Excerpt from Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels

Posted on August 2, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized |


Here is an excerpt from Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels! You can get it at www.UrbanEdgePublishing.com or at Amazon.com!

Chapter 10


GPS Locator Recommended

They didn’t have GPS systems when our kids were small, but I believe they are probably one of the best investments a parent can make.

A child locator. It’s an ingenious idea. Had it been around back then, I’m sure our life spans would be ten, maybe twenty, years longer. As it stands, a palm reader might be suggesting last rites if they saw our lifelines.

Before I go any further, please understand that I’m not talking about lost children. Just misplaced ones.

How do you misplace a child? Ask any mother who’s let her child out of the seat of a shopping cart in a department store. While he plays hide and seek in the racks of clothes, you’re frantically searching for him—until you hear him giggle.

“Come out of there right now.”


“I mean it. Get over here right now.”

Giggle again.

“I’m not fooling around. Get out of there and come over here this instant.”

Get out of there and come over here this instant.”

Oh, no. Not the ‘say-everything-I-say’ game.

“Don’t start that.”

Don’t start that.” Giggle.

Now, this is something children are born with. The uncanny ability to make their mothers look and act like fools in department stores. Think about it. What would you think of a harried, frantic woman who’s scolding a rack of clothes? Oh, and the really smart ones crawl under the racks and move around from one rack to another. So, while you’re yelling at one rack, the word-for-word playback of everything you said is coming from another.

You can’t win at either game, the “catch me if you can” or “repeat everything you say” games. It’s like the no means yes and yes means no game. They’re setting you up for a fall.  Don’t fall for it. My advice is to prevent it from getting started at all, the same way you should prevent your children from singing ”The Song That Never Ends,” which probably was the reason they introduced Prozac.

We’ve always tried to keep a close eye on our kids, especially when they’re outside. Our GPS locater was a bicycle. It wasn’t seeing the bike—it was hearing it. Squeaky wheels drive some people batty, but they’re worth their weight in gold to any parent who wants to know where their child is. My husband WD-40’s everything in sight, but he knows better than to grease, oil, lube or spray a squeaky bike.

Sam was five. We were the youngest family in a block of older family homes; most of our neighbors were grandparents. Two houses down lived our aunt and uncle, and Mr. and Mrs. Johns lived right next door. Sam soon became the neighborhood granddaughter.




“What, Sam?”

“I’m going to Aunt Mar-Mar’s. She’s on her porch.”

“Okay. Take your bike.”

Then, she squeaked her way down the sidewalk.

Not long after, I heard her squeak her way back. As the squeak became louder, I waited for her to come flying through the front door.

No Sam.

Where’d she go?

Those instincts kicked in—you know, the ones that result from things being too quiet.

We went up and down the street calling her name over and over. No Sam. Her bike was in front of our house, but she was nowhere to be found. We panicked, like any parent would do. My husband started knocking on doors and told me to go home and call 911. We’d actually misplaced our child.

He called a few minutes later. He’d found Sam. She was right next door, sitting in Mr. and Mrs. Johns’ kitchen, eating a cookie. It seems that she was on a quest to repeat Trick or Treat and was going door to door asking her neighbor grandparents for candy.

Now, I knew where the candy came from. For the last couple weeks, she’d been coming out of her room eating a variety of different fruit snacks, candy bars, and lollipops. I knew I hadn’t purchased them.

“Where’d you get that?”

Smug look. No response, not even a giggle.

We were baffled. It got to the point where we’d try to follow her when she went in her room to see if we could find out where she kept her stash. She knew what we were up to, so she’d forego the candy until we left.

She’s 22 and still won’t tell us where she’d hid her loot.

Sam’s not the only child we misplaced. One time, Meridith went to a friend’s house, and when we went to get her, she wasn’t there. We were 30 seconds from calling 911 when we found her petting puppies in a neighbor’s back yard.

Then, there was Heather. She was in kindergarten at the time. My husband had taken a day off work to try to get a few things done, and I went to work. As usual, Bonnie, her babysitter, put Heather on the bus in the morning and had a snack ready on the table for her when she got home from school.

But, she didn’t return.

Bonnie caught a couple kids who rode the same bus and asked them where Heather was. They didn’t know.

 Well, was she even on the bus? They didn’t know.

So, Bonnie called me at work. Maybe one of us had picked Heather up at school and forgot to call her.

Not me. So, I called home to check with my husband. No answer. As a last resort, I called to see if he was with his mom and finally found him.

“Do you have Heather?”

“No. Why would I have Heather?”

Panic. Big panic. This time, we didn’t know where we’d lost her. Was it at school? Did she get off at the wrong stop? Where was she and how long had she been gone?

Bonnie called the school. My husband jumped in the truck, intending to retrace the bus route. The school radioed the bus driver. I was told to stay put. The forces were at work, and somebody needed to man the command station.

Just sit and wait. It was the hardest thing I’d ever done.

My husband called. Any word?


The school called to alert me that my daughter was missing.

Thank you, I already knew that. Inwardly, I wanted to lash out at them and ask them how they lost my baby, but that would have to wait. Finding her was the first order of business.

After what seemed like an eternity, Bonnie called. Her voice was shaking, and she was talking so fast I could barely understand what she said.

“They found her. She’s on the bus, and they’ll bring her home as soon as they drop off the rest of the kids.”

It appeared Heather had taken a little nap and slept right through when the bus driver let the kids off at her stop.  When she got home, she accused the bus driver of forgetting to drop her off.

One of our neighbors had a little boy who was an adventurer. “Josh” was a social butterfly, riding his bike and playing with friends all the time. He was about 7 or 8 and knew what time to be home every day and was never allowed to stay out after dark.

It was dark. It was after 8:00 when I heard a knock on our door. I opened it to find a policeman in full uniform.

“Ma’am, I’m just letting you know that one of the children in your neighborhood is missing. We’ll be searching the neighborhood, so don’t be alarmed if you see flashlights in your back yard.”

Of course, I did what everyone else did and went outside to find out what was going on. At the end of the block were squad cars, fire trucks, and ambulances, all with their lights flashing. It was a somber moment, realizing that this was the real thing.

All the neighbors got together and joined in the search. We were about a half hour into it when we heard the applause. They’d found him.

Or, rather, he found them.

It seems that Josh was invited to go to the Dairy Queen with his friend and their family. They told him to call and see if it was okay with his mom. He said he did.

But he didn’t.

And, of course, when they’d checked to see if Josh was at the friend’s house, nobody was home.

After waiting in a very long line for their ice cream, they decided they’d enjoy it at the park and let the boys play for a while. While they were there, they got wind that a boy was missing in our neighborhood. They panicked, wondering who it could be, and gathered their things and rushed home to find out.

Josh ran the couple houses home, barreling into the front door, and yelled, “Mooommm! Guess what! A little boy’s lost!”

His mom’s life span is now shorter than mine.



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3 Responses to “Excerpt from Caution: Children Should Come With Warning Labels”

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I can’t wait to go buy the book, it is so true & I laughed so hard!!! Way to go Patti. KATHY LOTT

Thanks, Kathy!

I would like to exchange links with your site writeandedit.wordpress.com
Is this possible?

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