Yesterday we decided to venture out of our home and into the wonderful world of Cabelas outdoor sports store. I am told this is the biggest Cabelas in the country. They have as many wild life exhibits as a zoo, although the majority of the animals there have spent a little time with taxidermist. The day started off like any other day, Robb suggested we go on an outing and I though it would be a great opportunity to get my “Home Schooling Feet” wet. After a 45 minute drive and two pit stops later, we arrived at Cabelas. In true Texas style it was enormous, the parking lot would have put some amusement parks to shame. After a quick photo opp, we began to tour throughout the exhibits, we talked about where each animal originally hailed and what types of food they ate. There where probably over 500 different mounts likely even more. My favorite to look at are the “non-typical” deer.
The best part for me must have been the fish exhibit, the tanks were huge and filled with giant catfish as well as other types of fish that are local to us here, such as alligator gar. This gave us a great opportunity to talk about the fact that some fish have scales, some don’t and how fish use their gills to breathe underwater. All in all, I felt that the adventure was a success. We enjoyed a Bison burger in the lunch lounge before we left (this place was like DisneyLand!). We pilled into the car with Onyx in tow and realized that we had forgotten that we were supposed to be meeting our older son Will (16) at his soccer game. Luckily we had enough time to get there and let our smalls have a nap along the way.
The children had been so good all day that we decided to let them run about the bleachers to blow of some steam, before we called it a day and headed home for our normal dinner, bath, bedtime routine. Will’s team was winning and the game started to wind to a close. I heard the kids thumping up and down the bleachers and squealing and they chased each other, round and round. Onyx our feet perking her ears every thirty seconds as they ran by. A minute passed and I didn’t hear the children squeak and squeal. I stood up and saw Bianca(5) running up the walk, but where is Blake? I stood and walked to the top of the bleachers and look down to where the children had been playing. The soccer field was between the high school and the middle school. There was a beautiful church with a steeple and children playing baseball in the field next to it, but there was no Blake in sight.
Now, two minutes has passed. The dog and my husband rose to their feet feeling the fear of loss bleeding from my heart. Blake is just three years old and I have a good idea of how fast and far a boy his size could go in now 2 minutes and 30 seconds and it wasn’t far. There was an open field between us and the children playing baseball, but what I hadn’t noticed before, was the street that led a 1/4 mile to a busy intersection. I ran toward the children playing baseball, without saying a word Robb took Bianca headed to the bathroom behind the bleachers. I headed to the most dangerous place he could be, the road. He wasn’t there I looked across the field and saw my husband and daughter walking out of the bathrooms without our son.
Fear rocked me to my core, and I think to myself, he has been taken. This is the worst fear any mother could ever have. I bend down to look into the culvert, five minutes have passed, still no Blake. As I begin to run towards the children playing baseball I felt my body starting to heave, I’m going to vomit, but I stop myself. Now is no time to feel, it’s time to find my son. I reach the parents standing on the outskirts of the baseball field. I think to myself this is where I would go if I were a little boy looking for fun and mischief.
“Have you seen a little boy, he is wearing a purple shirt and green pants?” It didn’t even sound like my own voice, I could never lose my son.
“No we haven’t seen him.” They said with concern. “how old is he?”
My heart plummets to my feet. “He is three, his name is Blake, you have to help me” All I could do was pray that he was just moments away from being found, not in the trunk of someones car.
In seconds, twenty people fanned out and headed back towards the bleachers. There is nowhere for my son to be hiding, just an open field and the bleachers that we had already searched. My mind raced with what my life would look like without my baby boy. I couldn’t even picture it, I thought I heard a child scream and my eyes strained to see the cars that were stopping at the light. At what point do I call for an amber alert? Where is my phone?
He’s been taken, is all I could think. A car came towards me, I didn’t think twice I jumped in front of it. Did this man have my baby? There was no boy in his car – no Blake. (In reality he had only been out of sight for less than 3 minutes before being found by Robb, but because I didn’t bring my phone with me that day I missed the call that he had been located ten feet from where we had been sitting, just a moment after I had headed toward the road). I am now a half mile in the worst possible direction, the highway, in a place I don’t know all that well. Eight minutes have past and I can feel that the blood has drained from my face. Some other power is keeping my feet moving, my heart and soul are back there behind me on that baseball field in a heap, crying. I’m running at a fast clip towards a man waving his hands like a shipwrecked sailor. I looked to see if he has a boy. I do not see my boy.
