Short and Sweet: Party Time and “The Wandering Child.”

Trying to find your lost child at a party full of kids, in a large subdivision, is not fun. Especially when you have four children by yourself.

That’s what I experienced for the first time a few weeks ago at a birthday party for my friend’s son. It’s also something I care not to experience again, that gut wretching feeling of being unable to find Railene, “The Wandering Child.”

This week’s Short and Sweet was a baptism of fire for me I can assure you. However I survived (barely) and my daughter Railene was found. I won’t give anymore details away, let’s dive into the story!

Waking Up

I do not look like this after night shift^

I crawled out of bed at 1230pm. After coming off my last twelve hour nightshift from work, I felt the groggy effects of four shifts in a row. You’d think I’d be used to it by now, after working as a dispatcher for five years. However my body was never made for twelve hour shifts. But it is what it is, and you do what you gotta do.

I glanced down at my phone and opened my Bible app and read the bible verse for the day:

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of it’s own.”

Matthew 6:34

Jesus said this to his disciples. Wise words. The context of that scripture is that if we trust God, there is no sense worrying about tomrrow, rather trust Him and deal with the present day. Little did I know how well that scripture would apply to my life that day.

Gearing Up

Party: 2:00 Pm. Current time: 12:30 Pm. Parent Count: 1 present (1 at work). Children: 4. Odds of Success: 25%

“Let’s do this.”

I started rounding up the Clan. Benaiah and Railene were dressed. Check. Twins were dressed. Check. Birthday gift. Check. Two Tylenol. Check.

Off we went in the van.

As we made our way to my buddy’s new house, I completely missed the street and drove up an old road into the woods. As I crept up the road, passing some older houses I knew then I was in the wrong place.

“Christian, you’re lost!” Benaiah called from the back of the van.

“Yes, thank you Benaiah I see that. Also don’t call me Christian, it’s Dad.” I replied as I started backing up into a driveway, slightly annoyed.

“We lost Christian…” Railene whispers. Oh the parrot.

I swung the van around, opened up Apple Maps… I was about 6 km away from where I should be.

“I know where I am going now!” I called out.

I took off down the road.

“Yay!” A unanimous reply from the back seats.

We arrived at the party (after I drove past the house twice. Remember I am just getting off night shift…) and I wrangled the children from the van and started into the fray.

It’s Go Time

“I got this.”

Children everywhere.

There party was rocking. There was a water slide, trampoline, and food laid out. Great friends. Great families. It was a time.

After a couple of hours into the party it was almost cake time. I started searching the house inside and outside rounding up my clan. Benaiah was outside by the waterslide. Check. Ava and Isaac in the playroom inside. Check. Railene…Railene is not outside?

‘Well she must be inside.’ I said to myself.

So I went into the house, calling out her name. No reply. I heard little girl voices laughing from upstairs. As I crested the stairs I saw my buddy’s daughter, “Did you see Railene?”

“No she is not up here.”

……….

My gut felt like it had been kicked.

I walked outside and looked around the backyard. Negative. Checked the front of the house by the street. People were busy out mowing their lawns, washing their vehicles… but no Railene.

I quickly walked back behind the house and found Benaiah.

“Do you know where Railene is?”

“Nope.”

“Help me find your sister please.”

Now it started to feel urgent. What felt like an hour was actually about five minutes of searching. Then we had a lead.

The tip came from the birthday boy.

He was on some monkey bar thing and Benaiah asked him if he had saw Railene. He pointed towards the neighbours house.

I looked across the yard at not one but three houses away…and there in the backyard playing with some random little girl was Railene on a slide.

Relief.

Joy.

Anger.

All three emotions hit me in sequence. I had found my little girl. I was glad she was safe. Now I was mad at what she had done.

I stormed across the backyard and bellowed Railenes name. She turned in surprise and started to go for another slide! I took her by the hand and made our way back to the party, a couple of hundred feet away.

She spent the rest of the party in with the babies in the playroom, under strict observation. 🙂 I had already told her what she had done was wrong and that I was so worried, but there had to be a consequence as this was not an isolated incident. Thus under quarantine with babies was the solution.

Reflection

After we left the party, I felt a real sense of accomplishment. Everyone was strapped into their seats with their party loot bags. Isaac was missing a shoe, Railene was crying because her loot bag bucket hit the floor, Benaiah was whirring a whirly thingy and Ava was stuffing her face with cookies.

I came. I saw. I survived.

After the party…

As I drove home I couldn’t help but think of the story of my Uncle Carl, who tragically passed away at the age of 6 years old when he wandered from his house with some boys. He was missing for a while, until a small group of men along with my Pop Marshall located him. He had fallen down a steep embankment while attempting to retrieve a toy plane.

I felt the tears well up in my eyes as I drove, because I couldn’t imagine the grief Nan and Pop Marshall must have felt at the loss of their son, and with their earnest search to find him with such a terrible result. Even now as I write this I am tearing up. It’s unconceivable in my mind.

When I tucked Railene in that night, I kissed her goodnight and held her close. She’s my little girl, and she always will be. I will search through any valley, climb any mountain and walk through any backyard to find my girl. Always.

Christian

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