On Sunday, Marion Hedges, 47, was out shopping for Halloween candy for underprivileged children at her local Costco in East Harlem, New York. As she, a prominent philanthropist, and her 14-year-old son (some reports say he's 13) were walking back to the parking garage, a shopping cart came tumbling down on her from four stories above. She's currently in a medically induced coma, fighting for her life.
As horrific as the tragedy is, it's even worse because it wasn't just some random accident in which she was at the wrong place at the wrong time. Instead she is near death because two 12-year-old boys reportedly thought it would be fun to push that cart over the ledge.
As a mother, this story terrifies for many reasons. The first is how in just mere seconds, life can change or end so quickly. One minute you're shopping and chatting with your son, and the next your life hangs in the balance and you may never see him again. Hedges also has a 14-year-old daughter, and the emotional trauma of this event for her entire family is unbearable to contemplate. The boy, who witnessed the whole thing, will likely never erase those horrifying minutes from his mind.
Beyond putting myself in Hedges' shoes though, I also think about the mothers of the boys who made this horrible, horrible choice. There are so many big things I worry about my children getting involved in as they grow, like drugs, driving dangerously, and other self-destructive behavior. But sometimes it's the little things that scare me the most -- things like getting caught up with a crowd, going along with a prank that 99 times out of 100 would be harmless, but one time it goes horribly wrong. I think back to my own days at that age, and how many bad choices I made that could have had dire consequences. I got lucky, but will my children?
And no, it's not all about luck, and this was definitely more than a prank. It's about teaching our children to make good choices and right from wrong and all of that, but we know they don't always embrace what we teach them, not every time. And what if that one time, it's something like this. We can say they would know better, but will they always do better?
That doesn't mean I feel any sympathy for these boys and what they did. It was a heinous, irresponsible choice, and they're old enough to know better. Though it doesn't appear they intentionally tried to hurt anyone, The New York Post reports that they showed no remorse and were laughing afterward. If that's the case, then I feel nothing but rage. Others, however, told the paper they're "good boys," and I want to believe they are, that no one could be that callous. Regardless, their action -- even if it's the only "bad" thing they ever did -- is irreversible. Their lives and, most importantly, that of Marion Hedges, will forever be changed because of it. And that terrifies me.
Do you worry about your children making little choices with big consequences?
Image via Stevendepolo/Flickr