Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fear

Despite my recent assertions to the contrary, had you been in the parking lot of my local supermarket last night you would most certainly have wondered if I were a bad mother.

You would most certainly have been shocked at the sight of me, right down in my child's face, screaming at him at the top of my lungs. You would most certainly have wondered why I continued to rant and rave long after the wee thing ducked his head away from me and long after tears started to flow down his ruddy cheeks.

You might not have realized that I was more frightened than I have ever been in my life.

Graham and I had stopped off at the supermarket on the way home to pick up the steaks for the barbecue and, as usual, I was pretty lax about letting him gleefully race up and down the aisles. This store is not the one where I saw my life flash before my eyes, it's a small, local store where I've been going for years and where everyone knows both of us by name.

Once into the busy parking lot however, as is my habit, I clutched Graham's hand tightly, pointed out all of the moving cars and sternly admonished him to stick close to my side.

Except he didn't.

Just a few steps out of the door he shrugged off my hand and ran ahead of me with a mischievous giggle.

"Graham!" I shouted. "Get back here right now, Graham!"

But he ignored me and continued running.

And then I saw the car.

The car was backing out of a parking spot at a rapid pace, the kind of jerky, jaunty pace a driver sets when they are absolutely certain there is absolutely nothing in their path.

Except there was.

I dropped my groceries and started to run, only vaguely aware that my screaming had a throaty, desperate quality that sounded unlike anything that had ever come out of my mouth before.

But Graham didn't stop.

There was a sickening screech of brakes just as the car's back bumper kissed Graham's back. As I ran towards him, the woman driver turned and caught my eye: the terror on her face was a perfect reflection of what I was feeling.

Oblivious, Graham turned to me, casually patted the car and giggled.

That's when I lost it.

I have never yelled at Graham like I yelled at him then. I yelled at him for a good five minutes in the parking lot and I yelled at him all the way home.

I gave my anger and my fear full license because I wanted Graham to remember it. I wanted to traumatize him, to cement in his head that bad things, very, very bad things happen when little boys run into the paths of speeding cars.

It wasn't until we pulled into our driveway that I lost steam. Graham was sobbing quietly and I was teary-eyed. I parked, released him from his car seat, brushed his tears away and hugged him to me tightly.

"Mommy was so scared Graham. You ran right into a car back there, right into a car."

He sniffed and buried his head further into my shoulder.

"You could have been killed Graham, do you understand that?"

More sniffles.

I brushed away my own tears.

"I love you more than anything in the world Graham. If something had happened to you back there Mommy's heart would be broken forever. Do you understand that?

Mommy's heart would be broken forever".

And we hugged then for a good long time before he raised his tear-stained face.

"I understand Mommy, I understand."

He doesn't, of course, but such is the nature of children and of childhood.

I can only pray my son, and my heart, survives it intact.

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58 comments:

Mom101 said...

Oh ack, you made me cry. I can't imagine how terrifying that would be, and anyone who walked in in the middle of that and called you a bad mommy? I'd kick their butts. After I stopped crying.

So so glad he's okay. And you are too.

kbreints said...

oh dear. That brought tears to my eyes just thinking about it! I am so glad that everyone is ok and nothing happened.

I hoe that he learned his lesson!

Chantal said...

Sometimes a good mommy has to yell. You did the right thing. Thank God he is okay!

ewe are here said...

My heart just stopped when I read this; it's such a huge fear of mine. Thank god you got there in time... I'd probably still be yelling. And crying. And yelling.

The Redheaded Lefty said...

Good LORD. Wynn does that, too---the run off, the impish grin. It's cute and all until it isn't. Your response is absolutely justified and will hopefully send the important message to Graham that, in parking lots (and otherwise), mommy's in charge. For safety reasons. And total LOVE.

Kisses and hugs.

Mary Lynn said...

No no no, don't you beat up on yourself for yelling in that situation! He needs to learn that...it's important. That episode of yelling could save his life.

I get annoyed with myself if I blow up over little things like the room being messy or the kids drawing with marker on the furniture. But incidents like the one you describe? They are worth it. These are important lessons kids need to learn. You are still a good mom.

Jaina said...

