Kidnapped: Dante Sr. Jamison, father of 4 and husband of Toya
Kidnappers: Sons Dante, age 13, Demani, age 10, Demarius, age 9 & daughter Laila, age 4
Commutes are always rough…especially ones that are an hour and a half each way. However, that isn’t the only distance between Dante and his family each day. Once the dad who coached his kid’s team, Dante was barely present. Practically a single mother, Toya shared “what’s providing for my family is also destroying my family…and that’s Dante’s job.” Dante admitted he felt he needed to give work 100% of his time although his family would like to see him more often. Feeling as if their father doesn’t care about them and with Toya ready to leave, it was clear that a kidnapping was needed.
After working out the details with Dante’s boss, the kids put the plan in motion with Disneyland as their destination. Sitting down to write a letter to their father, they tried to express how they felt about him not being present in their lives. Dante Jr. simply stated “I want my dad to learn….me.” Once they packed their bags, they quickly followed after their father hoping to ambush him at work. His children read their letters that expressed their need for him in their lives, as Dante sat quietly. When his wife began to read her letter, she couldn’t help but cry with Laila helping to wipe her tears. After confiscating their dad’s phone and laptop, they headed off to Disneyland.
Enjoying every moment of their dad acting like a kid again, the trip was off to a great start. However when dad tried to get Laila dressed the next day, Dante couldn’t help but get frustrated and he pulled out the go-to parent trick…he was calling her mom…or at least pretended to. It totally worked. Good move dad! Now focusing more on Laila the boys couldn’t help but feel a bit left out. Admitting he knew more about his co-workers than his family, Dante understood why this kidnapping was necessary. Heading home, he couldn’t wait to see his wife. Not wanting to be the “mean dad”, Dante recognized he needed to have a stronger role in his family.
The next day was all about one-on-one time. Dante Jr pulled his father along to an acting class despite being worried about how his dad would react. The acting coach included him in the lesson and by the end he had a new respect for Dante Jr’s choice in trying out acting. The next assignment was dad taking ALL the kids clothes shopping…time for summer outfits. Frustrated he found himself snapping at the kids, especially Dante Jr. As they pulled out of the parking lot, Dante’s dad asked him what was wrong and the mini-drama began. You know…regular family irritations that we all have. Feeling as if his father had no idea of what each of them life, Dante Jr tried to explain to his dad that he was pushing his style on them. Dad didn’t quite get it. But mom helped to figure it out…it was actually more about letting Dante go off on his own while dad shopped with the other kids. So simple…thanks mom. When mom and dad finally had a few moments alone, he asked her what she wanted. Simply again she stated “I just want you”. Missing each other, they both agreed to find a way of letting each other know they care.
As the show came to a close, the kids and parents all wrote letters to read together. “You are the dad I’ve always wanted” Demarius shared. It was clear that the kids finally were getting a true dose of their dad. Dante Jr. continued by saying “you inspire me in many different ways” which brought his dad to tears. It hit him…he mattered. As he began to read his letter to his wife and kids, hope filled the air. Promises of game nights, Lakers games, following your dreams were all present. Poor little Laila got what she needed to hear, too…dad was going to provide more structure and no more relying on mom to be the bad guy. As for his wife, Dante promised date nights and reminded her of how much he loved her. He seemed sincere and I believe that this family will make it. No doubt that this family loves each other very much. Good luck, Jamisons!