A different perspective

Have you ever had one of those moments when you realise that someone else sees the world in a completely different way from you?

Let me describe a time when that happened to me.

First I need to set the scene. I live on a bus route. To one side of my house is a footpath that leads to the local primary school. On the other side, a little way down the road, is a public car park, where many parents will leave their car in order to walk up to the school and collect their child.

One day many years ago I was walking back from picking a child up from school. I had that child walking, another in a pushchair, and there may or may not have been a third; I don’t remember exactly.

What I do remember is the little boy, who must have been between two and three years old, and who got the idea that his mummy had already walked back to the car park, leaving him behind.

This child ran just ahead of me, crying, and as he rounded the corner at the end of the footpath I saw what he saw: a group of people blocking the pavement in front of him, with a garden wall one side of them and a big open area on the other side.

I also saw what he didn’t: the double decker bus just coming down the road.

In that moment, I understood that while to me the road was a danger zone, a no-go area, somewhere that you never ever step into even if your way is totally blocked, to him it simply offered an obvious way past the people who were obstructing his route to his mummy.

I cried out. I never thought I’d be someone to shout out like that, but it wasn’t anything I could control. I think I was the only one who saw and understood; the lollipop man stands on the other side of the road and so his vision would have been blocked by the bus, and no-one else had the same view as I did, just behind the boy.

The bus driver – much to his relief as well as mine, no doubt – slammed on the brakes and managed to avoid the boy, who continued down the road totally oblivious to the danger he had just been in. I pushed my children in the front gate with firm instructions to not move, and ran on down the road to the car park, where the boy stood crying.

“Is your mummy here?” I asked him.

He shook his head.

“Come on, then, I think she’s still back at the school.”  I took his hand and we walked together back up the road. Just as we reached my house, I saw someone I recognised: it was one of the Aunties from the local playschool. I told her what had happened. She didn’t recognise the boy, but offered to take him back up the path to find his mummy so I could deal with my own children.

I never heard any more about it, and to this day I don’t believe the child or his mother understood just how close they came to tragedy that evening. But I always try to bear in mind that what can seem completely obvious to me can, from someone else’s perspective, seem completely different.


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