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Monday, September 1, 2008

Can I Make My Own Amber Alert?  

Okay folks! This one here's a long one. So jump in, hold on, and enjoy the ride. And, don't forget to take your personal belongings with you when you leave--everything except for your comment, that is--an honest answer to the question at the end of this post. That, I would love you to leave here! Muchas gracias in advance.

Here we go!

I live in the desert. No, people here don't have cacti or rocks in their yards, but we certainly do our fair share of praying for rain and when the stunning Rocky Mountains aren't covered with snow, they turn a lovely shade of brown that makes me homesick for Ireland. Wait! I'm from Arizona. I've never even been to Ireland. Doesn't ancestry count for something? And, isn't England--where my ancestors are from--close to Ireland? And, isn't England green anyway? So, by very close association--ancestors from England and their proximity to Ireland--I have green fever in my heritage. Right? But, I digress. Whoa! I am really off topic here, but it is important to know that I live in the desert, because we all love when the 100+-degree summer weather fades into fall, dropping in Fahrenheit and raising in coolness, which is what happened today. And, we especially love a good rainstorm, because--in addition to the much needed moisture--that means we know what we are talking about when we use the phrase "On God's Green Earth."

Long intro short, it rained today. It even hailed for a few seconds. But that wasn't all...

10 Minutes Before the Rainstorm

Red Rover and Chatter Box said they were going down to Tator Tot's house to play. The Potato Head Family are great friends of ours and our kids play together often, so when the boys mentioned they were heading out the door, I didn't give it another thought.

10 Minutes Later

THUNDER. LIGHTENING. RAIN. HAIL. Did I say LOUD THUNDER?

I opened the door to see the sky opening, pouring pearls of moisture on our scorched grass. Drops fell so consistently, I was tempted to reach my hand out and part them like clear, plastic beads in the doorway of a 60s teenager's room. I took in the sound, the smell, the breeze as time stood still under the palm tree patio on my oasis front yard. Deciding whether to run through the streets like I did when I was a girl (only this time with my clothes on), my overflowing emotions screeched to a halt when I suddenly realized Red Rover and Chatter Box are very afraid of the thunder. My plans to sing "Purple Rain"--or better yet, "I Love a Rainy Night," because when has rain ever been purple?"--while reliving my childhood were replaced with an immediate call to the neighbors. Bad news... Mrs. Potato Head said she hadn't seen hide nor hair of the boys all morning.
45 Minutes Later

For 45 minutes, T-Daddy drove through the neighborhood with no sight of the boys nor their bikes anywhere. At home base, I called every person I could think of. I asked myself: "Where on God's Green Earth could these boys be?" (See how this phrase can really come in handy?) In an attempt to enlist the semi-professionals, I tried calling the people who were in charge of the emergency phone tree (apparently, the jungle was on vacation too, because no one answered).

At about 40 minutes, I seriously debated whether or not to call the cops and kicked myself for not participating in the local child identity program, where they take pictures of kids to help in these kinds of circumstances. I mean, Elizabeth Smart doesn't live THAT far from here. So, maybe that means that an abduction is even more likely? (I actually thought that!) I was about ready to call my own Amber Alert when T-Daddy suggested one last family to call.

Sure enough! My boys were at this gal's house right as the storm was hitting. They had such a great time playing that they didn't even hear the thunder. They had parked their bikes in her garage, which were impossible to see from the road once she shut the door to keep the water out. What I didn't want to hear was that she had wanted to call us, but we recently changed our cell phone numbers and she didn't know the new ones--neither did our kids nor any of the other neighbors. SMART! That meant we had to take some accountability. I hate that!

My question is: When do you call the cops? What if the boys had not been at this neighbor's house? What if the unthinkable had happened? A lot can happen in 45 minutes. It made me think and wonder? So, now I put the question to the blogosphere of mommies... what would you do if your child went missing?

What next?

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33 bits of juicy gossip: to “ Can I Make My Own Amber Alert?

  • Elizabeth
    September 2, 2008 at 8:40 AM  

    Wow that's a tough question! I think I would have called the cops if your boys weren't at that neighbor's house. Or waited until the storm lifted thinking they may have pulled over to take cover. Either way it's a really scary thought! Glad your boys were ok! My girls got a free "ID" tag with their preschool pictures last year. I keep it tucked away in a drawer and the very thought of ever having to use it terrifies me! Ugh!

    Thanks for the idea about a "Walmart Part II" post for mommies. Boy, could I go to town on that one! I always appreciate your comments! They make me laugh!

