Not all heroes wear capes.
Some of them, in fact, wear a very nice dress and blazer combo that got positive reinforcement from colleagues at work, thank you very much.
In fact, that was the decidedly non-cape, non-heroic get up I was wearing when I saved the life of a toddler last night.
The odds were against me. I was wearing high-heeled boots. And a long dress. The light was dimming. And yet, my spidey-senses tingled.
Mostly because a mother and son were hurtling towards me on the street, screaming their lungs out.
I was walking to collect my own son from after school care, when I noticed the pair running in the opposite direction to me along the footpath. The mum was about 50 metres away, yelling, “Tim, stop, stop!”
Tim, a little cherub of about four years old, was too busy ignoring her to hear what she was saying.
As he sped toward me, I could see his little grin glinting in the twilight, and his fluorescent blonde hair streaking like The Flash, merely a metre away from a very busy intersection.
I knew Tim had to be stopped. He didn’t want to be stopped. And yet it had to be done. The person who gave him life was not succeeding in stopping him. So I had to woman-up to the challenge.
Because, Lord knows, I did not want to be any part of a Tim vs Traffic sandwich. I did not want that on my conscience.
So, as little Timmy (he was so cute, I have to call him that), bolted towards me, I stood in his path. Bemused at the interference, he looked up at me, his blue eyes full of indignant confusion.
“Statues!” I sang, referring the the game where kids stand still.
“You have to wait for your mummy.”
Because, you see, this was the thing. This wasn’t my child, so I didn’t think I should touch him in any way. He had stopped, so I didn’t need to.
As I stood basking in glow of my heroism, his mother caught up to us.
“Thank you!” she said.
“What language did you just use to speak to him?”
Say what now? What language did I use?
Talk about killing my buzz. I went from hero to zero in a nanosecond, because her words immediately deflated me.
What did she mean, what language did I speak to him in?
Admittedly, I was looking trés chic, so perhaps she thought I had spoken in French?
Or was little Timmy/his mum actually bilingual and/or learning a language other than English, and she was pleasantly surprised he understood English? (Unlikely – she had a very strong Aussie accent – just like mine.)
Maybe she didn’t know about the “statues” game, and didn’t recognise “statues” as a word?
Perhaps she saw the truth in me: a super-smart woman – one who actually understands and can speak three different languages – so she was genuinely wondering which one I had cleverly used to stop her son from running into traffic?
Who knew what Timmy’s mum was thinking, but I’m fairly certain it’s not a question she would have asked a woman with the same fair skin colour as hers.
She saw my skin, and she thought I hadn’t spoken in English. It’s a recurring theme in my life. I’ve been told I speak good English, and that I speak well for an immigrant.
When I was born here. And am Aussie as.
So why would she possibly think I would use a language other than English?
In the absence of any other sensible reason, what other conclusion can I draw from this woman’s question?
I was so glad I had stopped Tim, (and as I now tell it, saved his God damn life in an heroic feat of bravery) and I would do it again in a heartbeat. We’re all in this together.
As for the mum, I know she was panicked. I know it wasn’t her finest moment.
But seriously, next time, keep the strange comments to yourself, Timmy’s mum – and simply offer me a bottle of champagne instead of commenting on my language.