When they veered away from me I’d say, “Don’t do anything stupid.” It’s a natural instinct of a mother with three boys. About twelve years ago I said this to Boy #2, who was ten at the time. We, the boys and I were shopping, all day. We had two more stops, the first was a pit stop at the grocery store and to buy the noodles I had forgotten the last time I was there. Boy #3, the one who remains totally innocent throughout this entire story, came into the store with me. I left the rotten ones in the car. When we emerged from the facilities Boy #2 changed his mind, he had to go, and there he was.
“You go, wash your hands, then go right back to the car. And hey, look at me. Don’t do anything stupid.”
There it was, it was very brief, but I had training in this type of situation. I saw something in that kids eyes, but I couldn’t prove it. He went into the bathroom; I grabbed Boy #3 by the hand and took off to the noodle aisle with a renewed sense of urgency.
“Did you see that? I saw something. I know I did.” I dragged Boy #3 behind me while I muttered my way through the crowded aisles. But Boy #2 had already put his plan into action. Oh for a ten year old, it was a beautiful plan.
Stealthily he moved throughout the parking lot, hiding in between cars, just like they do it on TV. