This weekend I had the occasion to go to Target, just Oscar and I,which almost never happens. It was as straight up and down errand run - toilet paper, paper towels, the like. Not a very exciting trip for Oscar, nor for me since I couldn't really browse the clearance because he is three and has no patience for deals, but it was fun because he and I were having a good time, just the two of us.
We had many, many moments during this trip. I was filled with patience and Oscar was filled with good humor. One moment Oscar declared himself a police officer and I declared myself his captain and we referred to each other quite ridiculously has Officer Gibson and Captain Mommy throughout the trip.
There was another moment when I helped him pick out two choice Hot Wheels cars, one for him and one for Miles. I also let him choose a candy bar in the check out line because he was just so stellar and because we had another stop to make. He chose a Kit Kat and then came the moment when informed me he had no plans to share.
It was a Saturday afternoon to Target was packed. We had to park in what I consider the axillary parking lot, which is a smallish lot to the right of the store, as opposed to the main lot in front of the store. For several moments Oscar and I were walking to the auxiliary lot and chatting. He was in the kid seat part of the cart and the back of the cart was filled with gigantic packages of paper products.
We navigated around to the side of the store, over to the crosswalk, where I paused for a moment, looking both ways. No car coming on my left; a gray taxi cab coming on my right.
"Look, mom! A gray taxi cab! Why is it gray? Why is it at the store? Why is it stopping?"
The cab slowed as it approached the crosswalk and waved me on.
"Some people don't own cars so they take taxis to the store. It is stopping so we can cross the street. This is a crosswalk. The cars have to wait for us while we cross," I explained in the moment when we started across the street.
And then, I guess the car coming up behind the taxi cab decided he did not want to wait the 30 seconds for us to cross the street and he went around the taxi cab and came within about two inches from hitting my shopping cart. The shopping cart carrying my child.
I think my heart may have jumped clear out of my throat in that moment as I imagined what nearly happened, what was inches away from happening. My shopping cart getting clipped by a car easily going 25 miles per hour; the cart being ripped from my hands and flipping over and over; Oscar being thrown from the cart, under the cart, under the car; Oscar screams or lack of screams (which would be worse?); the blood; his pain; my helplessness.
Of course Oscar was untouched and absolutely fine, and so was I if you don't include the years that incident scared of my life. It was just a moment in my life, a moment that I've had a million times, that all parents have had a million times. A moment of what ifs that makes you realize how much of life is up to chance and that sometimes bad things happen and parents are powerless to stop them. A moment that fills you with terror. A moment that you push through so you can get back to the real moments where bad things are not happening and you are calmly pushing your shopping cart through a crosswalk and answering your three-year-olds questions about why some people don't have cars and the difference between taking a taxi and a bus.