Eager to leave for a week's vacation, the children buckled themselves into our van, ready to go to church before heading to Florida. But as Joe loaded our luggage, he realized that our cats Sonny and Sarah had slipped out of the house at some point during our hectic morning. Although we were pressed to make it to Bible class on time, at their father's prompting, the older three children tumbled back out of the van to locate the cats.
"Sarah," 5-year-old Mary Ashley drawled. "Come here, sweet Sarah." Seven-year-old Christian headed back into the house to check some of the cats' favorite hiding spots, and 10-year-old Carson scanned the front yard for any trace of Sonny. While the rest of the family searched for the cats, 3-year-old Emma sat quietly in her car seat.
Our long-haired cat, Sarah, quickly returned, scampering up the driveway and back into the house. But short-haired Sonny was nowhere to be found. We all went separate directions trying to locate him, but within a few minutes gathered on the driveway, not sure where to look next.
At this point, little Emma had climbed out of the van to announce excitedly, "I saw Sonny! I saw Sonny!" Emma's concept of time is still a bit fuzzy at her age, so I wasn't sure she was a credible witness. But she was so enthusiastic, I thought it was worth a shot to listen to her. "I saw him! He went dat way," she said, pointing toward a neighbor's driveway.
So Carson, Christian and Mary Ashley headed down the street looking for any sign of our missing cat. "I don't see anything!" Carson finally called from the neighbor's driveway, throwing his hands up.
Knowing this delay had made us late for Bible class, we summoned the children back to the van so we could head on to church. As we backed out of the driveway, Joe and I were already making arrangements to get Sonny back into the house before our trip.
From the backseat, the older children questioned Emma about spotting Sonny. In a hushed front-seat exchange, Joe and I speculated whether Emma's account could be trusted. But we all turned our attention to Emma, seated in the middle of the van, when she let us in on the full story.
"I saw Sonny. He was over dere," she began, pointing again toward the neighbor's driveway. Then pointing the opposite direction, she continued, "He was on the stweet, going dat way. ..."