Holding Hands: My Son Ran Away from Me in a Parking Lot.
My children and I are members at out local community centre. We are there a lot. The kids take swimming lessons as well as a variety of pre-school programs there and I use the on site child care centre to use the gym a few times a week.
No matter what we are there for, the visit always ends the same. The kids and I stop by the washroom to wash our hands before we leave (my attempt to bring home less germs). My oldest son runs a few steps ahead to open the entry door for me - he likes to push the door open button - and it helps me as I am carrying the bags and my younger son. He follows us through the door, holds my hand, and we walk to the car.
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Except for the other day. When AC opens the entry door, another family passes me and walks through the door he opens. I am delayed. He should have waited. He didn't. He ran up ahead on the sidewalk. I struggle to push open the automatic door that is now closing on me. I call out his name. I tell him to FREEZE. He looks back at me. He giggles. He bolts. Right out into the parking lot - right past the people who went in front of me - and he keeps going. I SCREAM. I YELL. STOP. GET BACK HERE. STOP RUNNING. I run as fast as I can with the other toddler on my hip (which is painfully slow if you ask me.) I can't catch him. He dashes out into the next line of the parking lot and bee lines for our car. I catch up to him 2 seconds later and he is beaming with pride. He found the car on his own. Me? I start crying. I beg him to never ever ever EVER do that again. That he could have been very hurt and Mummy was so scared, so very scared.
The incident kept me awake for nights. What if a car had been reversing, what if he had been hit, fell, hit his head...it is all too horrible. And then I wonder why I didn't ask for help. Why didn't I yell to the family that he ran past to stop him? GRAB THAT KID might have worked. Why didn't they just do it? Why do I let him open the door in the first place?
But I can't do anything about What Ifs. All I can do is be thankful that it all worked out OK.
After strapping the kids into their car seats I had a serious conversation with my 3 year old. Running off is not allowed, especially when we are on a road. Cars can't see you - they can squash you. It would hurt. You would cry and have to go to a doctor.
After that? Every time a child cries he asks me if the child has to go to the doctor.
The next time we are in the car I explain to him that the rule is he has to hold Mummy's hand and he isn't allowed out of the car unless he understands the rule. Now, a few weeks later, every time we stop the car I ask him "What is the rule?" He answers "Hold Mummy's hand."And he does.
Sometimes he adds, "Mummy cries if I run".
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