Sunday Hubby and I were headed out to church.
We were a ways out of town and saw something in the ditch. Hubby slowed down..From a distance I thought it was a huge eagle eating a deer carcass or something. As we passed we could see that it was a person. That person didn’t look old enough to be on their own and something about the situation sent off red flags for the both of us. Hubby thought is was a kid…I kind of thought so too but was giving the situation the benefit of the doubt and hoped that it was at least a teenager.
We decided we needed to turn around and check out the situation. Hubby drove up and we saw it was a girl….likely in her tweens. She had a coat and hat along with a fully stuffed back pack and a what I assumed to be phone. We asked her if she was okay…Yes, she was. We asked her what she was doing…she said walking to a friend’s house. We asked her if her parents knew she was going…she said yes. Hmmm….this was sending off more red flags. It was raining and this was a considerable walk. I asked who her friend was. She told us. We knew the family who owned the house where she said she walking to and indeed, they did live down the road-but about two miles down the road. We offered to give her a ride. We were strangers to her but she jumped right in without a second’s hesitation.
That worried me. Why would she jump into our truck? Was she really going to a friend’s house? It was cold and rainy. What parents would let her out?
As we drove I asked questions..poor girl. I asked question after question.
We pulled up to the place she want to go to. Hmm…no one was running out to greet her. I told her I would go to the door with her. At this point I started to believe they didn’t know she was coming. Luckily, I knew the family whose house she wanted to go to so I told her that I would go to the door with her and talk to the mom. Well the mom wasn’t home. The dad was in bed. No one expected our traveler.
I turned to her and said, I don’t think this is going to work…how about we take your home.
Then red flags flew..should we take her home? Was her home safe?
More questions…here’s what we found out.Home wasn’t very fun. Mom and Dad were always fighting and it was hard on her. She did feel safe at home and didn’t feel like anyone there would hurt her. At that point we decided yep we’ll take her home BUT we were going to give her some tools.
We drove her past our house. We told her that she could come to our house anytime. I racked my brain to help her make some connections to me….I told her I was the childcare lady in town and I was the one who had the big three seater stroller-she had seen me. I had figured out who she was through our conversation so I gave information to her that might help her think I was a safe person. I knew people she knew. I took care of childcare kids that she knew. Hopefully I relayed to her that I was a safe house and safe place to go and that should she be inclined to run away again, I might be the house she traveled to.
Then we drove her to her house. Again, I went to the door with her. Dad came to the door. I explained who I was and why we had his daughter. Surprisingly, Dad wasn’t shocked. I didn’t get much of a response from him at all. I could only imagine myself reeling if that had been my kid. This dad…quiet. It made me concerned but I didn’t know what to do. She didn’t seem sad to be home. I thought it was okay to leave her.
We drove away hoping we did all the right things. Now I am kicking myself that I didn’t give her a phone number or a way to contact me.
From there Hubby and I looked at the clock. Nope. We couldn’t make it to church. We’d be 10 minutes late. We decided to go to a different church that was nearby. As we were driving my brain racked trying to figure out who I knew that it was appropriate to tell the incident to that might be able to help. It turns out I knew someone and decided that after church, we’d stop there. I’d tell them. I needed someone close to the girl that could follow up and make sure everything was okay.
We stopped after church. I relayed the incident to the family member. I felt a little better…Hubby did too. We didn’t have a way in to check on her, but the people we told did. I felt much better about that.
I am still a little frazzled by it all. I feel so bad for hurting children. I wish I could grab them all in and love them. I wish parents knew the damage they do to children…so much of it is innocent and happens unknowingly. Parents don’t know those little jabs and arguments, those phone conversations that kids overhear that aren’t pleasant…all of it….it hurts. It damages kids and let’s them think that relationships normally operate like that.
I hope that we left enough of an impression with her that she’ll come here if she needs a place to go. I keep reliving the incident in my mind. Why did she get into our vehicle? We were strangers to her. Why didn’t she see us as strangers. She could have so easily gotten into someone else’s vehicle…someone who wanted to take advantage of her. I am so thankful that we came across her…I’m so thankful we turned around. I am hoping this gave mom and dad a bit of a wake call. I don’t think they are bad parents..I don’t think she’s a bad kid. I think they are in a hard situation.
People ask if we like it in town…I do. I like it a lot. Hubby likes it too. Sometimes, when things like this happen, I feel like here is where I am suppose to be. I feel like I’m suppose to be here to provide the safe house…if any of you need a safe house, we’re here for you too.