Orange is the New Pink and Blue

Posted on Jan 10 2016 - 5:43pm by Jackie

I recently read an interview with a police officer who urged parents not to teach kids to fear the police by telling them they’ll go to jail if they’re bad. “We want kids to run to us when they’re scared, not run from us because they’re scared,” he said.  And I totally agree – in theory.  But the truth is, when I’m out with my kids and they’re misbehaving and a policeman walks in, I’m like “Score!”  I open my mouth, cough out a big ol’ “uh-oh” and I know right there, we’re about to shut it down.

So maybe I shouldn’t do that, but when you’re neck deep in sibling brawls and afternoon tantrums, it seems like a really good option. I’m sure I wouldn’t even look in the cop’s direction if my kids could actually get in trouble for their nonsense.  But if there’s really no harm in it, is it so bad for us parents to use the presence of our friends in blue for our own selfish reasons?  We all know our little ones would never really get busted for their shenanigans.  Which is a good thing, because I don’t know about your kids, but mine seem to break the law all the time.

Take for example the last time we went to the pharmacy. As we strolled through the aisles, my 4 year old son cried out “I need this” and “I want that,” as I mechanically responded various forms of nope, not happening and not buying it. After we make our way into the car and approach our driveway, my child announces “I love my new keychain.” Ughhhh.  I mean, if it cost more than a few bucks I would totally go back, but I just don’t have the time or motivation to go back and return the keychain.  I use the opportunity to teach an important lesson about paying for things before you take them, I confiscate the stolen merchandise, and for good measure I throw in a little guilt by telling him that next time he shoplifts, mommy will probably go to jail.

But there’s much more. Assault and Battery?  Check! My kids swat each other like they’re the Karate Kid and nobody blinks an eye. I’m pretty sure if I tossed a Barbie at someone for telling me I smell, law enforcement would have something to say.

Disturbing the peace? Constantly. Come check out my crew when I’m trying to run an errand and I promise, your peace will be disturbed.

Incitement to violence? Yes indeed, my kids are masters at getting each other riled up. How about harassment? Larceny?  And if you want to see vandalism, just watch what happens when the diner gives out free crayons.

So is it ok to ever use our local law enforcers’ names in vain? On one hand, I want my children to feel safe approaching police men and women in a time of trouble, without fear of lock up for silly things they did last week. On the other hand, wouldn’t the policeman actually feel good knowing he’s averting a possible sibling related injury or parental nervous breakdown?  Sometimes when kids get out of hand and someone’s mere presence is enough to put out the fire, I must admit, it’s pretty hard to resist.

But in the interest of not needlessly terrifying my children or making them unwilling participants in an episode of “Scared Straight” for 5 year olds, I will try to resist temptation the next time I’m faced with the easy way out. I’ll try to not even make any ominous noises when I see an officer as my children play Frisbee with the express mail packages at the post office.

And if my kids ever really get scared that they’re going to jail, I’ll just remind them that although others may live by the motto “do the crime, do the time,” in our house, when you do the crime, all you do is the time-out.


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