|I needed this|
The encounter that literally drove me to drink took place as I was walking Peanut home from a play date. Her friend lives down the street from us, on the other side of a busy two-lane road that separates our two blocks. We live on the corner of that busy road; so I see drivers speed by pedestrians all of the time. Drivers in our town are notoriously fast, obnoxious, dangerous, and impatient. You're supposed to stop for people in the crosswalk. Even when they do stop, I see the drivers behind them try to pass on the shoulder with the pedestrians (and their children and dogs) still on the shoulder waiting for the drivers in the opposite direction to stop.
Knowing this, I am always vigilant when crossing this street with Peanut and Luna. Peanut, however, was in one of her moods all of a sudden. She didn't want to hold my hand or walk on my right side away from the traffic.This had me on even heightened alert because when she's difficult she's almost impossible to corral. What five year-old is?
|The crosswalk of peril|
Out of nowhere, a car came speeding past the stopped traffic on the shoulder. I had no idea. Peanut was still on my left-hand side, closest to the traffic. I pulled her towards me not to protect her, but because I was angry at her. Turns out, my impatience probably saved her life. I am not exaggerating. I didn't even see or hear the car coming. It happened so fast, I couldn't even register the make and model. I looked up to see it buzz by on the shoulder, recklessly enter the lane of traffic, and never look back.
Frazzled and scared out of my mind, I bent down to find Peanut crying. She was as clueless about the car as I initially was. Instead, she was upset that I had yanked her, hurt her, and scared her. I squatted, hugged her tightly, and apologized. Even though I knew how close we had just come to a potential tragedy, that didn't matter in Peanut's world. Internally, I'm freaking out. My stomach is in knots, my nerves are frayed and I am doing all I can not to tremble so out of control that I collapse to the ground in a crying heap. After all, had I done that, another jerk passing on the shoulder would have run me over and never looked back.
All of this happened in about 15 seconds
I looked up to find my neighbor still sitting there in his car waiting for us. He waved us across. Once outside of our house, I knelt down to Peanut again and spoke to her about what really just happened. How we could have been hurt, or worse. I wanted her to know how serious this was, without scaring the living sh1t out of her.
"When you're crossing the street with mommy or daddy, you need to listen. No more arguing. No more saying you don't want to hold hands. You don't get to choose where you walk. We're in charge. It's very dangerous. Cars are going fast and the people driving can't see you because you're little. If they hit you, you can get really hurt. Or worse. They could... take you away." I couldn't bring myself to say the word 'die.' My emotions were still so raw from what had just happened. Minutes later, I cracked open that beer. For the rest of the day, the close call was all I could think about. It consumed me. I kept a brave face for Peanut. Every time I looked at her, though, I was just so relieved.
That night, before I went to bed I made my usual stop in Peanut's room to kiss her goodnight. She was lying there, off in dreamland, not a care in the world. I knelt next to her bed, kissed her cheek, put my arm around her and snuggled with her. I laid there for a good minute or two. Just looking at how perfect she is, amazed that we made her, and thankful that she's ok. You do all you can to protect them, to make sure they're safe and happy. Then you turn your head for a split second and everything could change. Somehow, some way, by some unknown miracle, it didn't change for us. And I am so thankful. So blessed.
As I got up, I whispered in Peanut's ear. "I love you so much. I'm always going to be here to protect you."
Suddenly, she stirred. She twitched. She thrashed her left foot hard and landed a kick square in my chest, sending me reeling backwards. Stunned and woozy, I checked to see if I had woken her up. No. She's a sound sleeper and was still out like a light. That's my girl. My little independent fighter. She's going to be just fine. A kick in the chest never felt so good.
This happened the same day as the unsolicited advice from the two d-bags. Yeah, it was THAT kind of day.