My granddaughter, Amber, is in town for a short visit. Last night she was leaving to visit her dad and I threw on a coat to help her take her little ones out to her giant Dodge Ram pickup truck. She can manage the boys, ages 24 months and 5 months, just fine herself but it was so bitterly cold that I wanted to help cut down the length of time the boys would be outside. Right after we stepped out the door we heard a strange keening, crying, screaming sound from about four houses down the street.
Little Jack asked what that noise was and I said it was probably just kids playing but I kept looking down the street to see if I could see anything. Amber was concerned also and said she would look around when she got to the stop sign. When she got there, she called me and said there was a kid standing on the porch of a dark house and when Amber asked if he was okay, he didn't answer.
I started walking quickly down the street and as I got closer and and the wailing continued, I called 911. When I got close I saw what appeared to be an adolescent standing on the porch looking at me and crying. I said, 'are you okay". And SHE cried, 'No, I can't feel my feet'!
I hurried up to the porch and hugged her close while Amber pulled into the driveway. At that point I told the dispatcher that I was going to put her in the warm truck cab. He agreed that we should and said a 'unit' was on the way.
As the shivering child tried to warm herself, I asked how old she was and she said, to my surprise, 15. I asked how long she had been out there and she said she had no idea. She was short, wore cute classes, and had her super curly hair in a pony tail.
The policeman arrived and asked how long she had been out there. She said since she got off the bus at 5:30. We simultaneously looked at our watches. It was 6:00. He asked her if there was a place she could go and she told him her family had a daycare on Franklin street, the main street in town so he said he'd take her there.
So that should have been the end of the drama for us right? But it wasn't quite. The policeman pulled away, I started to walk home, Amber tried to back out of the driveway but, unnoticed by me, there was a late model SUV waiting to pull into the driveway and traffic was getting backed up in both directions which is why I was trying to get out of there - to decrease the congestion and confusion. Then Amber beeped her horn to alert me to the fact that the girl's parents seemed to be home and I turned around to explain that the child was being taken to the family's daycare on Franklin Street. But the policeman had turned around also and the child was exiting his cruiser and the mother was shouting "Where have you been! We've been looking for you for a half hour!"
So I went home and, although I was probably outside only about ten minutes, I was frozen. It was 14 degrees and my face, feet, and hands hurt from the cold! I could only imagine how this young girl felt. I paced around and thought about it for a few minutes and made my decision. I just had to explain to her parents how the police got involved, how cold and frightened she must have been, and that if there was ever another mix-up, I hoped they would use our house as a refuge/meeting place. Also, I was nonplussed by the report from Amber that she could hear the mother shouting at her daughter and dropping the F bomb like it was her first language.
I knocked on the door and the mother opened it and stepped out on the porch to talk closing the door behind her. I had barely started explaining why I was there when she interrupted. She shook my hand, thanked me for trying to help, said she would have done the same thing, explained that her daughter was a typical teen and had been in trouble before after having run away for two days, shook my hand again, told me she was mad at the policeman (because he wasn't interested in her explanations and said he just wanted to get the girl out of his car), and really never let me finish a sentence or explain the things I wanted to explain.
I came home feeling like I had done what I could but still a bit uneasy. Amber came home later feeling uneasy and as if we should do more. She also was angry at the policeman because she felt he should have followed through and investigated a little bit what was going on in the home.
So I wonder, should we have done more? And what would you do?