In the Blink of an Eye

In the Blink of an Eye | Duluth Moms BlogShe was folding clothes and returning them to the suitcase while her preschooler played with trucks in the living room. When she turned around and he was no longer there, she assumed he’d wandered outside to help her husband load the car. The family had just spent a glorious week in a small rental cabin on a lake north of Ely, MN. They unplugged from the world to spend time making memories with their young son swimming, canoeing, and roasting marshmallows over a campfire. The only connection they had to the rest of the world for the entire week was a single radio station aptly named “the end of the road radio.” They loved their vacation, they felt refreshed and rejuvenated, but it was time to drive back to the city to return to work.

She just had a few more things to do to return the cabin to its pristine state. There were still a few dishes in the sink to be washed and some more clothes to be packed. She decided to check quickly that her son was indeed outside with her husband. She called to her husband from the front porch of the quaint cabin. However, instead of responding affirmatively that he and the boy were indeed together, he said no, he hadn’t seen Aidan recently, he thought he was inside. In that moment her heart sank. Realization dawned that their little boy may be missing. They began to panic and started shouting his name. She wracked her brain trying to figure out how many minutes it had been since he was last sitting in the living room playing with his trucks. They each began searching the area frantically. She combed every inch of the tiny cabin, searching under beds and in each closet. He ran around the perimeter of the cabin and then ran down the short trail to the lake. Aidan was gone.

In the Blink of an Eye | Duluth Moms BlogNow, some of the above details have been fictionalized in the retelling of this story for entertainment value, but the overarching theme is actually very true. An adventurous little boy, who we will call Aidan, wandered into the woods this summer unbeknownst to his attentive mom and dad. The family was renting a cabin down the road from our family cabin on the North Arm of Burntside Lake in the quiet wilderness near the Boundary Waters. Their week had come to an end, and they were cleaning and packing for their departure. Aidan slipped outside unnoticed and wandered into the woods. He quickly lost his bearings and traveled about a ½ mile through the woods away from the rental cabin.

My mom and stepdad had just arrived at our cabin and were unpacking the car when they heard a few faint whimpering sounds. They then heard some indistinguishable shouting coming from the opposite direction. The area is typically very quiet so when they heard these sounds off and on for several minutes, they decided to investigate. My stepdad walked several hundred yards down the road toward where he thought the crying sounds were coming from. He suddenly spotted a small boy several yards off the road sitting on the ground in the midst of a thicket of trees. When the little boy saw my stepdad he ran to him and leapt into his arms. He was cold and exhausted. He said that he was four years old and he was lost and very scared. My stepdad realized that the shouting he had heard earlier must have been this little guy’s family calling for him. My stepdad walked with Aidan hand in hand in the direction of where the shouting had been coming from. They reached the rental cabin and Aidan was reunited with his distraught parents amid tears of joy, praises to God, and warm hugs. It’s still unclear to me just how long this little guy had been missing, but enough time had passed that a search party had already begun canvassing the nearby woods.

I don’t even want to think about the tragic ending that this story could have had. What horrifies me most is how easily this story could have been about one of my own children. We love to be at the cabin and go for hikes to explore the area. What if we were distracted for two seconds, and one of the twins ventured into the woods lured by a colorful flower or a scurrying critter? Since this incident occurred a few weeks ago, it’s been quite the topic of conversation in our home. The twins ask frequently about the little boy who got lost in the woods, and they like it when we retell the story of how Far Far (their pet name for my stepdad, Swedish for grandpa) found the little boy and brought him back to his mom and dad. We’ll tell them this story over and over again in the hope that they begin to understand just how dangerous the forest can be, hopefully without traumatizing them! We’ll also continue to reinforce the following safety guidelines; if you get lost, don’t panic, stay where you are, and call for help. Hopefully we’ll strike a balance between teaching them how to be safe and cautious near the woods without quelling their adventurous spirit.


Dreaming of Family Adventure | Duluth Moms Blog{ Photo credit: Three Irish Girls Photography }

Kristina is a native Duluthian and a mom to boy/girl twins who are two years old. While in grad school in Boston, she met her husband who is originally from Ireland. They returned to Duluth 5 years ago to be closer to at least one of their families. Kristina works as a nurse practitioner in a local urology practice. She enjoys planning vacations that she hopes to actually take one day, using a label maker to organize all the things, and going on adventures with her family. 

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