I went to a local river festival with my family on Saturday – complete with parades, boat rides, fun fair, craft stalls and what must have been tens of thousands of people! Like most of these events, it ended up costing a small fortune to take my family of four out for the day – ice creams and rides really add up – but hey, we had fun.
Whilst I was walking around with my wife and two boys, we saw a little boy of about six years old crying hysterically. He was walking near a group of adults, but something in me told me to keep an eye on him. When the group turned one way, and he turned another, we realized something wasn’t right. I chased after him (my 4-year-old in tow, just so I didn’t look like a crazy kidnapper), and asked if he needed help finding his mum. We noticed he only had his socks on, so we used our detective skills to deduce he must have last been on one of the no-shoes-allowed bouncy rides. We walked over to the bouncy castle area and – sure enough – mum and dad were there and were glad to see the son they hadn’t even noticed was missing.
The next day, I was talking to a friend whose kids are a lot older than mine when he started unpacking his feelings of remorse about his lack of parenting skills. He talked about how he realised now that he had been investing in the wrong things, but had done so in order to give his family financial stability (in itself, not necessarily a bad thing). As we spoke in depth, he shared about how now, as his boys are fast approaching adulthood, he wishes he could go back.
He feels he has lost the bond he once had when they were smaller, lost intimacy with them, lost trust – in short, that he has lost his boys.
I came away from both these events desperate to keep an eye on my boys. I need to keep an eye on them now, whilst they are young, so that they don’t walk away in their sock feet and look around to find themselves in unfamiliar places… and, just as importantly, so that I don’t wake up one morning in ten years and realise that I lost them en route.