Friday, August 1, 2008

So This Should Make Up for all Those Reasons I was Slated for Hell

One evening around Christmastime, while driving home just around the corner from my house, I witnessed a large deer strolling right up the middle of the street. Like it was something he did all the time. I even pulled over to the side of the road to watch. It's just not something you see everyday in a Los Angeles suburb. Sometimes we'll see them up on the hill and we do have street signs posted with warning of deer crossings but you just don't see them out and about in the neighborhood. Especially, you know, as part of traffic.

I also once watched a dog dart across a busy freeway several cars ahead of me. So fast that no one even had time to tap their brakes. As I passed and watched for him through my rear view mirror I wondered if he made it safely. I'll never know but always hoped that he did.

And one time I hit and killed a squirrel who'd changed his direction halfway while crossing a street. Feel free to ask Mr. Farklepants how I reacted to that. Hysterical crying doesn't even begin to describe it. Stupid squirrel. What squirrel doesn't make it to the other side?

Yesterday as the children and I piled in the car and left Boy-Child#1's hair cut appointment [which, by the way, Dude looks like a rock star. Not the point of this story, just thought you should know], I noticed a lone toddler standing on the sidewalk near the corner of the street that ran through the parking lot and a driveway that led to a busy four lane road. A four lane road with few stop lights which allowed traffic to move very quickly. Bunch a lead foots in this town with nothing to thwart them. It made me nervous seeing him roam there since I don't even like to be that close to a busy street when I'm holding my own children's hands.

I said out loud, "Where's his parents?". And inside my head screamed at me: DID YOU HEAR WHAT YOU JUST SAID?!? THAT CHILD IS ABOUT TO WALK INTO TRAFFIC JUST LIKE THAT DOG YOU SAW ON THE FREEWAY ALL THOSE YEARS AGO YOU DAFT WOMAN!!! FOR GOD SAKE REMEMBER THE SQUIRREL?!?! My mind yelled at me in all caps. The following all happened so fast but also in slow motion [like through soup, or fog, or like a dream feel free to use your own simile here]:

I realized that where the toddler was positioned that if anyone were to turn into that driveway they would not be able to see him. And he was right at the edge. I no sooner pulled my car to a stop and put it in park, AND JUST as I was opening my door; a car approached from the street with its right blinker on. I literally FLED [note to self: when was the last time you fled? Answer: Not lately] from my car, arms flailing, and screaming at the top of my lungs STTTTOOOOOOOOOOP! Or maybe it was NNNOOOOOOOOO! I don't remember. Because just as that car pulled in, the toddler stepped off the curb. And I'm sure the sight of a running, screaming, flailing, lunatic woman was enough for the driver to stop her minivan. Because she must have stopped. She didn't hit me and I didn't pause as I ran in front of her car and scooped the toddler up, grabbing him by the armpits.

Where the hell were his parents? There was not another person, adult or otherwise, except for the woman driving the minivan, anywhere. Were his parents in one of the many shops? In the restaurant? At a bus stop? I can't go searching for them because my own children were still strapped in my car which, by the way, was impeding traffic. My car door still flung wide. Or was it closed? Engine off but keys still inside. I can't move my car because I can't take the child with me. I'm literally just standing there interrogating this little short person. Who is probably less than two years old. I asked him, "Where's your mommy?". He answered, "Truck!!". I start scanning the parking lot looking for a truck with someone inside.

Just then an elderly woman emerged from the restaurant and I practically yelled at her, "Is he with YOU?". No. Then the woman from the minivan approached, quite shaken, and let me know that she hadn't seen him at all until she looked in the direction I was running. A couple of more people showed up. One lady asked if she should call the sheriff. The woman who drove the minivan gave me a hug. I'm sure I still had a wild look about me.

I'm not really sure what I said at this point because my adrenaline rush was kicking in and everything had a WAA WAA WAA sound to it. I remember sputtering out that my own children were still in the car and I don't know who this kid is but he's alone. Or something probably less coherent. I don't know. Words came out. I think. All I could do was look at him with his sandy blond hair, bright blue eyes, grey t-shirt with construction vehicles on it, denim shorts, and green Crocs. All I could think about was that the worst that would have happened to me taking a minivan to the hip would probably be a broken hip. And the worst that would happen to him... well, I can't even think about it. Even though I was totally thinking about it.

At some point during all this the elderly woman had gone inside the restaurant to inquire if anyone was missing a toddler. His father emerged from the restaurant, and by the looks of him I'd say he was busy eating ALL OF THE PANCAKES IN IHOP. I don't know how that much time can go by that you don't go looking for your missing child. It's a restaurant for chrissake, not an amusement park. I mean if he's not sitting at the table with you, don't you wonder? Where did that rapscallion go? For all that father knew, his child had wandered outside into the company of a few adults.

