Last summer on the way home from taking my youngest son to the doctor, I found a child. No, Sleepy Jean, don’t bother to try and rub your eyes so that sentence so that it makes more sense to you. I did say that I found a kid (not, I should also clear up, my own).

There I was, minding my own beeswax when I decided to stop on the way home for a cup of coffee at Dunkin’ Donuts so that I might not sleep the afternoon away. Only because of this sudden, burning desire did I drive the route that I did, and seriously Internet? That was Providence if I’ve ever seen it.

Driving along, there I was, listening to Alex babble in the backseat when at the corner of a really busy intersection, a child of probably between 2 and 3 was darting around. At first, it didn’t register with me as Something Odd until I thought about it. What kind of parent would let a kid be ALONE at that corner? Not, I realized, one that was probably watching their kid.

Frantically, I pulled my car over and jumped out, Alex squawking indignantly “MOMMY” as I leapt out to the child. Thankfully, another lady had ALSO stopped and together we were able to get the child’s attention. She was a well-dressed, well-groomed obviously loved little one, her hair plaited neatly (especially for 10:30 in the AM, I thought blearily), but all alone.

The lady who I was corralling this (honestly) well-mannered child had better Spanish skills than I do, considering I didn’t really want to ask the kid if she wanted more bread, cheese or water. Nor did I think telling her that she had poquito huevos (small testicles) was either appropriate or a good idea. And short of counting to six (also pointless), I speak ridiculously crappy Spanish.

But the lady convinced the girl to come sit on the sidewalk and play with my son, who I’d retrieved from the car immediately once I realized that this really was a lost kid. In that area of town, it’s nearly all cheap, crappy apartments shared by many (assumably) illegal immigrants, so it’s not like going door to door would have gotten us far. Besides, how the hell would we KNOW if the person who claimed her was her actual guardian? She was too young to be anything other than trusting of complete strangers.

We instead decided to call the police–my initial urge was to take her to my house BEFORE we called the police, but that seemed unwise–and in a couple of minutes, a squad car rolled by, swooped up the girl, and after getting a brief statement from each of us (including, oddly, Alex’s full name and birthday), pulled away.

I felt really bad about this for awhile because I assumed that her parents were maybe illegal and as such, wouldn’t go to the police and risk deportation. They were probably pacing frantically worrying and wringing their hands, having (literally) lost their daughter. I couldn’t imagine their pain. It was obvious that the kid had just wandered off, not like she’d been abandoned.

My heart was heavy for a long while afterward.

——————-

Many months later, I was heavily pregnant (I could be pregnant for 4 minutes and I would be heavily pregnant, I feel I should add) with Amelia and playing a game with Alex. The point of the game, according to Alex to charge at my belly and then I would swoop him upside down into the air. Then, I would give him a fake back-breaker and tickle him until he screamed with glee.

The phone rang. Expecting a call from The Daver, I picked it up and checked the caller ID to make sure it wasn’t someone calling to petition my vote for something or another. Or maybe the people who always call for my opinion on stuff (no. SERIOUSLY. ME! Dub-ya, Tee, Eff?). But no, the caller ID said clearly “Dept of Children and Family Services.”

My heart took a nosedive and ended up somewhere in my colon. Had someone reported me to DCFS?

I mean, certainly I’m not always the model parent: sometimes my patience runs out and I speak more sharply than I want to. Sometimes dealing with the issues that Ben fixates on gets really tiresome. There are days where I wish I could have someone else watch my children for me so that I could dick around the house. Some days, I’d like to crawl back into bed and sleep the day away. Certainly, like any parent, I’ve made mistakes.

But I’m a good mother. I am. I know that I am. While I might doubt other things about myself (like my ability to get back into size 2 pants. Shut up! Also, no leakage OR seepage yet! Hooray!), I can’t possible cop to being a bad parent.

Seeing that number, though, I almost threw up. What could they possibly want with me?

I answered, my voice full of trepidation, fear radiating off me in waves, and began to speak with someone who was calling me (apparently) from a wind tunnel. I could barely hear this person–I think it was a woman but I honestly couldn’t tell you–but it was quickly determined that the call was not about me. Rather, it was about the child I’d found.

