checking in…

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Over the weekend, my parish hosted their annual 4-day festival and living four houses away from church grounds is both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because walking to and from the event is preferred, but also a curse because of weekend long loud music, different people coming through the neighborhood and idiots who drive on our lawns because their time is more important than following the right of way.

But I digress…

Before my first shift Thursday night, I handed both kids $20 and said, “Have fun, that’s it from me…make it last”. The boy fed himself all weekend from the money, the doll bought a ride pass and then finagled money out of her mother the rest of the weekend. Friday night when I arrived to pour beer, I found myself no longer scheduled to help, so I jumped over to the 50/50 ticket sales and walked around hoping to sell them. At one point, I stood at the identification table hoping to catch people as they entered the site and noticed the doll’s entourage of girls walk past me. The only thing wrong with the picture was the doll was not with them like she should have been. “Hey Natalia, is the doll with you?” Looking back at me she replied, “She should be….don’t worry, we’ll find her” She added when she noticed the doll wasn’t with them.

“Huh!” I thought to myself as I kept looking to see her in the crowd and failing. When my selling time came to an end, my husband caught up and accompanied me over to where the rides were located and was shot daggers by the doll as we approached. “Hey!” her father said with an easy tone and smile. “What do you want?” She asked clearly embarrassed we were looking for her. “I want you to check in with me which you haven’t done all day!” I said with a stern voice. Her demeanor changed almost immediately when she heard the concern in my voice. “Oh, I’m sorry.” She replied. “Your group of friends were walking through the food area and you were nowhere to be found…” I began. “I know, I was going on a ride with Nikki” She defended. “Regardless, you need to check in with me more often missy, or you can spend the rest of this weekend at home”. I drove the point home. “You’re right, I’m sorry and I’ll do that more often” She replied employing a conciliatory tone. “Alright, you girls have fun” I finished and my husband and I moved off.

“I was going for the good-natured approach,” My husband said as we walked away. “Uh huh no way. I want her to know how important checking in with us is–especially with the different element of people, this festival attracts” I explained and he agreed.

The next day, the doll left to hang out with a friend at the festival for the day. About two hours later my cell phone received a call from an unknown source and I decided to answer, rather than letting it go to voice mail. “Hello?” I said into the receiver. “Hi mom!” The doll replied. “Is this Amy’s phone?” I asked again. “Yes…” “So what do you want?” I said vaguely annoyed considering I had given her money to spend on a ride pass earlier in the day and feared she was looking for more. Instead, she replied. “I’m checking in…” “Oh, yes, good. Thanks doll” I replied. “Your welcome, do you have any food tickets?” She then asked. Seeing as I was so happy she had called and checked in I replied “Yes, come find me…” before hanging up. “Well, the good news is the doll checked in with me three times today…” I told my husband later that evening. “What’s the bad news?” He wondered. “The bad news is every check-in phone call seemed to cost me money. Funny how that worked.

Better broke and safe, rather than the alternative I suppose.

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