Written by Dexi
A black empty highway in front of me. No one. For miles. Where could I be? Yup— North Da- fricken-Kota.
Two-year old Scarlett, infant Roguies, and myself headed out of Minnesota state late on a Wednesday July evening, buckling in for a 7 hour drive. Why at night, you ask? Because then babies will not be pounding their tiny mouth screeches into my ears while I am driving. They’ll, hopefully, be fast asleep.
So there we were at midnight, tooling down Highway 2, and the plan was running as smoothly as the freshly-tarred road.
And then I heard Scarlett start to whimper. “I pooped!” she moaned.
Ruh-roh. When Scarlett says she “pooped”, she actually means that she peed a crap-ton, and all of her urine has soaked through her diaper and onto whatever surface she is stooping upon.
I slowed the white Town and Country and veered to the right, the sound of the rumble strips rupturing the air. I parked the car, put on my four-ways, and hopped out. I kept my door open and slid open Scarlett’s door.
She gladly got out of her carseat and allowed me to set her bare feet on the pavement, right next to the van. She cried that she was cold as I took off her pee soaked clothes and removed her diaper.
“I know, Baby. I’m going as fast as I can.”
A vehicle was nearing us, so I instinctively slammed my door shut, not wanting it to get pulverized. After it passed us, I hurriedly found Scarlett a new diaper and pajamas, threw a towel on her damp carseat, and strapped her in. I closed her door gently, not wanting to wake up Rogue, who was sleeping right next to Scarlett.
I pulled the handle of my own door to open it. But it wouldn’t open. WHAT? I pulled again. Definitely locked. I tugged on Scarlett’s handle. Locked. I ran around the van and tried all of the doors. Locked? Check. Check. Check.
There I was, at midnight, in the middle of nowhere North Dakota, standing by myself on the highway. The girls locked in the van. I did not have my phone, or my shoes on my feet. All I had was a dirty diaper in my hand. What should I do?
I chucked the dirty diaper into the ditch.
But now what? I went to the back windows of the van. They are the windows that prop— you know, the ones that look like little wings when they are open. I pried my fingers past the glass and was actually able to get them inside. I tugged and pulled from a variety of angles— one foot on the van, other foot on the van— but I was not strong enough. And because I did not want to leave any stone unturned, I tried the other window as well. No surprise here, that didn’t work either.
At some point, Scarlett had started wailing. And Rogue had joined in as well. The girls’ cries were the only noises present in the middle of the chilly North Dakota night.
“Open the door, Scarlett. Open the door!” I begged as I pointed my finger to the front door lock. She just looked at me and continued to scream. She wouldn’t have been able to free herself from her carseat, let alone figure out how to unlock a door.
I could… break a window? Well, I wouldn’t be able to throw a shoe. The diaper in the ditch? That wouldn’t be hard enough. My fist? That would end in an emergency room visit. Bad idea, since my kids were not in imminent danger. Yet.
The only thing was to wait for another car to drive by. While I waited, I tried to comfort Scarlett and Rogue through the window. I think it only made them more upset. And I couldn’t even really see them, because the windows in our B.A. mini-van are tinted. Nnnnns. Nnnnnns. Raise da roof.
Twenty minutes later (OK, it felt like twenty, but was probably only two or three), headlights appeared over yonder! I ran into one of the traffic lanes and jumped up and down, flailing my arms.
They got closer. And closer. And closer. Andthenjustdroverightpastme! NO! You were supposed to stop!
About 50 meters down, the truck’s brakes slammed, and its driver backed up.
A man, early 40s, climbed out of the truck.
“Hi! Do you have something I can use to break my window? My babies are locked in there!”
“Uhhh,” the man looked around oddly, “no. But I have my phone. Are your kids OK? How old are they?”
I did some explaining to the kind sir, and he informed me that Towner, a small village, was about 4 miles west. There were a couple of police officers there, he said, and they’d probably be able to help.
He lent me his phone, and I called 9-1-1. The operator assured me the police would be there in five minutes, or so.
After thanking him several times, I shooed the man away. Standing on the side of the highway with him whilst my children lamented in the background was awkward.
Hesitantly, he left.
The cops showed up shortly. There were two of them, and they looked to be about 23 years of age.
“What were you doing parked on the side of the road with your children in the car?” Cop 1 asked.
Before I had time to answer he nodded toward the roof of my van. “Ahhhh, I see. You were changing a diaper.”
I looked at the poopy diaper atop the van. Yes, it was a diaper. But the diaper I had just changed was in the ditch. My husband, Ben, has a dirty habit of setting diapers on the car, so we do not have to smell them while we are traveling. This particular diaper was probably at least three weeks old, but I wasn’t about to admit to a police officer that I had littered, so I just went along with it.
“Well, it is against our policy to open vehicles for people. But we can call a locksmith,” Officer 2 explained.
“Even while my kids are locked inside and crying?”
“Even while your kids are locked inside and crying.”
They called the locksmith and hallelujah, he answered! They reported to me that he had to get dressed and would get to us in about ten minutes.
So police officers number one and number two, and myself, stood on the road making small talk underneath the stars, muffled toddler and infant snivels canvasing the background.
“Soooooo. I gave birth in this van.”
“I’m going to Minot to visit my sister, Loni.”
“And our sister Lindsi is going to visit us, too.”
“I went to college in North Dakota. Yep. Grand Forks.”
“How many people live in Towner?”
“I live in Bigfork.”
“Do you have any kids?”
Half-an-hour of stimulating conversation later, the locksmith showed up. I apologized profusely for waking him up in the middle of the night. He opened the driver’s door, freeing my girls’ ragged voices into the night.
I hugged Scarlett. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”
I asked Mr. Locksmith what I owed him. He looked at Officer 2 and said, “Bill the city.”
Officer 2 nodded at Cop 1 and said, “Only if he changes the little one’s diaper.”
They all chuckled and started to get into their respective vehicles.
Cop 1 looked back at me. “Hey. Make sure you get that diaper off of the top of your van. We don’t want that falling off.”
I crept my hand to the top of the car, wincing. I grabbed the rotting diaper filled with 3-week-old Scarlett poop, using only my index finger and thumb. I threw it into the van as I tried my best to smile at the officers, and then we all waved good-bye.