Last night was a school "eat out" fundraiser. You know, you go to a restaurant and say you're with the school and order dinner, and a portion is donated to the school. It was for A's preschool and we got to meet up with other families from the (small) school, which I love to do, and A was happy to see his friends outside of school.
It wasn't the most convenient. First off, we don't eat meat and it was at Chik-Fil-A, so the kids had french fries and milkshakes for dinner. P ate some fruit as well, but Ambrose wouldn't touch the stuff. *Sigh* Also we don't often eat out during the week, typically just for time. With my early risers, we're a "lights off by 7pm during the week" kind of family. Ambrose can typically stay up later but P crashes pretty early and is up around 6, though we ask him to stay quiet until 7. And no, they don't sleep any later if we put them to bed later, and yes we've let them go to sleep as late as 11pm and they're still up at 6 and can't get back to sleep.
Anyway, the big thing I was worried about is the layout. This is North Hills, where the restaurant is located right beside a little road that doesn't look like a road and is frequently blocked off from being a road while we're there. Other than the flower pots separating road from non-road, and the cars driving and parking, you can't really tell that there's a road there. P can tell. I can tell. Ambrose cannot tell it's a road.
Oh, and Nik wasn't there so it was just me with two tired, sugared up boys in the dark beside a non-road looking road.
See where this is going?
We ordered our meal, sat and ate a bit and chatted, the kids were running and playing, which made me nervous but P is a smart boy and was staying off the road with his friends, while Ambrose followed him like a typical annoying little brother. I kept an eye on them but started to calm down as they continued to play away from the road with their friends.
I had my back turned to the road when I started to hear a parent yell, "wait, stop!" and then another, and then I turned...
And there was my two year old, running into the road, in front of a parked SUV, about to pop out in front of an oncoming car who could. not. see. him.
I've replayed that vision over and over and over again for the past... 15 hours?
I think my heart completely stopped, and I could hear myself shrieking and feel myself moving but it was all a haze.
Ambrose stopped when I yelled, never coming around the corner. And the "oncoming car, whose ominous headlights made my child almost a silhouette for a moment, was actually stopping to let someone out so they weren't actually going to drive into my child. And the parent who yelled first was very close to this and grabbed him as soon as he stopped, and probably would have reached him even if he'd continued running.
But even so....
I had *thought* I knew where my child was. I had *thought* I had him in my peripheral vision, to my left, and instead he was to my right and running towards the road.
I messed up.
And he's okay, and he probably would have been okay even if I hadn't noticed, and thank God he's okay and he wasn't even in real trouble to begin with.
But oh... oh....
I am shaken.
I sat with him on my lap, held tightly to me with him struggling to get down and play, as I shook and tried to keep from crying or throwing up, tried to continue on like normal in this group of friends. It was a scare, sure, but he was okay now...
And I just couldn't do it. I stayed near him for the rest of our time there and as soon as I felt my legs were steady enough to get us to the car (which meant crossing a road) I did so and took them home, bathed them, dressed them, and with Nik's help put them to bed.
All the while that image of him running into the road, with the headlights approaching, kept playing in my head.
Today I have a wild little boy running around the room happily while I type this. And I'm so, so grateful. I know "the scare" lasted all of a couple seconds. But a couple seconds is all it takes, right? All it takes for a life to end. All it takes to be a name in the newspaper, a tragedy, a tale where people share half truths of "isn't it sad about that little boy?" with neighbors, and then forgotten by the world. All it takes for a car not to stop, for a child not to stop, and when the two collide it's obvious who will survive.
Still scared. Still shaken.
And so, so happy that it was nothing more than a scare.
Lily in a loafing barn
10 months ago