Standing at my door, fumbling for my key, I spot yesterday’s newspaper still sitting on my doorstep. I bend down to pick it up and notice the photo – a couple sitting on their couch, despair and agony in their eyes, with a picture of their four year old boy. He had just been hit and killed by a speeding pick up truck outside their home.
It happened last weekend just a block from where I used to live. The mother and the little boy were walking hand in hand to visit his best pal down the street. As they stood waiting to cross the street, the little boy overcome with excitement, broke free and darted out to his death.
Transfixed, I stand and read this mother’s story. She wails, “It should have been me – I should have run in front of the truck and saved his life.” I am totally overcome as I try to imagine what she is feeling. I pray for her, but it feels like such a small token. From the story, it sounds like this is her only child. “How will she go on?” I wonder. Sick to my stomach, I imagine her despair. If it were Jackson, I honestly don’t know how I would ever go on.
A few weeks ago, we were standing outside our house visiting with a neighbour. I was blowing bubbles for Jackson and Julia and some floated towards the road. Jackson darted out to catch them and I screamed, “No, Jackson, STOP!” And miraculously he did, just as a van roared by. Like the little boy in the newspaper, Jackson had darted from behind a parked car and the driver didn’t even see the little body running.
Trembling, I grabbed Jackson and tried to explain to him what just about happened. I talked to him about always stopping, no matter what, when he hears me or someone scream stop. We practiced it as a game – run, run, run…stop. I drove it into his head, over and over again, to be so careful.
But he is a little boy, so packed with energy, passion and mischief that I know in those split second moments he won’t always think. He will react. He will dart. He will not always stop.
When I pick him up from preschool today I think I might show him the newspaper and explain to him what happened. I don’t want to traumatize him, but I need him to “get it” – to grasp that what mommy is talking about is real.
What do you think? Would you show your four year old the paper and tell him about the little four year old boy who let go of his mommy’s hand and ran out into the street? Am I wrong to tell him? Perhaps that is too tragic for him to handle – but I just don’t want it to be him next.
That mother had done nothing wrong. She had talked to her boy about cars. They had even written to the city to ask for speed bumps to be put up because cars routinely sped down their street. She was holding his hand. She did everything right. And now her precious son is gone. It is beyond my imagination and I never want to experience it myself.