A father stands out on Bainbridge IslandSeptember 26th, 2011 by Steven Gardner
While covering Sunday’s Harvest Fair on Bainbridge Island I saw something that will mean a lot to fathers. It was the kind of thing that gets mothers mad at fathers, because, you know, this never happens to moms.
I was watching kids race down what looked like an irrigation pipe that had been split so that it would function as a slide. I was looking for another family to interview about the overall event, why they came, what they liked, etc. Standard stuff.
It was a well attended event, which meant lots of wandering people and kids darting off in different directions. You take your eye of your child for one second . . .
A man probably in his early 30s stood near the slide, raised his hands and just as calmly as possible asked loudly for everyone’s attention. He said his little girl was missing. “I’m sure she’s still here. I just can’t find her.” He then described her. She was about 3, blonde hair, wearing a green shirt and a pink jacket tied around her waist.
Within a couple minutes people started pointing of to the right of the slide, behind the cider press, where a little girl was walking with what looked like the father’s friend and his child. People applauded. One man said, “Now I can say I’m not the only father who has done that.”
The father and his little girl calmly got back together. She was a tiny thing, just as cute as a kitten, but clearly frightened. Dad picked her up and she held on with a little frown for quite a while before she was willing to walk on her own again.
I was impressed with this father. Men get a lot of criticism, much of it deserved, for their inclination to not ask for help. That clearly was not this guy’s weakness. Without any sense of embarrassment he made his case to big collection of people he didn’t know and asked for their help. What was on the line was too serious for petty concerns. I thought about interviewing him, but in the end I decided to leave him and his daughter alone.
Fault the guy for losing track of his daughter if you want. I don’t know of a parent who doesn’t have a similar story.
I have one that you’d have a hard time convincing my wife couldn’t have ended much worse than what I saw Sunday. I took my eye off my then 2-year-old son, Apollo, for about five seconds, once, and he fell into a swimming pool.
Another time I had driven about four or five miles before I realized that I had put my daughter, Sarah, in her car seat, but I hadn’t buckled her in. Both times I felt like I was probably the worst father in the world. I read police reports, so I know that’s not true, but when that stuff happens it’s hard for me to feel otherwise.