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National Editorials & Columns

Extinguishing My Psyche

Perhaps I am suffering from an addiction — a fiery compulsion buried so deep in my subconscious psyche that I am acting without cognizance. Or perhaps I’m just unlucky. All I know is I needed firemen to save this damsel in distress twice in the past week.

Last Tuesday, I must’ve tapped into some magical vortex of mischief that began summoning the studly pole-sliders to my side.

First there was the car accident — at which I was convinced a fireman was hitting on me, because he kept coming over to check my “vitals.” Only later did I realize he was sincerely concerned about my head. Perhaps my sharing I was about to puke on his boots was not so attractive as I had thought.

Then yesterday, I summoned the hose-toting heroes again, only this time was much scarier than my car accident. This time, I was left feeling completely unhinged. This time, in a campaign to win Mother of the Year, I locked my kid in the car.

Every morning, my 22-month-old and I have the same routine as we leave to go to his day care facility. I click the beeper twice to unlock all four doors of my Subaru, open the back door, drop my purse on the floor mat, toss my jangling behemoth key chain onto the driver’s seat and proceed to climb into the back to secure my baby in his car seat. When he is all strapped in, I shut his door, open my driver’s-side door and get in. That is the same routine I did yesterday. Only yesterday, the driver’s-side door didn’t open. None of them did. My little boy was trapped inside.

A series of mishaps contributed to the panic. I went to grab my phone out of my pocket, but I was wearing a skirt for maybe the third time in my life, and my phone was with my purse and my baby, locked in the car. Further proof that skirts are the devil. I ran to an elderly neighbor’s house and asked to borrow his phone. He invited me in to use his landline.

“No, a cellphone! Don’t you have a cellphone?” I yelled.

He handed me a giant mobile that could have rivaled Zack Morris’. For a moment, I stared at it, trying to remember both how to dial something so archaic and my husband’s cell number while cursing the technical age I live in. My husband confirmed that the extra car key, which I feared we’d lost, was truly missing. I called the police. They sent the fire department.

For what felt like forever, I played peekaboo outside my car window, trying to make my son laugh. I screamed the lyrics from “Frozen” as dog walkers looked on in wonder. Luckily, it was still early enough in the day that my boy was not too uncomfortable, but as the minutes waned, so did his patience.

Then two huge firetrucks pulled up in front of my house, and six firemen came out. Four went to work, thrusting metal rods into my window to pry open the lock, while another fireman questioned me.

“Why did you lock your kid in the car,” he asked. Why?

I am one for sarcasm, especially in stressful situations. Firemen, it turns out, are not.

“I dunno. Because I thought he could use a spa day and would like some time in a hot sauna.”

“What?” The fireman asked, demanding I explain myself.

At the time, I hadn’t heard about the little boy from Georgia who died after being left in his father’s car. I hadn’t read up on all the kids who have died in cars so far this summer. I stay away from those stories because they make me want to vomit, and as established earlier, it’s not attractive.

The fireman made me walk him through my actions, step by step, to explain how I could have locked my child in the car. At the time, I was annoyed; now I am grateful.

When it was all over and my baby was freed from the car, he was delighted to see the two giant firetrucks drive off, squealing in delight as the firemen who had rescued him waved goodbye. What did I tell ya? Mother of the Year.

I think it’s time to extinguish my physical manifestation and summoning of Smokey Bear’s elite. Is there a Firefighters Anonymous?

Like Katiedid Langrock on Facebook, at Check out her column at

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