There’s a video on Facebook at the moment. An advert about the safety, or lack of, of mobile phones when driving. A video about a dad, and a young boy. These videos always hit a nerve with me, as a mother of young children. But today more than ever the message hit home.
Why? Because yesterday that could have been me. Yesterday I was driving down the road when a young girl, maybe two years old, dashed out in front of the car. In front of my car.
I was turning a bend and about to mount a raised zebra crossing. The kids were chatting merrily in the back and me and Gran were looking forward to an afternoon in Filey. Then my blood ran cold. At the side of the road was a group of children, all varying ages. They were next to the crossing but most had their backs to the road. Still, I’d noted them as I turned the corner. I’d kept them in the corner of my eye as I continued up the road. Thank God I did. Almost at the very second my front bumper reached the edge of the crossing the youngest girl darted out and into the road. I slammed on the brakes, but lost in front of my bonnet I had no clue if I’d hit her.
Silence. No screams. No tears. The rest of the children just stared white faced at the spot in front of my car. A girl at the back of the group sobbed openly, but no noise came. Had I stopped? Had I made it?! I didn’t know. Gran didn’t know. The little girl was too tiny to see.
I wound down the window and asked. Did I hit her?! Is she ok?! My voice seemed to startle the group into action. Some yelled at each other about who should have been watching her. Who was meant to hold her hand. The eldest scooped up the shocked little lady and carried her to the pavement, telling me she was ok. Anpther child, the sobbing girl, just kept repeating ‘Thankyou, thankyou, thankyou so so much.’Over and over again. My car must have been millimetres from that little girl. Millimetres from snuffing out her tiny life. Perhaps it even brushed those bouncy golden curls that were now swaying in the wind. I asked if they needed to cross, intending to watch them over the road. No. I’d been right, they had no intention of crossing. But that doesn’t matter with little ones about. A ball, a bird, anything can take their attention and have them darting into harms way.
There was nothing more that could be done; so I took a deep breath, calmed my heart and set off. My kids reeling at what had almost just been a tragedy. I looked in the rear view mirror and noted the eldest girl still carrying who I could only assume was possibly her little sister. I hoped she carried her a the way to their destination. I hope they all would remember that bear miss and know how important it is to keep hold of her hand and stay vigilant near roads. I hope they’ve told their parents who may decide to supervise them in future.
But mostly I hope I never forget. I hope I never forget that flash of terror as the girl with golden curls bounded out in front of my car. That fear right down to my very soul as I waited to find out if she was ok. The feeling of my breath caught in my chest as I waited for the world to start turning again. I hope I never forget so that no matter what happens, I’m vigilant and always ready to stop in time.