I Am the Primary President Who Screams at the Children (Some of Them, Anyway)

This morning we had a primary activity for all the children (ages 3-11) at the church.  Following games and prizes and lunch, we gave each of the children a helium balloon with a scripture (Psalm 82:6, “All of you are children of the most high,”) printed on a card and tied to it.  We told them we would take our balloons outside and release them on the count of three.

As we exited the building the wind picked up a bit and the kids had to hold tightly to their balloons as we all counted together, “One!  Two!  Three!”  They let go and we all anticipated watching the balloons float high into the air; but it didn’t happen quite that way.

The wind was too strong.  Loft was replaced by rapid horizontal movement.  Towards the busy state route on which our church building is located.  Several children, enthralled with the racing balloons, began running through the parking lot, towards the road, chasing the balloons which were still much too close to eye level.  I shouted for them to stop.  Another adult or two shouted for them to stop.  All of the children quickly turned around and came back.  All but two.

One of the two was Tank Boy.

He and the other boy continued racing after their balloons, towards the busy road with a speed limit of 55.  I shouted again and they kept going.

I started running after them and shouting.

They kept going.

I began screaming at them to stop.

They. kept. going.

Some men who were there started shouting for them to stop.

The boys didn’t even turn around to look at us.

Apparently the two men also started running after the boys.  I didn’t know this at the time, because I was outrunning them.  Impossible to believe, because I can. not. run.  I couldn’t catch my four-year-old son.  I knew I couldn’t.  But I kept running.  And screaming for him to stop.

The other boy stopped a few feet back from the road.  But Tank Boy kept running.  I knew cars were coming.  I knew I couldn’t catch him.

I was terrified.

He ran, and ran, closer and closer; and just as I was about to drop to the ground, knowing that I wasn’t able to save my son, his balloon raced across the street.

And he stopped himself.  Right at the edge of the road.

And then a car sped past.

And then another (coincidentally enough, an emergency squad).

Tank Boy turned around with a look of joy and utter abandonment on his face.  He obviously expected to see a gaggle of other smiling, laughing, running children behind him.  Instead he saw my terrified face and began to realize that several adults had been yelling at him.

He quickly ran to me, and I held him close, and I stooped down to his level. 

And I screamed at him.

“When people are yelling for you to stop, you stop!  Do you hear me????  You stop!  You stop!!!!  You don’t keep running, you stop!”

It was not my finest moment. 

The terror had so totally consumed me, and I lost it.  I screamed at my four-year-old son who actually was responsible enough, was paying enough attention, to not run into the street.  I screamed at my four-year-old son who had barely had time to begin process what had just happened.  I screamed at my four-year-old son while the entire rest of the primary was standing back by the church, watching.

Then he screamed one of his famous blood-curdling screams and continued to scream as he said, “You hate me!  You hate me!  Do you hate me mommy?  Do you hate me?”

By this time A~ had realized what was going on and had caught up to us.  I had to send her back to tell the rest of the primary to go back inside.  I’m not sure why the other adults hadn’t done that yet.  Frozen with fear themselves, perhaps?  Frozen by the shock of hearing a screaming primary president?

But they went in at my behest, and Tank Boy and I stood out on the church lawn, in the wind and the rain, crying and talking.

When we finally collected ourselves, when I was sure he understood that I was scared and not mad, when I was sure he understood that I do love him, we headed back inside and he went into the gym to play with the other kids.  I went into my primary library, locked the door behind me, and sat on the floor and cried.

I have prayed prayers of gratitude that my son stopped when he did.

But?  I have not been able to get over it all.  I have been an emotional wreck all day today because my son almost ran out into the road where he probably would have been killed.

I keep telling myself to suck it up and just be glad it didn’t happen, but somehow I can’t get past the fact that it almost did.  I keep seeing his back, in his gray and blue striped  shirt, running away from me and towards the road, completely oblivious to my screaming for him to stop.  I keep seeing in my mind what I was sure was going to happen.

It didn’t happen, but I still can’t shake it.

I have been worthless ever since.  I came home and helped my husband plant some trees (in the rain) (and by help I mean I told him where to dig the holes, and I held the trees in the holes while he put the dirt back in), and then I took a nap.  I woke up in time to make dinner, but I didn’t.  McH did.  Then I went out and royally ticked off one of my bee colonies. 

