There is a small creek near our house with an opening in the chain-link fence just barely big enough for a toddler to fit through. Whenever we walk by there, I imagine what I would do if Lucas or Ryan somehow slipped through the hole and fell in the water. It's something I don't even want to picture happening, but I have imagined myself hopping the fence to save them.
Today something just as frightening happened. I was playing at our local elementary school with the boys. They wandered away from the playground to the chainlink fence that separates them from the parking lot and street. I was literally 1 foot away from them and in the blink of an eye, they found a tiny opening in the fence and shimmied through. I reached out and my fingertips touched Lucas' shirt but I was too late. They were on the side of the fence next to the street, and I was stuck on the other side.
I tried to crawl through the opening but I was too big. There were at least 5 other adults nearby, with one man sitting just a few feet away from me with his daughter. Ryan and Lucas took off running across the parking lot towards the street. I screamed at Ryan to STOP but he didn't listen. I desperately tried to climb up the chainlink fence but it was just too high and I couldn't get a good foothold. By this point the boys had reached the sidewalk. I yelled at the man sitting near my "WHAT DO I DO?!". I am so angry now that he didn't try to help by climbing the fence.
He very calmly responded "There's an open gate down at the end there". Sure enough, there was an open gate off in the distance. I took off running as fast as I could. I kept my eyes on the street as I ran. Lucas didn't stop on the sidewalk with his brother, but ran straight into the middle of the street. A somewhat busy street. I kept screaming as I ran but Lucas wasn't listening. It felt like forever but I reached the gate and bolted across the parking lot, never taking my eyes from Lucas. I finally reached the street and ran out without even looking. I scooped up Lucas and carried him back to the sidewalk, just before a car came whizzing by.
I put the boys back in the stroller and headed for home. Once I caught my breath and my lungs stopped burning, I started shaking. Halfway home I started crying. I have never experienced such a horrible feeling. To see your child in imminent danger and feel completely helpless. It was absolutely terrifying. I felt so guilty afterwards for not being close enough to grab them away from danger. I know that just a few seconds difference could have resulted in something terrible. I'm thanking God for keeping his protective arms around my boys when I wasn't able to.