We will be walking again this year on Saturday, May 19th at 9:30 a.m. – please click below to join Team Liberman or to donate.
If you can’t do either, please try and do this – if you know any mothers-to-be or new mothers who aren’t doing so well, try to be a listening ear. If they need help but don’t know where to look, I would be more than happy to talk with any of them.
They are not alone!
I had the pleasure of taking Ryan into the city this afternoon, which included a 1 hour train ride, some subways and a lot of walking. We had a quiet trip into the city but our return trips were at the height of rush hour. I felt extra concerned with Ryan holding my hand and not getting himself in a situation where he could be lost in the crowd. Especially a place as rushed and populated as Penn Station – New York City’s major intercity train station and commuter rail hub.
As we waited for our subway train to approach, we watched as another train stopped at the station. There was a rush of people filing out and a mob waiting to enter through the narrow doors. Although I trust that Ryan would never do this, I could visualize him running onto one of the trains and the door closing before I could jump on with him. The thought really shook me, because I felt unprepared for that scenario. We have talked about Stranger Danger in the past and I have drilled him on his address and what type of person to look for if he needs help, but never a situation where we could be separated. It has always been more about keeping him close than what to do if the worst happens.
Watching how quickly that subway train entered and exited the station, I felt there would be no better time to talk to Ryan about the possibility of being separated and how he could best handle it. I said that it would most likely never happen, but we need to know what to do in case it does. I explained that the subway will continue to move all the way East to Queens and that staying on the subway would make it nearly impossible to find him, so his best bet would be to get off at the very next stop. When the door opens, exit and STAY PUT on the platform. I will take the very next train and meet him there. He could cry, be scared, talk to people about how he lost his Mommy, but not to move from that platform and to say that his Mommy told him to do this.
I felt pretty confident that this was a good plan, but wanted to make sure just in case. I spotted two uniformed police officers who were patrolling the station and decided to put them on the spot. I said that my son and I were discussing what to do if we got separated – he on one subway train and myself left behind. I went through my plan and then asked what they would do. After all, in a moment of panic, I have always told Ryan that uniformed police officers can be of help. They looked at each other, thought out loud and decided that staying on the subway would be best for Ryan. Find someone on the subway to help you and they will get you back to your Mommy, they said. Then one realized that that wouldn’t be the smartest idea because they didn’t know where his Mommy would be or how to get him there if he continued to ride the subway all the way out to Queens. Nevermind the fact that this “helpful person” may turn out to be a child molester or serial killer, I thought to myself. So they quickly agreed that my plan would be a good one. Great, thank you so much officers, I said politely. And we were on our way.
Listen, maybe it was just those particular officers, but would you want to risk your child getting the “wrong information” in a situation like this? Am I being too hard on the police officers since I put them on the spot or is it part of their job to have that knowledge in their pocket? If Ryan were to have moved from the platform and found a police officer, I am sure they would have kept him somewhere safe so I could find him, whether it be at the next station stop or all the way East in Queens. This is why knowing his address is just as important and I keep trying to teach him his phone number but we haven’t nailed that down yet.
Anyway, you didn’t ask for it but here’s one person’s strong opinion – if your child is old enough to walk on their own through a crowded train station, amusement park, whatever… and are capable of breaking free in a moment of chaos, they are old enough to learn emergency safety plans for that particular situation. Better to be safe than sorry. Even if you have to drill it into their heads over and over. I felt much better giving Ryan a concrete plan than thinking about where he could have ended up if he stayed on the train indefinitely. (Now obviously, if he stayed on the train he never would have been able to approach a police officer because… well… he’d still be on the train.) Still, he was equipped with the knowledge of what to do and we both felt safer because of our shared knowledge.
What are your thoughts? Have you ever been separated in a department store, amusement park or other public place? What did you do? What would you do?