I love my kids, I love my kids, I love my kids, grrrrr
| The most frightening part of being a parent is when you just don’t know. You don’t know what to do, you don’t know what to say, you are just a clueless mess.
In my little family, we have the big one, the small one, and the medium one. My wife bigger than any of them but the big one is catching up. Actually, my wife is a little bit of a thing and the boys are already taller. But you would never know that, she has a presence. The youngest of five and the only girl. She was her mother’s right hand in controlling the men. These guys are huge, I am talking college football linemen huge. Up against the women, they are quite literally kittens. They like me, I fit right in. Big dumb lug purring and rubbing up against my wife looking for validation.
The one we want to focus on in my brood is the girl. She has her mother’s backbone and is wicked sharp. But this kid would carry a spider out to the tree line instead of smashing, won’t eat meat, not even a fish. She is also the most social person I have ever met. Get that from my father-in-law. The man sells life insurance. To raise a family doing that you have to be selling every minute of your life.
We live in this quaint suburban town right out of a 1940's movie set. Eddie, working the grill at the diner knows my kids names. At the end of the summer, we have a carnival on Labor Day at the park in the middle of the town, across from our house.
The boys are old enough to go without us and my daughter, entering ninth grade. The sun went down and the fireworks were about to begin. The boys were easy to find, they were in a crowd of football buddies and my daughter, not so easy to find.
So it started, emails, texts, calls, really angry and frustrated father who can’t find his darling innocent angel of a daughter, nothing. Now I am prowling, I jog back home, nothing. I walk the perimeter of the carnival, nothing. I check with Joe, the cop who all the kids know and they know him. He watches over them as they walk back home from school, he knows every kid in town. Joe’s got nothing. I walk through the carnival, check each ride. I am beginning to steam, I am texting every few minutes with, nothing.
Wait a minute, what about the ball fields and the dugouts? No way. Now I am storming, hunched and tight and angry. She has been forbidden to hang there, I know what goes on there. That is when I get the text from her. I don’t know if she had a lookout or something but the moment I was within sight of the dugouts, I get that text. She thinks this will stop me? Hell no. Next thing you know I have one hand yanking some man-child easily four years her senior up and the other nearly crushing my phone while I stare down my daughter who has suddenly grown all up. “Put him down dad.” I wanted to do no such thing but I did, she was channeling her mother.
All I could get out was, “Go home.” Miraculously, she did.
I figured all was solved, I didn’t strangle the little would be statutory rapist and I had controlled my daughter. My wife didn’t think I had handled it well but what would she have done? So we had the fireworks, flash flash, bang bang, all pretty and nice and we all went home. My wife talked to my daughter, don’t know what she said but when she was done, I got a talking to. All about stress and new school and new people and how I embarrassed her daughter and how I don’t remember what it was to be her age. I certainly did remember, that is why I was losing it. Anyway, I thought we were all good. Nope.
Next thing you know I wake up with this feeling. I couldn’t put a finger on it but I knew something was wrong. I wandered the house a bit and was drawn to the light under my daughter’s door. She better not be up at 2am. I swing the door open and she is not there. Nothing. She wasn’t anywhere else in the house, I just checked. I text her, nothing. I email her, nothing. I call her phone, buzzing. In her room, plugged in to the charger, her phone. What kid ever goes anywhere without their phone? Not my daughter but there it was, her phone and not her. The back door was slightly ajar. In the yard, nothing. Upstairs, waking the wife telling her she is gone and in my heart, nothing. We wake the boys and tell them something, not the truth, I don’t know what, they need to be up and have their phones in their hands. Clothes on and out the door, wife frantically calling her friend's moms while walking down the block looking. I searched every inch of that empty dark carnival, nothing. I banged on the carny’s doors and woke a few up and nothing. In one hand is my phone, useless because she doesn’t have hers and my other hand just trembles. I grab my car and now I am driving the streets, nothing. I can’t call the police yet, can I? Then the call, my son. Panic but I answer anyway. “Dad, she is home.”
She just walked out. Said she was stressed out and couldn’t handle being in the house anymore. She had walked around the neighborhood, in pajamas and slippers, and had sat on the back porch wondering where my car was until she got cold and went in. How am I going to deal with this? I got nothing.