I know I just updated yesterday. But because this is Thanksgiving week, I’ve been thinking about things I am grateful for, and today I had a new one to add to the list: the police.

Yes. You read that right. Me, who used to get shooed off the corner of Franklin and Rosemary by various patrolmen, who was known by name by the juvenile officer (I ran with a kind of wild crowd: still with them, although none of us are wild anymore) who more than once ran from a house into the woods when someone yelled “COPS!”. Today, I was ready to hug Officer North from the Chapel Hill Police Department, if I didn’t think it would freak him out. Or get me arrested. Let me explain.

So we’re out as a family today, driving by to check out the landscaping work that’s been done on a rental property we bought recently. Toddler’s in the back, strapped into her car seat, and announces she does NOT want to get out when we pull up and park. Fine, I say, and leave the car running, her sitting back there kicking my seat (like always) and listening to the radio. The husband and I walk ten paces, discuss a shrub and some trees, then walk back to the car which is…locked. Somehow. HOW????? I have no idea, still. Inside are both our keys and our phones. And our CHILD who is smiling at me, oblivious, just thinking about the pancakes we are going to go get any minute now.

Okay, I thought. Just think. Breathe. We tried all the doors. Tried them again. Breathed some more. This is NOT happening, I think. My husband tries to explain to Sasha how to unlock and/or open her door. She gets confused when she can’t do it, then scared, and starts crying. Oh, man. “Mama! Mama!” I break into a full-on sweat. Breathing does not help. My husband runs to a nearby house to call 911 while I try (TRY) to remain all la-di-da calm, talking to the baby about her stuffed animals through the window. She is not buying it. Now I’m about to cry. Husband returns, then goes up to street to wait for policeman who is on route. I try to talk about panckakes, Max and Ruby, grandma. Nothing is working. The neighbor whose phone we used comes over, makes a crack about the cop reporting me to social services. I start sweating more. Baby is full-on sobbing now, calling for me. I start looking for a rock or brick. Not EVEN joking. But then, THEN, the police car pulls up, and out steps Officer North. All calm and cool. “We’ll get you out as soon as we can,” he tells Sasha, and then proceeds to do just that in about three minutes flat. Within another minute, she’s eating goldfish pretzels and asking can we go get pancakes now. Me, I’m still shaking.

Oh, my God. There was just something about seeing her so upset, scared, calling for me, and NOT being able to get to her…I get flushed just thinking about it now. I know, I know, people do this. I posted about it on Twitter and was shocked, and reassured, by how many folks told me just that. (Plus, I have a friend who did it with her toddler when she was, like, nine months pregnant. She wins the stress contest, surely.) But still: you do not want to be the one responsible for something like that, even if it IS an accident. Hopefully she won’t remember it. I wish I could say the same.

So, like I said, I am grateful for that officer. For lessons learned without harsh (or too harsh) consequences. For under-car spare key holders, which we have already bought for all our vehicles. And for pancakes and bacon, which was just what we all needed to calm down afterwards.

I wish you all a safe and happy holiday. Drive carefully, fly nicely, remember your spare key, and hug your local law enforcement personnel. Or, maybe not HUG, but appreciate. I sure do.

Have a good night, everyone!