As we pedaled by him on our bicycles, I did not see any adult keeping tabs on him.
A few houses down the street, an elderly man was mucking about in his garage. "Excuse me," I called, hopefully, "Are you missing a boy?"
"No," he said. "Is there one missing?"
"There's a little boy on the corner. He isn't wearing any shoes or socks."
"That's not good," said the man looking up the street.
"Do you know where he might live?"
"No," said the old man.
The husband and I turned back.
The little boy couldn't or wouldn't answer any of our questions. "What's your name?" "Are you lost?" "Where do you live?" He merely wanted us to look at the pretty leaves in front of him.
Because he kept pointing across the street from where he stood, I took it to mean he lived there. So, I lead him to the house directly across from where he stood.
Nobody was home. Would people really abandon their kid like this?
The little boy followed me to the next house, pointing at every thing that seemed to fascinate him. No one answered the doorbell. Dogs barked from inside the garage. No doubt they were warm.
All the houses around us seemed tightly shut. I did not want to knock on every door. Was nobody asking where their little boy was? What were we going to do with this kid? It was time to call for the police.
While the husband talked with the dispatcher, I needed to keep the kid warm. He was healthy and big for his age, but I did not want him coming down with hypothermia. I'm sure the almost three feet tall boy looked quite funny wearing my pink skull cap, orange gloves, orange jacket, and purple sneakers.
After the husband got off the phone, he went and knocked at a house where we had seen small kids play in the front yard. Fortunately, the husband's bright chartreuse bike kept the little boy mesmerized to stand in place with me. As he stood gazing at the bicycle, I noticed a woman walking up the street from which we had turned back. She was talking on her cellphone. I called to her, pointing to the boy, "Is this your son?" She kept looking at me, so I kept repeating myself.
As she crossed the street, the little boy shouted gleefully, "Mama, mama!"
The woman continued talking on the phone until she reached us.
"What's your name?" I asked the woman.
She looked at me unsurely. Remembering that she was speaking Spanish on the phone, I asked again, "¿Come te llamas?"
Then she woke up. Another fortunate break: she spoke English. It turned out that her son had been standing in front of his house. He probably slipped out of the garage when her husband had the door open. (The door was closed when we were there.) She had been in the bathroom so didn't know that her son was not in the house.
I'm just glad all turned out well. I hope.
How long had the husband and I been out there with the boy? The husband thought it was probably 10 or 15 minutes. I thought it was forever.
The lessons I learned yesterday afternoon.
- Having a cell phone is definitely wonderful to have on hand to call the police when you need help.
- The husband and I have no clue about kids' ages. The husband thought he was maybe 4 or 5 and possibly autistic because he wasn't answering my questions. I didn't put everything together until after it was all over and I rewound that incident in my head over and over.
- The little boy may have understood me if I spoke in Spanish. Will I brush up on my Spanish skills? Probably not.
- Always go knock on the house in front of which a seemingly lost kid stands.