Last night, after school, Cupcake dropped her backpack and ran to the neighbor's house, skippping off with a "Bye Mom!" as is her usual custom on beautiful days. Most nights, I ring the dinner bell or call her name and she comes running at dinnertime.
Last night was different.
Let me set up the story. We live in suburbia. We have common ground behind us that is shared by the whole neighborhood. It's like a big open field that all the houses back up to. On our block, there are two girls who play regularly with Cupcake. She can run across the common ground to get to their houses. They spend their free time running back and forth between the three homes and playing in the field.
Mom A called at 5:30 and asked me to send her daughter home. I said, "I think they're at B's house."
Mom A stopped in again with her car a few minutes later, asking if I was sure they weren't here. We checked all over the house and back yard. Then we started hollering in the common ground, driving around the block, and calling other mom's in the near vicinity. By this time, we're all very concerned, and several neighbors/siblings are on the look-out. We expand our search to all the friends' homes in the near neighborhoods, driving the streets, checking the schoolyard, knocking on friend's doors.
I bowed my head and prayed one of those eloquent prayers, full of pompous language. It was something like this: "God, help us find the girls. I need you."
I went to the last house I could think of. No one was home.
I drove through their subdivision one more time.
My phone rang.
It was Mom B, wanting to know if I found them yet.
"Well, I've called the police. Please come back to my house so we can give them the information."
In that instant, it hit me that my baby was seriously missing. Our girls were truly in danger.
"Okay." I responded
At that moment, while I was still on the phone, just before I turned the corner to head back home, I spotted a mop of black hair bouncing across the street in the distance at the top of the hill.
I know that hair...and that bounce!
"OH MY GOSH! THERE THEY ARE! I SEE THEM!"
So, I picked up the girls and brought them home. They were so glad to see me and I was certainly glad to see them! It was a joyous and tearful reunion all around. There were also some stern words about never doing this again.
Once things calmed down, the story from the girls' perspective was this: They had been playing in the common ground and decided to go on an adventure to the upper common ground (which is one block up the hill, still in our neighborhood.) In the winter, on occasion, they go to the upper common ground with older siblings to sled. From there, they continued to walk and talk and play. They climbed through some bushes and came out at the top of the hill in a neighborhood that looks just like ours. They walked and talked a little while more, then decided to turn around and go home.
But nothing looked familiar.
They went down the hill and ended at the highway. They went up the hill and found themselves in the neighborhood with big houses. They turned around and wandered through houses and yards until I saw them. I estimate they walked 2-3 miles based on the landmarks Cupcake noted, though they were never further than 10 blocks from home.
There were three things the girls did right. Teach your kids to do these things.
1. They stuck together, even when they disagreed about which way to go.
2. They never crossed a busy thoroughfare.
3. Once they realized they were lost, they stopped and prayed. :-)
So thankful for a happy ending.
Blessings to you,
3 hours ago