I'll never know because I didn't speak to him. I'm not even sure if I said goodbye to the people who helped. I just walked back to my car [still impeding traffic] to my own children and tried not to have a meltdown. And told them, "This! This is why I'm such a freak about wanting to know exactly where you are!" To which Girl-Child replied, "Mommy, you screamed really LOUD". Then it occurred to me that my throat was really sore.

Then I spent the next few hours trying to stop myself from playing the "what if?" game in my head...

What if we'd left the salon 30 seconds later?
What if the sprinklers hadn't suddenly come on which caused me to dash in my car and pull out quickly because I JUST got it washed?
What if I'd taken the 3:30pm appointment instead of the 10:30am?
What if I had minded my own business?
What if I'd driven out the other exit?

What if....

69 comments:

jenontheedge said...

And I'm sitting here on the other side of the country playing the "Why" game:

Why didn't that child's father know what was going on?

Why is that child's father such an idiot?

Why are idiots such as that allowed to have children and why aren't they the ones suffering from infertility? (I know, a horrible question to ask, but still.)

You did a good thing. This makes you a superhero, you know.

Jennifer H said...

My god.

You were exactly where you were supposed to be yesterday.

JCK said...

This just made me cry. You were SO meant to be there. And you are a hero. You did it. Did it. You didn't just think in your head. You got out of your car and ran!

I had my fingers practically in my mouth reading this story.

Helena said...

There are no what-if's. You were supposed to be there.

Steph said...

Don't play the "what if..." game, Ms. Farklepants. You *were there, and you *did save that kid. So the "what if"s mean bupkis, my friend.

I think you might be my new heroine. Like even more than you already were. Well done.

Melissa said...

Ack! Some parents should have to carry a license...how could he have not missed his child for that long?

Good thing you were on it!!

Sam said...

As Steph said - don't play the what-if game, you WERE there. My blood ran cold reading this post, how did the kid even make it out of the restaurant, I have a nephew (four) and a niece (two) and my brother and his wife know where they are at ALL times, ok, so they might range quite widely at the local park, but A and M have their eye on the kids every second.

I can't say any more without starting to rant and rave so I'll stop there!

1blueshi1 said...

Holy Crap, Girl, you're a HERO!

SuburbanCorrespondent said...

I hate the What if game. It keeps me up nights. Yea for you! You were in the right place at the right time, thank goodness. And I can say that there are a few times I've lost a 2 or 3 year-old myself. We all depend on the kindness of strangers.

seachange said...

Tootsie- I agree with the others who said you were meant to be there at that time and place. You did what you knew was the right thing to do.

No more what if's. Do you want to add worry lines to that pretty face? :-)

Leandra said...

You were where you were supposed to be. And thank God you were. Maybe now that Dad will be a little more careful.

Tootsie Farklepants, you're my hero!

AMomTwoBoys said...

WOW! Tootsie the super hero! Nice work, woman.

And that totally trumps my finding of a lost kid at the zoo. Although when his dad finally showed up (and DIDN'T THANK ME) and the kid broke down in tears, so did I.

Michelle B said...

It's stories like this and thoughts of this happeneing that keep me up at night! Of course, I am maniacal about knowing where my toddler is at all times and now I will tell people that tell me to chill - do you know how quickly something could go wrong? Let me refer you to Tootsie...
Thank you, perfect timing!

Justin said...

Applause Applause!!!

Crisa said...

Wow my heart is still beating fast. Thank God all the what if's fell into place and you were there.

gte222s said...

wholey moley! you are the super hero.
good show! no what-ifs allowed.

Angie @ KEEP BELIEVING said...

That - Tootsie Farklepants - THAT is what we on this side of believing line - call a GOD MOMENT. One can call it coincidence or whatever - I call it a GOD moment.

WOW.

KEEP BELIEVING

Elizabeth said...

You were meant to be there at that time and place, and you did GOOD!
I can understand the what if's, but put them by, you were helping his guardian angel! Hust think of it as an "angel assist"!
I was thinking that Dad may have been in the bathroom...boys do love to wander. Pax.

Fannie Mae said...

Holy hell that's a scary story! Around here we call being in the right place at the right time a "God Wink"; glad you were there.

Dawn@Embracing the Ordinary Life said...

OH my...my heart is racing just reading your story....I can sooo imagine I would have done the same thing...You are truly a hero...so many people would have just assumed someone was with the child, and it would be ok...I'm glad you didn't...

