THE FAMILY ALBUM: “Dad? Where are you?”

It was not uncommon for me to leave a store or performing event and suddenly remember I had forgotten my sons. I had been on my own for so many years that I was not used to taking a roll call before leaving.

It did take me several years to recognize that it was one of my sons yelling (several times) specifically for me when I heard, “Dad!” I just figured it was for someone else.

FIRST SON

I always preferred attending to grocery shopping between 11:00 PM and midnight, mostly for convenience of just returning home from rehearsals or events, and so that I would run into fewer folks I knew in order to move through the store faster. I had only had my first son a few days before I headed out to the old Kroger in Centerville. I returned home to find him sitting on the stairs, fearing that I had left him.

Yes, this is kind of a sadder story but the rest were actually pretty funny.

MEIJER

Our summers were always eventful and busy with doing as many things as we could cram in. Often, we’d hit Kroger, Meijer, or Walmart around midnight as we returned from an event. Many times I would shop while the boys hit the gaming center.

One night, I loaded all the groceries into the car and pulled out of the Meijer parking, heading west on Stroop Road. I got to the intersection at Marshall before I realized Joshua and Matthew were back at Meijer.

Sure enough, they were still glued to the gaming monitors and had not missed me.

SHELL GAS STATION

I gave Jose $20 to run inside to pay for gas. This was before the committed payment before filling up your tank. While Jose stood in line, I filled up the Lumina and climbed back inside the car.

I was just ready to pull out onto Far Hills Avenue when something surprised me on the passenger side of the car.

Twelve year old Jose jumped into the car with “Were you trying to see how fast I could run?”

Whoa! “Yes, I was. And you are so fast.” Whew! He bought it.

BEAVERCREEK HIGH SCHOOL

We finished up a show and the entire crew was heading to Quaker Steak for a post-show chow. Quintin asked if he could ride with some family friends so I attended to a few closing items and went to my car parked on the other side of the building.

I arrived at the restaurant and was greeted by the family friend with “Where’s Quintin?”

Oh, shit. Again! “Umm, didn’t he ride with you?”

My phone rang. A fellow teacher was leaving the building and saw Quintin sitting on a park bench by the parking lot. He had missed the family’s departure and then discovered I, too, was gone. Thankfully, my friend delivered him to Quaker Steak and I treated her to a dinner.

DISNEY WORLD

I really didn’t leave three of the boys at Disney World. I got on the monorail car in EPCOT and was on my way back to The Magic Kingdom before I realized I was reading a brochure to just myself. Apparently, something held them back from getting aboard the same car.

KINGS ISLAND

I thought I was guiding my son onto the elevator to descend top of the Eiffel Tower but I was actually holding onto the arm of some kid whose family entered alongside me. I was a half sentence into asking if he wanted a funnel cake before… “Oh, hell! You’re not my son.”

The boy’s family asked if I wanted to keep him because he was at that mouthy middle school age.

Nope. “I just left one at the top of the tower.”

My son met up with me at the bottom when I explained my story.

“You thought it was me?”

Well, he was about your size.

“Dad, he had blonde hair,” my black haired Hispanic son observed.

At that age they all smell alike. But, I’ve always wondered if that one young man ever got a funnel cake before leaving the park.

Oh, and there was at least once, maybe twice, that I pulled out of the long line of exiting traffic after realizing I’d left the sons back inside the park at our regular meeting spot. They always thought “Dad ran into someone he knows…”

MOVIE THEATRES.

THE SCHUSTER CENTER.

TRENT ARENA.

VICTORIA THEATRE.

FAIRMONT HIGH SCHOOL (next door).

OTHER HIGH SCHOOLS.

The stories are pretty much the same but with different sons.

ELWOOD FUNERAL HOME

When the funeral service had ended I suggested to the boys they go back to the family quarters to watch television since it would be a while.

And it was a long while.

Finally, inside the car waiting in the funeral procession line, my dad tapped on the window. I lowered the window. “Where are your sons?”

The departure was only held up for a moment while I retrieved the boys.

MY MOTHER & SISTER’S HOUSE

I was preparing to pull away from where my mother and sister were living at the time and my sister leaned inside the car.

“Are you forgetting anything?”

I looked past a short redhead to see Flyer, the dog, in the back window.

Nope… oh, no!

My sons were not in the car but my little nephew, Andrew, was in the backseat.

Now, I honestly cannot accept full responsibility for this swap as I believe my sister was the mastermind behind it. However, we would have probably been fifty miles away at the New Castle exit before I figured out the difference.

About Wright Flyer Guy

Darin is a single adoptive father, a teacher, playwright, and musical theatre director from Kettering, Ohio.
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