Tuesday, February 9, 2010

No-Effort Parenting (A classic case of Love and Logic)

I had done it again. Company was coming for dinner--- soon---- and I had waited too long to get it together. I was zipping around the house looking at all the things I had wanted to do and at the same time choking down the reality that those things weren’t going to happen. By that point, I was hoping to at least change my clothes! It was T minus 30 when the phone rang. I looked at the number and I panicked. It was our neighborhood gate. Our friends, Remey and Kollin, weren’t supposed to arrive until 7:30! Why in the world were they so early??!! You just don’t show up that early unless you are ready to perform the last minute pick up, clear kid’s dinner table, check the powder bathroom, put out the appetizer, light the candles........ I picked up the phone and instead of hearing Remey’s sweet voice I heard, “This is Officer So and So with the Fort Worth Police Department. I need for you to let me in your neighborhood.” My first feeling was relief that I had a few more minutes so I turned my attention to the voice on my phone, who was NOT expecting dinner in a semi-orderly environment. As I gathered my wits, I had him repeat who he was. With all my superior investigative experience via “crime TV”, I wasn’t about to let him in our gate without some convincing and concise information. I was protecting the entire neighborhood! I asked him what residence or who in our neighborhood he was trying find. He clearly said, “The Sanders” and I thought, yeah, right. Our names are right there on the little device outside the gate, but why this impersonator would have scrolled all the way down to the “S’s” and not stopped up top at like “Andersons”, I didn’t have an answer for that. Not knowing how to ask him for our first names without sounding like Barney Fife, I did what any sound minded investigative wife would do. I stuck the phone in Jeff’s face. In 2 seconds I mouthed to him my 30 second conversation with this “thug” at our gate. Jeff listens for a minute and I am waving my arms with wild eyes reminding him that “he doesn’t know our first names!!”. Way too quickly, I hear Jeff say, “Okay,” and then, in disbelief, watch him press the buttons to let the “bad person” into our neighborhood. Before I could go into all my objections, he held his hand up and said, “It’s the police. I heard the scanner.” For just a minute Jeff and I stood staring at each other trying to figure out “the policeman at our gate” scenario. Then, in a flash, I saw a wave of understanding wash over Jeff’s face and he yelled for Brighton. I rolled my eyes.

B was torqued because two of his favorite things were going on: one, we were having company for dinner, and two, we had a friend over. At the speed only a 6 year old boy can reach indoors, he came running around from the kitchen to the foyer. The look on his Daddy's face brought him to a crude halt, “Sir?”

Very sternly, Jeff asked, “Brighton, were you playing with the phone earlier?”

Bingo! I was on Jeff’s page. All was clear. Bring on Officer So and So!

“Yes, sir. No, sir. I mean, I put it down when you told me to.”

A voice from the kitchen, “I told you not to do it, B!!” (Aren’t sisters great?)

Jeff asked, “Did you dial 911?”

That brought on “the look”-- the one that says, “I did it, but I don’t have time to weigh the pros and cons of telling the truth”. Nevertheless, “guilty” was stamped on his forehead, on his cheeks, his nose, eyelids, chin etc.

In true form, here is what he came up with, “I dialed a lot of numbers.”

Jeff opened the door and the police car was in front of the house. I have to say, I have NEVER in B’s 6 short years seen his eyes nearly pop out of his head. They came close one morning when I offered Pop Tarts for breakfast. Anyhow, this amusing face was quickly replaced with a look I know I have NEVER seen on this child’s face and that was TERROR. Sheer. And, no lie, this was his one and only question, asked at a magnitude of sound that interrupted our entire neighborhood’s dinner, “IS HE GOING TO TAKE ME TO JAIL???!!!!!!????”

While silly pictures of that danced through my head, compassion returned to me from somewhere and I got on my knees in front of him and gave him a passionate “no”, just like you would have. Well, he took off running and locked himself in our bedroom. (This is where he runs to “run away”. Thankfully, it’s not far.) I guess he didn’t believe me or I hadn't mustered up quite enough passion.

When Jeff called him, he emerged from my room, tow head down, hands in pockets and feet shuffling.

He looked about 3 standing in front of the man whom I had pegged only a few minutes before a criminal.

Officer So and So had Brighton admit his guilt and to B’s credit, from a tear streaked face, he immediately apologized and asked for the policeman’s forgiveness. The officer explained to Brighton how important it was to save “911” for real emergencies. To my relief and disappointment, the policeman turned out to be a big teddy bear..............with cool police stickers. I wasn’t sure how I wanted him to handle it. Sure, I wanted Brighton to learn his lesson that playing with the phone and “crying wolf” was NOT cool or smart, but then I didn’t want him to think for a minute that he wasn’t safe and secure in our home. However, I quickly confiscated the stickers. I wasn’t ready for “reward”.

Once our front door was closed and Office Teddy Bear had driven away, his adrenaline release came again in the form of tears. After much comforting by Jeff AND me, these were Brighton’s last words on the subject, “I am NEVER going to drive!!”

So, the visit from the policeman made quite an impression on Brighton and hopefully some changes when it comes to how he thinks about our phones. I could be wrong but I am guessing this is where we are on the other side of the “911 event”--- he will never make needless 911 phone calls and I will be driving him around on his first date.


nikki said...

ha! reminds me of the time atlee called 911 when she was a year and a half...and the fire department showed up at our door....

nikki said...

how was my daughter at your house for this entire event- and this is my first knowledge of it?

Krista said...

Your At-- not the busy body type. Wonder where she gets that from? J and A didn't even come to the door!

tanya said...

That is one funny story. Sweet Brighton! I hope he has recovered.

P.S. - I'm SUPER impressed you have only offered Pop Tarts once for breakfast! :)

Alyssa said...

I bet Brighton will never want to come visit me at work with all the police around; it sounds like he's had quite his fill of them! Such a memorable teaching moment!