This morning started off like any other morning.
Breakfast, snuggles, reading and heading out for an adventure.
I let Dean decide where we would go for a walk – Central Park in Burnaby or the Quay in New Westminster.
“I want to walk my bike across the train tracks!” New Westminster Quay, here we come.
We took the skytrain to New Westminster Station. Before going to the Quay, I grabbed a coffee from Tim Horton’s. As we were leaving, Dean rode his bike a bit further ahead than usual but he’s been great about stopping at certain landmarks and when we are in familiar territory, he tends to stop at them without reminders.
He missed the barber shop spinner. I called out to him but he only slowed down.
No big deal. The play area was just ahead and that’s our next stopping point. He always asks to stop there to play. He’d stop there today.
He kept going. By now, I was much further than I would be comfortable with but it’s a pedestrian area away from any roads. Except he was heading right for the bridge along the road…
I shouted to him but he didn’t even slow down. I sped up, jogging after him with Sammy in the stroller. I shouted again. Nothing.
I saw an elderly lady that I see often and have chatted with many times sitting at a bench. I quickly parked Sammy beside her, told her I would be back in a moment and took off after Dean, who I could no longer see.
My heart pounded. I was overwhelmed with stress and worry – where was he?!
He was a full minutes run along the narrow sidewalk, next to a road, ALONE. My not-quite-two-and-a-half-year-old was ALONE next to a road.
I started screaming to him while running. He stopped and looked behind and saw me. He was shocked at first, eyes wide. Then he started bawling. I never yell at him but I couldn’t help it.
I grabbed his bike, grabbed his hand and we walked back to where I left Sammy.
All while flipping out at him. I yelled at him for going so far. I yelled at him for going near a road. I yelled at him because I had failed at keeping him at a safe distance. I yelled at him because I was angry at myself.
I thanked the lady (and finally learned her name) for watching Sammy for the two minutes it took me to grab Dean and get back to her.
Dean, still in tears, told me that he couldn’t find me.
I don’t think his journey was intentional. He must have been distracted or daydreaming, not paying attention and ended up going too far.
After we both calmed down and enjoyed some tearful snuggles, we carried on with our day. Dean stuck a little bit closer. I kept a faster pace when he sped up. I also hugged him a
bit lot tighter this evening.
It could have ended so much more worse. I keep running through the “what-if’s” in my mind. I get a lump in my throat thinking about what could have happened if he fell onto the road or if he ran into the wrong person. It’s terrifying how fast something like this can happen – even when you’re paying attention.