  • Mandy
    September 2, 2008 at 9:09 AM  

    First, your stories...hilarious! Love to read them!

    My oldest went missing in Wal-Mart and it was by far the scariest 5 minutes of my life. Yep, only 5 minutes if that but my heart stopped beating and I never want to go through it again.

    I went to the front of the store, told someone, they announced it, I watched both doors, imagining someone stealing my little boy, and then I saw an employee holding his hand and bringing him to me. What a relief I felt!

    By far a parents nightmare! When we go somewhere big I always put all of our info on an index card and then in their pocket and we have the lecture of, "see that person in the vest, they work here, if you get lost go directly to them, if you can't find one go to a cop, if no cop go to a mommy with other kids and ask for her help." I have drilled this in their head so many times....

  • Tiaras & Tantrums
    September 2, 2008 at 9:35 AM  

    I have to say - this is one of my biggest fears!!! My kids are not allowed to go over to anyone's house, alone, ever, never. I don't know if I will change my mind later when they are older, but as of today. They do not go to playdates without me or my hubbie along as well. They will NEVER be allowed to sleep over at anyone's house EVEr w/o my hubbie or myself either! They are not allowed in the front of our house without an adult. I know - my hubbie and I are seriously paranoid. Not changing either!!
    So, if my kids were missing for 45 minutes - I would have had the police at my house within 15 minutes. My children are not allowed to walk into another aisle in a store without me!! I'm crazy - I know!!

  • Diane
    September 2, 2008 at 9:42 AM  

    oh. my. god! That might just be my biggest fear.

    I think they ask that you wait 24 hours before calling the police, but honestly, I'd wait about 10 minutes. I would freak out. Time to get a tracking device for the kids.

  • Jyl @ MommyGossip
    September 2, 2008 at 9:47 AM  

    I love these comments so far... So glad to hear from all of you. I have to say I also lost this same child at JC Penny's in Wyoming a few years ago. They had to do the whole code whatever and close down the whole mall basically. A mall police guy finally found him on the mall playground. I thought he was on his way to Cody with a cowboy. Honestly, the kid always ventures off. It is a problem. Maybe I should change my question and ask how to discipline a child that always runs off???

  • Petra
    September 2, 2008 at 10:10 AM  

    Hmmm, that IS a tough question. I'd have to say I would call everyone I could possibly think of, drive around the neighborhood and then call the cops. I couldn't wait very long!

  • Rachel
    September 2, 2008 at 12:16 PM  

    This is also one of my biggest fears. Ugh -- I can't imagine the panic!

    Given my daughter is only a year old, if she was missing, the Cops would be called right away. If she were old enough to a bike around town, I would probably call after I had driven around the neighborhood without finding here.

    I'm glad they were SAFE!

  • Kellan
    September 2, 2008 at 1:57 PM  

    I'd have done all the same things you did and I'd have also gotten to where I would consider calling the police. I don't know if I would have called right off the bat and yet, you are right - a lot can happen in 45 minutes. I guess the best advise would be that it couldn't hurt to call - better safe than sorry. I'm glad they were okay and you found them safe! Have a good evening - Kellan

  • mrsbear
    September 2, 2008 at 2:08 PM  

    I'm so glad you found them safe.

    My husband and I also tend to be a little paranoid. Our children don't regularly visit outside the home without either of us being in their company. Usually if they're going down the block or across the street, I'll walk them or watch them until I see them enter the house and get a confirmation wave.

    I think for children, you do not have to wait 24 hours to report them missing. That is far too long, if it were - God forbid - an abduction.

    I probably would have called the neighbors first, then the cops after maybe fifteen minutes of no answers. I would have been LOSING.MY.MIND.

  • Rhonda
    September 2, 2008 at 5:43 PM  

    I'm always so scared I'll look like an idiot, that I tend to keep quiet longer than I should.

    Dumb, hey?

  • Deb
    September 2, 2008 at 6:08 PM  

    first - OMG!!! I would have been a complete wreck.

    I would have called everyone I could think of and if that yielded nothing then I would have called the cops. I think rounding up on that hour mark would have been all I could take - the call would have been made.

    I hope that never happens again - you scared me and I wasn't even there. Whew!

    Thanks for stopping by my blog.

  • Amanda @ notsoextraordinary
    September 2, 2008 at 6:16 PM  

    i honestly don't know what i would do! i've lost the 3 year old for momentary amounts of time only to find that he has just wandered into the next room to play with whoever... but i do not know how i would react to actually losing a kid... let alone my own, cuz they're not actually mine!

