A two-year-old lost in the woods

I have a bad habit of filling my day way too full. My view of time is totally unrealistic. A task that takes an hour, I seem to think takes about 15 minutes. I tell you this as a background for my next story.

I had exactly 1 hour. It was to be both my lunch break and my chosen time to mow the lawn. At this stage, we didn’t own a riding lawn mower, but thankfully we had a self-propelled push mower. (In college, I actually used a hand mower with no engine at all, the real oldie kind.) The only problem was that it was very hard for this delicate gal to start our mower. I don’t exactly have great arm strength!

So, I gobbled down a quick sandwich and headed to the yard. It took me at least 10 minutes to get the mower started and I was already sweaty. Our yard loomed quite large at that moment. I started mowing in rows, back and forth, back and forth, praying as I went, “Please God, let me get this finished. You know that it is supposed to rain this afternoon. I promised to have this done. I have a meeting that I have to be ready for and I really just need this all to work.”

I have no idea how long my prayer went when I heard a sound from the woods behind me. It was a lady’s voice calling, “Jeffrey, Jeeeffff-reeeey, where are you?” I see her coming out of our woods. She looks like a regular Mom, so I am not too afraid, but I immediately start praying, “Dear God, please don’t make me stop and help her. I mean, how I am going to get this mowing done? I don’t know if I will ever get this silly old mower started again. I really don’t have time for this.”

But as I say those words, I realize how futile it is to ignore God. I turn off the mower and ask her if I can help her. She tells me that her friend’s two-year-old son has wandered off from a playdate down the block. There were a group of moms and toddlers meeting for fun, and Jeffrey managed to take advantage of this and go on an adventure. Her face screams the panic that she feels.

I tell her I will help. I immediately say, “Did you check the cars?” I don’t know why I say this, but I do. She says, “Yes, we did and didn’t find him.” I ask, “Did you look under furniture?” She gives me a bewildered look. I explain, “Sometimes, my toddlers liked to find a small space and curl up and fall asleep. Those places were not always easy to find or were not places I would have thought they would see as comfortable.” She tells me she is going to head back to the playdate house, which she points to as she leaves. I start calling all my neighbors who are home during the day and get them looking with me. I see two police cars arriving on the scene. Oh boy, this is not looking good.

I head towards the house where the toddler had been playing. I start looking at our neighborhood from the eyes of a toddler. Yes, definitely headed this way because of the cool play set in that backyard. No, didn’t venture there, too deep of a gully. Maybe headed up this way. I feel like Sherlock Holmes, but look like a sweaty, grass-covered mess. Just as I am seeing all the acres and acres of common ground woods that would be a lost child’s nightmare, I notice a grandfatherly-type neighbor walking from behind his house holding the hand of a two-year-old. “Jeffrey, ” I think to myself. Just then, I hear his Mom, “Oh Jeffrey, dear boy!” as she comes running up the hill from the direction of the house where they had been playing. Tears fill my eyes as I watch this reunion.

Later, I heard the rest of the story. Jeffrey apparently had been going in and out of the house along with all the other kids. However, when the kids ran inside to get lemonade, he took off in the other direction, unbeknownst to the adults. He found his way into the garage of the neighbor three doors up the hill. That neighbor, who was in his early 70s, had come home for lunch with his wife. Imagine his surprise when he got into his car to go back to work, and found a little two-year-old boy in the back seat! (Remember when I said, “Did you check in the cars?!”) I happened upon the scene as the elderly neighbor was walking down his driveway to find Jeffrey’s Mom.

Little Jeffrey was returned safe and sound! And yes, I was able to finish my lawn. I called and had to cancel my meeting. The rain held off just long enough for me to finish, thank God!

 

 

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