A poor mother went into panic mode when she entered her 8-year-old son's bedroom at night and found out he had disappeared without a trace.
"Mom! Mom!" Anthony cried as he took a seat at the dining table. "Can we go to the amusement park this weekend? Last week, Paul and his parents went there, and it was a lot of fun!"
"Oh, was it, honey?" Lydia, his mother, inquired as she placed two pancakes on his plate and a glass of milk on the table.
"Yes, mom! And do you know…." Anthony had only begun to speak when his father, Jacob, cut him off.
Anthony was missing from his room one night | Photo: Shutterstock
"Hush, Anthony! You will be late for school if you keep talking like that. You know your mom and I have to leave for work too. So hurry up and eat breakfast."
"Nothing, Anthony," his father interrupted. "Finish your breakfast quickly."
Anthony didn't utter a word. He took a fork and gently poked the first pancake. He finished one soon and was about to start the next when his school bus arrived. "Oh, Anthony! Your bus has arrived, and you haven't finished your breakfast! How many times have I told you, honey, to get up on time?"
"I got up on time, mom," Anthony said as he picked up his bag, but he fell silent when he saw his father cast a stern look at him.
"Cross the road safely, honey," Lydia advised, assisting him with his bag. "We'll see you soon! And be a good boy at school, okay?"
Anthony was always upset that his parents didn't have enough time for him | Photo: Pexels
Anthony nodded and exited the house without saying anything. He was disappointed that his parents had again ignored what he was saying.
Lydia and Jacob adored Anthony, but they were always busy and couldn't devote enough time and attention to him. The boy was often irritated about it, but his parents were too preoccupied to notice.
When Anthony would return from school, his food would be prepared and kept in the fridge, and he was responsible for heating it up before eating. After having lunch, Anthony would rest for a while, then go to his friends' houses and play with them.
When Lydia and Jacob returned from work in the evening, Anthony would be studying. His father often watched TV after returning from work, and Lydia would go straight to the kitchen to start preparing dinner. After dinner, they would all retire to bed quietly.
Anthony frequently requested that his parents read him bedtime stories or play cards with him after dinner, but their standard response was, "Honey, we are very tired today. We'll do it another day," and then they'd tell him to go to bed.
Lydia and Jacob were always busy | Photo: Pexels
Anthony had had enough of this routine! His parents never paid enough attention to him. In fact, Jacob and Lydia had recently planned to relocate to a new neighborhood because Jacob's office was too far away from their current residence. So the couple was usually busy looking for a new home on weekends, and Anthony was either alone or at a friend's house until his parents returned.
One night, Lydia woke up abruptly and proceeded to the kitchen to get some water when she noticed a ray of light coming from Anthony's room from the stairs.
Lydia looked at the wall clock and saw that it was around 1:30 a.m. "Why is Anthony up so late?" she wondered, climbing the stairs to his room. The room's door was slightly ajar, and when she opened it, she couldn't believe her eyes!
The whole room was a complete mess! Anthony's clothes were strewn across the floor, his bed, and his study chair, and he was nowhere to be found!
Lydia was worried about Anthony | Photo: Pexels
"Anthony, are you there?" she asked, knocking on the bathroom door, but there was no answer. She opened the door and discovered it was empty.
Lydia's heart sank as she searched under the bed and in the closet. The boy was nowhere to be seen! She dashed into her room, sobbing uncontrollably, and woke Jacob. "Jacob, wake up! Anthony… .he's not at home!"
"What?" Jacob woke up, shocked. "Did you check the other rooms? What about the backyard?"
"I didn't check there," Lydia mumbled to herself as she dashed to the backyard, but Anthony wasn't there either. Lydia nearly collapsed at this point, crying, "Jacob, our son! You must find him! What happened to my little boy? His room was a mess! Did someone kidnap him?"
"Calm down, Lydia," Jacob comforted her, but his heart was sinking at the thought of Anthony missing. "All right, let's do one thing," Jacob said, trying to remain calm. "Let's check with our neighbors. Perhaps they saw Anthony leave? What do you think?"
"Ye - Yes, let's do that," Lydia said shakily.
The two then went around their neighborhood, asking if anyone had seen Anthony. Unfortunately, because it was late, some of them did not answer their doors, and those who did said they didn't know anything.
Anthony disappeared from his home at night | Photo: Pexels
Jacob was about to call the cops at this point when Mark, who lived across the street from them, called Jacob.
"Hey, Jacob, I apologize for calling you late at night, but you need to come here right away. I have something I need to show you."
"Look, Mark, I'm sorry, but we're really busy right now. Anthony….he just….we can't find him."
"It's about Anthony, Jacob. He's here."
"What? Please keep him there. We're coming!" Jacob didn't even disconnect the call and dashed to Mark's house. Mark was waiting for them at his doorstep. He took Lydia and Jacob to a shed behind his house, where they found Anthony sleeping with Mark's cat. "I returned home like 5 mins back, and when I came looking for something in the backyard, this is what I saw."
"Anthony, honey, please wake up," his mother cried and hugged him.
The boy woke up and began rubbing his eyes. "Mom, Dad, you finally came! I'm so happy!"
"How did you get here, Anthony? And late at night?" His father asked, worried.
Anthony fell asleep while playing with Mark's cat | Photo: Pexels
"I was hiding here, dad," the boy said. "You and mom are always busy, so I decided to hide to see if you'd come looking for me. I watched a show on TV where a kid was playing hide and seek with his friends. Only his best friend could find him because he loved him. So I thought if you and mommy love me, you will find me too. Mom didn't wish me a good night after dinner, so I knew she would come to my room. I left before that from our back door. But I was playing with the cat, and then I fell asleep."
"Are you out of your mind, Anthony? Do you even know…" Jacob started lashing out at Anthony, but Lydia stopped him.
"Calm down, Jacob. Not now!" she whispered to him.
"Anthony, what you did wasn't right, honey," she said gently. "You know dad and I were so scared. We love you, honey. You didn't need to do all of this. You won't do it again, promise?"
"Okay, mom!" Anthony said with a smile and hugged her. "Thanks for coming. I was scared that you and dad would be busy and won't come."
"Oh, honey, never think like that again. We love you, and from now on, we will give you enough time," Lydia said, wrapping her arms around Anthony.
That day taught Lydia and Jacob the value of devoting time to their son and spending time with him.
What can we learn from this story?
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