It’s amazing to think that in one instant, your world can be turned upside down. Last week, for one instant, my world turned upside down…

On my way home from a meeting, my phone rang. It was my babysitter. She was in tears and inaudible. Then I heard, “Hi, Jennifer… This is Officer (???) with Los Angeles Fire Department. Your babysitter and son have been in an accident.”

I stopped breathing.

“Everyone is okay though, ma’am. Your. Son. Is. Okay.”

I clutched my wheel.

What happened in the next 15 minutes is a blur: The Officer asked if I’d like them to go to the Emergency Room via ambulance (which he assured me wasn’t necessary)… The Officer told me where they were located… . He put Jonah on the phone… Jonah said, “Hi, Mommy,” in the softest and sweetest way… Jonah put the fireman back on the phone…. The fireman told me to drive safely… I told him I’d be there in 15 minutes… I asked again what happened… He told me: HER CAR FLIPPED.


At some point, not wanting to, I hung up the phone. I needed to get to my baby. I heard his voice, so he’s okay. But the car flipped???? HOW can they be okay? But they are, I think. I pray.

I called his dad, then my boyfriend P, then my mom. Everyone knows. Everyone is on their way.

Thank god everything in Los Angeles REALLY IS 20 minutes away from each other.

As I got closer to where they were, the panic set in. For 2 blocks, cars were backed up. I could see at the intersection that the street was closed off and cops were diverting traffic. Up further ahead I could see fire trucks and ambulances. And when I stopped crying and snapped out of it, I could see a red car on it’s back, with the wheels in the air.

I stopped breathing again. My boy. My boy was in that car.

I screamed this to a car trying to merge for the diversion. She couldn’t understand what I was saying. I screamed from the center of my being to roll down her window and LET. ME. OVER. MY. SON. WAS. IN. THAT. ACCIDENT.


She let me over. LA Drivers are the worst.

I got through the barricade and parked. And ran.

And saw the car. Oh my god, the car.

Jonah  was standing with P’s sister. I clutched him. He burst in to tears and I became unglued.

He was in THAT CAR?!

His eyes were red. The fireman came over. The redness was from the gun powder in the airbags. But he is okay, they think.

They tell me a complete stranger, a woman, pulled him out…

They tell me the fire department arrived less than a minute after that…

They tell me the CAR SEAT SAVED HIS LIFE.

They tell me they’ve seen worse…

We learn that it was the other driver’s fault… But blaming someone as I pick up a breathing, healthy, 4 (almost 5) year old and wrap my arms around him tight seems unnecessary right then and there…

A half hour later, we were giving a nurse at the ER details of his accident.

Jonah was terrified. He wanted to go home. He wanted nothing to do with doctors or shots. He hates shots. I had already tortured him that day with a trip to the dermatologist for a rash (no shots). He didn’t want “a doctor day” anymore. He wanted to go home and play video games. I wanted to go home and play video games. But we are here, and he was in my arms. 

We waited for about 4 more hours until he was evaluated by the doctor. Then a trauma surgeon. Then the chief of trauma surgery. Jonah told every doctor that they were doing the same thing. “The last doctor looked into my eyes too. Someone needs to do something different. How come you all do the same thing?”

He made everyone laugh.

The “repeating” doctors came to a consensus: He really was okay and no intrusive imaging or observing overnight was necessary. He could go home. HE. WAS. OKAY.

I was happy that they repeated this. And I am tortured by the thing they also repeated: “His Car Seat Saved His Life.”

We were just about to get him a booster.

That night, 4.5 hours after his supposed bedtime, I kissed him tighter and breathed prayer into his entire body.

He was in THAT car?

The next morning, Jonah insisted on going to school. Nothing hurt. Nothing felt funny. Nothing except talking about the accident bothered him.

He wanted to go to school. As a cowboy. And I didn’t stop him.

I was told the next day by his teachers that he requested some time to sit down and tell the kids after playing in the yard about “the crash.” He turned off the lights. Sat all the children in a circle. Got out two toy cars and reenacted their accident.  He told them how important it was to wear a seatbelt and stay in a car seat. NOT a booster. He told them that every doctor did the same thing but he went home and is okay. He asked them if anyone had questions. The children, of course, got excited and started talking about cars and crashes they had seen. Jonah told them to stay “on topic.”

He’s okay. I…. I am still in shock. Still in disbelief. Still perseverating on the “what ifs.”

Everything feels more fragile and more important now. And while I hope to close my eyes again at night without seeing the car flipped and my son crying, I know I will never take for granted another moment of time spent with a cowboy named Jonah again.

