Sneaking Toys into the Visiting Room
Playing little cars with my dad in a prison visiting room was amazing and terrifying at the same time. My dad went to prison when I was 2 years old. So, I never had the opportunity to play with little cars, army men, action figures, Legos, or anything like with my dad like most kids do with their parents when they’re young.
It took us about 3 ½ hours to drive to the prison my dad was at – one way! As a little kid, it felt like forever. Even though I slept half the way, it was still a super long drive. And this was back in the day when there weren’t any cell phones, car VHS players, or iPods. I was expected to use my imagination to keep myself entertained. So, my mom would let my brother and I take some toys with us to help keep us busy. I would always take little cars, and Blake would take action figures.
One day, I decided I wasn’t going to leave my toy cars in the car.
I was going to sneak them in to play with daddy. I stuffed probably 3 cars in each pocket, which made my pants stick out like crazy, but I thought there was no way anyone would notice. My mom was distracted trying to freshen up from the long drive and making sure Blake and I weren’t running around like crazy. She didn’t notice my pockets until we got into the waiting room.
When she finally noticed, she asked me what I had in my pockets. I told her I was going to sneak my little cars in to play with Daddy. My mom didn’t make me take them out. She just said, “Ok.” Knowing that the guards would probably stop me from taking them in, she told me, “You know the guards might take them away, right? If they say you can’t take them in you can’t get upset, ok?” I told her I wouldn’t (see our post on teaching moments).
When it was time to go through the metal detector, my heart was pounding and my palms were sweaty, but I reassured myself they wouldn’t know I had the little cars. I got through the metal detector, and they let me in. I quickly ran to our table and was the giddiest little kid in the room.
When my dad walked into the room, I couldn’t wait to show him what I had snuck in!
He was so surprised that the guards let me bring in my toys! It was the first time I had ever gotten to play for real with my dad. I wanted that moment to last forever.
I remember a guard coming over to our table. She was always super nice to me and my brother. She asked if I could show her all the toys I brought in. Looking back, I’m sure my parents thought she was going to take them away, but she didn’t. She just told me how cool my little cars were. She was the coolest guard ever!
Now that I am a dad of two perfect little girls, a 2 year old and a 5 month old, I always try to be conscious to make time to let my 2 year old show off her toys and lead me around the house. Every time she grabs my finger and says, “Daddy, come on,” my heart melts, and I follow her anywhere and everywhere.
I know life is crazy! With work, bills, dishes, laundry (that it seems like you can never catch up on), and trying to just live, it’s easy to get distracted and forget to stop and embrace the precious little moments. But no one looks back on their life and wishes they’d have done more laundry (see Cathy’s blog on single parenting tips)!
Tips to enjoy the moment:
1. Leave your phone – When you get home, leave your phone with your keys for a little bit. I promise it will be worth it.
2. Lose the agenda – Kids have no agendas and do whatever comes to their minds. So, why not join them and have an unplanned night of adventures?
3. Read – Grab a book and live in the world of make-believe.
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