Our friend, Laura, shares a personal story that we can learn a thing or two from…

We are city folks, for better or worse.  Our entire family travels to school and work every day by subway.  As a mom of 2, I have been carting my kids to and fro via mass transit for 10+ years, always without incident save the random subway delay.

The “without incident” part all changed one day when we were making our usual morning rush hour commute.  The subway stop nearest school is a bustling City Hall station and the car is always crowded.  My 7-year old was sitting on the end of the row reading while my 10-year old was across the aisle, closest to the door that opens.  I was standing between them and everything, at that moment, was completely normal.

When the door opened at our stop, a crowd had gathered near the opening door and as she stood, my daughter got shuffled out in the crowd.  My son stood up to follow, but as he stepped forward he suddenly jerked back… the strap of his backpack had gotten wedged in-between the bars of the seats.  He was completely stuck and unable to get out of his seat.

…And then it happened.   “I’m stuck!” my son yelled.  The doors of the subway car shut with me and my son inside and my daughter outside.  She turned to see us through the closed doors with a look that I will NEVER forget.  Mouthing “MOM??!!!” through the glass, with her hands on the window.  I was frantic, attempting to give her instructions before the subway took us away from her.  What should she do?  Where should she go?  Thanking all that is holy, the subway conductor must have seen her, because just then the door opened.  I was able to quickly grab her to bring her back inside with us while a kind stranger was trying to untangle my son.

Thankfully, our massive scare worked out for the best.  But it definitely made me think long and hard about these worst-case-scenarios.  Events that we, as parents, don’t really want to think about or scare our children with, but really should be prepared for.

Ironically, I have talked to my kids for years about what they should do if we ever were to get separated on the subway, BUT when it actually happens there are so many variables and such paralyzing fear involved that nobody is thinking clearly.  I think the most eye-opening part of this story is that, having gone over and over it, none of us really did anything wrong.  We are always very careful on the subway and it was a freak accident that really could happen to anyone.  Though I assure you we have all become 1000x  more careful since that day!

I think my point is that regardless of whether you live in the city or the suburbs, you should always be prepared for the what-ifs.  Since our incident, I have told all of our friends who take the subway (much to my daughter’s horror, I’m afraid) and what is strange is that we have all told our children what to do if they got lost at a place like Disney World, where they might go once a year.  But we often don’t talk about what to do if something goes wrong on a regular day.  What if you are late to pick your child up at the bus stop?  What if you get separated at the supermarket?  It is always better to have some plan than none.  And at the very least- make sure the kids know your cell number and have a general idea of who you would want them to ask for help, in an emergency.

Have you had such a frightening moment?  How did you handle it and what, if anything, have you changed because of it?  We all make mistakes, but we can learn a lot from each other.

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