FILED UNDER: A Little Life

Leave a Comment


  1. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Oh. My. Gosh. I think *my* breathing stopped when I saw the picture of the car! How terrifying - for everyone involved, directly and indirectly!

    SOOOO glad Jonah is okay!!!
  2. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    My heart aches for you. But I'm so glad to hear your son's fine.
  3. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Sitting here crying. The picture of the car was just terrifying. Thank G-d they were all OK.

    Any clue how it happened? How is the babysitter doing? Was it her fault?
  4. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    You brought me to tears! Thank G-d he no one was hurt!
  5. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    I am a mess! OMG. That must have been soooo scary, I cannot even imagine. I am SOOOO happy he is okay. Life is precious and this is a reminder of not to take anything for granted ever! Xoxo Andrea
  6. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    I don't why but even after I read the post twice I was in tears!!
    Thank God for that stranger, Thank God for the car seat and thank God everyone was ok.

    So happy to hear Jonah is ok. But now I'm going to look at my car, weigh my kids again and make sure that they are in the right car seats again, JUST IN CASE!
  7. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Wow what an amazing story...I'm sure they told you to replace his car seat there are several extended harnessing car seats on the market both the graco nautlius, argos, and the britax frontier will harness him for alot longer. Also to those with children under 3 years of age Rearfacing is the safest way for them to ride.
  8. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    oh my god I'm in tears. thank god. I have no words. I hate every second my kids are in a car.
  9. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Wow this story is exactly why I became a CPST. Make sure you replace your car seat (which i'm sure the doctors and police officers told you). There are several carseats that will harness him longer like the Graco Nautlius and Argos and the Britax Frontier. To other parents with younger children Rear facing is the safest way for children to travel. THeir are car seats that rearface up to 45lbs please do your research and make sure your car seats are installed correctly.
  10. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Crying. Thank G-d He is OK. Thank G-d your babysitter is OK. Thank G-d he was in the car seat. I am sharing with everyone I know to remind then not to be in a rush to switch to a booster.
  11. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    I'm also counting the days, kgs and cms until we can switch to the booster seat. Maybe not anymore. Thanks for sharing this and I'm so glad yours is a happy ending.
  12. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    This is why my kids (4 and 6) are not allowed to ride in a car (even a block) without a car seat. This is why I do not allow other children to ride in my car without a car seat. This is why my children are not moving to booster seats until they physically cannot fit in their car seats any longer.
  13. Yael Parnes
    Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    As a fellow mother of a 4 year old boy, I cant even begin to imagine how you must be feeling.
    So glad Jonah is doing well and great that he's talking abut the accident!

    Thank God for guardian angels!
  14. Anonymous
    Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Listen, I know that you are shook up, I totally understand. I was in a very similar accident with my daughter a couple of months back, and it was awful!!! But I want you to understand something, the car seat may have helped him, but the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE saved your son. The car seat is just plastic. God looked down, saw your son, and protected Him, because He loves you all so much. Don't let this fact go unnoticed! :)
  15. Anonymous
    Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Well, its a good thing the "God of the Universe" made sure she had a carseat and not a booster in her car.
  16. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    WOW! I can't even imagine seeing a car like that knowing my child had been in it! So glad he was safe! Big hugs and lots of love to you both! XOXO
  17. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    I am very happy that your son is okay. You went through a very scary experience. However you make no mention of the other person in the accident -- namely the babysitter. Is she okay? Do you care? The fact that she is not mentioned other than in the first paragraph -- makes me wonder.
  18. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Jonah the Cowboy is the coolest. So is his mom. I'm so beyond happy everything turned out well. I would say more, but I don't want Jonah to tell me I'm "off topic." Smoochies, hugs and love coming your way from the east coast!
  19. Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    Thank You so much for Sharing your story. My oldest is almost 6 and we were thinking, about a booster. Thank God your Jonah is okay.
  20. Anonymous
    Wednesday, July 18th, 2012
    She said everyone is OK. This blog post is about a mommy, her son and car seat safety. You clearly missed that part.
  21. Anonymous
    Thursday, July 19th, 2012
    Gulp. Okay, car seat stays.
  22. Anonymous
    Thursday, July 19th, 2012
    So sorry you all had to go through such a terrifying experience! Hope you are all doing well now! Miss you.

  23. Thursday, July 19th, 2012
    Just finished reading that through the tears in my eyes. So glad that your son is ok. Thanks for sharing the story from both yours and Jonah's perspective.