Of course, this person wasn’t able to tell me anything about the case, instead asking me question after ridiculous question about the timeline of the day that I found the child. Months before.

Now, because I don’t work out of the house, I rarely look at a calendar, and recalling precisely what the time on my dashboard clock read when I found a child because I was, oh, I don’t know, too busy trying to get the child away from the sea of cars whizzing past. She/He seemed shocked that I couldn’t remember all the details, like the name of the lady who’d stopped and assisted me with the child, but this was so far after the fact that my sieve-ish memory had just dropped that information.

I hung up the phone with her (let’s hope that it wasn’t ON her) and breathed an unsettled sigh or relief, my heart still thumping heavily in my chest. Shocked beyond anything by the whole situation.

I’ll probably never know what happened to that poor child (my guess is that she’s now in foster care). But stuff like this makes me hug my children a bit tighter every time I can wrap my meaty arms around them.

—————-

What is the weirdest thing YOU’VE found by the side of the road?

—————

mimi-keys

NOM, NOM, NOM.

Comments

comments

51 thoughts on “The Day My Heart Stood Still

  1. Heart-breaking. I can’t say I’ve ever found something extraordinary at the side of the road in my memory… I’ve just seen crappy beat-up couches and roadkill. Not very exciting.

    My chest would clench up if I saw a call from those people too. I truly hope the little girl ended up being returned to her family (assuming that her being lost was an accident and not intentional).

  2. Let’s hope the little girl’s life has improved since then.

    I guess we said bye-bye to Pie too quickly, and where the hell did that Cake lady come from? 6600 votes? Maybe if you changed the name of your blog to Mommy Wants Muffins you’d attract more readers 😉

  3. A friend of mine once found a child (who was about 2) in an alley behind his house. It was like November, and he was in a diaper. With no shoes. He apparantly had wandered out while his parents were asleep. Had he walked out the front door, he would have walked out onto a very VERY busy road. Know what the cops did? Returned him back to his parents and went on their merry way. I would hope that if I allowed that to happen to my child, someone would take a little more time than that to find out what was going on in my house. Hope that little girl is safe and sound.

  4. I’ve had similar experiences. Once I noticed a sleeping child in a car seat in a locked car in a grocery parking lot at night. Another woman and I stayed by the car, called the police and waited until they arrived and the father- a neatly dressed man (and this was like a Mercedes the child was in) came out of the store. He was all what-the-hell? and what’s-the-big-deal?
    I left when the police were talking to him.
    But the weirdest thing I ever found by the side of the road was a positive pregnancy test. I’m still wondering what happened THERE.

  5. Ugh. Stories like that make me ill. Close friends of mine were foster parents for a 3 year old little boy for almost a year because he was found wandering down the street at midnight in his diapers. He was eventually placed back with his biological parents, but my friends fought it in court. Hard. They were heartbroken.

  6. well, my side of the road stories are seriously trumped by yours – clearly!

    but i will say that i feel so very sorry for that little girl. i used to be able to read stories like that and although i would feel sad about it there was no real connection.

    now i read them and i instantly put our daughter in the shoes of whatever child – and now it’s so much more real. i am absolutely terrified of her “escaping” some day and me having to find her. i don’t think there could be a greater fear. at any rate, sending the wee-child well wishes. i hope that her situation is getting resolved most appropriately.

  7. Man, how come *I* never find children by the side of the road?
    I try not to look too closely at the things on the side of the road because it’s usually something that will make me throw up in my mouth.

  8. Oh man…it would kill me not to know what happened to that girl.

    The weirdest hing I found…a credit card. Laying right in the gutter of the road. I was at the beach so I walked it over to the police station.

  9. Mimi is so adorable. I’d love to kiss her juicy neck!! Very sad and disturbing story about your little girl near the road. When I was 9 or 10 my mom found our neighbor’s kid (2 year old) walking down the street in a diaper only. When she scooped him up and took him home, no one was there. Apparently he lived with his mom at his grandmother’s. The grandmother had to go to work that morning and his mom wasn’t home from her night shift. So she just LEFT!!! Thinking, I suppose, that the mom would be home very soon. Little Stevie got up and walked out the front door down the street. My mom kept him that morning and gave his mother a piece of her mind. She didn’t call CPS, but she probably should have. She ended up sitting for him quite often after that..and I think his mom finally pulled her shit together.

