We went to a fall carnival last night, thinking it would be a great experience for all of us—especially our two-year-old. It was cold and a little rainy, but we came equipped with jackets, and fall is still going to be new and novel for a few weeks until we get used to summer being over. We were excited.
On the way in, we saw the train ride, which looked perfect for Jonathan’s age. It was one of those “trains” made up of a go-kart or tiny tractor or what-have you, followed by a bunch of hollowed-out oil barrels on wheels. The most promising part was seeing that the driver was actually excited about it. Most of the time when you see a train ride at one of these things, they’ve got some old, boring guy driving the thing in slow, loopy ovals. This chick was driving fast, snaky zig-zags. Perfect beginner’s carnival ride.
We bought some tickets and I ushered John away from the ring toss game, thinking we should make sure to start on a fun note. We waited in line, and the attendant asked if I was going to get on the ride with him. I said no, because it was the first answer that came to my mind, and I figured it was a pretty easy ride. He’d be fine. So the lady gladly lifted John into the train just behind an older boy, and they took off.
Halfway down the parking lot (I mean “train track,”) I turned to Ethan and said, “I really hope he doesn’t try to get out.” Up till then, I had only assumed he might scream. It didn’t really occur to me he might stand up or something. The train was nearing the end of the line, and we realized that was exactly what he was doing. Ethan took off running, but the train was too far away. John was standing and very carefully trying to climb out.
To his credit, he was handling it all very calmly. He wasn’t screaming or crying. He had just decided it was too scary, and he wanted to get off. Unfortunately, he decided this while the train was going full-speed, and turning around. So his brilliant idea to step out was disrupted. (Of course, the train was as tall as he was, so it’s not like it was going to go beautifully anyway.) He fell out of the train, landed face-first on the asphalt, and then got run over by the car behind him.
Spoiler alert: he’s fine. My child is alive.
But he wasn’t very happy about it. His head had a bunch of bloody scrapes and one really nasty-looking bruise full of broken blood vessels. As we cleaned him up in the nurse’s office, he slowly stopped screaming and moved more toward just crying and sniffling. The woman cleaning him up was very good with him, and offered him far more band-aids than he could possibly need. (This is when we found the tread-marks on his leg; that’s how we knew he got run over.)
So the kid is fine. He’s got a great story about “that one time when he jumped out of the carnival train and got run over,” but he’s fine. His poor cousin just broke his elbow (same day, I believe) falling on the playground, so now the family is debating whether the injury or the story is the more important bragging point.
I’m starting to forgive myself for letting him ride the train alone. And we’re emphasizing the importance of asking for help instead of jumping out of moving vehicles. And who knows? Maybe this will give him some context next time we emphasize checking for cars before crossing the street, now that he has some idea what it’s like to be run over. Right? This could be good, right?
Poor kid. ♦