Amy said...

Wow. I can't believe that anyone would just let their child get up in a restaurant and not even pay attention to them!

You are a better woman than me because I for sure would have had more then enough to say to that man!

You were meant to be there and I'm sure many, many people are glad you were.

Muddlin' Mother said...

I know what you mean. It'll always be with you.
Something similar happened to me at a public pool. Kid was drowning in plain site - I can still see it with my own eyes - his little eyes above water, but nothing else. Other kids playing right next to him, not realizing he COULDN'T swim OR stand,.. I dropped my baby on the chair, jumped in, swooped him up and screamed, much like you did, I'm sure, "WHO'S KID IS THIS?" His parents? Not even in the damn pool. I also didn't say a word for fear of jailtime for my bad behavior.

lapoflux said...

Bonus Super Hero points for not beating the pancake eating father to a PULP.

Because with all that adrenaline you SO could have taken him (and may now be wishing you did. Jerk.)

Missy said...

You know they say there are Angels everywhere. I think you were one today!

apathetic bliss said...

Ok now I am pissed off! WTF? The dad strolls out?

you forgot one more what if...

What if you leapt onto the father and ripped his throat out?

I can totally relate to your feelings and bravo Mama!

PS I hope you bought yourself a bottle of wine celebrating your redemption from hell.

JoeinVegas said...

Yes, Superhero Tootsie! Have you picked out your uniform yet?

(sorry, still distracted by the you naked in high school images from the last post)

Mrs. G. said...

You are Tootsie-hear you roar! What a woman.

Maura said...

Brava! I kind of wish you'd taken a strip off the stupid father's hide, verbally, but I can understand being too shaken to even speak. Plus, the kid will have plenty of time to realize his daddy ISN'T a hero like the woman who saved him; no need to make him cry, too.

Mekhismom said...

We will never know "What if?" and I am thankful for that. I am also thankful that you were there to avert a potentially tragic accident.

Treasia said...

Thank God you were there for that child. I hope the other parents or people outside gave the father a real what for.

scargosun said...

There are no what ifs. You were there, you did the right thing and averted tragedy. What ifs never get their chance and that is usually a positive thing.

PS HELLO CHILD SERVICES...WE'VE GOT A LIVE ONE...LITERALLY

Jaci said...

Oh, I'm so glad you pulled over and ran for that child! And the poor woman in the mini van...she could have gone to prison for hitting a child that moron dad lost in a restaurant! How did he NOT know his kid was outside in the street?!?

g said...

Yikes. So glad you were there. What a hero.

You have earned some good karma, Tootsie.

I still, even after 20 years of parenthood, have a spidey-sense when I see little ones without a grown-up nearby.....you never lose that.

Eve Grey said...

oh wow, this had me in tears. i wonder if that child will have a vague memory later of the pretty lady who scooped him up. The saddest thing is there are so many parents like this. You are a hero, really.

Catherine said...

I had shivers reading this. Thank God you were there -- you were meant to be there. I could barely make myself read to the end -- it was frightening to read.
The child's father -- well, all I can hope is that he had a very big fright and will take much more care in the future.

AGSoccerMom said...

I am freaking shaking. I would of acted the exact same way except, I would of called the cops and they would of arrested me for accosting the father.

You Did Good! Now drink some hot green tea with a little honey to sooth your throat.

MommyTime said...

Good for you, and many many thanks for stopping.

I have forever been been convinced that timing is no accident ever since the day my sister and I got held up for a few extra moments (just enough to make me grouchy) over something inconsequential that I can't recall. And then, 15 minutes down the highway, traffic suddenly came to a standstill. And no more than five car lengths in front of us, THREE emergency medevac helicopters landed on the highway to try to whisk away all the seriously injured in the multi-car pileup caused by someone asleep at the wheel crossing the median. Several people died in this accident that I would absolutely have been involved in myself had it not been for the 30 second delay at the outset of our trip. We were close enough to feel the wind from the helicopter blades, and just far enough away to avoid being part of the catastrophe. I will never curse those twists of fate that send me to the earlier appointment or make me a wee bit late or early again. I suspect you will feel the same after this.

It's good to know there are people out there like you who will pull over in traffic like this. You're my hero right now!

Swirl Girl said...

You are not slated for hell by any means...that poor kid's father is.

Some people shouldn't be allowed to spawn.

And , had a policeman showed up, you probably would've gotten shit about blocking traffic and leaving your kids in the car...not that asshat for neglecting his kid.

Kristin said...