  10. The only things I’ve come across is roadkill. I have a coworker who found a dog on the curb (actually he witnessed a woman dropping it off on the curb). He kept it and named him Curby.

    Anyhoo, hope that poor child is in good hands now. Oh, and you’ll get three votes from me today with my different emails.

  11. Like you, a toddler. If anyone here knows Northern VA, I espied said toddler in the median on Route 7 — which is a major 4-lane road with a speed limit of 45/50 that most people exceed by at least 15 mph. Toodling in the median was a crying child. I tried hard not to slam my brakes and cause an accident, and by the time I had safely pulled to the side, realized a cop had done the same on the other side. Once assured that the cop safely had the child, I left. So there were no phone calls or reports, only the amazement that a child was there in the first place.

    My feeling was that this child was dropped there — on purpose or inadvertently — because there is no way it could’ve wandered across two lanes of traffic from a nearby neighborhood. I have no idea who would do such a thing.

    Another time I found a $50 bill lying in the road and that was much more fun.

  12. I find dogs. Lots of them.
    Especially when I lived in Atlanta, one a week was not that rare. I had animal control on speed dial. And knew which one to call depending on what part of my ride I found them on. It was always on a freeway though.
    Damn rednecks and their inability to keep their dogs on a lead, behind a fence, um safe!

    I once found two very cute very lovable bermese(sp?) sheep dog puppies that I wanted desperately to keep, but the husband said no.
    I think you should get to keep whatever you find on the side of the road.

    I guess that logic does not apply to people though, although maybe in your case it should.

  13. Kay, Becks. Voted yet again for your hot ass.

    And don’t go making me cry, dammit. My 85-year-old neighbor is on his deathbed and I went to visit his wife to CONSOLE her and instead started crying like a fucking baby. SHE had to console ME. I’m hormonal, ok? And this has nothing to do with finding children on the side of the road, but whatever.

  14. And for a split second I thought Fiddle1 was talking about me. Until she got to the “juicy neck” part and then I started to wonder. Although my neck *is* juicy.

  15. I am at odds with myself on this subject. On one hand, I would see the kid on the street and think “irresponsible parent, WTF?” On the other hand, my 2 year old can open the door to go outside. She can’t quite reach the deadbolt, but it wouldn’t take much for her to pull over a chair and get the door open while I’m in the shower. But, better to call the cops and DCFS, I guess.

    I don’t remember finding anything by the side of the road (although my husband brought home a bunch of toys for our daughter one day). However, due to my job as a forensic scientist, every time I see a black trash bag on the side of the road, I assume there’s a body in it. Of course, it’s usually just road trash that the local miscreants performing their community service sentences have picked up.

  16. That’s sad for that little girl 🙁 hope she’s ok.

    The weirdest thing? A beaver. It was weird because there were no rivers or lakes or anything around. Don’t those guys like water???

  17. you’d have to think if the girl wandered out of the house – that her parents would eventually look for her.

    sadly – they may have indeed abandoned her.

    I never found anything interesting by the side of the road other than a full hot steak and cheese sandwich that someone left for a homeless person.

  18. I was driving on the 101 in Phoenix (thank GOD I don’t live there), which is a fast and deadly freeway. Suddenly, a puppy started running across the road, got the middle, and froze. I slowed down immediately, noticing with a quick glance in my rear view mirror that a wall of traffic was barreling down at eighty miles and hour. Luckily, some other cars saw the puppy and slowed down too, but I thought there was going to be a HUGE deadly pile-up (for a puppy!). Finally, someone stopped their car and scooped it up. I’ll never know what happened to that puppy.

  19. Difficult situation, dude. Sounds like you did the best thing.

    Weirdest thing I’ve ever found? I got nothing.

    Also, I voted for you cause I lurves you. I’d vote 100 times a day if I could.

  20. I have found various half dead animals and birds that fell from their respective nests and whatnot. Unfortunately, my save rate is very low (maybe 10%). I guess the old baby formula from an eyedrop and sleeping under a warm lightbulb only goes so far.

    My mother, on the other hand, saved a three day old kitten, hand feeding it and showering it with human love. The result? It is the evil succubus cat from hell. It only barely tolerates my mother and it outright hates everyone else, hissing, spitting and shredding all legs that dare to pass his way. Hmmm. Maybe I should save this for a post. I hate that effing cat!

