A Stone Man Production
Your twelve year old son, Charles (Charley), eats, drinks, plays and likely sleeps soccer. It’s “his life” he will tell you. You and your spouse aren’t worried he over does his soccer mania because Charley is an Honors student, a First Class Boy Scout, has lots of good friends and sings in the Boys’ Choir at your religious institution. He’s a dream to parent and even has the courtesy to grace you with the opportunity to warm his butt for real every once and a while, going way beyond the daily stingoors and occasional fun spanks he gets along with a yearly birthday “whacking”.
Charley is soccer driven this summer, more than usual, as he wants to make his middle school’s “A” Soccer team in the fall. Everyone (coaches, friends, teachers, friends’ parents, my spouse and me, etc.) knows he’s a shoe in, as does he, he says anyway. He just wants to be the best he can be and loves to practice so it’s no surprise that when the three of us head off to the beach Charley has his soccer ball with him.
You arrive early and stake out a good location for the day. You and Charley kick the ball around for a while until other families, and kids, arrive. To give your son the freedom that a responsible twelve year old deserves, the two of you walk up and down the long beach from your “home” site and look for natural markers setting the boundaries in which Charley will be free to roam.
You return to your “home” and Charley joins the kids in and out of the water, with and without the ball. After a while, you see Charley, alone, working on ball control as he moves back and forth between the marker points. Just before noon, he comes to you and asks your permission to go beyond the boundaries so he can join in on an impromptu soccer match with middle and high school aged boys and girls. You give it and Charley disappears for a couple of hours returning to you exhausted, starving and full of joyful talking about the match.
Once fed, your son is ready to go again and starts practicing his ball control by working it between his feet, knees and head trying to keep it from touching the ground. You watch him go back and forth several times before returning to the book that you very much want to finish.
More than an hour passes when your parent sense kicks in and you realize that neither you nor your spouse has felt Charley’s presence for a while. You both rise and actively look for your son, and seeing no sign of him you set off in opposite directions going beyond both markers, each returning empty handed. As your concern elevates, you each set off again in opposite directions to ask other beach goers if they have seen your son lately. Most remember seeing “the boy with the ball in the air” several times but aren’t sure of when the last time was. Once more you go beyond the marker but quickly run out of people who’ve seen Charley so you turn back to chase after your spouse.
The two of you meet up by the other marker as your spouse is returning with information that the people on that side can remember seeing Charley for quite some distance. You both take off on a quick step and hope you’re pursuing your son.
A half hour later, still no Charley and panic on the rise, you encounter a Beach Patrol Officer (one of only two who are randomly about the miles of open beach) and explain the situation. She remembers seeing a boy with a soccer ball who fits Charley’s description and as she has only been on that half of the beach all day, the search area has blessedly shrunk. She makes a call to her partner and then a general call to all Police Patrol Officers before turning her four-wheeler back up the beach to search. You and your spouse follow on foot.
Three quarters of an hour later you hear the sound of a four-wheeler coming towards you from the search area and look to see the young lady officer waving her hand in the air. Charley has been found… safe, scared, a bit chilled but unharmed… way down the beach from your “home site”.
You and your spouse hug and then plunk yourselves on the ground before you fall down from relief.
The Officer explains that Charley had been on a roll with keeping the ball in the air and had failed to take note of the marker when he passed it. Once he realized he’d gone beyond the boundaries he wasn’t sure in which direction he’d been traveling. He guessed wrong, so he’d been going in the wrong direction in search of you for most of the time he was missing. Not finding anyone he felt comfortable asking for help, Charley had finally left the beach and found a small convenience store where he asked the cashier to call the police. The police arrived, matched him to the call she had made and called her. They said they would meet us in the parking area where our car was.
Charley is waiting for you, with the police, when you arrive. He runs to you and jumps up into your arms wrapping his legs around your middle like he used to when little…. Only now his legs can actually lock behind your back. Your spouse joins in the hug and Charley starts talking while you three squeeze the life into each other.
“I know I did wrong an’ was way out of bounds an’ I know I’m gonna be punished an’ I’ve got no problem with that ‘cause I know I earned it but could you just hug me for awhile longer an’ then you can do whatever you’ve got to?”
The police ask you to give them a call as soon as you can and they leave. You walk back to your “home site” with Charley in your grasp all the way. The beach is empty.
Charley is YOUR boy…. What do you do now?