Little Boy Lost, Or How Momma Almost Called 911

This post does have a happy ending. It could have had a bad ending, and it came awfully close to being likethis story, but, thankfully, everything was ok. I just want to say that at the outset, because the last time I told somebody a suspenseful story about my son, she yelled at me for stopping her heart in her youth. Ok, so lately, I've been REALLY tired. A friend and I have formed a running group, and we have been running every day and lifting weights. I actually am now a fan of working out with somebody, because nothing gets you out of bed to abuse your body like somebody else's good opinion of you. But one of the women in our group has to work out early, and when I say early, I mean before dawn. Yeah, I didn't really know that 5:30 comes twice a day. Now I know. So I parked my kid in front of a video yesterday afternoon so I could collapse for a few minutes (um, or hours, however you care to look at it). He sort of bounced around my bed, made noises, you know, doing the soundtrack of a mother's life. Somehow as a mom you can actually sleep through all of this. I was doing just fine, and fell asleep for I'm not really sure how long. It was the silence rather than the noise that woke me up. I groggily poked my head over the edge of the bed to see if I could see J, and I called his name. No answer. I threw the covers off of me, and starting looking for him in earnest, still calling his name. Again, no answer. I searched the house, searched the backyard, and even knocked on the neighbor's door to see if he had wandered over there. Again, nothing. Now, I should mention that J is not a wanderer. I used to keep a childlock thingie on all my doors, and he USED to try to get out when he was younger, but he has been conditioned to stay in the house since then. You know, like the elephant who gets chained by a strong chain and then can be kept in by a little chain because he doesn't try the chain again. And that's just yet another example of how circus life resembles motherhood. Anyway, at this point, it has been a nearly 15 minute search, and still, nothing. I pick up the phone to call DH, just to try and think through everything, and my heart stopped. The phone was dead. Ok, maybe I was still a little groggy from my nap, but suddenly all kinds of wacky scenarios are running through my head, and when I heard the ice-cream man outside, I knew I had the solution: The ice-cream man had snuck into my house while I was asleep, cut my phone lines, and had STOLEN my baby! I was just trying to figure out how I could get a police detective to believe me as I got in my car to start to try and comb the neighborhood. One of my neighbors was out on the street, and I told her that I couldn't find J. She deployed her pre-teens on bikes to check all the ditches in the neighborhood, and they took to their Mission Impossible like Tom Cruise himself. She said she would station herself at the entrance to our development, just in case she saw J leave or come back. I was ready to enlist the help of other neighbors, but thought I should check the house just one more time. Maybe he was just playing a REALLY good game of hide and seek. Time from startled awakening to silence: 25 minutes. Mommy panic was seriously setting in. I carefully looked in every closet, and under every piece of furniture, thinking maybe he was stuck, or had suffocated somewhere. I even checked an old trunk where he HAS gotten stuck before, and then went to check under my bed. I pulled the covers off the bed to look under it, and breathed a HUGE sigh of relief. There, on TOP of my bed, was my child. Asleep. Breathing peacefully, perfectly in tact, snuggled up with a toy, his head close to the pillow I had been using, looking like the angel that he is. His body had been hidden by the covers that I had thrown off of my own body when I had gotten out of bed a half an hour before, and he was clearly so deeply asleep he had not been disturbed by my shouting his name. I offered a quick prayer of gratitude, tucked him in a little better, and went to tell my neighbor to call off the search. And I have to say, her little re-con team actually looked slightly disappointed. Looking for a kid who could be dead in a ditch was WAY more exciting than selling lemonade. I have to admit, I did tell a little white lie. I told her he had been hiding in the house, in my room. I just did not have to heart to tell her that the whole time he had been asleep. In my bed. Next to me. What a lame mom. Good thing I didn't call 911. I'm sure they would have been largely unimpressed by my story, my mothering skills, and, of course, my housekeeping skills. Maybe it was a good thing that a construction crew had accidentally cut our neighborhood phone lines. And it looks like the ice-cream man was not, after all, a crazed child molester who likes to kidnap little boys. He's clearly just a guy trying to make a buck off of our children's sugar addictions. Go figure. So, let's be grateful for safe children, and, um, make your beds, ladies. Otherwise you could lose a person in there.


Blogger Mrs. M said...

Heather, I have lost children in similar ways. That panicky feeling is an awful one, especially accompanied by the feeling of having been neglectful as a mother.

I'm glad he was right next to you!

8/18/2006 11:46:00 AM  
Blogger Julie M. Smith said...

Good story, in the sense that I'm glad it happened to you and not to me.

I know that feeling: three year old. Library. Every nook and cranny checked. Fifteen minutes. I must have had That Look on my face because a woman comes up to me and says, "Are you looking for a missing child?" Yes, I say, ready to kill her if necessary. She leads me to the shelf with the audio CDs on it. The shelf is about 4 inches away from being flush with the window behind it. My child is in the gap. I had walked past that shelf at least five times but didn't think to look THRU it.

8/18/2006 12:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Tracy M said...

Oh man! Ohhhhhh man. That is just the most horrid feeling in the entire universe- and the thoughts that go through your mind...Ugh. I can't believe you were still functioning 25 minutes into your search- I probably would have been a teary wreck already...

That's too funny where you found him- I would have told a little white lie to my neighbor too!

Glad all is ok at the O. house.

8/18/2006 12:19:00 PM  
Blogger Julie said...

Wow. I think you're awesome for holding out the calling of 911 an entire 30 minutes! I'm a total wimp in that regard. Too sweet where you found him. What a blessing. Hopefully you won't have to relive that again.

8/18/2006 12:37:00 PM  
Blogger bella said...

