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Tiny boy, lost in the park, kept safe during search for family

This is dedicated with deep gratitude for the help given to the little lost boy and to all (especially elementary school personnel) who help young children in need of protection, food and clothing, every day.

By Linda Waggener

Ed and I crossed paths with one of our children and grandchildren at a little park for a brief after-school visit and delivery of a Halloween costume last week. It was a beautiful day for the visit.

While we were chatting, looking over a prized collection of leaves, twigs and beans from the class field trip farm outing, a woman and young girl pulled in and we all glanced and nodded in each other's directions before they began walking across the park.

We would come to know them by name when the mother walked up to us later asking if a little boy who'd appeared out of nowhere and was struggling to keep up with her daughter might belong with us?

There were no other visible families in the park to explain where he could have come from.

The boy was delighted to join the play of her daughter and our granddaughter while the adults looked around the park for his family.

Time passed. No luck. Doors were knocked on across the street and bikers were hailed and questioned, while the three little ones played under strict supervision.

No one we asked knew anything. There were four other vehicles in the parking lot but all appeared to be empty when checked.

Our son called the school he and our granddaughter had just come from to ask if any parents had reported getting separated from a toddler during the end-of-day release. There had been no reports.

The mother of the little girl noticed the tiny boy's sagging pants and said she happened to have a small diaper in her car, a typical storehouse that mom's of young children take along in the spirit of always being prepared for everything. While the girls played on the bleachers, she moved him to a picnic table where he could have privacy for the change. As she was finishing changing him, he clapped his little hands, happy to be restored to dryness.

She also had a bottle of water and he enjoyed several big drinks before rejoining the play. The threesome frolicked without a care in the world. It was beginning to dawn on the parents and grandparents that he had not just gotten separated from his family within the park. He was in the park totally alone.

The group consensus was to call 911. That done, the adults waited and watched together, a hundred scenarios playing out in our thoughts, while calm prevailed on the outside for the sake of the children.

Thankfully, two staff members walked up from our granddaughter's elementary school, "just double checking to make sure the little boy wasn't part of any of the school's families." Our granddaughter looked up from her play, pointed and said, "Oh, I know you, you're from my school!"

The four adults who felt a responsibility to help were relieved to have someone with the skills to draw out the little boy with gentle questions while avoiding scaring him or the two older children. He was unable to say parents names. He was unable to say an address nor indicate in which direction home might be, but he could clearly say "cheese" with a big grin when the children were prompted for pictures. The school staff members thought he was probably three.

The grandparents, the mom and dad of the two girls and now two from the school waited. The three children continued to play.

Before 911 could send someone to the park, a young woman appeared from the opposite side of it, ran and scooped up the toddler and was then joined by a man. They said they were his family.

The trained school staff knew to get permission and take pictures for documentation, and then they knew just what specific questions to ask to determine how to proceed.

The couple said their little boy was staying with a grandparent across the street who fell asleep and he'd quietly escaped to the park. After a bit of discussion and observation of the child's responses to them, the group consensus was that they were his family.

This is dedicated with deep gratitude for the help given to the little lost boy and to all (especially elementary school personnel) who help a young child in need of protection, food and clothing, every day.

This story was posted on 2017-10-16 16:31:34
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