“I drop her off at the kindergarten gate every morning! The principal knows that, the yard guard knows it, why are you yelling at me?” This I said to one of our local sheriffs trying, in vain, just to do his job.
But he scared me! He came (rushed) up to my door to tell me (berate me) that I was holding up the entire line of (nicer) cars. He said I should have my child (my baby) use the valet like everyone (Did I think I was special?) else. I told Sam to get back in her car seat, and due to being completely wigged out, I almost pulled back out into traffic without strapping her back in. Then when I jolted my car to a complete stop, he rushed back to my open window, his mouth open to tell me God knows what, I yelled at him, “Do ya mind if I stop to lock her in?” He didn’t reply.
Then, trying to calm down, I pulled past a fire hydrant and parked in a loading zone to walk her to the kindergarten gate. Within a minute Sam was crying because she bumped into another child and dropped her water. The paper lid had popped off, the cup lay dormant at her feet and water ran in a silent stream alongside the orange outline of a hopscotch game. I stared for a moment and silently wished that my life were as calm as that slowly trailing water. But no, I hugged Samantha close, unloading and loading her up with what I thought she’d need to get through this particularly draining morning. With the bus strike, and now this, I knew I was going to be very late for work and I just didn’t care anymore. I slowly headed back out to my car only to see another sheriff writing a ticket to the car parked right behind mine. I started to get into my car when I noticed him approach my rear.
I wondered, out loud of course, if he were going to detain me to give me a ticket or if I should just drive off. He explained that I was in a loading zone. I explained what had just happened in the valet line, on her schoolyard, and now, for dramatic effect, I explained that I was in tears. Predictable and pathetic was I!
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From the corner of my eye I saw Samantha, at the edge of the schoolyard now pressing her tiny right hand through the fence, to comfort me! I had to pull it together and fast! I left the sheriff writing the ticket and held fast to the huge comfort nestled in that tiny hand. When I returned to my car, tears brushed clean from my face, he had decided not to write me the ticket as long as I was finally leaving. That and the fact that our PTA president had him cornered about the ticket he had just written to her.
As I started to pull away from the curb, giving Samantha a final wave, content to see the school guard attendant coax her back to the swings, I heard a slight rap on my car hood. A father and his young son poised near my front right wheel, jaywalking of course, with the sole intent of getting to school safely. I rolled down my window and apologized for not looking in front of me before pulling into traffic. He, unscathed by a sheriff that morning so far, was satisfied with my apology and said it was fine. Why was he so calm?
Mulling the events of the morning over in my mind I hadn’t gotten to my freeway onramp before I came to the conclusion that I had been completely in the wrong. The sheriffs were just trying to do their job. Protecting all of the children, not just their own. They were responding, most likely, to complaints about safety from the schools and it’s neighbors. But, as usual, when I see a sheriff I freak out. I think about myself my child and my fear.
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I had tried in the past to show Samantha that police are here to protect us. But I had a hard time holding back tears whenever I had to be approached by one. How can I teach her that getting a ticket was not an event to cry about? Why was I scared of sheriffs? Would I have the same fear being approached by a female sheriff? Would she make me cry too? Would crying help to get out of a ticket from her? What a double standard I seem to have adopted. A double standard I certainly don’t want my daughter to share.
The next day Samantha readily tried the valet. And as long as she gets a girl to open hr door and walk with her she seems to be fine. Now if a boy has to do it one day I can only hope that she doesn’t cry to get out of it. Maybe by then this lesson will sink into mommy. And only then can I hope to have Samantha learn the same. But God help the man, or boy, that gets in our path before then!