Other than that I’ve just been fighting back tears for what almost happened.  I don’t know how parents who lose a child survive.  It would break me into a million and one pieces.

Tank Boy, on the other hand, is fine.  Thank goodness.

18 thoughts on “I Am the Primary President Who Screams at the Children (Some of Them, Anyway)

  1. metaphase

    What a horrible, scary thing to happen. I can’t say I wouldn’t have done the exact same thing (yelling at my kid) if I were you. I’m sure you were on an emotional, out of your mind kind of adrenaline rush. I’m so glad God was watching over your son, and he’s tucked in safely sleeping tonight. Our God is good. And you’re a good mom, too!:)


  2. bunnysmom

    Oh Elaine how terrifying!!! I think it’s going to take a while to let that one go… it was just too scary. Thank God it turned out the way it did. I’m sending you comfoting healing thoughts.


  3. Thank God he stopped.

    Elaine, even though you feel ebarrassed, your reaction was perfectly normal and matched the situation’s seriousness. Clearly Tank Boy has never seen you that upset and hopefully, he’ll remember it. I hope that tape you’re playing over and over in your head starts to fade soon, too.


  4. Christina

    Thank God. Thank God, Thank God, Thank God. I was scared just reading it, even knowing in the back of my mind you wouldn’t be blogging if your son was just hit by a car. I can’t imagine how freaked I’d be. And I’m quite sure I would have yelled at my kid too. I mean, you’re right, the “Good Mom” thing to do would be to hug your child and tell him how good it was he STOPPED before going in the road. And THEN say “did you not hear 20 adults yelling at you to stop?” BUT, I’d totally be yelling. Just out of pure adrenaline and panic I think. So try not to be too hard on yourself about that.


  5. Karen

    I’ll tell you what we do. We just keep going one day at a time. Sometimes you have good days when you are collected and sometimes you don’t, times when you lose it at every little thing that happens. But sooner or later you come to the realization that everything happens for a purpose and you are grateful for the things you have, more so when you know how easily it is lost. Maybe that is why you had that experience. I’m glad your son is ok and I know you will be soon too.


  6. That is so super scary. I am sure your minds eye keeps playing the infinite loop of the outcome you were already envisioning as you tried to catch him. It’s hard to let go of those visions. That’s pretty near-death, if you ask me. I’m so so glad he stopped. I have no doubt I would have said the same things (in fact your words sort of echo in my ear which tells me I have, in the past :P). I hope you recover quickly and I’m so glad TankBoy already has.


  7. So terrifying. It makes my day seem pretty tame. I am pretty sure you’ve already done this, but I’ll say it anyway. Have you prayed? Not just the “Thank You! Thank You! Thank You!” that I have no doubt you were screaming in your head on the way back to the building. But really knelt down and prayed, both in extreme gratitude and for help. I say it, because sometimes I forget. Even when crazy scary things happen. And when it should be the first thing I think of. But sometimes it’s not. If I could be there, I would give you a gigantic hug. I hope someone did yesterday. And then again today.


  8. ((hugs)) I wish I could reach through this computer and give you a big hug. I can feel your terror…and my heart hurts with you. So thankful, Tank Boy is fine…I’ll be praying that you will be too. 😉


  9. This brought tears to my eyes. Don’t be too hard on yourself. Your child was in danger and you reacted as any mother would. Thankfully, Heavenly Father was watching out for him. She-Bear comes out in me ANY time I think one of my kids is in danger. I recently yelled at someone because I thought my daughter was sneaking out of the house. It turns out that it was a case of mistaken identity. We. All. Do. It. Just give Tank Boy lots of extra hugs. And have McH give YOU one.


  10. (hugs) and Praise God. I’m sorry for your post-traumatic stress. That is the worst feeling, realizing how close you came to disaster. I hope you feel okay soon.


  11. Oh, my stomach just dropped and I and I had tears in my eyes. That had to be terrifying. I think any mom would have done the exact same thing.


  12. I started crying as I read it myself. Thank goodness he stopped, though of course what an understatement. And honestly, I’d have done the very same thing you did too – I truly think most people would have. I think I can say I very much understand your reaction afterwards as well, I felt the same way after our near car wreck thing not too long ago. I think the same thing – if something were to happen to my peanut… To have such a close call is a very hard thing to shake no matter how grateful you are that it turned out ok.


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