What I encountered with my young daughter on the bus the other day serves as an important lesson for all parents to always hold hands with your child especially around busy traffic!
Yesterday when I boarded the bus from the stop near my house with my four-year-old daughter, another young girl who was perhaps two-years-old (no more than three) also got on before us.
She was such a tiny little thing and was wearing a light orange shirt, had her hair up in a neat ponytail, had a sweet grin on her face and was all alone.
I thought maybe her parents were getting on after us (as I notice most parents here tend to let their children run ahead of them while they slowly trail behind), but then as the bus drove off, she was still wandering around by herself.
I wondered if perhaps the other lady in front of us was her mother — but when she sat down, adjusted the aircon and stared blankly ahead of her, it was clear that she was completely oblivious to this tiny tot whose smile was slowly starting to fade away.
As I gazed out the window and saw two adults outside at the bus stop frantically waving with a look of panic on their faces, it was evident that this child must have wandered onto the bus by herself without their knowledge!
I quickly turned to look for the child but she had already clambered to the upper deck of the bus.
Where were her parents?
When the bus stopped at the next traffic light, I wondered why her parents didn’t run and chase after the bus, because if they had, then they could have easily caught up with it by now.
Before I could go up to look for the little girl, an elderly man descended with her in his arms.
“Where is her mother?”, he asked, as the child’s eyes were widened with the realisation that she had been separated from her family.
The other commuters looked puzzled and turned to stare at me, probably assuming that I was her mum because we share the same skin tone and we had all boarded the bus together.
So I said, “I think she got on the bus by herself. Her mother is probably back at the polyclinic.”
Everyone looked shocked and stared at the child in silence as she was placed on the reserved seats that face the steps going upstairs.
Another elderly man chimed in, “Bring her back to the polyclinic!”
The little girl was now starting to sob quietly, so I scooped her up and carried her in one arm, held my own daughter’s hand tightly, and we alighted at the next bus stop.
It had started to rain and I stood there for a few seconds trying to figure out whether I should cross the road to take another bus back to the previous stop, or just run in the rain before it starts pouring down?
Reunited at last
The little girl’s cries started to get a bit louder now, but then a pick-up truck pulled up and a man jumped out from the passenger’s side, waving and running towards us.
I waved back to him and asked the small child whether that was her Daddy, but she was unable to respond between sobs.
When I handed her back to her father, he just stood there smiling very sheepishly while reassuringly patting the little girl’s back, and never said a word.
I wasn’t sure what I should have said to him.
I’m sure he had a mini heart attack from this whole harrowing ordeal.
When I took the next bus with my daughter, I couldn’t help but think to myself, what if that child got kidnapped by somebody on the bus? Or was even sexually assaulted?
What if she had wandered in front of the bus instead of on it? She was so small, I doubt anyone would have even seen her until it was too late and she ended up under the bus.
Those scenarios may seem far-fetched to some, but as safe as Singapore is we have to remember that we are not living in a completely protected bubble.
We shouldn’t take things for granted, nor should we be complacent.
Mistakes happen and accidents can occur.
This is exactly why I am such a paranoid parent and always insist on holding my daughter’s hand very tightly when we are at a bus stop, near traffic, or in a crowded area.
You never know when your child might get distracted by a cute puppy on the other side of the street, or just wants to dash across the zebra crossing in her own imaginary race that she’s competing against you, or she is simply unaware of the dangers of oncoming traffic.
Always hold your child’s hand near traffic
It is better to be safe than sorry.
As parents we may just be having one of those days where our mind is all fuzzy and we’re feeling frazzled (we’ve all been there).
All the more you should have a firm grip on your little one’s hand to ensure she doesn’t wander off as you’re figuring out which bus to take, or you’re busy sending your friend a text message to say that you’re running late, or you’re rummaging through your bag in search of your EZ link card.
Just hold hands with your child.
So maybe the little girl was unharmed and was swiftly reunited with her family — nothing tragic happened to her — but why leave such chances up to luck when it comes to your child’s safety?
I have been made fun of, scoffed at, jeered at, and even ended friendships with other parents who have a more lax attitude and picked on me for my supposedly “anxious parenting style” — but that’s alright, because I would rather be called names than have anything unspeakable happen to my daughter.
Being labelled as over-protective is better than possibly having to bury my own child just because I simply did not hold her hand.
Do you agree that parents should always hold hands with their children especially near traffic? What would you have done if you saw a small child lost on a bus all by herself? Share your thoughts with us by leaving a comment!