Tonight was crazy. I was visiting my grandmother with the kids and when we were getting ready to head home a woman and her daughter (probably around 9 or 10 years of age) came running down the street asking if we had seen a 3 year old boy. From what I was able to decipher from the hysterics he was autistic, could not communicate, and apparently wandered out the front door 30 minutes prior. I asked if she had called the police, which unbelievably she hadn't.
I can't begin to presume to understand the panic I would feel if I suddenly found one of my children missing, but I'd like to think that if I couldn't find my son or daughter within a couple of minutes and a thorough check of the usual places they play and hide turned up empty, that I'd call the police pretty darn quickly. So, I called from my cell right there in the street. They started asking me for information to issue an Amber Alert, most of which I didn't know. So, I had to chase the woman down the street in the dark to have her give a description of clothing, height, eye color, etc.
I don't even know these people, but I was heartbroken. While the mother was talking to the police, the daughter was hysterical. She was crying that she missed her brother, wanted to see him again, etc. I hugged her, not knowing what else to do. I felt horrible for her.
The entire thing was just so surreal. I was just talking earlier in the evening to my grandmother about the little girl that just went missing walking home from school. Then here we are a few hours later watching a potential abduction, missing child scenario unfold. We searched the streets, talked to neighbors, shouted his name in virtual pitch black, knowing that he couldn't answer. It was probably the most helpless I have ever felt outside of the times my son has been hospitalized.
Long story short, the little boy was found later that evening wandering in the front yard of another home. Apparently, they had been asking him his name and where he lived but unable to communicate he couldn't tell them. (Which also begs the question why they hadn't called the police to report finding a small child wandering in their yard).
I know things can happen in the blink of an eye, but it makes me wonder how a parent doesn't notice his or her child is missing for over 30 minutes and why upon that realization the first instinct wasn't to call the police. In any event, I am just incredibly relieved that this turned out the way it did, because we all know how much worse it could have been.
You better believe I am hugging my children extra hard tonight.