It was about five minutes after I’d first thought, “Benjamin has sure been outside with the dog for a long time” when I heard the front door open and the jingle of Maverick’s collar. Maverick bounded up the stairs to the landing, where he noisily slurped at his water bowl. Benjamin (7) was not far behind.
“Well, I think Maverick has certainly had a long enough walk,” he said loudly. Then, after a pause: “We got lost.”
I responded with my best matronly look of shock and disgust. “Benjamin! You know you can’t go where you can’t see the house! YOU. HAVE. TO. BE. WHERE. YOU. CAN.
It was then that I saw his chin quivering – very, very quickly.
My tirade halted and my motherly instincts kicked in (better late than never?). My oldest, who has been looking so big, suddenly looked so little. I put my arm around him.
Then, quieter and slower: “Were you scared?”
“Yes.” Tears began to spill. “I . . . knocked on doors.”
“What?!! What happened?”
On Sunday, Ethan and Ben and the dog had hiked halfway up our mountain, to a clearing where you can see part of Clancy and
And apparently, he also felt a little empowered. Because on Tuesday, when he went to take the dog out, he decided to try the same trail he and Ethan took.
Only some of his landmarks had melted, and things looked different, and the trail didn’t lead where he thought it would. He was afraid, and then he saw a house.
He knocked on the door. No one answered, so he ran to the next house. No answer. It was at the third house that an elderly man heard him and came out of the garage. “Can I help you, son?” Maverick growled at him, but Benjamin talked to the dog until he calmed down. Maverick insisted on standing between the man and Ben, though.
“My name is Benjamin Allison, and this is my dog Maverick. I’m lost. Can you help me find my home?”
“Let me get my wife.” His wife came out of the house, and Benjamin repeated his information. He remembered the name of our road (which is miles long) but couldn’t remember the number. Someone thought to look on Maverick’s collar, where Ethan’s cell phone number is engraved.
They called Ethan, who was in his study. Ethan took the van and found Benjamin being hugged on the porch of the house right behind the gully behind our house.
I hugged Benjamin and told him how thankful I was for God’s protection (and how maybe I should get HIM a collar with our phone number!). I served him some warm tea and an English muffin with huckleberry jam, and then I ran out to Ethan’s study.
“WHAT???!!!” I yelled incredulously.
Ethan laughed at me and told me he knew I would be coming. When he picked Ben up, he took one look at Benjamin and could tell Ben knew what he had done wrong and felt bad enough, so he kept the conversation light on the way home. Then he went back into his study and waited for Ben to tell me his story and for me to barge incredulously into his study.
Incidentally, I hate that Ethan knows me well enough to anticipate exactly what I’m going to do. I mean, it’s unnerving. I also hate that he knew to curb the parental sermon while I thrashed full-force onto my soapbox. Well, I hate that he knew to do that, and I love that he knew. Mostly, I love it.
I’m thankful for God’s protection of Benjamin. It would have been very easy for him to be truly lost, or to have run into surly neighbors (although we haven’t met any yet) or to have been hurt. It would also be very easy to chalk it up to luck or the natural course of events. But I know better. I’m grateful that God provided a dog for Benjamin, and I’m grateful that he found kind neighbors and has a wise father . . . and Father.
And later today, we’ll be taking a freshly-baked loaf of bread to those kind neighbors.
And giving thanks. Again.