In 1991, I taught a preschool class of 20 3-year-olds in Silver Spring. One morning, my pleasure in teaching was shattered when the classroom aide frantically reported that a child seemed to be hiding from her.

It turned out to be Christopher, a shy Chinese boy who barely spoke English and who clung to his father in fright at drop-off each morning. Apparently, Christopher had slipped away while in timeout for typical toddler misbehavior. I searched under tables with no luck, then hurried outside. I didn't see him in the parking lot, so I ran to the side of the building, where I spotted him at the end of the lawn about 35 yards away.

"Christopher!" I called. He looked back briefly, then started running up the hill toward Veirs Mill Road and its four lanes of rush-hour traffic.

Now panic-stricken, I ran as fast as my aging legs would carry me, my heart pounding wildly. Please, God. Let me catch him before he gets to the street, I prayed. Then, just seconds before Christopher reached the curb, I swooped him into my arms and fell to my knees.

I slid back down the embankment to safety, clutching my young charge tightly all the way. There I sat, slowly rocking him as tears streamed down our faces. And I chanted over and over the few Chinese words I'd learned, first to welcome him and now to comfort: "You are a good boy, Christopher, and we love you."

Rose Baker, Aroda,Va.

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