  21. Wow good for you for making sure that little girl was out of harms way. I would have to say I have also find a child walking down the middle of our street, a child I have never seen before. He was walking with shoes untied on the wrong feet and a nuk in his mouth. I swooped him up and asked him where his mommy was…of course he didn’t speak any english, so I just tried my best from what I could remember from High School and he pointed down the opposite way he had been walking. So I just walked up and down the street with him, until finally a teen came out of one of the houses with a towel wrapped around her.

    She had been babysitting her younger sibblings and this one made a run for it. I’m just happy that we were able to find his home and get him home safe.

  22. YAY for no seepage!

    I found a little boy on the side of the road, one time. I was around 8-ish and my sister, my dad, and myself were on our way to bowling(I know, I’m a dork) and we saw this little boy who was MAYBE 18 months old walking down the street. We pulled over and brought him to the bowling alley, hoping somebody knew him. Being only 8-ish, I wanted to keep him. Weird my dad said we couldn’t “just keep him”. He had a horribly dirty diaper, his jammies were soaked with pee and he needed a bath badly! This poor little guy looked so neglected that I wanted to cry. He was a happy little guy, though. We got him all cleaned up while waiting for the cops. Turned out his “babysitter” had fallen (passed out?) on the couch and he climbed out of his crib and opened the back door.

    I don’t doubt this happened, 18 month olds are little escape artists. And I’m sure he had a full diaper from the night before, but it was his smell that bothered me. He just didn’t smell clean. Like he hadn’t had a bath in awhile, dirty. I think about him quite often becuase he was completely oblivious to his mistreatment and was such a happy little guy. He cried maybe once while we had him. He was such a sweet little boy.

    I wonder what became of that sweet little boy. I wonder if he went to school and got out of whatever situation life had put him in. I wonder if his mom was just a single mom who made a stupid choice in babysitters and they are so happy. I really hope the rest of his life didn’t go down like all the statistics say it would. I hope, Little Boy, you’re happy!
    That was kind of a depressing story, wasn’t it? Sorry!

  23. I had pretty much the same thing happen today with the rehab hospital. Hell, I’m lucky if I know what day of the week it is! How the hell am I supposed to remember the date Mom fell? I literally jumped online to look it up in the blog. My brain’s too fried for earlier this month much less a year ago. You did pretty good!

  24. You always make me smile…you and your family are one of the first people I think of at night and in the morning when I ask God to keep a little watch over those I have in mind ((hugs))

  25. 2 nice Corningware caserole dishes, if you stretch ‘the side of the road’ to include a pile of trash – obviously someone had just gotten evicted from somewhere – in front of an apartment building. I took them home, ran them through the dishwasher to sanitize them and I still have them. If I was into the entire flea market scene, there are lots of evictions happening now and lots of good stuff thrown out by the side of the road. But, I’m too lazy.

  26. I remember you told me about this when I found that toddler across the street heading down the sidewalk toward a busy intersection on his tricycle. I’m glad I finally got to know the whole story, but I’m very sad for the little girl and her family.

    I vote for you every day, are they throwing away the once a day votes as well? I was on their site today, and I have to admit it’s not extremely user friendly! Or maybe it’s just insanely bogged down with all the people trying to vote for you!

  27. I have an uncanny ability to have lost dogs show up at my house . I have probably had at least 15 or so that I have had to re-unite with their owners….no kids tho. Thank God for that.

  28. I found a kid once, too. He was running in and out of traffic on a four lane road, and when I pulled over, his 15-ish pregnant mom came huffing out of a scrappy apartment and gave me an evil look, yanked his arm so hard I thought it would fall off, and huffed back to her apt. I called cps and reported her address and the situation, ’cause it couldn’t be good!

  29. My friends and I found a gym bag with a bad porn movie in it. Doesn’t really compare with a kid though.

    There was the time I pulled over to coral two dogs that were giddily free and loving it on a busy street. They lead me to their house happily enough and I didn’t even get a thank you for saving them from death by car.

  30. Once again I am delighted I no longer work in social work.

    Um, my mom and I always stop for turtles and put them by the side of the road. Uh, I saw a porcupine once!

