Do you know where your children are?

During the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s, TV viewers in America regularly heard this public service announcement: “It’s 10 p.m. Do you know where your children are?”

It was a very effective announcement, causing millions of people to frantically search for their children, looking in as many places as they could during the commercial breaks. Some of them found their children on the street, others tracked them down in the neighbor’s yard, and a few were surprised to discover, after reluctantly getting off their couches, that they had been accidentally sitting on their children.

“Oh, there you are, Matthew. Didn’t I tell you to get to bed by 9 p.m.”

“I tried to, Dad, but I couldn’t move. You were watching Monday Night Football and didn’t hear me. And when I shouted, ‘Mom, I’m stuck on the couch,’ I heard her yell from the bedroom, ‘Yeah, like father, like son.'”

The public service announcement may have seemed unusual to some viewers, but the question it asked — “Do you know where your children are?” — is perhaps the most basic one for parents to answer. After all, how can you feed your baby and change her diaper if you don’t know where she is?

Photo by Kim Love

Thankfully, most babies do not just walk away from their parents — they crawl away. Parents can usually catch them before they get to the street. But every now and then, a baby does escape and newspapers print headlines such as “Baby Crawls to Street, Tries to Thumb a Ride,” “Cabbie Takes Baby to Police Station, Became Concerned After Baby Refused to Pay Fare,” and “Lady Gaga Denies Baby is Hers, Claims All Babies Say ‘Gaga.'”

In May 2010, a bus driver in San Antonio, Texas, found a 14-month-old baby girl in the middle of the street around midnight. “We had the door open, but there’s a screen door,” the baby’s mother told TV station WOAI. “I had the lock on it, but I don’t know, maybe I didn’t put it all the way and she just snuck out.”

That should serve as a warning to all mothers of babies. Your baby may look helpless and innocent, but behind that angelic face is a devious mind that may actually, at this very moment, be making plans to sneak out at midnight!!! So make sure you lock your doors and put the keys in a place where the baby can’t retrieve them, such as under your husband on the couch.

Babies aren’t easy to control, but wait till they grow up. That’s when it becomes a real challenge to keep track of them. Just ask British Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, who recently returned home from a family lunch at a country pub, only to realize they had left their 8-year-old daughter Nancy at the pub. Thankfully, Nancy was okay. She waited patiently for her parents to return, ignoring the handful of men who sidled up to her and asked, “Do you come here often, my love?”

An important skill for parents — whether they have three children like the Camerons or half a dozen like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt — is knowing how to count. But counting didn’t help the Israeli couple who flew to Paris on a family vacation in 2008, leaving one of their five children behind at Jerusalem airport.

Husband: “We need to do a count.”

Wife: “I’m way ahead of you. I already did a count. Ten suitcases and eight carry-on bags.”

Husband: “What about the children?”

Wife: “Good idea. The children should count too, just in case.”

Keeping track of five children isn’t easy, but imagine what it’s like for New York Jets player Antonio Cromartie, who has 10 children with eight women. How’s he supposed to keep tabs on them all? Thankfully, professional athletes like Cromartie can turn to their iPads for help. All they have to do is download a special app called “Where my children at?”

With just a touch of the screen, Cromartie can get reports from all the mothers, such as “Tanisha is watching TV,” “Tyrone is playing with his train set” and “Keisha is … hey, where you at, baby girl? It’s midnight! Get back in your crib now!!!”

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll love Melvin's novel Bala Takes the Plunge, available in North America through Amazon.com and McNallyRobinson.com You can also find it at major bookstores in India and Sri Lanka or online at FlipKart, IndiaPlaza, FriendsofBooks or other sites. A number of readers have written reviews of the novel. An excerpt of the novel can be read here.

Comments

  1. Believe it or not, the local Fox station in NYC begins its 10pm newscast with that announcement.

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