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My "Adventures in Babysitting" Adventure

Dedicated to my family with much love and thanks.

If we are friends on Facebook, you may have heard about my little adventure last weekend. It’s a funny story especially now that I’m back inside so I thought I would share it with you here.

Let me back up a bit and set the scene for you. I was on my way to Barrie to pick up my daughter who is attending a figure skating summer school. She needed to come home for her last orthodontist appointment before getting her braces off.
I decided to take our dog Oliver along for the trip. I was going to drive to my sister’s in Port Hope, stay overnight and then head up to Barrie early the next morning. I’d pick up my daughter and then we would head back home to Ottawa. It’s about a 5-hour drive one way so a little too far to do a round trip in one day.
Oliver settled in for the long drive
My sister and her husband were heading off to Nova Scotia. They would hide a key to their house for me. A few days before, I was pestering my sister, “Don’t forget to hide the key and let me know the hiding spot”. I had this image in my mind of not finding the key and being locked out with nowhere to stay. Little did I know, this was foreshadowing what would really happen...
So Oliver and I arrived, found the key no problem and brought our overnight bags into the house. I fed him, and had a quick bite to eat myself, and then we headed out for a walk. I decided I would eat dinner later so we could get a walk in before dark.
We walked for about 40 minutes around the winding streets and crescents. Keep in mind, my sister only moved to Port Hope a short while ago so I don’t know the neighborhood very well. In fact, I took out my phone about halfway through our walk, and used the GPS to map our way back to the house. And this is when, I think, the key to the house may have fallen out of my pocket unbeknownst to me.
As we walked up the driveway at about 8:20 pm, dusk was settling in. I reached in my pocket and no key. I began searching all my pockets, still no key. As dread started to wash over me, I walked up to the front door hoping against all hope that it had somehow not locked, no luck. I asked the neighbour if by chance he had a spare key, no luck there either.
I quickly took Oliver back out to retrace our steps and look for the key. He was not impressed. He had done his walk and wanted to go home and settle in for the night. Me too! At one point, he dug his paws in and refused to go any further. He’s a 10 year old Jack Russell terrier, need I say more. He’s sweet but stubborn and getting more stubborn by the day.
I brought him back to the house and put him in the backyard. We both longingly looked through the securely locked patio doors at my purse sitting on the table with my car keys. The reality of the situation was starting to sink in. No key to get into the house, no keys to get into my car and drive somewhere, no ID, no credit card, no money. Just me and my dog!
I quickly headed back out, on my own, to re-walk the route. By this point, it was getting dark. I was praying inside my head, or maybe I was muttering out loud, asking the angels above or the powers that be to miraculously place the key in my path.
Keying hanging in a tree, Photo by Katy Belcher on Unsplash
Then I had a mini breakdown and called my husband who was in Pittsburgh. Not much he could do from there except provide moral support which he is very good at. He calmly talked to me and we worked out a plan.
I sent a text to my niece who lives not too far away in Bowmanville. She was at her trailer with her family and had just stepped inside and heard her phone beep. I quickly explained what had happened. They did not have an extra key but would come right over.
In the meantime, Oliver kept looking at me and cocking his head to one side as if to say, “Why are we not going inside?" I have to say that I received a lot of online support from my Facebook friends. What else is there to do when you are locked outside sitting on the doorstep in the dark. One friend, 40 minutes away, even offered to come and get me. I was thankful I had my phone with me.
Finally my niece, her husband, and their two young kids rolled up in their SUV. Her husband came armed with his toolbox ready to break into the house. The kids hopped out with their flashlights in hand. Makayla is 8 years old and Cameron is 4. They were excited. It was a treasure hunt. They were so cute, full of questions. “Where did you lose the key? Where you walking on the road? Maybe we’ll find some candy!"
At one point Cameron said, “If Daddy breaks the window will he have to pay for it?” I replied, “No, I will have to pay for it”. To which he replied, “But why, he broke it”. You gotta love the logical, straight forward thinking of a 4 year old.
After retracing most of the route, still no success in finding the key. By this point, enthusiasm had waned…for me too! As we approached the house, no lights were glowing in the windows. Their dad had not been successful as a break-in artist either.
We called my sister and her husband. They were staying overnight at a hotel near the Toronto airport and catching an early morning flight. Phew, they were still in the vicinity. They got their car out of long-term parking and started driving East. We got in my niece’s vehicle and started driving West. We would meet somewhere in the middle and get the one and only key left.
We hit a traffic jam on the 401 at 11:30 pm on a Thursday night. I swear there is never a good time to drive in Toronto. We were at a standstill surrounded by transport trucks. We got off the highway and met up with my sister in Ajax. We did the big handover in the parking lot of a Canadian Tire store at midnight, me apologizing for the millionth time.
It was now 12:30 am as we sped down the highway back to Port Hope. As I sat in the back seat tucked between two sleeping kiddos in their booster seats with their heads flopped on my shoulders, I was reminded of the movie “Adventures in Babysitting”. I know my adventure was not nearly as dramatic or adventuresome as the movie, and I wasn’t rescued from a bus station but still the ridiculousness of it all felt similar. The adults in the car had a good laugh.
This will probably go down in family history as one of those entertaining stories to be pulled out from time to time, recounted and embellished, and passed down from generation to generation. Remember that time when crazy Aunt C lost the key and then we walked for hours looking for it, and then drove for miles to get another one...
I’m blaming the dog. If I hadn’t brought him along, then I wouldn’t have been out walking him, and then I wouldn’t have lost the key. Oliver probably feels the same way. He would rather have stayed home in his own bed…on the inside!
Have you ever lost something, or been locked out, and someone had to come and rescue you? Tell me about it in the comments so I don’t feel like I’m the only cotton-headed ninny muggins :-).
Colleen Kanna
Colleen Kanna is a breast cancer champion and creator of COKANNA Designs, a line of stylish bamboo Canadian-made clothing for women over 40. Five percent of sales are donated to the Ottawa Integrative Cancer Centre in support of their Head Start Program for women newly diagnosed with breast cancer.


  • Colleen

    Hi Lillian, getting locked out of your car is probably a common mishap. You must have had a feeling of “oh-oh” when you heard the click of the car door locking inside. And it must have felt like a very long wait at the gas station!

  • Colleen

    Thank you Marilyn & Brian for coming to my rescue. I don’t know what Oliver and I would have done. Slept outside on your back dec?!? Good thing it was warm out.

  • Colleen

    Hi Heidi, thanks for your story. Your mom must have been worried silly with the snowstorm. Did you have to turnaround and drive back to pick her up? Cell phones sure make things easier these days!
    I had a similar experience in Japan. I was travelling on my own and meeting a friend from university at a particular train station. I waited and waited and kept asking people passing by, in my very broken Japanese if I was at the right station. They assured me I was. Finally my friend showed up and explained there were 2 stations with a similar name.

  • Lillian M. Lee

    So sorry of your story of your lost key in Port Hope. I am happy that at the
    end you were able to get the key. It sure was great you have relatives living
    relatively closer to each other and that your sister was still in town before leaving for their holidays out East. I have been locked out once at a gas station to fill up gas and I had left my keys inside the car. While filling up the
    car with gas I heard the car door lock inside. It was evening rush hour and I
    had tried to call some locksmith to come to my aid. I did not want to call
    my husband and get him upset. It took over an hour before help came to unlock my car. Have a great summer, Colleen!


  • Marilyn Cook

    Loved your story. It will definitely go down in history and re-surface from time to time for a good laugh. Good thing it all worked out in the end.

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