The Party You Are Trying to Reach is Unavailable

locked out

The text from my wife read, “We’re at the movie. I had 2 shots of honey bourbon before we left (yay for not driving)! Feeling very luxurious. I love you!”

I didn’t encourage my wife to go out with a friend this evening to earn any special treatment from her, but the thought of her buzzed and happy and feeling thankful when she got home certainly made me optimistic for, well, the sort of evening that unfolds when my wife is buzzed and happy and thankful.

I put away dinner and got all three kids into their pajamas at the closest to bedtime we’ve been all week. The thirdborn, at 19 months old, has a strict routine he wants to follow every night. It involves a particular book about a puppy (which I couldn’t find tonight), and humming a hymn, and holding hands to pray, and turning a white noise generator to “ocean waves,” and hugging three stuffed animals before pushing them away, and then flopping around forever. My wife usually goes through most of this routine with him in our room while I read three stories to the girls in their room.

My firstborn lost two stories today for behavior issues, which presented a logistical problem akin to getting a fox, a chicken, and a sack of grain across the river. The girls would share one story together. The secondborn would get two more stories apart from her older sister. The boy didn’t want to stay in the girls’ room, and I didn’t want to leave the oldest alone while everyone else went into my room and tried to go to sleep.

So I read everybody a story in the girls’ room, then switched rooms and put my firstborn in my bed and equipped her with headphones plugged into an iPad playing Disney Pandora. I hunkered down on a mattress on the floor with the second- and thirdborn. We read two stories—substituting a second-favorite book about ladybugs for the missing book about the puppy—then turned out the lights.

Surprisingly, it all worked.

My son rolled and kicked, and my secondborn curled up on my legs, but everybody nodded off, one by one. When the last kid started breathing in that heavy “now I’m sure he’s asleep” way, I extricated myself from the tangle, congratulated myself on successfully figuring out the bedtime puzzle, and headed out of the room to do a little last-minute cleaning.

Upon descending the stairs I saw—serendipitously!—my wife just arriving at the back door. I went to let her in. And noticed her tear-filled eyes.

“Are you OK?” she asked, somewhere between a frantic gasp and a sob.

Before I explain why she asked that, let me set some more of the scene:

My son has recently figured out how to open our front door. During this past rainy weekend, I heard it slam and looked out our front window to see the guy purposefully limping down toward the street, one foot shoved into a yellow boot, the other bare. Tonight, I made sure I locked it. I’m getting into the habit.

I locked the back door behind me when I came home from work.

I often turn off my work cell phone in the evening, because it’s my work cell phone.

I left my personal cell phone in the girls’ room when I decided to move everybody into ours. I left my laptop in there, too.

The portable phone in our room (yes, we still have a land line) never made it back onto its charging base the last time we got a call (I’m note sure when that was, because only my parents, the blood bank, and telemarketers call the land line). Its battery had died.

We usually keep a window or two cracked in our bedroom for airflow, but we closed them both during the aforementioned recent rains and haven’t reopened them.

Got all that?

Here are the texts my wife sent me later in the evening, about half an hour before I came downstairs:

“I’m home and locked out.”

“Please let me in the house.”

There were also messages on my phone (“Hello? It’s your wife! I’m locked out of the house. Can you let me in please?”) and the house answering machine.

The Facebook message she sent read, “I’m locked out of the house.”

The white noise generator and faint strains of “Hakuna Matata” coming from my daughter’s headphones, coupled with my humming “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing” for my son, apparently drowned out my wife’s shouts from the driveway. And her pounding on the doors. And the doorbell.

My trip downstairs to find her knocking on the back door was serendipitous only in that her own cell phone battery had just died and she was out of options for trying to reach me.

But she really liked The LEGO Movie.

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51 thoughts on “The Party You Are Trying to Reach is Unavailable

  1. ContactRida says:

    great post. very suspenseful.

  2. Haha, was wondering if the picture was a reference to Lego Movie. I liked it, too. And it is truly amazing how hard it is to communicate these days even with all our forms of supposed convenient communication.

  3. Greg Hamerly says:

    Great post… so sorry about being locked out. How amazing that we have so many ways to communicate and yet these things still happen.

  4. Ace parenting. As a husband? Well, you got a good post out of it!

  5. franhunne4u says:

    Well, nobody’s sorry for you? I am. You encountered bravely so many obstacles and overcame them – and then your reward of a slightly tipsy, well entertained wife is taken from you by something like two locked doors. You have my sincere sympathy.

  6. jenmuse says:

    If only I had waited to make sure she got inside before I left Sorry!!! But we did enjoy the movie.

  7. …and that’s the cherry on top of a PER-fect evening! Nice job!

  8. motherhendiaries says:

    Love this!! Oh the perils of domesticity… I am forever being reminded to TURN YOUR PHONE ON by my hubby. I take maybe 1 of every 4 calls on my cell phone… out of juice..on silent…in another room… the list goes on. Glad you finally let her in, and truly hope you had your little reward in the end… 🙂

  9. Love the story enough to read it my daughter sitting next to me. I could relate to this type of thing.

  10. booboojing says:

    In a wired society, it’s frustrating not to reach anyone within seconds. Not to say 30 minutes seems a long time ….. A really patient wife!

