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Years ago, when the kids were little, they went camping with my brother’s family on a holiday weekend like this one. I was to go up on the last day of the weekend to spend the day with them and bring the kids back home with me. Much like this Labor Day weekend, though, the weather was cold and rainy, so they decided to come home early. This was before the ubiquitousness of cell phones, but they did manage to call me from a payphone on their way down to tell me to pick up the kids at their house later in the afternoon. Not having to leave early to drive up to the wet, rainy mountains to spend the day in the dirt and mud with no power or running water: color me not disappointed.

Driving to their house in the pouring rain that afternoon, I began to see homemade signs tacked up on trees, sign posts, and telephone poles. “This way.” “Keep going, you’re almost there.” “Turn right left at the next corner.” “Oops, not this corner, the next corner.” I thought they were for a garage sale or a birthday party. Until they started to get more personal: “C2’s mom, go this way.” “You’re almost there.” “She’s just up the hill, C2’s mom.”

Turns out C2 had spent the weekend worrying that I wouldn’t be able to find them in the mountains, so my brother had made the signs to put her mind at ease and posted them on trees and bushes on the dirt road leading to their rustic camping area. When they decided to come home early, the change in plans was just about more than C2’s worried young brain could process. Just when they’d solved the problem of me finding them in the mountains, they decided to not stay in the mountains. There had been some discussion that they wouldn’t be able to contact me before I’d left home for the campsite (that they did indicates that I didn’t leave as early as I was supposed to). Unless we passed each other on the road, how would I know they’d gone home? I would drive all that way, follow the signs to be reunited with my darling children, and find them gone. Then what? I would have no idea where to look for them and they would likely spend eternity waiting for me to pick them up. That we lived about 10 miles from my brother’s house is no solace to small child’s worried mind.

Hence, the signs on the way to their house, with a few new ones added: “C2’s mom, she’s at the house, not camping.” “Don’t go up to the mountains! C2 is not there!”