Tuesday, May 22, 2012


In the middle of a street, in heavy traffic, my taxi driver slammed on the brakes and threw his head out of his open window and screamed. 'Ignacio!"
            There was a little boy running down the sidewalk.  He was maybe two years old, still unsteady on his legs, running with that forward headlong headlong gait of a baby.  Half a block behind him, a woman was running flat out.  She'd turned around and he'd gotten away. They were her screams that the driver had heard.
            "Ignacio!"  A command. "Ignacio!"  A shout.  "Ignacio, sweetie, darling, come to Mummy - Ignacio stop NOW!"
            Ignacio didn't stop - he was almost at the end of the block, laughing his little head off - he was having a grand time, a fabulous time, and he was running straight toward a heavy stream of moving cars.  I can't remember when I was last quite so frightened.
            "Ignacio!"  my driver yelled. "Ignacio, come and look at my pretty taxi!  Look at the pretty taxi!  Stop-" and then, in the next second, with a shouted curse, he was out of the taxi, his door swinging, and he flew down that sidewalk and scooped Ignacio up in his arms just as the child put his first pretty little foot off the curb and into the busy street.
            And then the mother was there - a moment too late - and she was shaking, and the driver was shaking and Ignacio was crying because the adults were shaking and all the good times had gone away just like that.
            The driver came back to the taxi and sat down heavily in the drivers seat, and he just sat there for a minute. While he talked about leashes for children. And idiot parents, and the luck of fools and all the things you say when you're absolutely terrified and don't need to be anymore.
            And the thing is, I've always looked down on parents who would do that - who would put leashes on their kids. Who clearly can't trust themselves to keep a proper eye on their own kids.  I've been deeply superior about lots of things.  It's hardly an original sort of epiphany, but how on earth do we trust ourselves to do this right?  That mother looked away for one moment - and if it wasn't for a taxi-driver passing on the street who happened to hear her calling, she'd have been a mother without a son.

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