    At my old house we used to have lots of strays come by (those power lines) and I had to send a lot of dogs to the pound. That sucked.

  31. One night, my dad came home from work with a grey fox in a trash bag in the back of his work van. He had found it on the side of the road, without a blemish, and threw it in the freezer to be taxidermied. Yes, he did. That fox is still on display at his house.

  32. I once found a puppy in the hallway to my apt. I took him home till we figured out who he belonged to. The owners said she had fled the apt and into the elevator and they didn’t know where she went. Strange thing is, we had her for about 2 hrs and she was in the hallway for at least an hour before I got home. I guess they didn’t think to search every floor of the building?

    Oh, and my fiance found a porn magazine on top of the trash pile yesterday. It was open to a interesting page. I asked him if he closed it shut, he said he wasn’t going to touch a porn magazine on a trash pile!

  33. Stories like these keep me up at night. I hope for that sweet girls sake they have found a wonderful foster family.

    Living in the country I see a lot of dead gophers on the side of the road but that really isn’t strange is it?

    Strangest thing I found on the side of the road was a garbage bag full of weed. But then again it was down the road from a grow-op that had just been busted so in hindsight it really isn’t that strange.

  34. Stories like these keep me up at night. I hope for that sweet girls sake they have found a wonderful foster family.

    Living in the country I see a lot of dead gophers on the side of the road but that really isn’t strange is it?

    Strangest thing I found on the side of the road was a garbage bag full of weed. But then again it was down the road from a grow-op that had just been busted so in hindsight it really isn’t that strange.

    It looks like your comment thing-a-ma-jiggy hates me. Or I’m an idiot. Or both.

  35. What I have found on the side of the road? How about in the road. I was a kid, riding with my grandfather. He saw a box in the middle of the road, muttered something profane and swerved to avoid hurting his Caddie.
    After we passed it he glanced in his rear view, his face went white and he slammed on the breaks. A child had crawled out from under the box.
    I thought my grandfather was gonna kill him. Remember this was a long time ago, when other people could reprimand your children for doing stupid things and instead of being upset you were grateful. Well, he yelled at this poor little boy of about 4 until his mother came running out of her house. After she figured out what happened, she thanked god and everybody that my grandfather swerved. Then she also yelled at the child. You know the “mom was so scared she didn’t know whether to kiss or kill the kid” yell.
    The entire time I was in the car just thanking god it wasn’t me.

    No DCFS, but if it had happened today I bet there would have been.

  36. Disturbing story
    I’ve found numerous stray cats, a lot of wild animals (live and dead), and of course that crackhead transvestite hooker I saw in Memphis last time…
    Best thing? A Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Aquarium Cradle Swing. The $200 one. At 2:30 am. Missing the battery cover. I took that bad boy home and cleaned it up. It worked like a charm. The Poose loved it!

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  38. Found your blog just recently and I am really enjoying it!

    So sad about the little girl.

    The strangest thing I “found” on the side of the road was a dead cow laying with it’s legs straight up in the air. We even turned around and drove by again, just couldn’t believe our eyes. This was on the outskirts of a large city. No farm country for miles and miles. Never did find out why it was there.

    Glad I found your blog.

  39. That is horrible! I hope the little girl is okay….so scary.

    I’ve only seen/found live and dead animals on the side of the road. Nothing super exciting, unfortunately. Although, I think I’m glad.

  40. Stories like this make me even more grateful than usual that my little guy (3 years old with a smart-ass mouth like his momma) is unusually cautious for a toddler. I kid you not, one time I went in to get him out of his crib from a nap and he had one leg on each side of the bar in a sort of Monorail Cat stance. He looked at the floor, looked at the crib, looked at the floor once more and climbed back into the crib and waited patiently for me to come get him.

    I think I would have become hysterical, as giving birth seems to make me cry at the oddest things – I cry when I START watching Armageddon because I know how sad it’s going to be – but I, too, hope that the little girl found her way into safe arms… Whether they were her parents or not. Because if life has taught me anything, sometimes the Gene Pool just needs a little TLC (Tender Loving Chlorine).

    On a side note, I think you’re awesome and hilarious. I’m glad we’re BFF’s on Facebook and Twitter. 🙂

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