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THE BIG MOVE
© Steve Kristof, all rights reserved
You’d think I would have known something about this. My wife was similarly out of the loop. We simply should have been informed in advance, considering that this would be a major change for our family. As it turns out, we recently learned that we’ll soon be moving about 1200 miles from where we presently call home.
Now I know this happens pretty regularly in the corporate world. You know the drill; you get a seemingly casual note sometime around an hour before you leave work on a Friday afternoon. The note says, “Hi! Could I see you for just a few minutes before you leave today? There’s a little something I want to float by you. Thanks!”
It all seems so routine and nonchalant that you don’t even think about going in with a defensive posture. You’re all out there without any armor and you have no idea that you’re about to be hit with a ton of bricks. I think the whole process is designed that way to avoid any possibility of clever arguments, and boy does it work. A few minutes into the ambush, your boss tells you that he and the company as a whole respect your talents a great deal and want to recognize and reward you in a much more meaningful way. (There’s the butter.) While you’re feeling all warm and fuzzy, the words, “...we’ll take care of the whole move so you and your family won’t have to worry about packing...” are slipped into the conversation with shrewd precision. That’s it, it’s done.
While that may be a common scenario for a lot of people, it’s not exactly what happened in my case. There was no late Friday meeting, nor did I walk into a stealthily calculated trap. The meeting occurred in the most unlikely of environments, a movie theatre. And the participants were not the usual subordinate – superior duo; no, that’s not at all how it happened. Instead, my wife and I found out about our upcoming move from someone we barely know. In fact, it was at a kindergarten birthday party, of all places.
My wife was in the process of bringing our daughter to one of the many kiddy birthday parties that have become as much a part of the calendar as are Saturdays and Sundays. When I think back to how parties were done when I was a kid, I can’t believe what parents endured! Birthday parties were invariably held at the birthday boy’s house (girls were invited to girls’ birthdays and boys went to boys’ birthdays and that was that), and we basically sang the birthday song, smiled for some pictures, ate cake and then ran around and screamed at the top of our lungs like little monsters for a few hours. Those were the days… (of mom’s endless cleaning before, during and after the party and of dad’s arduous repair of dozens of broken household items in the party’s aftermath).
For obvious reasons, these days, most sane parents opt to hold their kids’ birthday parties at places like laser tag arenas, bowling alleys, bubble-ball palaces, movie theatres and the like. This party was no different. The moment she entered the movie theatre for her friend’s party, a little boy made a bee-line and ran toward our daughter while shouting her name and excitedly holding his arms out for a hug. It was as if the little guy hadn’t seen her for months. It was during this display of affection that his mother approached my wife. Sporting a look of concern, she asked, “When are you moving?” Her words abruptly wiped her son’s gleeful expression from the boy’s face.
Being unable to make any sense out of her question, my wife said, almost apologetically, “I’m sorry, I think you’ve mistaken me for someone else!”
The little boy’s mom said confidently, “No, I know who you are – I’ve seen you in the school yard and my son is always talking about your daughter! He told us earlier in the week about your relocation. He’s so upset that your daughter is moving away that he even brought it up at the dinner table the last few nights. I’ve never seen him look so distressed!”
Confusion reigned for at least a moment. As my wife recounted to me later, she thought at first that maybe this woman had the inside scoop on something that we hadn’t yet learned; something that one of us would likely hear more about in a formal meeting sometime in the near future.
At just that moment, the birthday girl’s mom joined in the conversation. She echoed the first mom’s concern, asking just when we’ll be moving to Florida. Before my wife had a chance to muster a response, the second mom continued, “Ever since your daughter told the class that her family was moving to Florida, it’s all we’ve heard about at home!”
Hmm. Florida? Moving there? News to us! Perhaps my four year-old landed a new six-figure job. That must be it; she just hadn’t gotten around to telling us about it. Gee, I wonder when we can go visit?
So, how did all of this get started? Apparently my father planted the seed. A few days before my daughter made her apparently very public announcement, she told her ‘Papa’ that she missed being away in Florida during our vacation the previous summer. My dad responded quickly without thinking about the consequences, chortling, “Well then, why don’t we all just move down there?” Innocent enough, but apparently now we’ve got a bit of explaining to do to the school. Go Figure!
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