I sat in my garage organizing some junk last weekend, when something unusual caught my eye. A little guy, maybe about 4 years old, with a big dog was walking on the other side of the street. Not having my glasses nearby, I couldn’t quite make out who the boy was.
What the heck are those parents thinking?
Letting a preschooler walk a huge German Sheppard alone?
And right in front of the Houdini pit bull’s house across the street.
They’d better catch up to the little guy!
How stupid and dangerous.
Then, my thoughts drifted back to my project.
About 5 to 10 minutes later I heard someone shouting from the end of the street. It was a teenaged girl, and she was chasing after the little boy who had passed me with the dog earlier.
She slowed at my driveway and asked if the boy was mine. I told her he wasn’t.
“Well, I found him around the corner sliding down a dirt hill. He doesn’t have anything but a shirt on,” she said breathlessly, “When I came near to him he started running.”
We both looked down the street and the kid was now running full speed in the middle of the road.
Immediately, I started racing after him.
I was running quickly, but the little guy was outpacing me. He was approaching a very dangerous intersection in the road and I my adrenaline surged.
Kicking off my slip-ons, my body went into a full sprint. Only with this full out run was I able to catch up to the boy.
I grabbed his shoulder, and he stopped, turning his face to me.
Oh my gosh, he was just a toddler! (Yes, I should wear my glasses more often!)
Immediately, I lifted him to my hip and turned toward home. The teenager was heading my way, as well as my next-door neighbor. We were all stunned by the situation and began looking around for the adult responsible for him.
When I got to my house, I dialed 911. It had been at least 10-15 minutes since I had noticed the boy walk by with the dog.
Some mother must be frantic looking for her baby!
“What’s your name?” I asked the little guy.
He just jabbered. He did not even talk yet.
I gave the 911 operator a full description of him and then stood in my drive waiting for someone to run by, or drive by, looking for him. I comforted the boy and my little girl brought him a stuffed animal to hold.
We stood out front and I waited…
It was now at least 25 minutes since the boy had come to my attention and no one was on our street looking for him.
My neighbor hopped in his car to go see if there was someone looking around for the baby on other streets.
After a few minutes, he found a family in their front yard and stopped. He asked if they were missing a kid. They were not.
Two little boys were nearby on their scooters and called out. “What does he look like? Maybe it’s our brother.”
They followed my neighbor around the corner to my house.
“Yep, that’s my baby brother,” the boy, who looked around 8, said.
He reached out to take the boy…
“I need you to go get your mother, “ I said
The boy headed down the street and went into a house nearby that was recently rented out.
He came back a few minutes later…without his mother.
“Go get you mother.” I said nicely, but firmly.
He left again and returned a few minutes later…without his mom.
Then, I saw the disheveled woman walking casually towards my house.
“Oh, thank you.” She said, sounding groggy, as she took the toddler into her arms. Her apparent lack of maternal instinct struck me.
It had been 35-40 minutes and she had not noticed her child missing.
I know that these things rarely happen, a toddler escaping, but I would expect a more rapid response and a pretty freaked out parent when they realized what was going on!
The police car arrived about 10 minutes later and took a report.
I found out later that another neighbor had found the boy out alone, half a block from his home, days before.
It’s been hard letting this go. I have seen neglected and abused children in the hospital, but of course it never gets any easier to see.
It is unthinkable to me, that children, so precious and vulnerable, are not protected by their caregivers.
It is a harsh reality of this world and it hit close to home last weekend.
(The picture at the top is not of the little boy in my neighborhood)
I’m joining Rachel and Mr. Daddy today for their True Story Tuesday. There are so many interesting stories shared on their blog. Head over and take a look.