I tried to hold his hand, hoping to lead him up to the classrooms so we could figure out where he was supposed to be. But he began crying in earnest, intent on his desire to get out of the building, and flinging his body into the door. The other parents walked on by, probably assuming that he was my child and just didn't want to go to school on the second day. I'm always wary about intervening with someone else's child, but I didn't know what to do, as no parent had showed up to claim him.
Warily, I watched him throwing himself over and over at the door, like a wild horse intent upon escape. I wasn't sure if I picked him up if he would kick or bite me, he was so deep into his tantrum at this point, but gingerly I put my hands beneath his arms and picked him up, soothing, "Come on, let's go find where you belong. I'm going to help you," and just like that, he wrapped his warm pudgy hands tightly around my neck and put his head on my shoulder, silent and trusting.
I walked around the corner (the twins following nicely, alarmed by the little guy's tantrum) and found the twins' teacher, who quickly was able to locate the mother, who had come in a different entrance. Turns out the little guy had run off from her, and she had her hands full trying to bring in her infant twins in a stroller, and her 4 year old. She looked exhausted and frustrated, and my heart went out to her.
This whole experience reminded not to forget a basic universal motherhood truth. Sometimes, when things are totally out of your hands and you feel like screaming and throwing yourself against the wall, all you really need is a hug from someone who cares.