When five years old, I had a thing for Captain Crunch cereal; fortunately for me, my parents would rarely buy the sugar-laden garbage. Finally, sensing a fatigued mother one morning, I browbeat Mom until she relented to my pleas to allow me to go to the local supermarket to buy a box of Captain Crunch. My mother stayed home with my napping baby sister while monitoring my progress from a front window.
Mom instructed me to walk down our long, steep front driveway, look both ways, and only then cross the road to the grocery store. Once at the front register, I was to ask the checkout lady for the cereal.
It went like clockwork except for one minor glitch: from Mom’s perspective, I never exited the store. Mom followed my progress from our front window, never losing sight of me except for about a twenty-foot stretch blocked by a tree at the store’s entrance.
After 15 minutes without seeing me, Mom grew concerned. She left my sleeping sister in the house and dashed to the grocery store. The register lady had not seen me. Mom went into a panic, ran back home, and called the police in what was the first of several all-points bulletins issued for my whereabouts during childhood.
To this day, I remember entering the store and seeing that the register lady was busy with a customer. Opting to improvise, I struck out for the store’s cereal section, only to learn that they were out of Captain Crunch after getting there.
Not ready to accept defeat, I decided to try the next closest grocery store, about half a mile away on the other side of a crowded thoroughfare without a crosswalk. I walked to the busy street and waited patiently for the traffic to clear when my surprised father and a fellow teacher drove by.
My father’s friend asked: “Hey, Bruce, isn’t that one of yours?” referring to me. Always quick to see the humor in an unlikely situation, the phrase became a lifelong joke between my mother—and my father, when he was alive—and me.
Having children is a labor of enduring love. I made my parents’ lives hell, exercising, at times, near-malignant inconsideration. More to follow on that topic in future blogs.
Mom—and Dad, if you can see this—I am incredibly grateful to have had you as parents. You allowed me the space to enjoy a life filled with challenge and, yes, danger. I’m sincerely sorry for the many disruptions to the family. My affection and love for you both continue to fill my life with joy.
A child’s love, fueled by candid regard for authenticity, is a parent’s greatest treasure, patient in purpose, nurturing the bond that is family.