My wife and I had to go out of town.
While engaging in the NASA-level logistics required by travel,
our recently teened son volunteered to stay behind to watch the
house and menagerie, causing my wife and I to swoon after realizing
the money we'd save on pet sitters, house sitters and someone to
maintain surveillance on our Canadian neighbors.
I would like to report that at this juncture, as professional
parents, we sat down for a long talk with the kid about
responsibilities and curfews, but all I remember is arriving
breathless and poorly packed at O'Hare. We were somewhere over Ohio
when we looked at each other and realized what we'd done.
"I bet he's on fire right now."
"The dogs are gonna starve."
"It's OK, they'll probably eat his corpse."
We worried through a hideous parade of catastrophes until the
plane landed. I called him immediately.
"ARE YOU OK?"
"Dad, I'm in the middle of a game. When are you guys
This held us over through renting a car, but as soon as we were
on the road, hellish visions of disaster struck again. What if the
pilot light goes out? What if a plane crashes on our house? What if
he gets a tattoo? We pulled over.
"CHECK THE STOVE!"
"Dad, seriously. I'm in an Orc campaign. People depend on me.
You guys have to learn how to be on your own."
He was right. We had spent 14 years turning him into the
remarkably responsible young man he had become. He knew how to run
the house, take care of pets, order Chinese. Really, truthfully,
except for bartending and finances, our work was done. He was
So we did what any confident, highly accomplished parents do. We
forgot about him.
Two days of micro-seminars and macro-martinis later, I get a
"Dad, did you leave your office light on?"
"I think there's a burglar."
"If there was a burglar, the dogs would be-wow, the dogs are
really barking, aren't they?"
"I'm 99.9 percent sure it's OK, but I'm going upstairs to
"What if there is a burglar?"
"It's OK, I have a knife."
Abrupt signal loss.
As a parent, 800 miles away in the middle of nowhere with a bad
connection and overactive imagination, I can tell you I was jumpy.
My kid's shoe size is listed as Sasquatch. He ducks under doors. He
can pick up a car. However, he is unduly skittish. His reaction to
spiders, for instance, is insanely comical-like he's doing yoga
really fast. Plus he's clumsy.
So my vision of him confronting a burglar with a knife ended
with multiple self-inflicted stab wounds and a note from the crook:
"Dear parents, what is wrong with you people?"
I shot out of the conference into the rain, fear tears streaming
down my face, sealing contracts with various lesser deities,
apologizing to the great wheel of karma for leaving my only son
home alone, pointing my phone into the stratosphere for bars, when
he called back, his voice tight with urgency.
"DAD! DAD! OH MY GOD! DAD!"
"OH SWEET JESUS, BOY WHAT IS IT!?"
"There's no more frozen pizza!"
They say a sound was heard that night, in the far reaches of the
North Carolina hills near a conference center, a snarling,
depraved, nearly human wail, guttural, almost forming words. They
say it might be proof that Sasquatch lives.
I can assure you: not for long.
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.
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