Saturday, May 22, 2010
The Lost Boy
"You've got to be kidding me?" The principal says with a hint of disgust in his voice. No, I'm not kidding, as I stood in his office holding the hand of a small barefooted child, with dirt and grime covering his face. "I found him running around and playing with our preschoolers as we were out in the courtyard riding bikes." I replied to the man in charge.
Throughout the day we are continually counting heads, especially when we are outside. Fortunately the schools playground is completely surrounded by a chain link fence so if a child decides to go MIA on us, at least he'll be inside the school grounds.
This particular child was not one of ours, although he fit right in. As I was watching the children running around, playing in the wagon and riding bikes, I noticed a unfamiliar yellow shirt, but the boy's back was turned towards me so I' couldn't make out who he was. I said to one of the other teachers, "Who's the kid in the yellow shirt?" Then I walked up to the child who had just jumped in the wagon being pulled by one of our preschoolers. I looked at his dirt covered face, nope not one of ours. I asked him what his name was, and to my surprise, he actually knew it. He told me he was four years old and that his mommy is at home. "Where do you live." I continued to ask, and he points in some direction that indicated he crossed the street to get where he was. OK, let's go for a walk. I took his hand and informed the other teachers I'll be in the office.
After explaining to the Principal how we came across this runaway, I left the child in his care and returned to the group. As we continued to play outside, I caught a glimpse of the principal and his secretary walking along the outside of the fence with the little boy. They eventually found the child's house and delivered the boy.
Later in the day I was able to talk with the Principal about the child. He said once he saw the mom, he recognized her as a parent of a 5th grader they had enrolled. She had no idea her son was missing. The door to the house was not locked and who knows what she was doing while her adventurous barefoot boy left home to play on the playground. He must have either crawled under or climbed over the fence to sneak his way in.
I don't want to place judgment on the mother because given a chance, you never know what a kid will do when you turn your back. I 've been working with children and families way too long to know these things can happen.
Scary, but true.