A Little Boy, His Croc, and a Taxi


He kept losing his black, size 10/11 crocs on the beach, in the sand, on the sidewalk. Stepping out of them to be funny. Wearing his black rubber strap in the front, rather than around the back of his heel.


I scolded him a couple of times. Even stopped to make him fix his shoes.

He was extra sprite tonight.

We trailed behind my husband and 5 year old daughter, the four of us holding hands in pairs: mommy and son, daddy and daughter, man-to-man coverage.

It was time to cross the street. The gelato café was within our reach and we were all sticky with Aruban night air and ready for sweet, cool relief.

It was the street crossing routine that we’d done a hundred times in his 4 years on Earth and since he could walk…"stop, hold mommy’s hand, look both ways, hurry and cross."

Tonight, wasn’t extremely busy. An empty, mellow Aruban city bus rolled by; tourists crossed the street when taxis left good, safe gaps in the traffic.

We spotted our gap.

Angus took hold of Scarlett’s hand. I took Duncan’s and stepped into the street. Midway across he screams, “MY SHOE!” That damn shoe again. I’m going to have a talk with him as soon as we get across the street. It’s so un…

And then my hand was empty. The four year old, still toddler-esque hand had wriggled away and his body was running back for a lonely, black croc sitting on the street in front of a taxi that was not slowing down. A taxi that could not possibly see the 36 inch boy in green khaki shorts and a light gray Old Navy shirt bending down in the dark of evening with one shoe still on his foot.

The scream that came from my mouth, I heard far, far away. My left hand, straight out as if to stop the ton of metal and headlights headed toward my son, must have been moved by some muscle deep within, because I did not feel it outstretch.

STOP. I think I yelled.

Have you ever lived a moment that teetered delicately between relief and tragedy?

Tonight we did. I did.

The taxi braked, stopping its lurch forward. I grabbed Duncan’s 37 pound body out of the 2 lane road and placed him on the uneven sidewalk, both of us shaking. Instantly, I moved from angry, through afraid, and then to terrified. I looked at his scared eyes, his blinking, watery but safe eyes.

The trembling took hold of my lips and I tried to force a reprimand that he would never forget, but all I could do was whisper the phrase, “Do NOT ever do that again” over and over. My hands firmly gripped his tiny shoulders, wanting to shake sense into his body, but all I could do was grasp in gratitude the unhurt body standing meekly in front of me.

We’ve had a serious talk since then, after the adrenaline receded. And we’ll continue having talks each time we cross the road until this kid will be totally fine losing his shoes on any road in the world, but whew…tonight was a close call.

We hugged a little tighter tonight. We snuggled a little longer. I looked up and gave thanks for laughing children dribbling gelato down the front of their pants.

I held my face in my hands and tried to breathe normal back into tonight.

Feeling less than interested in the lemon gelato scoop in front of me, and fighting off the what-if monsters in my head, I scratched and clawed to stay present…to not miss a thing…to be grateful for it all.

Let’s live through everyone else’s “almost-close-calls.” Let’s not wait for our own before we experience gratitude in the mundane or take extra good care to express our love for those around us.

Let my close call, be yours tonight. Share it with me and live, extra vigilant, hyper aware of every good thing that is yours, forgetting all the crap of the day.

For in the moment of an accelerating taxi, none of this matters anyhow.




Samantha NelsonComment