Last week, I was involved in a minor accident. I was returning home from the beach with Daughter in the back of the minivan. Husband was behind me with Son (he’d met us after work). It had gotten completely dark and as I turned into my driveway, I felt that I hit something. It turned out to be a woman on a bicycle. I hadn’t seen her in the dark. I live on a dark country road, no streetlights, no lights on any of the houses, complete blackness.
I won’t get into all the details of the next 45 minutes but summarize by saying she’s alright though we called 911 at the time to make sure. I feel terrible. I saw no oncoming lights on the road. Where did she come from?
Shortly after it happened, Husband stayed with the cyclist while I took both children into the house and put them in front of the television. I had kicked into super-mother –bear-mode where I wanted to make sure the cyclist was okay and that my children weren’t distressed. I knew emergency vehicles would soon descend and that these can be upsetting to young kids. (When they’re not in a show and tell setting.) Miraculously, or obviously, the kids were captivated by the television and never ventured to the front porch to peak down at the scene (our house is up on a hill above the road).
Over the next several days, Daughter didn’t appear fazed and hadn’t really understood the situation. Son, on the other hand, spent five days processing the event in his five year old way.
The next day he was cranky. This was probably due more to the anxiety and stress I was managing and less about the late hour he went to sleep. At bedtime, he asked me for a play by play of everything that occurred while they were watching TV.
“I’ve never had a chance to call 911 before,” he offered. Husband’s call to 911 went through the car speaker system since he has a hands free hook up.
“And Mommy,” Son continued excitedly. “They said ‘911, Please state your emergency.’” Son has a talking lights and sounds ambulance we picked up at a church fair that says exactly this when you push a button. He’s learned to dial 911 in school and by us if there’s an emergency. He was able to offset some of the stress of the situation with his memory of hearing a real 911 call.
There was more crankiness on the third day. I was still very concerned about the cyclist (she wasn’t wearing a helmet) and reliving the event. Son was angry at me. His way of reacting to my stress.
Day four, as we did our tick check before baths, Son said, “Mommy, if you find a tick, we don’t need to call Miss Mary.” (The teacher who removed a tick she found on his neck during school last year.) “Instead, the police, ambulance and fire truck will come and remove it.”
On Day Five, I took the kids for a walk after dinner. We were still on a later schedule and I figured we’d get some additional exercise before baths. It was 7:30 pm, much lighter than when the accident occurred after 9 pm, but still moving towards darkness. I was extra paranoid. When we got to the end of the driveway I said, “Okay guys. It’s twilight so stay close to me and don’t run far.”
“What’s twilight?” Son asked.
“It’s when day turns into night,” I replied.
“Oh, Mommy. I know what twilight is. And at twilight there are lots of bikers on the road so you need to be extra careful so they don’t bump into you. And there are lots of cars on the road going home from work so you need to be careful of the cars, too.”