The Gift

I was given a gift today.

This morning I made a hasty decision to run some errands.  This is not unusual for most people but for me it is because it’s 50 minutes one-way to do what I needed to do and frankly, I don’t enjoy the drive unless I have a book on tape to listen to.

 

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We live in a remote area with few full-time residents, no pay phones and no cell service.  As I approached the gate to exit our development I noticed a little boy standing alone in the parking area on the other side of the road.  I quickly glanced at the clock which read 10:20 and the thought flashed through my head that it was far too late for him to be waiting for a school bus. Our forecasted high for today is 14 degrees and it could not have been above 10 degrees that early in the morning.  Red flags of concern were waving violently in my brain.   I rolled down my window and asked the little boy if he was waiting for his mommy.  I was approximately 15 feet from the boy and couldn’t hear what he was saying so I turned into the parking area.  He had on an orange winter parka with the hood pulled up loosely over his head but no hat and no gloves.  A heavy backpack hung from his shoulders and there were two plastic grocery bags on the ground near his feet. The one bag appeared to have bags of snack foods and through the plastic of the other bag I could see two, white, gift bags with red valentine hearts on them.

I asked again if he was waiting for someone.  He was visibly upset and chattered quickly trying to explain.  Unfortunately, the child had a speech impediment which made it hard to understand him.  I did get that he had missed his bus, today was the Valentine’s Day Party at school, and that he thought he had been waiting for about half an hour.  Our conversation was rather disjointed and tears were welling in his eyes.  I asked if I could take him to school.  He quickly agreed but I could not understand his answer as to which school he attended.  Becoming impatient with me he started to gesture with his hands which didn’t help.   By now I was more concerned about him being cold and me wasting time, so I got out of the car and helped him into the passenger seat.  Thankfully the car was warm.  Not wanting to upset him further I calmly asked his name, of which I only got his first name John which he had to spell for this silly woman.   He did not know were his mother had gone or her telephone number.  The tears were very close to brimming over as he explained there was a 2-hour school delay.  Ah ha, that explained why he was at the bus stop so late.  I asked if there were other children who usually waited at the same stop and he said only one other boy and he didn’t know where he was.  I could tell he was annoyed with my questions and inability to understand him.  When I asked if he could direct me to his school he snapped he had told me the name of the school and that I had not heard him.  God love him, I got it this time!  He was upset because this was the first time he had ever been late and he even told me it had never happened at two other schools he had attended.  I told him I hated to be late too and when I had missed my bus it always upset me.  Sharing his fear helped, he started to relax and the tears dried up.

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More red flags waving in my face!  Of course, you’re wondering the same thing I was thinking at the time.  This child had not hesitated to get into a car with a stranger.  My emotions were starting to rise and my heart was beating faster.  Single digit temperature, no hat, no gloves, you drop a child and don’t wait to see them get on the bus, he doesn’t know a telephone number, and he has gotten into a car with a stranger.  I took a deep breath and decided I would walk him to his classroom and have a talk with his teacher.

The school was only about a mile away and as we approached we saw buses pulling in which meant we were not really late.  If my calculations were right, John had probably come pretty close to his estimate of standing alone in the cold for 20-30 minutes. Never having driven onto the school grounds I must have been going too slow because John was directing me with excited anticipation.  There were buses everywhere and of course no where to park so I pulled into a no parking zone.  I said I would walk him to his room but John was over me by then.  When I used the excuse that I wanted to help him with his bags he assured me he was fine and he pointed to the woman directing children and buses and told me she had a badge.  I wasn’t sure if he meant he was safe because she was there or she would arrest me.  Of course, if you know me, you know I don’t take orders from anyone and especially second graders.  In a flash I was around the car helping John with his backpack but he beat me to the crosswalk and dashed into the building.  I walked to the crossing guard and asked if she knew John.  She nodded and gave some noncommittal answer.  I explained what had happened and asked if she would please ask his teacher to tell the mother what had happened in the hope it would never happen again.

