November 16, 2003

Why I Can't Sleep

My son was almost hit by a cab the other day.
Friday afternoon, 2:00, 86th and Lex.

Walking south on Lexington with my son in his stroller, just beginning to cross 86th on a green light with a walk signal. This cab seemed to come out of nowhere, turning right onto 86th. JMJ. I yelled "stop, stop" while moving rightward as fast as I could to get out of the way, "stop, stop" while moving fast, faster to get out his way but I can't move as fast as he is moving, doesn't he see us moving? "stop, stop" moving faster, faster, and at least eight or ten other pedestrians yelling "stop stop" while he keeps moving. And then he stopped.

All kinds of other pedestrians, seems to me it was mostly women, yelling at the driver and yelling at me, "Get his number! get his number!" Which I might not have done if they hadn't told me to. So I fumbled around in my bag and pulled out pen and scrap paper (a receipt from the post office) and quickly jotted it down while shaking in disbelief. And then I just stood immoblized on the sidewalk while a couple of women screamed bloody hell at the driver. "I know it's hard to drive a cab in New York City," one of them yelled, "but you just almost killed a baby."
Shouldn't I have yelled at him too? Wasn't that my duty as a mother? But I didn't yell, or say anything. Just wrote down the number, then gathered myself up, pulled myself together, made myself stop shaking, and took my son home, which I haven't left since.

I've filed a report (thanks to those women, I took down his number). And now I can't sleep.

I keep rewinding and replaying the tape, and then my body twitches in revolt as my mind persists in imagining the unimaginable.

It is frightening to think of, and I need to stop thinking of it. The utter fragility of a human life. My son's life. I can't sleep.

Posted by Invisible Adjunct at November 16, 2003 05:04 PM

I hear you, IA. I can't imagine any fear greater than losing one of my children. Non-parents can't understand. I couldn't before. Parents are hostages to fortune. Anything can happen. Like the farmers who live near our house, who depend of acts of God for their livelihood, we have to accept that so much of life--the things that matter most of all--are beyond our control.

Posted by: THB at November 16, 2003 05:14 PM

I was vacationing at the beach with my then five-year-old daughter. For various complicated reasons, we got separated and I couldn't find her - it was a crowded beach with high surf. I ran up to our hotel room (luckily, it overlooked the beach), stood on the balcony and scanned the beach desperately. Another bit of luck - she wore that day a bright orange and yellow swimsuit. Or maybe it was maternally enhanced vision or something... Anyway, I shrieked her name and she looked up and I said "Don't move," and I raced down to the beach. She was sitting calmly on a blanket with two women who had noticed she was lost and were busily feeding her huge amounts of food.

In short, a lot of us have horrible close call stories with our kids. And don't worry - your sleeplessness won't last long.

Posted by: Soriana at November 16, 2003 07:25 PM

How utterly terrifying.

I'd have screamed a blue streak at that cab driver, too.

I'm very glad your son is okay!!!

Posted by: Rana at November 16, 2003 08:33 PM

Yes, you'll probably keep replaying the scene for a long time. But eventually you will sleep again. And hug your son many times over.

I no longer remember on a daily basis when my daughter opened the cab door on the expressway between LaGuardia and JFK, but I still feel that whoosh of air and remember how I flung my toddler forward to grab my four-year old daughter to keep her from vanishing out that door.

and it's true. one doesn't sleep for awhile. but it's been about 8 years now and it does fade.

take care.


Posted by: Kris at November 16, 2003 09:02 PM

I am so sorry. I am happy that you and he were not hurt. Feel Better.

Sneak into his room and give him a kiss.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at November 16, 2003 11:06 PM

Really, it will go away. Not a lot to say except I'm glad no one was seriously hurt. Having been through car accident, tooth pulling, massive cuts with stitches, and (during the "I'm an independant 19-year-old" days) the staying out all night without a phone call or flight plan, I can sympathize. It's amazing how even non-life-threatening events can stay with you. Still, I know for me I just had to keep thinking each time how lucky we were. I hate to sound like a Pollyanna, but how cool is it that so many people jumped in to help -- if even to express the rage that shock kept you from expressing? Not a great way to be reminded that there is such a thing as community, but still ...

Stopping with bad platitudes now -- take care and hug the young person and buy him more Dr. Seuss.

Posted by: Another Damned Medievalist at November 16, 2003 11:24 PM

That is frightening. I think you did exactly what the situation called for when you took your son home and reported the cabdriver. And, to echo ADM, God bless New York's aggressive pedestrians. I hope it's some comfort to know that there were so many other people ready to help you out.

Posted by: Amanda at November 17, 2003 01:00 AM


My god. If there is a more frightening thing to a parent, I can't imagine it. Your son is beautiful (I remember the pictures you posted a few weeks ago) and between my sons in age, so this posting was a cold dagger of fear in my heart. I'm so glad he's safe and the two of you will be in my prayers.


Posted by: Kevin Walzer at November 17, 2003 10:20 AM

Hope the cabbie had nightmares about it too.

Posted by: Claire at November 17, 2003 11:23 AM

Frightening and infuriating. I'm glad you and your son were not hurt physically.

Posted by: Academy Girl at November 17, 2003 12:12 PM

I add my relief to the general sentiment, and hope that the cabbie at the very least has learned to be more damn careful. I'm amazed I haven't seen any accidents in the almost 23 years I've lived in the city. Take care of yourself and get some sleep.

Posted by: language hat at November 17, 2003 01:23 PM

IA, I'm glad you and your son are okay. Meditate, do something, to try to take your mind away from this.

THB, one does NOT, in fact, have to be a parent to "understand" this.

Posted by: carla at November 17, 2003 05:45 PM

carla: I suspect one does. As someone who has never fathered a child but has married a mother, I am extremely aware of the intense bond that your own child creates; I observe it with awe and assume I would have felt it myself, but will never have the chance. I'm quite sure, though, that seeing your own child almost run over is not at all the same thing as seeing, say, a friend almost run over.

Posted by: language hat at November 17, 2003 06:17 PM

I'm so glad your son is okay.

And one more screaming voice at the cab driver would not have changed anything. After that shock, terror-induced numbness is fine. It is good, though, that those women helped you get his number -- hopefully the report will help some.

Posted by: wolfangel at November 17, 2003 06:41 PM

I'm very glad you and your son are alright.

Posted by: Chris at November 17, 2003 08:38 PM

Thanks for your comments and concern. Feeling much better.

Posted by: Invisible Adjunct at November 18, 2003 08:54 AM

How horrible. I've thought there's nothing worse than those incidences when I lack control over a situation and am forced to watch it played out slo-mo. Sometimes it's difficult to think of, much less determine, all the right things to do and hearing other people (as you did) is important.

Posted by: Michelle at November 18, 2003 11:43 PM

Those really are the worst moments. Our daughter fell down our quite long wooden staircase when she was 1 1/2; I didn't see it, but I'll hear my wife's screams until I die. But fortunately for us, she rolled down each stair one at a time, like she was rolling down a hill, and was perfectly fine. We went to the ER anyway and it was in every respect one of the worst moments of my life--so close to disaster , so easy to imagine the unimaginable.

Posted by: Timothy Burke at November 19, 2003 03:48 PM

Hoo boy. I'm thinking of you both.

Posted by: Luis at November 25, 2003 05:13 PM