Dear little boy in the brown coat

I’m sorry I scared you when I slammed on my brakes when you darted out into the cross walk in front of me this morning. I’m grateful I did not hit you. I tried to give you the “go ahead” wave so you would know you were safe. I watched as you raced across the white parallel lines, praying you’d be visible to all the other drivers coming and going just two minutes before the bell was to ring at the local junior high. My relief as you safely reached the sidewalk turned to concern as I watched you, still running, trip and skid across the sidewalk on your hands and knees. I hurried to drop off the four nearly tardy 7th and 8th graders in my care and rushed back to see if you were ok. I suspected you were not.

You seemed so vulnerable. So young. So small. So alone.

As I turned left on to the street where your body had so roughly met pavement, I noticed a maroon minivan pulled to the curb. My worried heart relaxed just a little knowing someone had come to your aid as I had driven off just moments before. I slowed to ask the driver, who was walking back to his vehicle, if you were ok. He told me you were scraped up. Our eyes met. Shoulders shrugged and then sagged with the same sense of helplessness. Clearly we were both so willing and wanting to help. Yet we both knew it wasn’t likely we would be allowed.

Not in this day and age.

I pulled in behind the departing minivan, hoping that I, a woman–a mom, might somehow be perceived as “safer,” even though it was clear the good Samaritan who preceded me only had your best interest at heart as well.

Realizing it was unreasonable to offer you a ride home in my car, I asked to see your scraped up palms and offered to walk home with you (immediately realizing that now that too would be considered unreasonable). I wanted to make sure you reached home safely. And that someone was there to attend to your wounds.

“No, I’m fine alone,” you practically whispered.

As I desperately grasped at alternative ways I could possibly help you, you quietly repeated at each new offer.

“No, I’m fine alone.”

I understand. But I am sorry. So sorry.

I am sorry that you have–out of necessity, I guess, today I wasn’t so sure–been taught from a very young age that I, a stranger, am scary. A threat. And dangerous.

I’m sorry that even though you were surrounded by people who cared–people whose only desire was to help and make sure you were safe–this morning you had to go it alone.