Toddling crumbsnatchers love games. Especially “Hide and Seek.” Especially with their parents. And it seems to be exceedingly fun for the tiny tots when Mom and Dad have no clue they are joining in the game.
It was 1991 and I thought The Rapture had occurred leaving me behind eight years before I expected. My entire generation knew the world would end at 11:59 p.m. on December 31st, 1999 just like Prince predicted. We just weren’t clear whether it would Eastern or Central Standard Time.
The Eldest was barely old enough to toddle around our tiny two-bedroom house. One afternoon, things went a little too quiet. Oh geez, what is he getting into? I looked for him, but he was nowhere to be found in the barely 800 square-foot home. I swear.
I started in back in his room which contained nothing more than an armoire and a baby-bed standing one foot off the ground. He wasn’t there. I glanced at his two windows, and both were closed.
His room opened into the dining room. It held a four-legged dining table and a hope chest. There were no barefoot feet under the table. And the hope chest was locked.
To my right was the kitchen. The back door hadn’t been touched, otherwise I’d have heard. When someone opened the door, it sounded like the hinges on the gates of hell. At least what I suspected they sounded like.
I checked every cabinet and inside the oven. Oh sweet Jesus, where is this child?
I began to wonder how I’d explain to Officer D.A.R. that I’d lost his son.
“Hey honey,how was your day?”
“I’ve got some chicken and rice in the oven for dinner.”
“By the way, I lost The Eldest today.”
“Good lord woman. How’d you manage that?”
That’s when I thought maybe The Rapture had occurred.
I did a quick spiritual inventory and began to sweat. Growing up in a staunch southern Baptist household, I recounted my sins. I didn’t record those two extra Weight Watchers points for the M&M’s I’d stolen from The Eldest’s snack. And look at me, I’m a thief! I just took the Lord’s name in vain when I thought “Oh sweet Jesus, where is this child?” Oh sweet Jesus, I just did it again. And again. Stop it. ‘Cause thinking is just as bad as doing.’ That’s what Mrs. Priss always said in Sunday School.
I checked the linen closet. Under the sheets. In pillowcases. My thoughts continued to count my transgressions.
Damn it, where is that child? Oh great, now I’m cursing. If Jesus is planning on coming back to get me, I better watch my mouth. Please forgive me for everything I’ve forgotten to ask forgiveness for.
“Son! You better stop hiding and come out. I know you hear me calling you!”
I know I’m behind on my daily Bible reading, but can’t You cut me a little slack? You can see I have a toddler. And yesterday, I skipped “Days of Our Lives” to read him the Sampson story for the millionth time.
Oops, do You consider exaggerations to be lies? I didn’t know. Forgive me.
By this time, I’d checked the bathroom and our teeny-tiny living room.
“If you are in my bedroom, I’m going to kill you!”
Oh sweet Jesus, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. And this time I meant “Oh sweet Jesus” as a term of endearment.
I scoured the bedroom with no luck. I walked back into the living room and plopped on the couch. With elbows on my knees, I placed my face in my palms and began to bargain in prayer.
Lord, if this is The Rapture, please come back and get me. I don’t want to spend the next seven years of Tribulation with my mother-in-law. Cause I know You didn’t take her. And Lord, if I’ve just lost my child, can You please help me find him? I promise I won’t kill him, but I’m not so sure Officer D.A.R. won’t kill me if I don’t find his child before he gets home. You’d kind of be preventing a homicide, right? And I know You believe in free will and all, but just this once can’t You give the Methodist’s a nod with a little pre-destination that I will find him?
Suddenly, I heard a snicker from the back bedroom.
Never mind, Jesus. I found him. But hey, we’re all caught up if The Rapture does come soon, right?