Posted by: Hannah | 04/09/2013


Today, a vignette:

Louis suddenly jumped up, announced that he needed to go to the bathroom, and went. Number one AND number two, without fuss, bother, whining or hassle.

He hasn’t had an accident in three weeks – since we started the sticker charts – and is going every day like it ain’t no thang.

So, for those keeping score at home, Louis successfully navigated the bathroom this morning with no help from me.

Minutes later, Pixie announced that she had to go to the bathroom, too. No worries, because she’s been doing it independently since last September. I heard the door shut.

And then I heard yelling. And sobbing. I sprinted to the bathroom and opened the door…


I sprinted to the bathroom and had the doorknob slip right through my fingers, because she’d locked the door from the inside and was now panicking.

The bathroom has a push-lock. I tried talking her through unlocking it again, figuring that she’d locked it in the first place so she could surely repeat the ‘push-and-turn’ motion. Yes, you are all laughing at me. I can hear you.

I investigated the doorknob, wondering about the feasibility of removing the entire thing. Oh hey! All the screws are on the inside of the door! Good design.

I tested the doorknob’s strength in case I could just forcibly turn it past the locking point. Which is hilarious, because I have tiny hands – Harry’s are only a little smaller than mine, and he’s 7 – and weak pitiful arms. Like a T-Rex.

I looked at the doorknob again. In the very centre was a tiny hole. I had a vague memory of Michael saying it was possible to pop a lock by inserting something into that tiny hole.

Immediately I started looking for something small enough to fit. Luckily, just last week during my big spring declutter I’d found one of those screwdriver kits meant for repairing eyeglasses.

Tried one; it fit!


Bear in mind that during this entire process, Pixie was wailing inconsolably as I was trying to reassure her through the door.

So there I was. George and Daisy were clustering around. Pixie was screaming. Louis kept saying “did Pixie lock hersel’ in da BAF-room?” over and over again no matter how many times I said “yes, she did.” I was crouching on the floor outside the bathroom with a screwdriver rammed in the doorknob wondering how long it would take to get a locksmith when suddenly- I felt something in the lock give a little bit.

I wiggled the screwdriver around and tried the knob. Nothing. Again. Still nothing, although I thought I could feel a spring. I carefully lined up the screwdriver and pushed the spring.

Just like that, the lock popped open.

Crisis averted. But let that be a lesson to me, I guess. Bathroom time with preschoolers is NEVER easy.






  1. You can also use the inside of a pen, like the part that holds the ink. I speak from experience.

    Once I was getting ready to go to drop the kids at my mom’s because I had an appointment. Jake went into the bathroom (he was around 1 1/2) closed the door, and opened the vanity drawer right beside it. So the door was not able to open on account of being blocked by the drawer. Ahhhh. He was screaming, I was calmly trying to tell him to “close the drawer, sweetie” as the door was open like an inch, and then he would close the DOOR. NOT THE DOOR THE DRAWER. I ended up having to stick a KNIFE through the one inch opening, jam it into the wood of the drawer, and slide it closed. Meanwhile, I was envisioning the scenario in which I would accidentally stab my baby. I did finally manage to get the drawer closed and the door opened, but I swear my blood pressure must have been through the roof.

    • OH GOD JAKE. I would lose my ever-loving mind in that scenario.

  2. We had almost exactly the same experience when we moved into our house. Oldest wasn’t quite 3 at the time and managed to lock himself in the bathroom. Sadness accrued. Luckily, husband grew up with doors with the same kind of lock and a sister he enjoyed tormenting, so he knew how to pop the lock with a long nail. So, thank god for childhood sibling torment??

  3. We keep the tool to pop the door open on top of the bathroom door frame. That’s how often it’s been needed. Ugh.

  4. What you need is called an Allen wrench and if you were a licensed provider in NY state your rep would make sure it was on the top of the doorframe or hanging on a hook out of reach. Sometimes the reps are actually right.

    • We call them “Allen keys” and it wouldn’t have worked in this case – the hole in the doorknob was too small. Glad I had the screwdriver set, though. 🙂

  5. Our kids have done this so many times that we keep a straightened out paper clip for just this purpose.

    • Found out when I told Pixie’s mom about it that Little Miss has taken to locking doors at home! She’s locked the bathroom door several times, locked her dad out of the house, ditto the car…

  6. Oh great, a lock artist in the house. We always used a straightened coat hanger in the house I grew up in – happened all the time. I was on site when the same thing happened with my little cousin – eight adults in the hallway screaming instructions on what to do while she howled, and finally as they were about to call the fire department she unlocks it.

    • HA HA HA HA HA!!!

      I like the straightened coat hanger thing, I’ll have to remember that one, too.

  7. Hot damn! Way to macguiver your way in! My daycare has a child proof plastic cage thing on the bathroom door which I always thought was stupid. Now I know why. Must examine my own door…

    • I wouldn’t even encourage them to close the bathroom door except that Daisy and George are completely fascinated with entire room & everything about it. Now that I know how to pick the lock it’s no big deal, but yes, check your locks so you’ll know how to do it when Owl goes exploring.

  8. I use a 3mm knitting needle. Our bathroom doors are so easy to lock that we’ve managed to accidentally lock them and then shut the door with no one in the room.

    It’s a flawed system because as soon as my toddler started walking, I hid all the knitting needles. My husband wouldn’t be able to find them. He’d just have to use a screwdriver, I guess.

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