When Rob was very little--2 or under--his first mother forgot he was outside playing, locked the door and left the house to go get his siblings at school. He didn't notice her leaving and while she was gone, tried to get in the house and could not. He screamed and kicked the door in terror. I have always been appalled by this bit of my son's history, hurting for that little boy that he was. For many many years, if he thought a door was locked he would revert to that frightened toddler, kicking and pounding on the door with glazed eyes, afraid that he had been once more locked out. We have an old house and the doors routinely stick in the humidity of summer, so there were a number of these incidents.
Over time, they stopped, though I will admit I have always been super careful to make sure doors were unlocked when he was out. Also I can't ever go to sleep when my kids are due home so I am always up when he comes in from where ever he has been, regardless of the time.
A couple of nights ago he was out with his girlfriend. My wife and I were in our work room doing piece work when he came in the front door about 10. He had a really funny look on his face. I asked if he was all right, and if he'd had a good time. "the back door was locked," was his reply. It turned out that K had absent mindedly locked it behind her when she brought the dog in from his final tour of the yard that night. I said "honey there will always be a door open for you here at home." He gave me a huge hug, I think perhaps because he was the one needing it.
There was no kicking or pounding on the door, so one certainly can say that progress has been made. But there was a look in his eyes that I can't describe. That look let me know that there is still that abandonment fear buried down there underneath the tall handsome strapping young man that he is now.
So for his birthday, he is getting a key to both doors. I have not been one to give out keys to the house. My kids lose things like you will not believe. But it would not be safe to do a Hide A Key in our neighborhood at present. So I am going to trust that on the brink of man hood, he can handle a couple of keys. And in reality, for him to feel that he can always come home trumps the cost of a lock change if he loses them.