This is a story about Target. Or, more specifically: This is a story about Target’s parking lot. It’s also a story about fatherhood. Or, more specifically, it’s also a story about the inequities of parenthood. Anyway:
The twins and I went to Target one time. This was back when we were living in the townhome, which means they were about six-years-old, which means this is back when they were sprinting everywhere they needed to go and yelling everything they needed to say. But so we were at Target, and we were shopping for whatever junk it was that we were shopping for (I’d like to tell you that we were buying something meaningful like workbooks to practice math skills or maybe bottles of water to hand out to the people on the street but in all likelihood it was something stupid like candy or that slime in the plastic container that makes a fart noise when you press it in there).
But so we were at Target, and we were shopping or whatever junk it was that we were shopping for, and it was a fine time. We finished, and then we waited in line at the register, and then we paid, and then we left. It was, were I to guess, an extremely ordinary trip. And here’s where the thing happened that I think about a bunch:
As the twins and I were walking out of the store and through the parking lot toward my Jeep, a car pulled up next to us and stopped. “Excuse me,” said a small voice from behind a window that was being rolled down. I looked and saw that it was an older woman. “Me?” I asked. “Yes,” she said, and then she continued talking. “I just wanted to tell you how wonderful I think it is to see a dad and his son out and about spending time together.”
“Oh,” I said, and I instantly felt good about how noble and courageous of me it was to take my own children to a store. “Thanks.”
She smiled and rolled up her window and drove off and I stood there and tried to think if there had ever been anyone on the planet who was as good of a person as me. “Maybe Mother Teresa,” I considered. “Or LeBron James. Or Isaac Newton. Or Rosa Parks. They’re all probably in the top five with me.”
And that’s when I realized something. “Hold on a second,” I thought. “She said son. Singular. Not sons.”
And so I turned around. And I saw why she said what she said. Because only one of the twins was there. (We always walk with me in the front and them following behind me like ducks.) The other one was gone. He was, like, 40 feet away. He’d climbed into the bed of a pickup truck in the parking lot because that’s the kind of shit that six-year-olds do when you aren’t paying attention to them. A stranger was telling me how good of a dad I was literally at the same time that one of my unsupervised sons was proactively trying to get himself kidnapped.
Being a dad is easy.