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As I drove slowly off the school property tears filled my eyes as I thought, what if?  What if I had not stopped to talk to the UPS driver delivering a package to our house?  What if I had not back-tracked to make sure I had closed the garage door…yeah, do this all the time.  Did these things time it perfectly for me to meet John?  What if it had not been me who stopped to talk to John and had been one of the three perverts on Megan’s list who live in the area?  What if it had been some other pervert?  What if no one had stopped at all?  What if John tried to walk and got lost?

So you ask, where is the gift?  The gift is that God entrusted me with the care of this child and for that I will be eternally grateful.

WARNING:  If you have children and are thin-skinned read no further!

I know parenting is a hard job.  I know that snow days and starting time delays are an inconvenience.  I know what it’s like to be exhausted from everything it takes to maintain a home and family.  However, I also know, there is nothing, absolutely nothing more important than a child’s safety.  If you have children, you have the responsibility of doing the very best you can for your children until they are grown up and even then you will still worry about them.  There is no excuse for allowing your child to stand alone at a bus stop and especially in cold weather.  If your employer doesn’t understand why you were late to work then you need to find a new employer because your children must always come first.

Take your child to the bus stop and wait until you see them safely on the bus.  If you drive or walk them to school, make sure there is an adult to escort them into the building before you leave.  If you take your child shopping, to a park or for ice cream, never take your eyes off them.  Never let your child go to a home where you do not know and trust the people who live there. Drill your children on your telephone number and home address.  Teach your children a password or phrase that they must hear from anyone who would pick them up from school or activities.  No password…then teach them to run as fast as they can to a safe place.  Be suspicious of EVERYONE.  If you see someone acting strangely around children call the police.  It’s better to have to apologize than to see a child’s face on a missing poster.  And those teenagers…whew, God Bless You!  What they say and what they do are very often two completely different things.

In closing, I pass my gift to you.  You have been entrusted with the most important gift in the world, a child.  Don’t abuse this privilege.  Don’t ignore this gift because it will be gone sooner than you can imagine.  Most importantly, do not give anyone the opportunity to harm your gift or take it from you.

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 Have I scared you?  Good.  Keep this fear close, it may save a child.

 

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Sandra Foust Geimer
    Feb 13, 2015 @ 20:14:10

    I just read “The Gift”and was blown away by the beauty of this story. Not only was it well written, I felt myself in the back seat of the car; walking into the school with you and experiencing tremendous sadness for this little guy. I also felt great pride in how you listened and heard what you should and must do to help him. You may not know this, but I KNOW you made a huge impression on John and he will never forget your kindness and patience. Some day, some way, some how you will run into him again and he will remember you. In fact, you’ll be with him his entire life. What a gift you both have received!!

    Reply

  2. macjam47
    Feb 21, 2015 @ 08:44:24

    Reblogged this on BOOK CHAT and commented:
    I came across this beautiful post on Doll Houses, Memories, and More. It is a story of great compassion shown to a child by a stranger. It ends with a reminder to parents and anyone entrusted with the safety and well-being of a child.

    Reply

    • kadavis1
      Feb 21, 2015 @ 09:01:33

      Hi Michelle, Thank you for passing this on. I cannot believe how many parents allow their children to walk to and stand at bus stops alone. We must keep reminding people that children must be protected at all costs.

      Reply

  3. Marianne
    Feb 21, 2015 @ 10:13:38

    “…For He gives His angels charge over you, to protect you in all your ways… ” Psam 91. Your ‘nevers’ are forevers. Poignant reminder of our guardianship of divine souls and precious, priceless gifts.

    Blessings,
    Marianne

    Reply

  4. Bette A. Stevens
    Feb 23, 2015 @ 15:50:11

    Your GIFT is beautiful, Kathleen, and needs to be shared. Thanks for GIVING! ❤

    Reply

  5. Deanie Humphrys-Dunne
    Feb 25, 2015 @ 09:04:47

    A lovely story, Kathleen. It’s a reminder that children are such a precious, priceless gift. We need to cherish and protect them always.

    Reply

  6. Norah
    Mar 07, 2015 @ 02:26:35

    This is such a scary situation. It chills me. John is/was so lucky that you were the one who came along and rescued him. As you clearly stated, the risk of harm was great. It was John’s lucky day.

    Reply

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