Eating cereal the Missing Kid poster on the milk carton is seen. It’s me. Date missing: 10 years ago.

Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash

I stared at the carton, the unabashed smile mocking my shock. I glanced up at the refrigerator to see the same exact photo with me smiling my big smile at age six. The only difference I could discern was the huge MISSING stamp at the bottom of the carton’s image.

My face grew hot as I gazed up at my father seated across from me, absorbed in his newspaper. My mother was still in the other room. I pulled out my phone and opened up Google, but couldn’t think of what to look up to corroborate this story. I began typing in my name when suddenly my dad jumped up from his chair and slammed the newspaper onto the table. My cereal spilled by the force of his movements and I sat frozen.

“You know, son, I think it’s about time I told you something about yourself,” he said, nonchalantly. “Don’t worry, this isn’t another puberty talk,” he continued with a wink.

My eyes kept flitting back and forth between my dad’s sincere face and the milk carton with my own face. I kept trying to keep focus on my dad, but the fact he just stood there without saying anything made it especially awkward to hold his gaze.

“Uhh… Dad?” I asked.

“HONEY!! I’m telling him the thing!!” My dad called to my mom. She came running out of her room yelling,

“Not without me! Not without me!”

She took her place by his side and had a very excited look on her face. My eyes now kept bouncing between the three faces in front of me.

“Well, son, I don’t know how to put this except plainly,” he said, slowly choosing his words. He put his fingers on his chin and couldn’t think of the next line he had planned for this.

“You’re adopted!” my mom said happily. I’m sure the look of concern on my face was very clear to them.

“I knew that already..” I said, except it sounded as much like I was asking a question.

“What!?” my mom screamed, as they looked shocked at one another. “How??”

“Dad told me he was sterile during the puberty talk. He told me not to worry about it since the surgery from a decade ago might affect my ability as well.”

“Yeah, but we never told you…” she trailed, understanding what I meant.

“I… why am I on the milk carton?” I asked, my bravery finally making itself known.

“Well, son,” my dad said, a slow smile creeping on his face. “We almost lost you to that surgery ten years ago. And we were so happy about seeing you come home safe, we even took a picture. And now,” he could barely contain his laughter, “I’m just milking it.”

I looked to the milk carton again and back to my dad as he burst into tears from laughing so hard, my mom joining good-naturedly. I’d seen some low dad jokes before, but this one really took the cake.

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