Friday, January 3, 2014

Our Prodigal Returns....

Our prodigal.....

This morning  I told Shad to go outside and clean off the patio.  He had left his Lego boxes out their and they had gotten rained on.  He cleaned the table off but failed to do some other things asked of him yesterday in his play area.  So I reminded him of those things.  He got a little angry look on his face but went to do them.  Remember this is all his toys and play area, so it is all mess he had made.  We have a fenced in patio and yard, and that's where he plays with his toys that have small pieces.  It is very safe, and comes with a big dog that barks.  So in a few minutes, Steve asked me where Shad was and I told him outside.  Steve was actually going to play a joke on Shad and went out the back door to scare him. a few minutes, Steve is back totally freaked out because Shad is no where to be found.  At first I thought Shad was pranking Steve, or had just gone in the back area for something.   Then Steve, Jon and I are yelling for Shad with nothing but silence echoing back.  After about 5 minutes of us running and yelling for him.  I realized we couldn't wait any longer and had to call the police.  I called, as Jon drove off one way and Steve the other to see if maybe he walked down the road, chasing a cat or dog.  They both got back about the time when the first officer arrived. 

In just a few minutes our yard was filled with a fire truck, ambulance, and police cars.  It became increasingly obvious that this was very serious.  Jon has worked for over 16 years in the prison setting and before that for the Polk Co Sheriff's Department.  I worked for years as a probation officer, carrying a case load of many sex offenders and when I became a supervisor, my unit had the majority of the sex offenders.  Jon and I both know the statistics.  In fact, in my brain I was counting up the time and I knew that the crucial first hour was almost over....  Just before this happened, I had read that the infamous killer of Jimmy Ryce ( a young boy whose kidnapping, sexual abuse and death by a convicted sex offender caused the state of Florida to pass the Jimmy Ryce act that entails CIVIL commitment to a facility following an offender's release from prison if the courts deem the offender to still be a threat to society.  I filled out quite a few "Jimmy Ryce forms")  had had his death warrant signed by Governor  Scott. 

So I had remained pretty calm throughout this time, until all that hit my brain and I saw black dots.  I leaned up against the patrol car because I thought I was going to pass out. 

We checked all the buildings again on the property.  Jon had noticed a truck parked near the entrance to one of the trails behind our home so a cop was dispatched to follow up on the truck.  Steve said he was going to look in the woods....well thank God he did!  In just a few minutes, we hear the yelling  "he's been found, he's ok" echoing throughout the yard.  We go running to them.  Steve had found Shad sitting under a tree, covered with stickers and sandspurs. 

At first all Shad would offer was that "he was thinking"  When asked about what, he said "his life"  He was very serious and scared of the police.  He wouldn't' open up at all with the police there.  After they all left with our sincerest thanks, he started telling us what had happened.  He had gotten angry that I reminded him to put his stuff all up so we could go do something.  So he did it but then he basically decided he was mad and was going to "run away".  Well he only got about 25 feet off our property but was deep enough in the woods hide from us.  When he saw the cops come up, he was terrified that he was in really bad trouble so he stayed put.  I guess he'd still be there if Steve hadn't gone out to find him.

He has never done anything at all like this and hopefully never will again.  We shared with him how terrified we were that someone had taken him away to hurt or kill him.  He started crying and crying.  It was easy to see how bad he felt.

Now we are pretty no nonsense parents.  We don't reward bad behavior but this time Jon reminded us of the  prodigal son and how thankful the father was that the son had returned home that he threw him a big party.  And even tho the "elder brother" had to go and find our prodigal, we were extremely thankful that he was at home with us.  So he went and changed clothes and he and I sat and took out all the sand spurs on his dirty clothes and talked.  Then he sat in my lap for awhile.  Then we all went out and got something to eat and we took him to pick out something to buy with his Christmas money. 

He made a wrong decision and hopefully he learned from it and will never do something like that again.  If he does, next time he will be in a lot of trouble with us and with the police.  But this was something he did without thinking and it snowballed bigger than he ever dreamed of it going and he didn't know how to handle it.  But we chose to just overwhelm him with our love.  He didn't really deserve it, to be honest if anything deserved a spanking, this certainly did!  Not only had he put himself in danger in the woods, but he had upset us and cause the police, firemen and EMS to spend about an hour involved in a false case when there are plenty of other things happening that need their attention and we did share all of that with Shad.  Once I saw him walking in, and could tell he was fine, I told the officer with me that he better stay for awhile because I was "fixing to kill that boy"  LOL  the officer knew I was kidding around and laughed with me out of sheer relief!  

