As I continue my chapters in my book, I vacillate between what to save for the book and what to blog. This week, I am sharing the following story. It will still be in my book, but speaks to daily life with growing kids. It really happened and will follow under my BMM (bad mom moments).
Anders had some issues in early elementary school. Anger issues. He was the sweetest kid on the block, but when you pushed his buttons, he saw red and you better run. It wasn’t even October of the school year. He had been in school maybe two months when I received my third call. He had been suspended for the day at the great age of 7. I was beside myself.
I picked him up from school. I didn’t yell. I didn’t scream. I have never beaten my children, so, NO. I didn’t beat him. I simply informed him as I buckled him into his booster seat that I was taking him to jail.
In retrospect, I now think I might have been a little harsh. On the other hand, he hasn’t been in trouble at school since and he is entering his third year of college (except for his brief issue with purposely failing middle school English and a blip with plagiarism in high school). Makes you think, huh?
Downtown we drove, straight to the police station (conveniently located next to the local library). Bless his frustrated heart, he was a sniveling mess. Not to be swayed by his tears, as I climbed out of my suburban, I let him know that if he didn’t come in with me, they would come out and get him.
I was moving quickly, he was dragging behind me. Through the double doors to the little walk up window in the corner. I frantically whisper to the poor young female receptionist (PYFR).
Me: My son is coming behind me. He got in trouble at school and thinks he’s going to jail. Work with me.
PYFR: (looking bewildered, biting her lip in a non-50shadesofgray manner) Ummm..OK.
Up walks the most pathetic looking child you have ever seen, snot running down his nose, now mixed with tears. To her credit, PYFR tells him to please have a seat and that someone will be with him shortly.
An officer comes through the security thick door and asks to speak with me for a moment, alone. PYFR has given him some sort of a heads up (This mean there is a crazy lady at the front desk and her kid thinks she’s leaving him here….HELP ME).
Officer Nopp: Ma’am, what can I help you with?
Me: My son has been in trouble three times in the last two months at school for behavior/anger/bully issues. I’m trying to scare him straight. I told him that I was taking him to jail. Can you just talk with him and I’ll figure something out to tell him when you are done?
Officer Nopp: (Obviously realizing I’m not as mean and crazy as I look). Gives me a nod and a smile and says, I’d be happy too.
Officer Nopp calls to Anders.
Officer Nopp: Sir, would you please come with me.
Anders follows obediently. Officer Nopp sets him down in a quiet corner of the waiting room and they have this very serious discussion, Cop to Kid. The talk continues for at least 10 minutes. Officer Nopp excuses himself from Anders as their conversation comes to an end. He then returns to my side of the waiting room and quietly assures me that all is well. Anders is aware that his behavior is in serious need of modification. We speak for a few minutes longer and Officer Nopp excuses himself again.
By now, my adrenaline has started to wane. I’m tired, I love my kid, I feel bad, but the show must go on. I walk over to my son and sit down next to him.
Me: Anders, I want you to know how lucky you got today. It turns out that the jail is full. The police officer is releasing you to me. I am responsible for seeing you through your probation.
Anders reaches over to me with his arms wrapped tightly around my neck.
Anders: Mama, I’m sorry. I’ll be better. I talked with Officer Nopp.
Me: OK, Anders. I’m really glad to hear this because if it happens again and I have to bring you back and the jail is full, they will make you wait until they have a cell available. I love you, too.
I love my kid. I still have regrets of being too tough, but I still get shit for not being tough enough.
Officer Nopp went on to exit the police force, but became a local realtor who spends much his own time and energy public speaking to kids, to the extent that my youngest had the opportunity to listen to him in 8th grade talk about his own upbringing, bringing to mind poverty, a broken childhood, doing his best, giving appreciation, giving back and being successful and human at the same time. Thank you, Officer Nopp.