I am asking why....did that childs father not see that he was missing. I would have went ballistic on him. Good thing you were there,no reason for the what ifs when you have gaurdian angels :)

mysecondjournal said...

I'm sitting here with my mouth open..I read your post 3 times. I just DON'T understand..

Did someone call the sherrif...what would that have done..I know but still I want those parents to feel the emotion that you and the minivan driver felt..

I'm pissed.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom! said...

Oh Tootise! This same thing JUST FLIPPIN' HAPPENED TO ME. Laura and I came out of our hotel room to find a small, diapered child climbing a railing about to dive from the second floor balcony to the first floor lobby. ALONE. No parent anywhere. No hotel doors even open. I asked where her mommy was as I gently coaxed her from the railing. She said her mommy wouldn't wake up. Which room was her mommy in? No idea. An elderly woman stepped out of her hotel room, asked if I knew to whom the girl belonged, and said she'd been keeping an eye on her for about 30 minutes. I went to the lobby to fetch the hotel manager, a nice lady with whom I entrusted the child while she tried to figure out which room the child had come from. The child did not know her last name when asked, but suggested it might be "Piggle-Wiggle." Later that night, the hotel manager said she'd successfully located the parents. I eventually saw the little girl again with her father, and though I tried not to judge (we've all done bonehead things), it was all that I could do not to grab him by the throat. With my teeth.

I thought about posting this on my blog at some point, but look! I've posted it in your comments instead.

You? You're a guardian angel. Being an angel is hard work. I think you should treat yourself to a hair wash and blow dry. Someplace nice.

Nora Bee said...

Holy crap, Tootsie. You are a hero. The world would FALL APART if not for women like you. You just made my day.

Stu said...

Good job Tootsie.

-Stu

Stephanie said...

Oh God Tootsie. My heart sank as I was reading. I am so glad he was OK and you were there but I have to admit I had hoped you were going to say you went off on that man. People like that DO NOT deserve to have children.

ALF said...

So you couldn't read my post about the Batman movie and I couldn't read this post because I hate when animals die. I don't know if that's what you wrote about here but I read something about a deer, a dog and a run over squirrel and I had to stop reading. But I did want to say hi.

merlotmom said...

That was amazing. Good for you. YOu deserved a big glass of wine for that good deed. I've done something similar, only it was for a dog. Not quite the same. I think I would have spit on that pancake-diver father. I'm so angry just reading about it.

OHmommy said...

Wow. Just wow.

Dear Lord, I was sitting on the edge of my computer chair. You deserve a HUG glass of vino.

laughingatchaos said...

Holy Sweet GOD! I can't believe you didn't slug the father, I'm pretty sure you would have been backed up by the onlookers.
You were there, you were supposed to be there, and you made an impression on many people. Your own kids will see you in a new light. And I hope to hell that idiot father had some sense scared into him today. My God.

Marcy - The Glamorous Life! said...

Okay bizzarre. TWICE this week I have left my little similar (well not really) tale in comments. Here goes.

I was taking my then only son to preschool. We took the same route everyday. Left here, right there, pass the church and down the street by the railroad tracks to school. One day, as we were turning on the street next to the train tracks...I saw a toddler in a diaper and nothing else (it was winter in Chicago) and where was he standing? Next to the train tracks. And at that very instant I heard the 'clang clang clang of the train gates going down at the intersection. A train was coming. I stopped the car. In the middle of the street. I jumped out and FLEW to the boy. I grabbed him by one arm and wisked him up off the tracks. The train didn't go by right then, I still had a minute it turned out. BUT STILL. I went door to door. With my baby in one arm, and lost baby in the other. Door to door. Finally a nieghbor recognized the kid and told me the right house. I knocked. I pounded on the door. Iwent around back in the snow and pounded on the windows. Finally a mom in her robe with wet hair came to the door. She was in the shower. And Junior climbed out of his crib and UNLOCKED and walked out the front door. I went home and installed a deadbolt up at the top of my doors. What could have happened if god hadn't used me? And so glad he used you! How does it feel to be someone's ANGEL?

All Adither said...

See? You're awesome. The next time I let my kids roam the streets alone I hope you're around to save them.

Seriously, you did a great thing.

Jenn @ Juggling Life said...

What if you were the kind of person who thought things like that weren't her business (there are plenty of those people around)?

You definitely earned some serious karma today.

Rebecca said...

OMG!!! How horrifying. I'm so glad you were there and took the time to stop and help. Reminds me why I am such a freak about knowing where my kids are too! You are awesome! (And I kinda want to beat the crap out of that dad. WTH?)

Manager Mom said...

Oh my GOD Tootsie.

You were a guardian angel today.