I have a picture somewhere (I had to document for the hubby) of when I lost my (now 10-year-old) when she was not quite two. When I realized I hadn't seen her in a while, and started the search, I realized that the UPS guy had come and gone since my last absolute recollection of seeing her... so she could have been literally anywhere!

I did have a working phone, and was on the phone with hubby, asking him for any more ideas before I called 911... when I looked in my boys' room one more time.

There... IN the toybox... COVERED by a blanket... SOUND ASLEEP!... was my little girl. In all the mess of toys, I swear she looked just like another little doll!

So, I have the picture, because it was just too stressful to let go without some kind of documentation!

I'm so glad you found him. And yeah, the white lie was warranted! LOL


8/18/2006 05:12:00 PM  
Anonymous meems said...

Heather, even though you started with the info that this had a happy ending, I could feel the panic as I was reading it! There's nothing compared to the feeling of not being able to find your child. Terror!

I lost my little boy in a store when we were in Japan. (Well, actually, he was a runner, so I lost him a number of times in a number of different stores.) But this time I had the whole store on alert. People were helping me look for him. Finally, one lady had finished her shopping and had left the store. She came back in to let me know that she could see him from the outside -- he was hiding in the display window!

8/19/2006 02:27:00 AM  
Blogger Carrie said...

That would be totally cute and sweet if it weren't sooo scary! And kudos to your little boy for NOT wandering off and really getting lost! Those are those good mothering skills coming into play! It would have been such a nice moment as a mom to wake up and see him snugglin' up next to you asleep though! Much less heart pounding and aching involved!

8/19/2006 10:07:00 PM  
Blogger fMhLisa said...

My "lost" child story goes like this:

Buttercup comes into our room in the middle of the night, "Where's Blossom,"

I'm not too worried, but dh goes down to their room, both of us sure she'll be asleep on the floor or something. I was nearly back to sleep when I start hearing dh, panic in his voice yelling "Blossom!" I was instantly awake, panic, heart beating out of my chest.

We have a really small house, and we had all the lights on in a few seconds, we're both yelling her name.

The whole thing probably lasted less than two or three minutes, worst three minutes of my life. We found her fairly quickly (small house= good house)

She'd crawled under OUR bed and fallen back to sleep.

8/20/2006 03:08:00 AM  
Blogger Jen said...

It's crazy how time slows down so much and how fast your mind goes during these situations....

My oldest (now 3 1/2), went through a "running away" phase when he was 2. We were living in a NYC apt at the time, so it was actually pretty easy to keep tabs on him since we never left the apt unless he was in a stroller and all the playgrounds in our neighborhood were enclosed.

Visiting my mom back in Portland, however, was always an adventure. The worst was when he managed to slip through the back fence and we found him 20 minutes later 6 blocks away at an elementary school. The back fence was intact, so I was convinced he was in the house and unfortunately lost a lot of time looking.

He also got lost at church one Sunday back in NYC. We found him playing under the organ in the chapel. That was at least a 20 minute search of true panic proportions since he could have easily slipped out a door and been cruising the streets of Queens.

8/20/2006 04:30:00 PM  
Blogger stephsterr said...

This just happened to me a few weeks ago - with my *9* year old. I got home from the store - getting supplies for FHE - and dh said, "did you see Josh outside? He's with (neighbor boy)." I hadn't, and son #2 said he wasn't upstairs - so neighbor and I were outside yelling their names - then I got into the car and started driving. My son NEVER goes off without telling us unless it's within eyeshot of the house. We looked for a good 20 minutes, enlisting help from neighbors to keep an eye out - then I suddenly realized we'd left it to the 6 year old to check upstairs - so I called dh to go check the playroom - and sure enough, there he was playing playstation with neighbor boy. No idea about all the ruckus that was occuring. DUH! I felt so embarrassed. So anyway, I didn't feel the level of panic I would feel if he was a toddler, because he's a responsible kid and I knew he was around somewhere... but still, that out of control feeling is terrible. I'm glad he was safe!

My sister once fell asleep inside the laundry hamper and we couldn't find her for 45 minutes... nearly gave my mom a heart attack. Check your hampers when looking for the kids! :)

8/20/2006 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger The Wiz said...

We won't talk about the time my dear sis was watching my (then)2 year old for me while I was out of town, and she lost her, and searched the creek, and my daughter had wandered down the street several blocks, and crossed the street, and my sister had her whole ward out looking for my little girl. She found her at the same time the cops did.

8/20/2006 11:53:00 PM  
Anonymous wanderingrose said...

I had this exact thing happen!!

I looked everwhere, and was in a panic when I went back in the bedroom and found he was asleep under the covers I had thrown over him!

My daughter was a wanderer (still is.) She was missing one morning and I called 911, not for the first time, but this time the doors were locked from the inside and I could not figure out how she could not be in the houe.

I was crying on the phone when I called out her name one last time, and a pile of dirty clothes in the boys room sat up and sleepily ask what I wanted.

I convinced the 911 operator that everything was okay and hung up the phone, relived and mortified. :)

8/22/2006 10:19:00 PM  
Blogger Pamela said...

Oh how well I know that panicked sick feeling of having lost your child. My baby was lost, taken by someone at the CircusCircus play place when she was two years old. I was screaming and crying and completly over the edge. The security people took my eldest daughter to stand by the door with them in case whoever had her tried to take her out, then they spread out to search the place. Whoever had her, let her go. She could not have left my side quickly enough to get lost because she wears a brace on her right leg due to suffering a stroke in the womb and has cerebral palsy.

I've never really recovered from that and I do not know how mother's of children that never come home live through it. I've never known such horror.

So glad yours turned out all right.

8/27/2006 03:17:00 PM  

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