Tyrel was only two-years-old when I brought him and his older brother, Trent, along with me to Alexandria’s Wal-Mart. I momentarily let go of his hand as I reached for a book and he scooted off around the corner to hang out with his brother in the video game section … or so I thought.
A couple of minutes later I walked around the corner to get them, but only Trent was standing there.
“Where’s your brother?” I asked the kindergartener.
“I don’t know,” he quickly replied, sending a terror-filled shiver down my spine.
The two of us scurried through the aisles looking for Tyrel as nightmarish thoughts rushed through my head. I chastised myself for even letting go of his hand. The few minutes he was AWOL were horrifying to say the least.
After what seemed like hours, but was actually only a handful of minutes, an announcement broke out over the Public Address system. “We are looking for the missing parents of a blonde haired boy. He is waiting for you at the customer service counter.”
I let out a sigh of relief while other Wal-Mart shoppers chuckled. At the time I took it that they felt superior to me, but I now realize they were just glad it wasn’t them. During that brief stroll to the front of the store I felt as self-conscious as a college girl leaving a fraternity house in the morning after a wild night of excess partying.
On the bright side, Tyrel came out of the incident unscathed, and I did learn that if something like this happens you should immediately tell an employee and the store will announce a Code Adam and all of the employees will join in on the search.
Throughout the years Tyrel has taught me many lessons. He taught me persistence when he lost his class election by three votes and instead of giving up he ran again the next year and won.
He taught me that it’s okay to be who you are and not to apologize for doing so. While in the third grade we brought him to the Renaissance Festival and he decided to dress like a Medieval Knight. I admired his willingness to put together a makeshift costume by himself. His clothing actually looked pretty authentic but then he wanted a shield. So he printed a crest off from the internet and taped it on to a plastic lid from a clothing bin. It looked like a third grader made it, but he was proud. Once we got to the Festival an adult dressed in an authentic costume started to mock his plastic shield.
“How scary, a plastic shield! How’s that going to protect you?”
I have to admit I was a little taken aback, but before I could say anything, Tyrel hit the man with an uppercut square into the family jewels. As the man dropped to his knees Tyrel replied, “I’ll bet you wish you had a plastic nut cup. That would have protected you.”
Tyrel also taught me how rewarding it is to do something for others. When he was a freshman there was a senior girl whose date had to cancel the last minute because of health issues. When Tyrel found out about this he offered to take the girl even though he had never even met her. Although he was scared to death about going to prom, he went. Thus allowing this young girl was able to attend her senior prom.
My son will be graduating from Cambridge-Isanti High School in a couple of weeks and he is going to be attending college in Moorhead next fall. It’s time for me to once again let go of his hand. This is scary for a parent but I learned my lesson a long time ago in a Wal-Mart. He’s going to be fine.
Chad Filley is a local comedian. More information at www.chadfilley.com.