It started like it had many times before. Charlotte spied the open door to our bedroom and scooted inside. To be “helpful”, she closed the door behind her. No big deal. This happened almost every time the door gets left open, which is several times a week. I sauntered over to open it, supervise a minimal amount of exploration, and chase her out.
And then everything changed.
I reached for the lever door handle and tried to open it even as my brain was processing that the fiddling sounds on the other side were not the normal “playing with the handle” ones but were instead a new “fiddling with the twisty part that locks the door” sounds. Before I could finish the “oh, crap, I’d better get this door open before she locks herself in and then never let her do this again” thought, she had locked the door.
Since there was no immediate danger, I started with small, non-panicky efforts. I jiggled. I twisted. I looked for the safety release that had to be on my side while encouraging her to continue playing with (and hopefully un-twist) the handle on her side. She quickly got bored with the game and set off to explore the bedroom. I knew of her regular, safe stops in the room (my alarm clock, ryan’s sleep-number remote, the full-length mirror…) so I figured I had some time to solve this problem before she started for the climbable shelves of the closet, the bathroom toilet, etc etc. I called my husband at work and explained the situation. He immediately expressed confidence in my ability to bust down the hollow door should I need to and then began describing all the places to look for the magic pin that would open the door. Except there was no pin-hole on this door, of course. All the other doors have them, but not this one. 4 of 5 doors in the loft have a pin-hole and she has to trap herself behind the one that doesn’t.
As far as I could tell, there was no way to pop the lock from my side without getting very creative.
By this time it was clear that Charlotte had gotten engrossed with something on her side of the door and was no longer interested in chatting with me. It was time to step up the extraction efforts. Promising my husband that i would call him back very soon, i started working on the door handle. I didn’t want to go straight to bashing, since Charlotte was somewhere on the other side, and I suspected that while I certainly could break down the door, it would likely hurt. Instead, I picked up a hammer and tried to pry the handle loose. After a few “successful” tugs that cracked the hollow door as much as it warped the handle, it was clear that the handle was not going to give up easily, if at all. I could see that with enough time and patience and perhaps a few flat-head screwdrivers, I might have been able to dismantle the handle piece by piece and pop it off the door, but time was not something I had.
Through a series of inquiries, I inferred that Charlotte was well away from the door and heading into the master bathroom to play in the toilet, climb in the empty tub, or maybe over-extend herself trying to reach something on the countertop and fall over backwards and crack her skull on the stone tile. I knew my happy baby luck was going to run out soon, so I went for it. I huffed and I puffed and I shoulder-checked that door until it broke free. It was actually easier than I thought it would be. Adrenaline, anyone? Charlotte had just decided that the toilet, with it’s great echo lid-slamming noise, was the place to be. She greeted me with a proud cheer and was only mildly disappointed that I shooed her away and shuffled her out of the room.
Strangely enough, the handle didn’t pop out or splinter free of the door like I’d expected. Instead, the doorframe split down the center of the hole the door latched into (the metal plate was AWOL, thankfully). It even managed to tear some of the drywall off when it snapped loose.