Travel with me a few hours back in time to tonight at the check-out in Wal-Mart (pretty glamorous location, hey?). Here’s the scene: I’m waiting for the cashier as I bounce a crying baby on my hip and try to wrangle my wallet out of a purse that is buried under hundreds of bags in the cart. Suddenly, a little Hispanic boy in bright yellow t-shirt wanders past me holding a bag of skittles.
That’s a little strange, I think, is he alone?
He couldn’t have been much older than two and seems a little confused as he roams around the check-out area by himself. It’s as if time stood still and all the noises and people disappeared as I stared at this little lost boy. One thought pulsates through my mind, What if this child were mine?
What if one of my boys wandered off and no one helped him find me again? The “what if” questions were almost unbearable to even consider. I didn’t care how incontinent it was at the moment, it was time for action.
I hurry up to the boy as he is about to disappear down another aisle and crouch down as I hold onto Gabby, “Where’s your mom, honey?” When he stares blankly at me, I realize he may not speak English. “Donde esta tu mama mi hijo? Come se llama?” His brown eyes are big with worry as he shrugs in response.
We hold hands and I walk him to the service counter, explaining the situation to the workers and entrusting him to their care. I head back to the cashier, who is waiting for me to pay, all the while watching the scared toddler who is sitting on a bench by the service area. I then see a frantic mother from a few aisles away break into a run when she spots her lost son.
Nothing beat the pure joy I felt as I saw a happy little boy with a bag of skittles clutched in his tiny hands jump into his mommy’s arms.
I don’t have to just wonder how I would have felt if that child were mine because there was a time when that child was mine. A few months ago, an elevator closed on Gideon before we could get on with him and he got lost at our courthouse in town. It was the kindness of a stranger who saw a confused little boy and gently took his hand and kept him safe until they could locate me. I can’t even imagine what this world would be like if we were all too busy to take the hand of a little kid squeezing skittles to help them find their way home.
It’s the courthouse workers, Wal-Mart shoppers and many other kind strangers that make up the community we need to raise our children. It truly does take a village to raise a child...and it doesn't hurt to have some skittles too!