Dad deals with 'Home Alone' syndrome

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

It's tough being a dad, particularly when you have a brain cramp.

How else can I explain forgetting to pick up Bailey one morning from a local occupational therapy center where she is working to strengthen the muscles of her eyes.

I managed to get our 9-year-old to therapy that morning and I dropped off my 13-year-old, Becca, at her theater workshop.

But somehow I failed to go back and pick Bailey up and take her to vacation Bible school.

I did manage to run some errands for my mother as I later pointed out to my wife, Joni. But she still found it hard to understand how I managed to completely forget to pick up Bailey.

Fortunately, a colleague of Joni's happened to come upon the tragedy and dropped Bailey off at vacation Bible school.

I didn't realize I'd forgotten my daughter until I talked to Joni two hours after I was supposed to pick up Bailey.

And you thought those "Home Alone" movies had no basis in reality.

Of course, the movie family had more than two kids. In the initial "Home Alone" movie, the family flies off for a holiday in France, leaving behind a resourceful 8-year-old.

But at least he was stranded at home.

At any rate, it's best not to forget your child.

There's really no good way to explain such action other than to tell people your brain was abducted by space aliens.

"How could you forget me?" a tearful Bailey asked when I showed up at church to beg forgiveness.

By then, she had told the sorry tale to all her friends and anyone else who would listen.

"I had a brain cramp," I confessed. But it was clear that Bailey didn't view that as a sufficient explanation.

She was still having trouble with the unfortunate incident even after I took her to lunch at her favorite Italian restaurant. But at least she was dealing with the tragedy on a full stomach.

She gave me a bunch of hugs even though it was obvious she still wondered about my mental state.

Joni said little to me about the incident. When your wife doesn't even talk to you about it, you know you did something that can't easily be explained away.

I remember a comic routine by Bill Cosby in which he talks about trying to communicate with a child after school. "Did you have your head with you all day?" he asks.

In my case, I think I misplaced my head for a few hours.

At least, I didn't fly off to France like the "Home Alone" family.

Of course, the forgetfulness was funny on film. But in real life, there's nothing funny about it unless you consider the fact that Bailey has tickled my feet a lot lately as punishment for my botching my family taxi chore.

I thought perhaps Joni would take over all the family taxi duties -- she does most of them anyway. But she wasn't ready to let me plead total incompetence.

So I still take Bailey to her eye therapy sessions. Only now my daughter reminds me not to forget her.

I appreciate the reminder, but I tell her not to worry. Bailey just smiles at me and holds my hand a little tighter.

It's not that she's worried about getting lost. She's worried I'll lose my brain again.

But I don't think that will happen -- not while she's holding on.

Mark Bliss is a staff writer at the Southeast Missourian.

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