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The Case of the Missing Child July 8, 2011

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, People.

Growing up, our station wagon had a third seat which flipped up and faced out the rear window.  The four of us took turns sitting in that coveted backward facing seat.

When folded flat, the back seat enclosed an empty space large enough to hide . . . a child.

In the early 60’s, as you may recall, children had almost no power ~ they were to be seen, not heard.  These powerless mini-beings enjoyed shifting the balance of power by messing with their parents’ heads.

By way of example:  we would take turns hiding in the crawl space under the backseat of the station wagon while our siblings shut the lid on us.  Then, as mom or dad put the car into reverse to back down the driveway, we’d exclaim, “Wait, Betsy’s not in the car.  Betsy’s not in the car.”

Mom or Dad would get out, come around, open the back hatch, lift the seat, find the missing child, return the child to topside (with a small pat on the backside), shut the rear hatch, and return to the driver’s seat to resume safe operation of the vehicle.

This game got old to my parents very quickly.  We, in contrast, continued to take great delight in playing The Case of the Missing Child.

One day, my mother was up front with her best friend Betty.  There were six children being transported in the wagon ~ the 4 of us and 2 of Betty’s.

As my mother started up the car, we called out, “Wait, Doug’s not in the car.”

Having played this game too many times to count, my mother just nodded knowingly, and started up the car.

We yelled again, “Mom, really, Doug isn’t in the car.”

She smiled at Betty and began backing out of the parking space at the store.

We tried again, “Mom, we are NOT kidding.  Doug got out of the car when you went into the store and he never got back into the car.”

She switched from reverse to drive and exited the parking lot, content in the knowledge that her youngest son was safely stowed under the rear seat.

At the first traffic light, a man pulled up beside her, pointed to the roof of the car, and mouthed something.

My mother rolled down her window to find out what he was trying to say.

He repeated his question, still pointing to the roof, “Did you know that you have a kid on your roof?”

How do you, as a parent, answer THAT question?

My mother pulled over to the side of the road, S-L-O-W-L-Y, and got out of the car to inspect the roof.

And there was Doug.

In all his petrified glory.

He had survived the short trip out of the parking lot by hanging on to the roof rack for dear life.  My mother had to pry his fingers loose from the cross bars to get him off the roof and back into the car.

You almost never hear stories like this anymore.

I have never had to ride up to a soccer mom driving a mini-van with five children strapped in the back to ask whether she knows that she has a sixth child on the roof.

That sort of thing just doesn’t happen in these days of safety seats and mandatory seatbelt laws.

Transporting children sure has changed.

* * * * *

No rules.  Just write!

What about you?  Any favorite childhood memories that would NOT happen today due to increased safety concerns or advanced technology?

Related posts:  Weekend Theme ~ Childhood (Sidey’s Weekend Theme) * Write About Your Earliest Memory (WP Prompt) * Childhood Haiku (Adee) *Hello, Mrs. Telephone (Sidey) * Childlike (Kate Shrewsday) * On Early Memories & Intuition (Mirth & Motivation) * Garden Sculpture (Yellow House Cafe)


1. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide - July 8, 2011

I can’t wait to show my wife this. Her parents had a ’78 Impala and one time they did accidentally leave her behind in a store, not on the roof rack. Great story!

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

Thanks, Rufus. This memory always makes me smile!

If you or your wife have the time and the inclination, join the Weekend Theme crew . . . link above. 😀

2. Richard W Scott - July 8, 2011

Love it! Great story.

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

Thanks, Rik!

The more the merrier ~ join Sidey’s weekend challenge with a post on “Childhood.” For details, click the link above.

3. Barbara Gunn - July 8, 2011

Those were the days! Loved the story!

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

Thanks, Barbara. Childhood memories have a special place in our heart.

If you want to join in the FUN, check out Sidey’s post for details. She posts a different theme each week. 😀

4. Naomi Estment - July 8, 2011

Classic! Best ever lesson not to cry wolf!

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

Doug had a knack for getting into (and out of) precarious situations . . . he is now an electrical engineer. 😀

5. Maggie - July 8, 2011

Seems like those days were a lot more fun!