That doesn't make you a bad mom in the least. OMG my stomach was in my throat reading that. I'm so glad that everything turned out okay...I'm so thankful that she stopped in time. Wow. My heart is still pounding...I cannot imagine. ::hugs::

a kelly said...

I'm crying like he's my own kid...
Flashbacks to losing my daughter at an amusement park...
All "mommy judging" is suspended in life and death circumstances. So glad for a safe outcome.
Alex

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

There's a reason why we lose it in those types of circumstances--and you totally nailed it. Sometimes you have to get through to your child no matter what it takes.

What a terrifying situation. I could not help but think as I read this of my daughter's friend. He is a quadraplegic because of a car backing over him when he was a toddler. I'm so happy that
Graham is okay.

Mandy said...

I am not afraid of kidnappings, rare diseases, etc. The scenario you just described is one of my worst fears.

The most(or top three) common cause of serious injury and death with young children is being hit by cars.

I have a hard time controlling both my boys in the parking lot. They both have had times where they break free and run. And it scares the bejeezus out of me.

I'm so glad Graham is okay. Are you okay?

MommyK said...

I understand because I have been there too. Right after telling my 4 year old to hold my hand to cross the street, he pulled his hand from my grip and ran out into the street...right into the path of an oncoming vehicle. I screamed his name and I don't think I've ever moved so fast, running to grab him and yank him back to safety so hard, I worried that I hurt his arm.

And then I did the exact same thing you did, YELLED at him so loudly that my throat hurt later, then burst into tears.

Maybe he was traumitized, but he also gets it now and holds my hand when I say so.

Hugs to you and to Graham!

Tracey - Just Another Mommy Blog said...

I completely know where you were at emotionally. It's horrifying, seeing them right at the edge of that cliff and not being sure if you can actually pull them back in time. Not all kids CAN be pulled back. And he sure as hell needed to be pertified of the parking lot. The street is a serious offense for my kids. It warrants not only screeching but also lots of stuff taken away, another hysterical yelling fest and any other way I can think of to scare the shit out of them.

I am totally sending you my love and support... I'm so glad he's ok.

Janet said...

I think an over-the-top reaction to such a close call is warranted. And I can't imagine a parent in the world who would judge you if they observed what happened.

I'm glad he's okay.

Beth (A Mom's Life) said...

I have tears in my eyes. That is my worst nightmare. I think I would probably STILL be yelling at my kids if that had happened to one of them.

So, so thankful that he is o.k.

zoom said...

I like the way you finished it. With hugs and an explanation of how scary it was for you to almost lose what you love most. Him. If you'd just told him that, without all the yelling, it would have just been a sweet moment. This situation called for much more than a sweet moment. You did good.

kittenpie said...

This is one of the few situations when I think an over-the-top reaction, even including spanking, is not only okay, but even a good response, for exactly the reason you outline. You want to not hurt but SHOCK them into remembering that this was a BIG DEAL, and that they have never seen mommy lose her shit like that before or since. (Which is why I also think it has to be reserved for only those times, or it makes no big impression.)

Reluctant Housewife said...

Oh. My. God. I'm so glad he's okay. I'm teary eyed just thinking about it. I would have yelled too. How terrifying. I had such a big reaction when I read about the car coming close enough to touch him before it stopped that my mother-in-law, who's visiting, asked "What are you looking at?"

Terrifying. I'm so glad he's okay.

Tara R. said...

I am in tears. I know this fear and have done my own share of yelling.

I'm so glad Graham is okay, and that you will be too.

Cheryl said...

OMG Kelly! I would have cried and yelled and cried and yelled some more!!! I can't believe it! Lauren has a habit of doing this too... And I am always worried something is going to happen to her. Thank goodness he's ok. Big huge hugs to you. xoxo

Rachel said...

Oh Kelly, honey... I am sad to say that I actually know this exact fear, situation.. heart wrenching, bone chilling, spine jarring moment.

I understand it exactly and I am so osrry that you experienced it.

I yelled, SCREAMED, lost it at Monkey when he did the same damn thing.
I am so thankful that Graham is okay and trust me, your losing it.. makes all the difference in the world.

