This morning Grandma was going to do some yard work after breakfast. Lee told me he wanted to help her dig in the dirt, and I thought that would be some good exercise. Besides, it's a gorgeous day, so I told him to get his socks and shoes on and his jacket. I helped him put on his navy blue sweatshirt and reminded him that his shoes were in the garage on the steps. He ran upstairs to get his shoes while I stayed downstairs with a very crabby baby who needed a nap.
After Katie finally started settling down, my mom poked her head in and said "All the kids are inside, right?" I told her I had the girls, but Lee was out with her helping dig in the dirt. She had circled the house and didn't see him. I quickly checked the rooms and helped Anna find her pink shoes, then went outside and called for Lee. There's no fence, and mom lives on a pretty remote hill surrounded by fields of sagebrush that Lee has occasionally explored, so I called loudly enough to hear my echo on the distant houses. No response.
I started tromping through the weeds a bit and yelled and yelled. I asked Cody if he knew where Lee had gone, but Cody was working. I called some more, and still no answer came. Normally he comes running right back when we let him play outside.
That's when I really started worrying. Mom had Annalisa and they were calling Lee as well to no avail. We had a small meeting and I said a prayer, then Grandma and Anna started driving around the nearby streets while I did a more thorough and widespread search of the fields. They just barely opened up the canal at the bottom of the hill and it's full of freezing, muddy water; and then there's all the piles of rocks, branches, and holes throughout the fields... I was crying and yelling and then holding perfectly still, listening for a voice that wasn't coming.
Cody abandoned his work and came outside, running up and down the hills, asking passersby and calling for Lee. Finally, we reconvened at the house and I realized it'd been over an hour since we started looking for Lee. Cody called the police while I cried and prayed and yelled. After giving the police Lee's description, they said someone had just called in having found a little boy of the same description. We got an address and my mom and I raced to the address--about two miles away, at the bottom of the hill, across a couple of fairly busy roads. When we pulled up to the address, a kind lady was sitting on her font porch with a blanket wrapped around Lee, who was insisting he was out on a jog just for exercise.
Panic and relief all in one poured out my eyes as I hugged my boy, who seemed entirely unphased by the whole situation. The lady said that she had found Lee wandering and watching them do their yard work. She thought he was maybe a block away from home, but when we told her how far he'd actually come, she was shocked as well as we were. The police arrived a few moments after we did and took all my information, making sure I was the right mom with the right boy and that he was okay and everything would be all right. The lady gave Lee a few cookies that he could share with Anna when he got home. We told them all thank you very much and I wouldn't let go of Lee's hand.
After buckling Lee in the car, the police officer told me that I never need to hesitate calling if I'm worried about my children. He said, "Check the usual hiding places of course, but call right away. We have resources, we can help." And help they did. If we hadn't called, we never would have found him.
So today, I'm grateful for the wonderful police officers and good people in this town who didn't just ignore the situation, but helped me find my little boy. I'm grateful that prayers are answered and I know God had a hand in this. We're now having a serious, but careful conversation about playing outside and exercising and being safe. Everything is okay. So, do me a favor: thank your local police for helping stories like this one have a happy ending, then hug your kids tight and remind them to not wander away far or if they do get lost to stay put. :)
(After checking the house security system and my phone record, Lee walked out the front door by himself at 8:39 AM. My mom was 6 minutes behind him. We called the police just over an hour later. We found Lee at 9:57.)