I was asked if I was going to share this on here and I really did debate.  This is pretty personal stuff but I'm sharing because I think we need to think about how precious our children and family really are to us.  You have no idea how relieved we are that he was just out sulking and being disobedient.  I'll take that ANY day over what could have happened!   You can learn from things like this!   We did put in some new rules now that he is not allowed out of our fenced in area and we went over some scenarios that offenders and kidnappers could try on him.   This situation today showed us how we could be more careful with our son and how we can treasure his heart.

I was not wrong in asking him, no TELLING him to clean up his toys and throw away the old boxes.  I've taught my kids I am not their maid!  There was nothing wrong in him being outside in the play area.  But of course as soon as this happened, I blamed myself, I blamed myself for telling him to put the boxes in the dumpster, because I thought someone had grabbed him there.  (btw, he is not allowed to go to the dumpster anymore unless a grownup is outside.)   That was the furthest point from our house and from our barking dog.  I asked Jon to go and see if the boxes were in there, they were....that was the point, when I almost fainted.  I was so afraid.....

I think through this, Shad saw how much Jon, Steve and I love him.  Steve has been so sweet to him all day and even paid for half of what he bought with his Christmas money!  (you know that is brotherly love!)   Shad is the most outgoing of our kids, but he is the one in the middle.  He isn't the oldest and he isn't the youngest.  He doesn't have the medical issues the little ones have so he doesn't get that kind of attention nor does he get the kind of attention and freedom his older brother gets.  It's a hard place to be in. 

So today was a day to talk about problems and show love.  It actually turned into a sweet day together all of us.  And from the bottom of my heart, I am grateful that the only thing we had to really deal with today was a bad attitude.   The fear of what could have been, seemed to put it all more in focus!   How many parents would be thrilled that their missing child was just out "thinking" a few yards from their home?  I know I was thankful that was all we had to deal with!

Here is Shad's kittens after their bath yesterday.  Sweet love muffins!

Here is Sam ATTACKING his corn on the cob today:)  He loves it!



And thanks again to the wonderful men & women of the Pasco County Sherriff's Office!  They totally are the best!   We appreciate them so much!  


  1. Sometimes there are no words for the relief we feel at the safe return of a child, whatever the situation! It's a relief that only a parent knows...thanks for sharing!

  2. Praise God for that ending. And what an opportunity to teach about Grace.

    Blessings to you and your family.

  3. So glad you found Shad today. As a Mother I know how you must have felt and how awful he must of felt. I think you did good helping him realize what he did was wrong. Taking him out to spend his money was a good way to help him remember what he did and why not to do it again. Now I hope MOM can find peace of mind and just hold on to him tightly. Love to you and yours, Dottie

  4. So glad things turned out!! No judgement here, not sure we wouldn't have done the same thing!
    God bless our first responders!

  5. Love this story....what an opportunity to show God's grace! Shad is not the only little boy to ever have "run away" nor will he be the last! There is no feeling like what comes when you think a child has disappeared! I love that you were able to show him that even though we make bad choices (and who doesn't?) we can still be forgiven and it doesn't change the love that is given to us. It is an especially good message to this precious son of yours who, like you said, may sometimes just feel a little out of place. He's so blessed to have you as parents and I know you feel the same way to call him your son! Praising God for a happy ending!! (((HUGS)))!!

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  7. On Saturday morning my 9 year old was to go over to the neighbor's to play (the dad picks them up over the backyard fence) but he did not let us know when he left. The 3 minutes of searching the house seemed like forever and I all I could think about was your blog post of the crucial 1st hour! I was getting ready to call 911 when we heard him playing in the neighbor's back yard. My husband who is also in law enforcement and knows just how sick society is had to make sure he made visual contact before he was confident he was okay! When he came back we had a chat about the importance of letting us know when he is leaving the house - even if it's just to the backyard! Sad the times we live in!

  8. I am so thankful that Shad was found today and was not seriously harmed. I believe you handled it beautiful. I was cracking up with your comment to the fire fighter. That is so something I would say at that time. I remember my son announcing he was running away, I proudly announced let me back your bags and a lunch for you. He marched back to his room and pouted. Again, I am just glad he is safe because like you said there are lots of crazies out there and you can't be to careful. Sherri