Saturday, August 6, 2011

I'm going to steal a child

We were on vacation and took the girls down to the hotel pool for a swim.  There was a father there with his daughter and she quickly made friends with our girls.  Within minutes of seeing that our children were happily engaged with one another, he gave my husband and me a knowing look, and disappeared out the door before we could even blink back an S-O-S code of, “Wait!  What do we know?!”  Maybe it was a phone call, maybe a beer run, but he didn’t come back for half an hour.  It seemed exceptionally trusting.  Perhaps he was lulled into a sense of security by the fact that we apparently already had two little girls of our own, but we thought it would be funny to tell him that we had been collecting little girls at hotel pools from Davenport to Sioux Falls.

It amazes me how often young children befriend us at places like the playground and the zoo, with no apparent guardian in site.  They tell us their names, birthdays, phone numbers, and social security numbers with complete abandon.  When we play games with our kids, they beg for a turn; when we break out snacks, they sit down for their portion.  We wonder how far we could take it before someone would finally approach us and suggest that we give them back their child.

I know its prejudiced, but I usually, mentally, attribute these orphans to that guy hanging out in the shade by the shelter, talking loudly into his Bluetooth earpiece.  Even when they aren’t neglecting their kids, the guys at the playground with their Bluetooth sets bug the crap out of me.  What are you signaling your kids when you take them out to play with your phone attached to your ear?  “Hey, kids, let’s go have a great time together!  Unless, of course, someone calls my phone.  I won’t even have to look down and see who’s calling, because I already know I would rather talk to a telemarketer than play with you.”

Of course, I admit, I’m not perfectly attentive to my kids, every moment they’re at the playground.  I’m sure someone has at some time seen me checking to see if my witty status posted when I should have been commending my daughter for her exceptional cart-wheeling (or preventing her from cart-wheeling down some piece of equipment that could have killed her).  But I generally prefer spending time with my kids over beer runs, phone calls, or YouTube.  I hope that is what I generally communicate to them – and that you do the same for your kids.  Because someday one of these little playground orphans is going to be too darn adorable to cut loose, and I’m going to take him home.

When his parents found him, they were amazed. His mother said, "Son, why have you done this to us? Your father and I have been very worried, and we have been searching for you!" Luke 2:48

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