A woman calls out to me, “We’ve found him, he is okay” I fell into the strangers arms and just cry. She was one of the mother’s from the church, she held onto me as I tried to breathe. All of the emotions I wouldn’t let myself feel, hit me like a monsoon. This kind woman held onto me like a reassuring mother would, until I regained the function of my shaking legs . I kneeled down and looked at my son, he looked up at me and saw the fear in my eyes, like he had never seen before.
“I’m sorry I lost you mommy, I will never lose you again.”
It turned out that in the spirit of exploration, he had been running tiny circles around the bleachers not far from where we had been sitting as I ran off to handle “worst case”. Robb ultimately found him by looking where any good detective or ex-police officer would; In the place that makes the most since. This was the worst ten minutes of my life. My dear husband tried his best to reassure me that I am a good mom and that he hadn’t even really left our side.
I sat in silence the whole way home and thought about our decision as a family to be exploring in unknown lands. I thought this was God’s way of telling me that all will be good in this world if you keep your family close and are vigilant in protecting them.
After this false alarm I have decided it best to curb my addiction to Investigation Discovery.
A thought (rather a million) went through my head when I looked back at Robb with Onyx the former dope dog on lead searching for our son with only their eyes. Why have I not trained our dog to “find kids?” Tracking is the most primal thing for a dog to do. Any dog can track! Blake would have been safely found in a fraction of the time, (and I would have avoided aging ten years in ten minutes) if the dog had been trained to track instead of the silly human tricks I’ve been working with her on, such as drinking from a water fountain or opening doors.
Over the next six months I will training Onyx and the rest of the Hamic family to be an interracial part of the HSAR (Hamic Search And Rescue) team. I have always been the “hovering” type. There is no worse fear, than the one a mother feels when her child is lost, each moment is an eternity. I’m told that this type of thing happens to all mother’s at some point or another in their child rearing adventures, but you just don’t believe it will ever happen to you. I don’t even let them play in the front yard with out supervision, even though we know all of the neighbors on our quiet little street. It only takes a moment for the worst to happen. I can only pray that this is the first and last time for me and I am endlessly thankful for the happy outcome.
Here are a few statistics that I found very alarming, but we need to be aware.
- Every 40 seconds in the United States, a child becomes missing or is abducted.
- In 2001, 840,279 people (adults and children) were reported missing to the FBI’s National Crime Information Center (NCIC). The FBI estimates that 85 to 90 percent of those (roughly 750,000 people or 2,000 per day) reported missing were children. The vast majority of these cases are resolved within hours.
- Based on the identity of the perpetrator, there are three distinct types of kidnapping: kidnapping by a relative of the victim or “family kidnapping” (49 percent), kidnapping by an acquaintance of the victim or “acquaintance kidnapping” (27 percent), and kidnapping by a stranger to the victim or “stranger kidnapping” (24 percent).
- Family kidnapping is committed primarily by parents, involves a larger percentage of female perpetrators (43 percent) than other types of kidnapping offenses, occurs more frequently to children under 6, equally victimize juveniles of both sexes, and most often originates in the home.
- Acquaintance kidnapping involves a comparatively high percentage of juvenile perpetrators, has the largest percentage of female and teenage victims, is more often associated with other crimes (especially sexual and physical assault), occurs at homes and residences, and has the highest percentage of injured victims.
- Stranger kidnapping victimized more females than males, occurs primarily at outdoor locations, victimized both teenagers and school-age children, is associated with sexual assaults in the case of girl victims and robberies in the case of boy victims (although not exclusively so), and is the type of kidnapping most likely to involve the use of a firearm.
- Only about one child out of each 10,000 missing children reported to the local police is not found alive. However, about 20 percent of the children reported to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in nonfamily abductions are not found alive.
- In 80 percent of abductions by strangers, the first contact between the child and the abductors occurs within a quarter-mile of the child’s home.
- Most potential abductors grab their victims on the street or try to lure them into their vehicles.
- About 74 percent of the victims of nonfamily child abduction are girls.
- Acting quickly is critical. Seventy-four percent of abducted children who are ultimately murdered are dead within three hours of the abduction.
- One in five children 10 to 17 years old receive unwanted sexual solicitations online.
- In a 1998 study of parents’ worries by pediatricians at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota, nearly three-quarters of parents said they feared their children might be abducted. One-third of parents said this was a frequent worry — a degree of fear greater than that held for any other concern, including car accidents, sports injuries, or drug addiction.
Sources: Federal Bureau of Investigation; National Crime Information Center; U.S. Justice Dept.; Vanished Children’s Alliance; Redbook, February 1998; State of Washington’s Office of the Attorney General; United States Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention Juvenile Justice Bulletin, June 2000