Indy said...

I swear my mouth was open the entire time I was reading this. I was in shock. Wow. You are his angel.

Jason said...

Holy COW! This story scared the bejesus out of me. Thank God for you, Mrs. Farklepants!

feather nester said...

Holy crap! You're a hero.

And double holy crap to the commenters about the kid in Chicago and the kid in the hotel... What's with all these loose kids? Not judging, just...wow.

Thank goodness for good samaritans and ye with the good timing. I pray my child will never need you.

Christine said...

At our neighborhood's fourth of July block party, I witnessed someone save the life of a toddler in a very similar manner.

The man who swooped in and saved the child (from a pick-up truck that zoomed through the party even though the road was CLEARLY closed and FULL of people) said later that being a hero was one of the worst feelings ever, because of the "what if" factor.

Concentrate on the fact that you saved a life.

Texan Mama@WhoPutMeInCharge said...

Kudos to you. When all the WHAT IF wears down you will be thankful that you were there for that little boy. You were put here on earth, maybe, for that very specific moment.

And, although it may not have been as clearly obvious, has anyone ever been there to save your life? Maybe not physically, but emotionally?

You're just payin' it forward. Maybe one day that kid will do the same.

It takes a village. And you are the mayor of the village, Toots!

calicobebop said...

WOW! You are a superhero! Don't play the "what if" game - you were in the right place at the right time.

apathy lounge said...

OMG! OMG! OMG! I play the "what if" game until everyone else can't stand me and I'm even sick of it myself. I totally get where you're coming from, Tootsie. You're a shepherd on this planet and it's a scary task to feel that you're needed everywhere all at once. But there are others, too. Other people who feel they need to be everywhere for others. Accidentally placed here? No...don't think so. That story gave me chills.

Maggie, Dammit said...

HO.LEE.SHIT.

ohmygodohmygodohmygod.

ohmygod.

Ohhhhhhh, good job, you. Good job.

kia said...

Way to get yourself a Get Out Of Hell Free card! How truly scary that this child came so close to serious danger. Frightening.

Good Enough Mama

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

As someone who saved the life of a toddler years and years ago, I promise you that you will not ever, ever, forget his face. You'll remember it forever. And as the years go by, you'll see kids who would be right around his age who look kind of like him and you'll go, "Is that him? Would he remember what happened?"
And as more years go by, you'll think about how right about now, he'll be graduating from high school - and how did he turn out? Will he get married, have kids? And how would all of those people's lives be different if you hadn't been there in that split second?

You are amazing, and I think the way you reacted is the sign of a truly magnificent person.

Marmarbug said...

Okay seriously? WHAT THE HELL is wrong with people!!! I mean we have all had situations where we wandered off as kids or our kids wandered off a bit but THAT? Is ridiculous! If it had been my child I would have been frantic. I hope that dude got the WORST case of the squirts from his pnacakes.
GOOD JOB GIRL!

Joy! said...

OMG, this just freezes my blood. Thank God and the universe you were right there and noticed what was going on. I agree--the what ifs are useless now--you saved that kid's butt and his father's. Whew.

My mother somehow escaped the house when she was maybe two and went walk-about, down the road, across the railroad tracks and into town (she was used to walking with her mother, who didn't drive). Fortunately, a neighbor recognized her and coaxed her home. It was a small sleepy town, but still. I have a feeling that the family always told it as a funny story to mitigate the scariness of it.

Some parents are outright neglectful and others are just momentarily unlucky. It's good we all help look out for each other. My 5 c. :)

And Bless You for being right there!! Aaaaa! I can smell the adrenaline from here.

Colleen said...

Justin gave me the heads-up on this post and I still stopped breathing through the whole thing. That freakin' scared the bejesus out of me. How do you lose a toddler while in IHOP? Was the stack of pancakes so freakin' high that it wasn't until he got to the bottom that he noticed his son's empty booster seat? Which brings me to why wasn't he in a high chair...geez, we stuck Gavin in them until he was about 3 because we COULD. But I digress...

please don't let the What Ifs eat at you...just remind yourself that you saved him. He's okay and hopefully dad has figured out what a dense piece of shit he was and will keep a better eye on that child.

Allie said...

Wow! Good for you. You did a very good thing for that little boy. I'm so glad you were there for him.

Litepulsar said...

Please don't beat yourself over the head with "what ifs". I really do believe that little child's guardian angel was giving you a little "nudge", just at the right time.

Mel, A Dramatic Mommy said...

I'm late to this party but have to say angels were watching over that little boy. You were absolutely meant to be where you were. You have earned a spot in heaven!