My cousin Chris is just shy of one year older than me. He's an only child, his parents divorced when he was 1, our moms are sisters and we were raised more like brother and sister than cousins.
That meant we did everything together when we were kids. And our moms made it clear that we were to take care of each other. NO MATTER WHAT. If Chris jumped off the cliff my dead body better be laying next to his when he was found. It was drilled into us: STAY TOGETHER.
For a couple of summers we went to day camp at a YMCA. One day the Y took us on a field trip to a local park. I was 5, Chris was 6.
We're playing on the monkey bars and swings when Chris decides he wants to go to another part of the park we could see from where we were that had a fire truck and an airplane. I'm worried about leaving the group, but Chris wasn't changing his mind and my mama and aunt said STAY TOGETHER. So, I go too.
We get over and there are no other kids! We have it all to ourselves! What a great idea you had cousin! And we play. And play. And play.
Finally, we look up and notice that our group wasn't where we left them. We run over there and they are nowhere to be found. We look to where the buses were and they are gone. I start crying (I cried a lot as a kid, too) because, we're LOOOOOOOOOOOOOSSSSSSSST, THEY LEFT USSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. Chris tells me to be quiet and I stop bawling and just sniffle and whimper a little while he thinks.
Then Chris says, "I guess we have to hitchhike home. Come on."
I am terrified. My daddy told me never, ever, ever, ever do that! He said you don't get in cars with strangers ever. Not never. Ever. I start crying again.
Chris takes my hand and we walk out of the park to a residential street. He tells me to stop crying. We will get home. I believe him. I shut up.
He then sticks out his thumb and I do, too, we walk for about a block. A car stops. I hunker behind Chris. A lady sticks her head out of the window and says with a frown, "What are you kids doing out here? Are you with that group from the Y?"
Chris says yes, I hold his hand ready to cry some more because if Chris gets in the car, I have to go, too. My daddy said not to, but my mama and aunt said STAY TOGETHER. NO MATTER WHAT.
Then a miracle happens. The lady tells us that our group hadn't left, it was on another side of the park. "If you hurry you can catch them," she says.
Chris and I thank this angel from God and run to that part of the park where we meet the group. The leaders have just realized we are missing. o__O
We get a popsicle, Chris and I vow not to ever tell our parents and all is good.
The next day my aunt picks us up from the Y. Chris and I are squeezed in to the front seat together and he leans in to me and -- out of the blue -- says in a stage whisper: "DID YOU TELL YOUR MAMA?"
I stage whisper back, "NO. DID YOU?"
My aunt says in her regular voice, "Tell your mama what?"
The jig is up. We have to tell it. My aunt fusses all the way to my house and then we have to tell this story again to my parents.
Somehow, some way, we don't get punished, just a stern fussing at for leaving the group AND praise because (all together now): WE STAYED TOGETHER.
Tomorrow: We're off to see the Wizard!