Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Lost Boy

One morning I looked out my front window and saw a scene similar to the above, only there wasn't a forest in sight. There was a lone little boy, walking down the shoulder of the main two-lane highway near my house.  He was in no hurry, just kicking at rocks as he made his way down the road. My oblique vantage point didn't allow me to see the full scene around him, but I naturally assumed a grown-up was close by, and went back to taking care of my children.

Not long after, I happened to glance out the window once again, and there he was, as before. Something wasn't right. I ran outside, saw no supervision in sight, so I approached him to ask his name--Tommy I think--and where he lived. He didn't say much but I wasn't going to leave him on the main road. I brought him home.  

While he played with my kids I phoned all the neighbors who were home, and no one had heard a thing about a lost boy. Someone, somewhere was missing him. I reported the wandering boy to the sheriff. A deputy arrived to interview him. The boy could only say his first name and had no idea where he lived and couldn't say his parents' names. There had been zero reports of a missing child. Deputy would start an investigation. He took a quick glance around my house, I guess to see if it was safe, and asked me to take care of the boy until his family was found. He was at my house for about the next 5 hours.

Periodically the deputy checked in with me. Everything was fine at my house, and he still had no reports of a missing child. You know what began to nag at me at that point?  There was one house in the neighborhood with a brand new family that I hadn't met yet. I wondered if this could be their boy. But if he was, they would have called the sheriff hours ago to report him missing.

Well, several neighbors phoned throughout the day to check on progress in the case. And then, after school let out, a neighbor on the next street over had an odd experience. A girl about 10 years old knocked on her door to ask if she had seen her four-year old brother that day. The woman immediately contacted me. It turned out this girl was from that new family who had just moved in.

The girl told the neighbor that her brother had been missing since morning. While her mom had been asleep he slipped out. She stayed home crying and praying all day. It sounded like she never ventured out to look for him, and never called the sheriff. I can't imagine. Anyway, I loaded him and my kids in the car, and my next door neighbor too, and we brought him home. The girl answered the door. Her mom was "taking a shower" so we never did talk to her. They moved away about a week later and none of us ever met the parents.

End of story. We can all imagine the wrenching agony that poor mom went through that day. It's impossible to understand why she wasn't proactive in looking for her son. I'll never know. The ending was a happy one for which I'm glad.


  1. Wow, I wonder if she suffered from depression or something and how odd to imagine a similar situation now. I can't imagine the cop just leaving him at your home and child services not being called. Just think of that poor woman in Arizona who left her baby in the cart. I'm so glad you were there to get him off the street. I've lost a child three times. I can't believe it has been that many. I might just be a terrible parent. The first we were hiking on a path with dunes. We were helping our two youngest and our oldest were just sprinting to the top. The first dune they waited. The second they just kept going. We got to a place in the trail that split and ran up both directions and couldn't find them. I ran to the ranger station to get help with our two youngest and my husband ran the trails looking. I ran into a retired canadian couple and asked them if they had seen the kids. The wife determined to find them and they did. I'm not a hugger by nature but when those two stangers brought my kids back I squeezed them harder than anyone before. One Christmas we were at the mall. J was in sears with three of the kids. I was at the ornament cart with the other. I saw a man walking out of sears with a girl who looked like my 2 year old. Then I realized it what my two year old. I ran up and he handed her over saying something about her being lost and he disappeared into the crowds but later it bugged me when I realized he had taken her from the store and had not taken her to a cashier. My husband had just put her down for a second to sign a receipt and she was gone. I truly feel we narrowly missed a disaster there. The final time was in Heathrow airport. We were going down one of those huge escalators after passing security for a layover walking tour and somehow got separated from our five year old daughter. Luckily someone took her to security and someone else who saw me frantically searching recognized the signs and let me know a lost girl was at security. I am eternally grateful to my helpers in 1 & 3. I bet that family was grateful for your assistance as well.

    1. There probably isn't a parent out there who hasn't at least momentarily lost a child (except maybe a parent of 1). Your stories make my heart race, especially the one in Sears. That guy was up to no good.

      We lost Bridget for an hour on a hike in the dangerous Columbia Gorge when she was about 4. Two guys found her, and I found them while searching. I believe their intentions were upright, but still.

      My toddler sister was lost for hours one time and the entire neighborhood was mobilized. She was nowhere. Even though my Mom had thoroughly searched the house first, I looked again and found her asleep between the bed and the wall. Mom didn't see her when she looked under the bed because the bedspread hid her against the wall.

      This mother in my story will never make sense to me. Am just glad it was me who found the boy and not some horrible person.

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