My 5-year-old’s face was both flush and pale at the same time and I could tell she was making every effort not to freak out.
“I’m trying not to freak out right now,” she yelled, trailing by about 20 yards.
It’s good she wasn’t overcome with panic because I was silently freaking the hell out and it’s never helpful when everyone is losing composure.
The 8-year-old caught up to both us and offered “This probably isn’t the best time to bring this up but she shouldn’t have brought her bunny with her in the first place.”
My daughter shot him a look that might have melted steel.
“Not the time, dude.”
He trailed behind for the rest of the run across the park.
I’m a volunteer coach for The Kid’s lacrosse team. I offered to help after his first season.
At that point, the two coaches were running other teams and both had kids at higher levels. They were just trying to fill in because no one else would.
Going into the first season, I knew nothing about lacrosse. After the first full season as a bleacher dad, I graduated up and knew next-to-nothing about the sport.
I offered up my time to coach to spend more time around my son and because I figured a warm body was better than no coaches at all.
Now in my second season of coaching, I’m a little more confident in my knowledge of the game so long as no one asks me any questions about
- the rules
- how to grow a sweet lax mullet
While The Kid and I practiced on one end of the field, the 5-year-old joined the Little Laxers program for the first time. She was quietly sitting in the bleachers, they asked if she wanted to play, and she said yes. I was incredibly proud of her.
After packing up the equipment and waiting for the last kid to leave we through our stuff into the trunk.
“Where’s your coloring stuff and your bunny?” I asked.
She froze in the realization she’d left the bag with her best friend on the bleachers.
These are the bleachers we’d been sitting on. I would remember seeing a bag, especially a bag I knew belongs to my kid.
Maybe it fell. Maybe I missed it.
We trotted back and found nothing. That’s when we all came to the realization that the bunny was MIA.
Across the park, the town hosted its annual community day. The league puts up a table to recruit new players. The other two amigos and I booked it over to the farthest park area to find the coaches that just finished up with the little laxers.
“I’m sure someone grabbed the bag and bunny by mistake and the coaches are holding it for us,” I assured her even though I knew in my heart it was a god damn long shot.
I explain the catastrophe to the four people, two women and two men, and every single face flashed back the same expression.
“Oh. fuck. you. poor. bastard.”
They did everything they could to make her feel better, including let her take multiple treats from the candy dish that tricks kids into walking over to the lacrosse table.
“One of the other parents probably picked up the bag by mistake. Once they realize their error, they’ll contact the coaches or find the owner.”
I told her this because I wanted to believe it myself but by that point, I was picturing a night of uncontrollable crying because bunny was gone, possibly forever. And on top of that, SHE’D also be crying.
On the sad walk back to the car we ran into a mom. Her son and my son are friends, and oddly enough, we’d just hung out that morning for a playdate. She could tell something was crushing our unified good mood from earlier in the day.
I explain the saga.
She pauses, looks into the air, then over her shoulder and back at me.
“You know…I just saw a bag similar to that description. It was over by the bathrooms.”
It couldn’t be my daughter’s bag. We were nowhere near the bathrooms. But I said thanks and took the kids to go check it out anyway.
The Kid ran far ahead, slightly out of sight, then back in a sprint holding the bag in one hand and bunny in the other.
For the first time in about a half hour, we all took a breath.
Now I don’t know exactly what happened, but based on what I do know, here’s a guess – either a parent or kid grabbed the bag thinking it belonged to their family. After walking all the way across the park, and realizing their error, they went back to the lacrosse fields to find us with a bag obviously belonging to a little girl in their possession.
They said “this isn’t ours!” and left the bag with a stuffed animal on the closest bench even though they KNOW the contents belong to a child. A child that one of their own kids was sharing a field with for the last hour.
I learned my lesson. Bunny stays in the car or back at the house.
She learned her lesson. Bunny stays in the car or back at the house.
The Kid learned his lesson. Don’t talk when the rest of the family is internally losing their shit.
I hope other parents learn a lesson from this story. Be a good parent. To ALL kids.
Go the extra step in every situation. Be a good person. Put your kid in the shoes of another and act accordingly.
Most of all, own up to your mistakes, especially when they’re accidental.
Changing the world starts with changing the way you react to your world.
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