Two weeks ago I was visiting a friend's house with my son. She lives on a fairly busy road with a speed limit of 40 mph or so. She has a big back yard and a pretty small front yard.
We were all inside the house and our sons were running around inside. We were sitting in the living room in the front of the house, and the boys ran into the back room. Less than a minute later my friend looked out the front window and said, "They're in the front yard!"
I walk quickly out the front door and into the yard. There is a car in the driveway and an SUV parked in the grass right by the road. My son is running right toward the street, next to the SUV. I run after him and yell, "STOP!". Apparently he can hear the terror in my voice, because he stops immediately and turns around. He is inches from the street, next to the huge SUV, so that the traffic in the far lane can't even see him. I'm still a few yards away from him. As soon as he turns toward me, I slow down, walking quickly because if I run after him he might bolt. I'm saying, "Do not move Do not move Do not move," as I approach him. I'm aware that he could run away from me, into traffic, at any second and I would be powerless to save him. I reach him and grab his arm, pulling him away from the road, and seconds later a car speeds by. I can easily envision him running in front of it and being killed.
I don't think he even knew he was about to run into the road. It was bright out and he was squinting at me as I approached. Apparently he was trying to find the other boy, who was hidden beside the car in the driveway. I told him he almost ran into the street, and he could've been hurt, and I was scared and blah blah blah, but after that we just went on with our playdate and I just pushed it out of my mind.
So now I have two problems: 1) How do I make sure this never ever happens again? and 2) How do I deal with this traumatic experience?
Problem 1: Lately my son doesn't really listen to me in any circumstance. Whenever we need to leave somewhere, he runs away from me. He also has run toward the street at our house when he doesn't want to go inside, but we have a huge front yard so I've caught him easily. I've told him how dangerous it is, and that a car could hit him and break his body and we wouldn't be able to fix it, but he still isn't cautious enough of cars and the street. How can I make him listen when it's important?
Problem 2: I keep thinking about this incident. It's not in my head all the time, but when I start to think about it it makes me ill. I've lost a loved one before, so I know that bad things can happen to me and those I love, and that my son could die, but before this I guess I never really felt it. Now I can feel it in my gut; my son could die, and so easily. I could look away for one second and he could be gone forever. I keep thinking, what if my friend hadn't seen them in the front yard? What if I had been a second slower in getting out the door? What if he had run away from me instead of stopping? I can just picture it, while I'm approaching him and saying "Do not move," he just decides to turn around and run right into the path of an oncoming car.
I feel like I could lose him at any second. I'm scared to death when he's around cars. I don't know what to do.