Every parent's worst nightmare is losing their child; and even if it's only for a few minutes at the playground, the thought of them being alone in the world is terrifying. Joshua David Stein has written a piece that goes through a play-by-play of a concerned parent's mind when they can't find their child at the playground. This post was originally featured on one of our favorite sites, Fatherly.
Ah, look at that kid. So independent going down the slide by himself, negotiating personal dynamics solo. I am a great father, if I don't mind saying so myself.
Cool, five people liked my Instagram of him in the sandbox.
Jesus. My ex is Nantucket with her husband and kids. That's where we used to go. How the f*ck did she get 1,972 likes?
Where's my kid?
Oh. There he is.
I can not understand why the Times is still running anti-Vietnam War editorials. Seems a bit after the fact, but I guess it's good to agree on stuff.
Where's my kid?
Oh, he's probably on the other playground structure.
No. Ok. Swings?
Oh yeah. There he is.
Playgrounds have become a place for dads to look at their phones. Even more so than bathrooms. That's a cartoon waiting to happen. OK, I'm just gonna make a note of that in Google Keep.
Oh, a Slack from my boss. How do I seem available without seeming available right now?
"At the park with my kid, what's up?" Nailed it.
Where's my kid?
Ok. Ok. Ok.
Don't freak out. Don't freak out. Don't freak out.
F*ck. My wife is going to kill me if he's gone.
Jesus. Why would you think that first? Maybe you are a narcissist, like she says? What about your son?
WHERE IS MY SON?
What if he fell from the high pole thing, head first, and he's paralyzed forever?
What if he was snatched and will spend the rest of his life in a basement?
OK. Keep it together. Don't be that dad running around wild-eyed. Chances are it'll be okay.
Yeah, but on the off chance it isn't, it'll be REALLY BAD.
I mean, don't let your mind always go to the worst possible outcome. That's catastrophic thinking. Just keep cool. That's what's gotten you through your life so far. Don't freak out.
Oh no, the gate is open. What if he wandered out of the playground? What if he wandered into the street? Are those sirens? Are those motherf*cking sirens, F*CK!
Whew. The fire truck went by. Ok. But what if he's engulfed in flames?!?
You know, you spend your whole day congratulating yourself on being a watchful father yet one who allows his children to discover life themselves. But really you're just neglectful. How could you lose your kid, again?
A gaggle of mothers. Ok, maybe they've seen my kid. Urgh, this'll just reinforce their deep suspicion that all fathers are terrible. Also, maybe the one on the left in the Lulu Lemon is DTF.
Be cool. Be cool. Be cool.
Sh*t. No luck on either count.
I'm going to scream for him but try to keep the abject terror and panic out of my voice.
Quick walk. Quick walk. Don't run. Don't be that guy.
Does my son even know my full name? Can he pronounce it while crying? I bet no one would understand him.
My marriage won't survive this. My wife will blame me. For once, she'll be right. My son is gone and it's because of me.
He was so gentle, my son. He had so much potential. I loved him so much. But if I truly did love him, why couldn't I be bothered to just watch him?
Look at all these other fathers. They don't know how lucky they are to have kids. Take it from me, they're precious. Look up from your phones, fools, or you'll end up like me. Childless. Grieving.
I didn't realize the jungle gym had a tunnel structure.
Could it be?
My son is alive! He is just playing by himself in a quiet corner of the playground. He is not negotiating personal dynamics, but he's also not running into traffic so that's fine.
It was all in my head. I'm a wonderful father, look how much I cared. But I've learned my lesson, surely.
Wait, now she has over 2,000 likes? What the hell?