When I was 5 years old my sister Leslie and I shared a room. We cozied up in our bunk beds every night whispering stories or complaints to one another about how unfair it was that we had to go to bed at such an early hour. In the summer of that year, our bedtime of 8pm seemed especially cruel – afterall, the sun was still out and as all children know, there should be playing instead of sleeping when the sun was out!
Over the summer months we became quite masterful at prolonging the inevitable bedtime. We would ask for stories, get up for a drink of water, and on especially creative nights we would get up to ask my parents deep questions about life – you know, like why was it that Stephanie across the street was allowed to ride her bike outside until 8:30pm but we were relegated to our bunk beds at 8:00pm?
During one of these summer nights we had gone through our litany of bed time excuses only to surrender to the inevitable and try to go to sleep. I was almost dreaming of tomorrow’s bike rides and the ice cream truck when I heard Leslie calling my name in a distressed voice.
“What is it, Les?” I asked with annoyance.
“I think mom and dad have been kidnapped or something.”
“What?” I asked as I started to awaken from my sleepy state.
“I said, I think mom and dad have been kidnapped. They aren’t here.”
As I sat up in my bunk bed Leslie began to explain to me as only a 3 year old can that she had gotten up to ask one last time for a glass of water only to find that my parents were nowhere in our house. I asked if she had checked the kitchen. She had. The bedroom? Check. I went down the list of every room in the house only to discover that according to Leslie they were nowhere to be found.
Perhaps they were kidnapped I decided…but I told her that I would check it out first.
As the two of us ventured into each room, Leslie began to cry and I began to worry. Who would have kidnapped them I wondered? And would they be able to escape?
I tried my best to be brave for Leslie, and told her that I would call the operator. (I guess it dates me a bit at the realization that 911 was nonexistent at the time – but I had learned in kindergarten that when there is an emergency it was best to dial 0 and talk to the operator!)
So, standing in my parent’s bedroom I walked to the phone and dialed 0 with confidence knowing that the operator was always available to help.
As soon as I heard the voice say, “Operator.” I went into full story mode trying my best to explain that my parents had been kidnapped and we did not know what to do. I then took a deep breath prepared to receive wisdom and comfort from the all-wise operator.
“Stop playing on the phone, little girl. This line is meant for real emergencies.” The operator spat out these words and immediately hung up the phone. I was shocked as I held the receiver in my hand listening to the dial tone. I didn’t know what to do – hadn’t my teacher said that the operator was always able to help in times of trouble?
Leslie looked up at me with tears in her big blue eyes and I knew I had to try one more time. This time I would be brave and make sure the operator knew this was a real emergency. So, as I heard the word, “Operator.” I launched into the most confident speech any 5-year old could make about the fact that her parents had been kidnapped.
To my relief this was a different operator and she asked me several questions – all of which I was proud to have the answers to…
Address: 8505 Louisville Drive
Phone Number: 792-0773
Parent’s Names: Jackie and Linda White
She asked me a few other things and then explained that I would now be speaking to the police who would ask me a few other questions. The police officer asked me the same type of questions and then explained that everything would be okay – that they would do their best to find my kidnapped parents.
The police officer then asked if I knew my neighbors and when I said that I did, he told me to go over to their house and wait for a few minutes until a police officer could get there. I hung up the phone, put my hand on Leslie’s shoulder and told her to go put on her robe and pack a few things because we were going next door.
Leslie and I went to our room and pulled out a suitcase. We packed our favorite dolls and some crackers. We put on our new robes and house shoes and prepared ourselves for the trip next door to the Addling’s house.
As we stepped out our front door I realized that it was still light outside, and then I noticed familiar voices and laughter. Could it be? Was that my father’s voice? How had he escaped the kidnappers already? We turned from the front door to the driveway and were amazed to see that sitting in lawn chairs were my parents talking with the neighbors! They were alive! They were not kidnapped!
My parents needless to say were a bit surprised to see Leslie and I dressed in our best night attire carrying a suitcase. Leslie screamed and started yelling – “you’re alive! You’re alive!” As my dad picked her up he started to laugh and say that of course he was alive – what were we up to now? We started to explain that we thought they had been kidnapped, and in the midst of the story I commented that the police were coming to help us find them.
My parents laughed about our story, but then my dad halted and asked, “Did you really call the police?” “Yes I did!” I proudly boasted, “And they are on their way.”
My dad hurried inside to make a phone call, just as a police car pulled onto our street.
I used to love telling this story when I was a little girl. I thought it made me sound brave, although I understand now why it made people laugh and light up with joy! And although it’s cute that two little girls would make assumptions about their parent’s being kidnapped – I’ve started to wonder how often do I make false assumptions about my life. How often do I go by what I see when the truth of a situation is right outside the front door?
Sometimes I like the comfort and the confines of the house I make in my life – even if the reality or assumptions inside of that house aren’t ideal. I’m trying to step outside my house more this year – look at situations from a different vantage point…and allow the Lord to walk me out the front door where I can see His truth rather than just my reality.