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

In many ways, the “good old days” were more fun.

People connected with friends and neighbors while engaging in simple pleasures . . . like jumping through sprinklers or playing hopscotch.

And when we “laughed out loud” . . . people joined us.

6. barb19 - July 8, 2011

The good old days – we seemed to have more fun than kids do today!
Great story!

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

I agree. We spent entire summers outside: wading through streams, playing hopscotch & jump rope, biking, hiking, running through sprinklers, etc.

7. Booksphotographsandartwork - July 8, 2011

My daughter is right, this is a very funny story. It made me think of neighbors I had as a child. They always drove a station wagon and I do remember at least one of them having that backwards facing seat. The mom’s name was Betty and she had three kids.

nrhatch - July 8, 2011

Thanks, Linda. We had TONS of FUN in that station wagon ~ especially on long trips when we slept in the back while mom and dad took turns behind the wheel. And we survived!

8. jannatwrites - July 9, 2011

I love that story. Just imagining the her reaction at finding a kid on the roof makes me laugh.

My brother got a little shock once when he stuck a knife in an electrical socket (only did that once.) That wouldn’t happen today because those annoying plastic covers make it impossible (well, until they decide to pry them off with said knife ;))

Yep, those were the good ‘ol days!

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

You should link up with Sidey’s challenge this week . . . sharing a funny story about your boys! I’m sure you would have us rolling in the aisles. 😀

9. SidevieW - July 9, 2011

eeek!!!!!! I would also have nearly died of fright. Children somehow know how to investigate the dangerous stuff, don’t they?

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

Some more than others. Doug took apart mechanical and electrical equipment with some degree of regularity. He also dismantled the farmer’s rolling sprinkler! His inquisitive nature makes his career as electrical engineer a perfect fit.

We each have our hidden talents.

10. adeeyoyo - July 9, 2011

Hahaha, reminds me of the story of the child who cried ‘Wolf!’… which I and my siblings grew up with.

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

That’s exactly how my parents reacted after a time . . . as if we were the “boy” who cried Wolf. They stopped taking us seriously . . . even when the situation grew serious.

But Doug survived to tell the tale . . . so all is well. 😀

11. kateshrewsday - July 9, 2011

Nancy, I amm going off to tell that story to ALL my friends. It is BRILLIANT(unless, of course, you happen to have been Doug)

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

Thanks, Kate. Doug probably got a secret thrill out of the notoriety involved in being the only one of us to ride down the road on top of the car. But at the time, he was a bit scared.

12. CMSmith - July 9, 2011

Oh my goodness. Terrifying. But you told it in a funny way. Good job. We had one of those station wagons too. We never once thought to hide under the back seat. Hmmm.

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

Ooh . . . a lost opportunity! :mrgreen:

I don’t remember which of us first thought to hide under there . . . whoever it was probably wanted a respite from the other three.

13. Tilly Bud - July 9, 2011

Hilarious! Is it okay if I print this one out to put in my notebook? I love it.

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

Absolutely! Print away . . . 😀

Tilly Bud - July 9, 2011

Thanks 🙂

14. misswhiplash - July 9, 2011

My first visit to you blog..I like what I see..so I shall be calling again to read some more hilarious happenings.

regards P

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

Thanks, misswhiplash. I’ll have to pull some more FUNNY anecdotes out of “the vault.” 😉

15. Sandra Bell Kirchman - July 9, 2011

Great story, Nancy! The only one I can think of was when my son, Tom (now 44) was about two, our neighbors next door were having their back yard refinished with fresh soil, preparatory to laying sod.

Tom was watching from the dining room window while standing on a chair. He was literally jumping up and down with excitement. In his little two-year-old mind, he had never seen such a sight.

“Mommy, mommy, come quick!” he hollered, pointing. “Dump truck poopied!”

That would have been circa 1969. I laughed until I cried and hugged him for being so clever. After all, if you had just seen, for the first time in your life, a bunch of brown stuff exiting the back chute of a truck, what would you think?

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

That is hilarious, Sandra!

He should have been on Art Linkletter’s Show . . . Kid’s Say The Darndest Things! 😀

Sandra Bell Kirchman - July 9, 2011

I loved that show! He was so good with the kids. He was a Canadian, born in, I think, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan.