HUGS and sooo much sympathy

Michelle said...

My heart was in my throat the whole time... I can't imagine the fear... Actually I can and it's terrifying :(
((HUG))
I'm glad he's ok.

Tatiana said...

I got teary-eyed thinking about what could have happened... I am so very relieved that no serious physical harm resulted from this. Sure, I would have wondered why you were screaming at your son, but you had a damned good reason.

Mommy Melee said...

I cried just READING this.

So glad he's okay. and I absolutely understand.

InTheFastLane said...

They don't understand. And they probably won't until they are done being teenagers, that the risks they take can hurt others. How very very scary. I am glad he is ok and so are you.

Amber said...

All of my worst parenting moments have happened in grocery store parking lots, I swear. I'm sure I look awfully mean to casual observers. But it's a scary place, man, and little kids are too easy to overlook. I just don't think small children evolved to handle this kind of situation where they could so easily be killed.

I'm glad Graham's all right. I don't blame you for yelling at all.

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

Good Heavens, my heart is pounding in my throat just IMAGINING it.

I'm so glad everyone is safe - and I hope he's learned the lesson of a lifetime!

Zoeyjane said...

Tears. I remember the one time that I must have looked exactly the same as you, screaming at Isobel on the street corner. She'd just shrugged off my hand and attempted to run across the busy street (right by the beach where you had photos the last time you were in Vancouver). 4 lanes of traffic and my then two-year old, barely as tall as a bumper.

It scared the crap out of me, and I scared the crap out of her, and we both cried.

And you're right, it stuck with her. She's never run away to cross the street without me in the past year, since.

MrsDesperate said...

Oh my God! I have been there with both my kids and have lost it too. I have always explained it to them, that Mummy was terrified and loves them so much that if anything happened to them I would be heartbroken. And I think they understand. That doesn't stop them from still doing silly things sometimes ... my 8-year-old almost walked in front of a car the other day. He knows his safety, he just didn't think to look! Kids - it's no wonder I haven't had a heart attack by now. They are so precious. Glad your little one is okay!

for a different kind of girl said...

Everything I would say has already been said, but I know this fear of which you so share, and just the thoughts raised from reading your experience makes me shaky again. It's hard being a kid with so much being told and taught to you, but wow, it's so hard being a parent, too!

Kami's Khlopchyk said...

That was ridiculously scary...my jaw was on the floor as I read this. SO glad the lady saw him. SO glad.

I would have yelled and screamed for all the same reasons.

Heather said...

I do not blame you a bit.

Glad he's safe and hope he's learned now.

My son did the same thing, with equally lucky results.

These kids, they carry our whole hearts don't they?

Beth said...

Terrifing. My worst fear when my fearless first born was toddling around.

So glad he is okay. And it sounds like he learned his lesson too, even if he has a few years to go before he truly understands how a child can break a parents heart.

Corey~living and loving said...

OH man...what a horrible experience for you both. :( much love to you.

Melisa with one S said...

I would never have wondered if you were a bad mother. I think every kid does something like this at least once (sometimes more!). He needed to learn the lesson, and hopefully your yelling at him cemented it in his head. I'm glad he's okay! :)

Beck said...

GAH.
Each of my kids has done something just heart-stoppingly terrifying - my son, at 3, pulled a LOADED DISHWASHER over onto himself. He wasn't hurt but those seconds while we got it off him - silent and unmoving - are still frozen in my mind.

Elaine A. said...

That would have scared the Bejesus out of me!! And I'm pretty sure I would have reacted the same way. I'm hoping you made an impression on him so that he won't do it again. So glad she saw him and that he's fine...

kgirl said...

My heart was totally in my throat reading this. How unbelievably terrifying. We have all had those moments, and you reacte the only way possible in that situation.

Bee once ran ahead of me on the sidewalk (which I normally allow), and ended up being nano-seconds away from getting hit by a car pulling into it's driveway. Oh. My. God. The only person to yell at was the driver, and you can be sure I did.

Shellie said...

I think I just had a heart attack myself. It might make him pause for a week or so...

Me said...

