessories, whether legitly acquired or otherwise.

17 thoughts on “Life 101: On Being Stupid

  1. Chateau, I was having visions of what might have happened so I had to skip the middle part and read the ending first. Grabe! Vera is just like Julian when sleeping. Nakaalis na kami at nakauwi ng house na bitbit siya but he doesn’t know what happened.

    It is a blessing to have these people who helped you.

  2. Oh my…I can imagine your dilemma. You must have been sweating. Always keep your keys with you no matter what.

    I think my daughter was 4 months when I accidentally left her locked in the car. Car was not running though, I cant remember anymore where I left the car keys (if still in the igneition key or somehwere else in the car) I had to call my husband to come right away (he had a spare key). My baby was crying so hard then. I felt so bad.

    Yes….we learn. Never again.

  3. I’m so glad to hear of help and concern coming from our fellow Filipinos instead of something else (you know what they say, bad news travels fast and it seems all I hear/read is bad stuff). I’m so happy it all ended well!

    wow, your daughter could win you some money if there was a million peso or dollar prize for the heaviest sleeper!

  4. oh no, that must have been a terrible experience but i’m just so glad that the pinoys are ever so helpful although irritating too for those unwanted comments, i’m not sure if i want to hit that woman or laugh out loud for that comment “naku baka patay na yung bata!!!” it’s actually hilarious well looking at it at this moment but not during that super stressful moment.

  5. buti na rin na heavy sleeper si Vgood or she would have been traumatized by the whole thing. at least everything worked out fine. tama ka, filter out all unhelpful comments. pag nag-umpisa na din kasi ang uzis gumugulo na eh.

    hugs to you and your girls πŸ™‚

  6. chats, my husband did something similar to this. he dropped me and steffi off at a buffet restaurant to line up while he and my youngest who was sleeping, parked the car somewhere. he went to join me in the restaurant alone. i asked, “where is lexi?”, he forgot and the car was located quite a ways! it was a good thing the car was locked.

    he keeps a spare key somewhere under the car and you’d be amazed at how often we use it. can you do this in pinas?

  7. Oooh Chats … what a story! I can just imagine how you were feeling. how many conks did you give yourself on the head? I would have made the same mistake, maybe worse mistakes, owing to my lack of common sense. So I guess its providential i dont know how to drive. Or is that where the rub is?

    So i guess you were the one who was traumatized and maybe atchiPatchi to a lesser degree. Vgood was blissfully asleep. And there lies again the rub, ha?!

    So look at the bright side. The pros .. not the least of which is having this story to blog about, with lessons aplenty for your friends and admirers.

    And you wrote it with aplomb! Ka suspense basahin ah!

  8. Chats, I could imagine how scary the situation was and I’m so glad everything went well in the end.

    Don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s an honest mistake. Thanks for sharing and using your experience to advice others about what to do in such a situation.

  9. Glad everything turned out okay! I would have been really scared too, if I were in your position.
    I guess, with every mistake we make, we learn a lesson and become smarter for it.
    Have a nice day Chats!

  10. Hi Chats, just read this post now, to think I saw this at twitter. I even joked I have a video of something stupid in my blog at that time. Am so sorry, I thought all the while it’s just a small mistake. I did the same thing, I accidentally left Nicole (2 yrs old at that time) inside the car, with engine on, aircon on and the door locked. I felt so stupid, we panicked, my Dad called for a locksmith while we were telling my kid to open the door or the windows by just using the buttons. She didn’t understand us and continued laughing and playing on the car. Until the locksmith arrived…hay. Am glad your kids are ok. I bet you went to Banawe the next day.

  11. hi chats! first, i never thought that your’re stupid all the while that i’m reading your post. just like what they said, it’s an honest mistake. so, don’t be too hard on yourself. i know it must be tough because you left vera inside. but still, it’s an honest mistake. second, i’m so glad there were a lot of helpful hands out there for you, strangers they may be. nakakataba ng puso to know na you’re able to get help from them. third, i’m glad you and your kids are ok. and even if it’s not a nice experience, what matters is nothing bad happened to you and your kids. plus, i know you learned a lot from it and so do i and everyone else who gets to read this post. fourth, (on the funny side) feeling ko i’m reading some movie story. you’re such a great writer. i was able to envision your story as i read on your post, as if i was watching a movie. fifth, a warm embrace from me for having to go through such an experience. πŸ™‚

  12. Stop beating yourself up. We learn from our mistakes & thanks for posting yours to warn us. You were lucky there were kind souls willing to assist you & the kids.

    Alam mo I have a former roomie in Uni who sleeps like a log. Tapos ang hilig mag-double lock, sarap sakalin dahil di kami makapasok sa room kahit anong sigaw at hampas ang gawin nang mga katabing rooms namin.

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