  11. Catherine says:

    Cute story. But as a mother of three, I’m hoping you didn’t “do” all that for the “reward” in the end. What’s the mom’s reward? After all, we do this every night and expect nothing in return. Father’s should do this too. Fair is fair. 😉

    • jesteram says:

      Catherine, I absolutely agree! As I said above, I didn’t encourage my wife to go out with a friend that evening to earn any special treatment from her. Spending time with my children is not babysitting. My wife having fun on her own comes with no strings or expectations attached. And I certainly don’t expect a reward for being a dad. I’m not going to turn down a fun evening, though, if she’s feeling happy! (My wife said that I should also point out that I put the two girls to bed pretty much every night while she wrangles the baby.)

  12. That really made me chuckle. Love it!

    “Everything is Awesome” in my household of four boys too. Your wife should have gone to see Frozen, then she could have “Let It Go.” I imagine she won’t be letting it go for a while now.

    http://boybbandinthemaking.wordpress.com

  13. Tanya says:

    Well, there goes the evening full of buzzed, happy and thankful. I hope you didn’t get into too much trouble. 😛

  14. Aww! My husband got locked out of the house once, for about an hour in the rain until I got home to let him in. I felt bad for him, but it was kinda his fault since he forgot his house keys! Haha

  15. amandachwa says:

    That’s life for you. I do hope your wife was understanding enough to appreciate that at least you got the kids to bed.

  16. I really like the way you write…keep going… visit mine… http://mindtechnorms.wordpress.com

  17. And suddenly: The Lego Movie. (I liked it, too)

  18. Oh dear, that must have been so frustrating for your wife! The opposite has happened to my sister: my brother-in-law accidentally locked her and their two children inside the house when he was rushing for work one morning. Suffice it to say, she wasn’t pleased.

  19. Is this for writers without a genre?

  20. segmation says:

    If the party is unavailable maybe there is a reason and one should move on to other things?

  21. romaldpage says:

    Nice Post !

  22. Can so relate to this. By the way if I’m out for a girlie night I usually can’t wait to get home to the bloke, especially if I’m feeling ‘buzzed, happy and thankful’ because I know I’ll be feeling even more buzzed, happy and thankful by the end of the night! Great post, look forward to more.

  23. Awww.. Oh the joys of parenting

  24. susanddhavle says:

    Such a great story….

  25. Haha! The thought that resonated while reading your story is how we’ve become this society of instant gratification/response. With all the various methods of communication, a lack of immediate response to all attempts sends us into panic mode thinking something is wrong. Thanks for sharing your (humorous) experience!

  26. Wow. Poor wife. That would suck, but I can see that it wasn’t really your fault. It’s just a crappy situation with bad things falling into place to set that strange scenario up. Perhaps you guys should hide an extra key outside somewhere. That’s what we have done and I had to use it once within the last year.

  27. Btw, your slogan, “the life of a father who can’t draw hands” is PRICELESS.

  28. Great slice of your life! Isn’t it funny how life throws curveballs? Everyone perfectly sleeping on time while your wife is locked outside with no way to reach you. You can’t make up that kind of perfect coincidence 🙂

  29. Christie says:

    Funny how we can be feeling like everything is going perfectly only to discover something has been going terribly wrong right under our oblivious noses. haha! I think we’ve all had nights (or days) like yours. Good job (on the parenting and the writing) 😀

  30. Mirza Usman says:

    That think make me Sad

  31. I think whether or not your wife was locked out of the house, she appreciates and loves the man standing on the other side of the door. Like the name of your blog, sometimes stuff gets deep, other times you’re treading water, but mostly you’re standing in the shallows. I think most of us parents stand and watch over the kids whether they’re itty-bitty or have grown into their big smelly feet. I’m guessing you’ve had many lovely nights since this post. The giant husband and I have a lock on our bedroom door (the kids know the rules) but the darn dogs don’t want to keep up their end of the privacy bargain.
    AnnMarie
    new blogger, attempting to swim through blogworld

  32. Great post, really enjoyed it! You did a great job with the bedtime routine as well, who says us men can’t multitask? 🙂

  33. this is hilarious. I loved the bedtime routine

  34. So much for the “the sort of evening that unfolds when my wife is buzzed and happy and thankful.”…

  35. Mrs aDDamo says:

    Great post, that’s parents daily life, everyday has new challenges, plus lock out experience:)

  36. This was a great story, life experience! Obviously, I assume she forgave you seeing that you know she liked the movie. I have to sympathize with her lolz, because after a buzzed night out of town with my girls, I came home at some o’clock in the morning to find myself locked out and my fiancé sleep and his phone on silent. It took my friends and I quite some time to wake the sleeping giant —knocking, yelling and blowing the car horn.

    I truly enjoyed my first read of your blog. I look forward to catching up and reading more!
    Peace and love —E.English❤

  37. hitwyla says:

    I really want to know about the Lego movie. Isn’t that a kid’s show? Why? if she didn’t have the kids? Just wondering.

    • Mrs. Shallows says:

      Mr. Shallows had already taken the kids to see it. They all loved it so much that I wanted to see it too. So did a friend of mine. So, girls night out to the Lego Movie! Also, did I mention we are really big geeks.

  38. I never lock my partner out of our house. I just occasionally take my keys AND her keys when I go to work in the morning. In case it happens again, I think I’ll get her “Hot Wiring Cars for Dummies” for her birthday this year.

  39. If my husband locked me out for a half an hour id be freaked out too.

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