Oh my goodness. I'm so glad your little boy was okay. I'd be screaming too. The thought of losing one (or any) of my babies...I don't think I could handle it. I know there are those who have been strong enough, but I don't know if I could be. Ack! I cried.

Flea said...

Something similar has happened with each of my three kids. I've had the same reaction. It's horrifying. All the way around.

BlondeMomBlog (Jamie) said...

I am so so glad Graham wasn't hurt. Your reaction was one I think we all would have. Hopefully it won't ever happen again! Whew!

Mommy Cracked said...

I think I just lost a couple of seconds off MY life reading this! I am so glad he is ok. I know that was the most horrifying thing to watch.

Whitenoise said...

Wow, close call, a situation neither of you will ever forget.

raino said...

my heart is pounding so hard i can hear it. i can't even imagine how frightening that must have been. what a close one. i am glad that you traumatized him - in this situation, it is all worth it.

melissa said...

i've been that mother in the parking lot, screaming at a child who almost got hit by a car because he thought he was being funny. i've been that mother, screaming through the store like a banshee, looking for my son who was playing hide and seek...without my knowledge.
this post...i soooooo get!!
xo

Pregnantly Plump said...

That is scary! I am so glad that he's alright. Little Elvis is such a fan of cars that they are the main theme of my nightmares.

Mom On The run said...

I'm crying 'cause your ost is bring back memories of a time I yelled like that before. Yelled until i peed my pants, literally. Then I continued to yell some more - Sierra fell into our backyard pool carrying 3 noodles trying to help me clean it. The pool is 9 ft deep. Thankfully, I was a NLS certified lifguard back the day, and knew exactly what do.

Graham will get over the emotional pain - and I am sure he will never do that again. Sierra now holds Brooke's hand and makes sure she stays on the grass when we're doing stuff in the backyard.

MommyTime said...

This is terrifying. My son, playing dress-up from the costume box, once came into me with a plastic bag over his head. I reacted like you did, with hysterical fear and speeches about how this could kill him. It made such an impression (this was nearly two years ago, when he was only 2 1/2) that to this day, he gets teary eyed when he mentions the incident. He will NEVER put a plastic bag on his head again. My bet is that Graham will never dash off in a parking lot again either.

Mission said...

Oh. My. God.
I cannot even imagine. I was terrified FOR you. Mine isn't walking, yet. But he's getting close. I now have new respect for those wrist bind-y thingys....

I am forever scarred.

Kyla said...

GEEZ! I'd have done the same thing, I think.

Eva Robertson said...

Oh god. And I hate to read the comments suggesting that these close calls are all too common. You could not have been hard enough on Graham. I would have screamed, yelled and spanked. I am so glad it came out okay.

Aurelia said...

You did exactly what I did when my kid ran into traffic. (He lost his hat while crossing the street. It was Bloor, at rush hour, and I grabbed him back with seconds to spare. 8 years later I tear up thinking about it.) They all do it, and we all yell at them and if we are lucky we scare the hell out of them enough that they never ever do it again.

Feel free to keep talking calmly about it every time you go to cross a road or near a parking lot.

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

jeez l held my breath whilst reading this... there but for the grace of god and all that..phew!

Kelli @ writing the waves said...

I am crying just reading this. It's just every parents worst fear that something will happen to your kids. I was just talking to my kids yesterday about being safe at the swimming pool, etc..and thinking to myself, do they really understand how serious this is? It's scary.

I'm so glad he was okay. I'm just so sorry that you guys had to experience that.

caramama said...

I got shivers reading this. This is one of my biggest fears, because I have a runner. Oh, she is smart and capable, but she thinks it's a fun game to run off while you try to catch her, get her to stop, yell at her, etc. And she has NO sense of danger. I'm hoping we can teach her soon.

I'm SOOOOOOO glad that Graham was okay. I totally understand your yelling at him, and I would do the same.

KELLY said...

Oh Kelly, I can't imagine... (actually Ic an - that's the scary part). I'm so glad Graham is fine and hopefully your response put a bit of fear in to him.

petite gourmand said...

so scary!
I've been there, it's so not fun.
glad he's okay.

Karen MEG said...

Oh God, Kelly, so glad that the car stopped in time. I think I'd still be screaming today, that is such, such a scare!