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Panic and Relief: Finding a Lost Son

by Archie Wortham    --show me more like this

Recently my wife was out of town. The boys were left with me. A proactive dad lives to deal with this. But dads are not moms. Amongst all the other things parents are committed to doing with our children is making sure they understand why there are rules like, "Let me know where you are." That became very apparent to my oldest son Jeremy when I had to remind him why we have this rule; that dads really do care, have feelings, and can love in spite of anger. Indeed, my sons saw how much they meant when I thought I'd lost one of them.

So Jeremy went out to play. He promised to be home at a particular time, and wasn't. Okay, it happens. Parents let their kids go play. They tell them to be back before lunch or dinner. Parents tell them to call when they get to someone's house, and usually they do. But that one time they choose not to call, or go play at an unfamiliar home is the one time mom is out of town. And you guessed it; I was out of my mind with fear as I conjured up all the terrible things I'd seen on TV. I was at first angry. Then scared. Then petrified. My younger son saw a fear in my eyes that silenced his incessant chattering. He heard the disgust in my voice at the idea that his brother could be so cavalier as to not let us know where he was.

Young Myles, as younger siblings are apt to do, picked up the lesson, and would never do this. He too feared for his brother's fate. Myles was not sure what fate would be better as my blood pressure escalated as each time I visited or called someone and there was no Jeremy. Frightened, I thought, "What had I done wrong? Had I not given proper instructions? How could I be so trusting in our neighborhood? I hear about it all the time. It would never happen to me. I've taught them responsibility. That's why I was so scared! Not that his mom would kill me, though perhaps I had not emphasized to them enough the importance of checking in.

Just before I thought I would have to call the police, I turned a corner, and up ahead, on the ground the fruit of my loins rolled over and with that infectious smile, grinned "Hi dad!" I was so relieved, I could not help the air that was released. But neither could I contain my anger as I spoke softly, ignored his new friends, and with such emphasis got his attention and never lost it as he walked in fear over to the car. I've always told my sons, when I'm at the point of bringing them close to God in this lifetime, I don't speak. They know when to keep quiet, and he was comatose, all the way home.

What did I do? Well, after reassuring him that if he wanted to remain a potential member of the local high school, he would never pull another stunt like the one he did on this Sunday, I took him inside. I took him inside and did what every dad who wants to be a hero to their son would do after realizing how precious life is, and how little we have to share. I hugged him. I hugged him so tight he told me he couldn't breathe. Then as every dad reading this should do, I looked him in the eyes and told him that the thought of life without him is more than I could bear. With tears in my eyes, I told him how scared I was, and made him promise to never ever put me through that again.

And dads, each of you who care should remember -- it's not what we do tomorrow that's important to our kids. It's what we do and tell them today. That's what helps us make boys into men, and men into heroes called dads.

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