  • Jen
    September 2, 2008 at 6:34 PM  

    That is really scary. I don't know what the right thing to do is. I am just saying that today I 'lost' my 3.5 year for about 45 seconds and I was about ready to call mall security and then he popped his head out.
    I guess it would have to depend on the age of the kid and the situation. I my guess about be in your situation that after a search of the neighborhood and calling friends, I would have called the cops in about an hour.
    Thanks for your visit. I like your blog. Good luck with the new design

  • mommaof4wife2r
    September 2, 2008 at 7:05 PM  

    ok...love the fact that you are admitting what i've done before! ha!

    once, one of my girls ended up in only her panties on a neighbor's porch. yikes! there i go, mom of the year again!

  • Munchkins and Music
    September 2, 2008 at 7:08 PM  

    Thanks for stopping by! That is exciting that your boy is starting piano. I think music is very important for kids. :)
    My mom would have called the cops. I don't know what I would do. I'd probably call! I get scared easy.

  • Heather
    September 2, 2008 at 7:33 PM  

    Man that's tricky. Depends on the age. If it was the 2-yo I'd only give him a few mins. The 9-yo a couple of hours. He's responsible enough to take care of himself, and kick and scream 'Fire' if need be. I'm glad your youngens were found.

  • JenniBeanV
    September 2, 2008 at 8:28 PM  

    You must have had a heart attack! That is so scary! I am glad the story had a happy ending!

  • anti-supermom
    September 2, 2008 at 9:35 PM  

    Sorry, my kids are rarely out of my sight, but they are too young to be at someone else's house, so ask me again in a couple years.

    Glad that the story turned out happy~

  • Jen @ One Moms World
    September 2, 2008 at 10:02 PM  

    Girl... I know you had to be going crazy. I know I would have lost it. It's so hard these days. When I was young, my mom and dad wouldn't see us back home till dark. Now, there's just no way you can do that anymore. Very sad :(

  • forgetfulone
    September 2, 2008 at 10:06 PM  

    I can't imagine what I would do! Panic! Heart attack! How long ARE you supposed to wait? Too scary!

    Am I still reducing cellulite by leaving a comment?

    Thanks for reading my guest post at On the Flipside today. I hope you’ll visit my regular blog, Forgetfulone

  • Mighty Morphin' Mama
    September 2, 2008 at 11:03 PM  

    Wow, so very scary. I would have been totally freaking out. I am not sure how long I would look before calling the police, but I am sure glad that everything turned out okay for you.
    Thanks so much for dropping by my blog and commenting. Great to meet you, I will be back.

  • Jaime
    September 3, 2008 at 12:08 AM  

    Thanks for visiting my blog today. It's always nice to connect with fellow Utahns.
    As for the kids...I have only ever lost any of them for maybe 4 or 5 minutes. I think if it was 45, I would have totally freaked out!

  • Mrs. B
    September 3, 2008 at 12:32 AM  

    Hi there! Thanks so much for coming by my blog today! I'm so glad your boys were safe and sound. My husband used to be an elementary school principal, and the few times that kids didn't end up at home, it always turned out they had gone to some other family members or friends house without telling the parents. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't worry! I know that I probably would have been terrified if I were you!

  • Tess
    September 3, 2008 at 5:32 AM  

    I would first fall over dead. Then, I would call the police, run out the door to look for them and kick their butt after I found them. A very scary thought that sneaks through my head many times and makes me shiver.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog-I love your blog with funny stories and great layout!

  • Jaysi
    September 3, 2008 at 11:38 AM  

    Wow, that is very scary. It is probably the single biggest fear of all parents, right? I haven't had this happen yet, but I'm sure it is bound to at some point. This gives me something to think about and plan ahead for.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I love "meeting" new people (and their blogs).

  • Jennifer
    September 3, 2008 at 10:32 PM  

    Holy cow, I have no idea. I think somewhere in me (and hubby, too) we would just KNOW. You know? Haven't you ever lost something and knew it wasn't really lost - and sure enough you find it? Or when you lose it and you know it's really gone. Kind of like that. But geez, I don't know that I should count on my "gut" in a situation like that!

  • Your Pal Pinki
    September 4, 2008 at 8:41 PM  

    I won't complain about brown, dry and no rain any more. I'm not the one who lives in the desert. : )

    I'm glad everyone is home safe and sound!

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