Sunday, May 3, 2009

I Aged 10 Years Yesterday

Yesterday was the first Saturday in as long as I can remember that we didn't have anything pressing to do. We had a baptism that morning, but after that, we were free. It was nice. So, in the afternoon, after Steve & I had both had a lovely nap, and while Joey was taking a nap, Steve took the other kids outside to play. He was trying to fix a flat on Levi's bike, and Sam decided that he wanted to walk Sarah, our old, tired chocolate Lab. So Steve snapped the leash on Sarah and sent them on their way.

Now, I happened to be outside while this was taking place, and I wondered at the wisdom of it. Usually, the kids pretty much stay in our yard, or if the boys venture out, Levi is always with them, and we send them with a cell phone - just a little insurance and peace of mind for us. Still, nobody else seemed concerned, and really, Sam is not usually too ambitious to head out far from home. So, I said nothing and went back inside.
It was a few minutes more before Steve came back inside to tell me that he & Levi were going to Walmart to buy another tube for the front tire of his bike.
"Are you going to take the other kids with you?" I asked.
He replied no and then I heard him asking Levi if he knew where the other kids were. I wasn't too concerned yet, and it was another few minutes before I hear Steve's panicked voice yelling their names. So I hurry outside to see what is going on. He then proceeds to tell me that he can't find them, and I tell him to just drive around in the truck and look for them.
"I've already driven around, and I can't find them."
My heart dropped, "You've already driven around?" I asked weakly.
"Well, get back in and drive some more!" I commanded him.
He & Levi drove off, and I continued to walk around our neighborhood calling their names. Some girls heard us calling for them, and came to help. Then, one of them got her mom, and she was driving around in her minivan looking for them.

Steve had said that he had seen them last sitting under a tree in our neighbor's yard, so I went over there and rang their doorbell in the unlikely event they had invited a 4 & 7 year old and an old, dirty Lab into their home. No one answered.

Steve and the other mom had both driven back by the house several times to report in that they had not found them. To say I was starting to panic would be an understatement. My heart was pounding, I was praying with all I was worth, "Lord, Jesus, you know where my babies are. Please keep them safe and don't let anybody hurt them!"

At this point it had probably been 10 or 15 minutes since we had noticed they were missing - but how long had they been gone? There was no way to know for sure. I actually had the presence of mind not to blame Steve for not watching them better in case something really bad had happened to them, I didn't want to start the blame game so soon! It's funny that it never even occurred to me to wake up Joey and go look for them myself. Nap time is so sacred in my mind, and I guess I figured that Steve was doing all the looking we could.

My mind was racing, Where could they be? They couldn't have walked very far and Steve should have found them by now. So, someone either had to take them or they went into someone's house. Neither of these options were very comforting to me. So, I decided we were doing all we could, and we were wasting precious time if someone had taken them. I decided to call 911. That was my first (and hopefully last!) call to 911. (not to be confused with my family's first call to 911 - Sam called 911 when he was 4 to report the theft of his brother stealing money from his piggy bank, but that is another story for another time).
Anyway, I called 911, and up to that point, I had been holding it together pretty well - at least on the outside. But when I had to actually voice the words that my kids were missing, I lost it! The conversation went something like this:
"911. What's your emergency?"
"Um, hi. My name is Alayna Brooks, and I think my kids are missing." (cue ugly, squeaky, crying voice)
"Okay, how old are they?"
(Still trying to speak through the panic and tears) "They're 4 & 7. (at this point I started my nervous, fast talking) They've only been gone maybe 15 minutes, so I may be jumping the gun here, but I'm just really nervous. My husband's been driving around, and he can't find them, and they were walking the dog, and they were sitting under this tree across the street, and I'm sure they can't be far, but we can't find them, and we should have found them by now." It was one of those calls that if it had ended up being played on cable news shows, everyone would have wondered what language I was speaking.
"Okay, ma'm let's start with the 4 year old. Boy or girl?"
"What was she wearing?"
"A purple leotard." Oh dear God, could she be any more of a pedophile magnet? She's walking around out there half-naked! At least Sam was fully clothed so when this is put up on the news, maybe everyone won't think I'm completely negligent.
Anyway, she kept me on the phone for several more minutes, getting all the information about what they looked like, and assured me that officers were on their way. I couldn't imagine what was going to happen when they got there. Would they start knocking on people's doors? Questioning us? I was planning my tearful plea to implore the kidnappers to please give us back our babies when Steve turned around the corner and gave me the thumbs-up sign. He had found them. Thank God. I immediately called back 911 to report they had been found and she asked where they were, and I had to tell her I didn't know since I hadn't had a chance to ask yet.

Turns out, they were sitting under that tree, and Lily-Grace decided she was bored and suggested they go see the donkeys that live across the street from the boys' school. A half mile away. Across a very busy street. Steve found them at the school's playground since the donkeys had not been out. Lily-Grace was sitting calmly on one of the benches and said, brightly, "Hi, Daddy!" when she saw Steve walking up to them. Like she takes off in her purple leotard and flip flops every day and walks 1/2 mile away. Help me, Jesus.

Anyway, we had a nice discussion about boundaries and basically theirs are if I walk outside of our house and spit - it should hit them. Period. My heart can't take that kind of panic again.


  1. wow! I'm so glad it ended happily!!!

  2. So glad all is well. That is what I call a 'running situation' you know where you take off running in unknown direction with your hands above your head and screaming? Donkeys.....gotta love 'em

  3. Jennifer DouglasMay 4, 2009 at 12:11 AM

    You really do tell a great story. I felt like I was living that one with you. My heart hurt in the middle. I know exactly how you must have felt!
    I am glad that you are blogging so that all of your stories get saved. I will buy your book when you write it!!

  4. Donkeys...that's insane!!! I am SO GLAD you found them, but I understand the panic you must have felt! I had to make my first 911 call a few weeks ago when the kids and I came home from school to find our house had been broken into...not something I want to have to do again anytime soon!

  5. Are you sure our kids have never met? I know that panic. Though the time I almost called 911 for Luke he was actually in the house. He's lucky I didn't beat him.

  6. I just love your stories but I am definitely glad to hear that this one ended happily... We really miss yall and glad everything is going good... love yall and miss ya!!!rhonda