I will never forget the time I felt that I well and truly failed as a mother – it haunts me to this day.
When my daughter was a toddler I was standing at the side of the road chatting with another mother after collecting my eldest child from school. As we chatted my impatient toddler tugged on my hand whining that she wanted to go home. I offered her platitudes such as ‘soon Sweetheart,’ then returned to finishing my conversation. In a split second she yanked her hand out of mine and proceeded to run across the road towards our car.
In a high pitched scream I yelled her name. Thankfully she turned to look at me and in that instant an oncoming car slammed on their brakes and came to a halt with the side rear view mirror skimming past my daughter’s shoulder. Had my daughter not turned towards me and continued to run, she definitely would have been hit by that car. I have never felt such an array of conflicting emotions. I was simultaneously wracked with guilt by my lack of attention to her, angry at her for her reckless behaviour and overwhelmingly relieved that she wasn’t harmed. The ‘what ifs’ nagged at the back of mind for a long time. My momentary lapse in attention could have ended her life.
I’m no stranger to the danger of children being hit by cars, as at the age of 6, I was struck by a car at a school crossing. Again a mother’s focus was distracted as she waved goodbye to her own children and in that instant her car hit me, sending me flying through the air. I was shocked but not badly hurt. My good old brown suitcase of a school bag (I swear it was fashionable back then), bore the brunt of the impact and was crushed, leaving me unharmed. At the time I recall being more distressed that my favourite book was trapped inside the suitcase than the reality of what may have occurred had I not been carrying that case. I was lucky to have not suffered broken bones or a head injury as I impacted the road.
Children are unpredictable and adults can be distracted, and this combination around roads can be fatal. Thankfully my personal experiences haven’t resulted in major injury or death, but they easily could have, had the circumstances been slightly different.
After the incident with my daughter I bought a ‘monkey backpack/harness’ that I made her wear. I held her hand and didn’t lead her around like a puppy dog, but it gave me the backup of restraining her if she decided to spontaneously run off. I know plenty of people are opposed to children wearing harnesses, but give me a safe child in a harness any day over an unrestrained child in a morgue. It only takes a moment of distraction to result in catastrophic consequences.
My children are now older and have been taught road safety skills, but kids and cars don’t mix, so I still accompany them across the road every day from the school bus stop to home. As the saying goes, ‘It’s better to be safe than sorry.’
(Photo courtesy of antpkr, freedigitalphotos.net)