Thanks for correcting my typo 😳

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

Funnier and more innocent that America’s Funniest Home Videos (which often seem “staged” to me).

I just checked ~ you’re right. a born and bred Canadian who lived to the ripe old age of 97! (July 17, 1912 – May 26, 2010)

nrhatch - July 9, 2011

16. Tinman - July 10, 2011

This is a brilliant story. I drove home from a cricket match once with my cricket boots on the roof, that’s the nearest I’ve ever got, but your story is hilarious.

nrhatch - July 10, 2011

I’ve seen people driving down the road with untethered briefcases and purses on the roof . . . but never a kid. 😀

17. ElizOF - July 10, 2011

Poor Doug… How is he doing? Does he talk about that incident or has he blocked it out of his head… Those were the days and I don’t want to ask what your mom said when you got home… Great story! 😆

nrhatch - July 10, 2011

Doug’s cool. He’s an engineer in Colorado with 4 kids of his own. I don’t recall what mom said when we got home. I’m guessing that she and my dad had a conversation with the four of us BEFORE the next road trip. 😉

18. therealsharon - July 10, 2011

Wow! This is hilarious…Did your mom start checking the roof AND the backseat every time you said a kid wasn’t in the car from that point on?

nrhatch - July 10, 2011

She probably had us count off before putting the car in gear . . . 1 . . . 2 . . . 3 . . . 4 😀

19. earlybird - July 10, 2011

What a great story!

From time to time in France during the summer holidays, stories are reported of people getting into their cars in motorway service stations and driving off leaving one member of the family behind.

nrhatch - July 10, 2011

Surgeon General’s Warning: Car trips with young children may be hazardous to parent’s mental health. Be alert for frazzled nerves, scattered thought processes, general malaise, and confusion. 😀

20. Mike Patrick - July 11, 2011

My brother, sister and I used to turn around backward in the back seat and set there cross-legged until Mom had to put on the brakes. Then we would tumble backward onto the floorboard, giggling like idiots. There were no seatbelts in those days.

nrhatch - July 11, 2011

Yes! I remember doing that too. Good thing kids are made of rubber or none would survive to adulthood. 😀

21. libraryscene - July 12, 2011

What a fabulous story! Oh my…car surfing and riding in the back of pickup trucks with the gate down….Yep, one just doesn’t live like THAT anymore. Thanks for the midnight smile, Nancy ~

nrhatch - July 12, 2011

Thanks, LS! I loved your contribution to this week’s theme as well. Childhood memories & lawn statuary. 😉

22. sarsm - September 7, 2011

Hilarious. Now.

When I was pregnant with my first, a friend’s mother told me that when her first child was just a few days old she nipped out to the shops and left the baby outside the shop in her pram, as you did then.

She returned home a while later and had this feeling she’d forgotten something… Yes you’ve guessed it, the baby and the pram were still outside the shop!

nrhatch - September 7, 2011

Oh, my . . . it’s tough being a parent sometimes. Too little sleep, and too much to remember. 😆

23. Perfecting Motherhood - September 7, 2011

I just saw your link from Sarsm’s Blog. This is hilarious, and if if was today, your mom would have been arrested!

nrhatch - September 7, 2011

Glad you enjoyed. I expect you’re right . . . we had more “autonomy” (and less government regulation) back then. Parents didn’t have to buy special car seats or buckle kids snuggly into seatbelts. We roamed free from front to back seats ~ often clamoring over the seat while driving. :shock:.

Perfecting Motherhood - September 8, 2011

Growing up in France seatbelts in the back weren’t mandatory for quite a while so we didn’t wear them until I was probably 9 or 10. One day we went up in the mountains and got involved in a major car pile-up because of the icy road. We slammed on the brakes and my sister, who was probably 3 was sitting in the middle seat. She went flying right between the two front seats. The only reason why she didn’t go through the windshield was because my mother put her arm to stop her. Very scary memory and I completely believe in the safety of seatbelts.

nrhatch - September 8, 2011

Oh, I agree with you ~ seatbelts and crib regulations and bike helmets are all great ideas.

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