Trapped in her room by a tricky doorknob, a sixth grade girl relies on her brother to hear her cries for help. (Jennifer Bardsley)

Trapped in her room by a tricky doorknob, a sixth grade girl relies on her brother to hear her cries for help. (Jennifer Bardsley)

A family comes together to solve a middle-of-the-night crisis

She was grateful that her son had heard his sister’s call for help. His late-night hours had proven useful.

I woke up to a ruckus that nobody saw coming at 1 a.m. on a recent Wednesday. My daughter was trapped in her room.

“Step away from the door — I’m going to kick it in,” my son shouted, from down the hall.

That got my husband’s attention. He’s always been the one who hears the kids first. “Wait!” he called, leaping out of bed and running full-throttle. “What’s going on?”

I climbed out of bed a minute later, bundled up in my bathrobe and stumbled down the hallway. Our poodle, Merlin, followed me. A storm raged outside, and rain pelted the skylights.

“I can’t get out,” our daughter said. “The doorknob won’t turn.”

“I’ll get a screwdriver,” said my husband, running down the stairs.

“Are you OK, Sweetie?” I asked my daughter, grateful that my son had heard her call for help. His late-night hours had proven useful.

“I’m fine,” she said.

“Are you hungry?” my son asked. “Do you want a tortilla?

“No,” she said, with what sounded like sob but which turned out to be laughter.

“How badly do you need to use the bathroom?” I asked.

“Do you want one of Merlin’s pee pads?” my son joked.

“No!” she hollered back, laughing even harder.

My husband returned with tools. “I’m sliding a screwdriver under the door. You’ll need to unscrew the doorknob.” He pressed down the carpet and jammed the screwdriver underneath the door.

We all waited while she unfastened the doorknob from the other side, feeling certain that removing the screws would solve the problem. Finally, the doorknob fell off, and we could see her face through the hole. But the metal part of the doorknob that stuck into the doorframe had jammed and wouldn’t budge, and the door didn’t move either.

“I could get out the ladder and climb in through the window,” my husband suggested.

“In this storm?” I asked. If I had been thinking clearer, I would have supported him, but I was too tired to problem solve.

“Just kick it down, Dad,” said our son.

My husband, exhausted, didn’t argue. “I’m going to regret this in the morning,” he muttered. “Step away from the door,” he told our daughter. Then, with one swift kick, he knocked the door down. The frame splintered apart so fast that a bit of wood hit me in the face. Apparently, I should have stepped back, too.

“I always wanted to do that,” said our son.

“Me, too.” My husband looked at the fractured doorframe in dismay. “I guess I’m going to Lowes tomorrow.”

“And I’m going to the bathroom,” my daughter said, as she finally exited her room. “Thanks, Dad.”

“And just think,” said my son. “This was the second weirdest thing that happened today.”

“True.” I shook my head in dismay, and went back to bed.

Jennifer Bardsley publishes books under her own name and the pseudonym Louise Cypress. Find her online on Instagram @the_ya_gal, on Twitter @jennbardsley or on Facebook as The YA Gal. Email her at

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