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.
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. 😉
1. “Achi” is Fookienese-Chinese term for big sister.
2. “Yaya” is Filipino term for caregiver/nanny.
3. “Ligawan” – courtship
4. “Naku, 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. “Naku, baka patay na yung bata!” – “Oh no, the child must be dead now!”
6. “Mura lang ‘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.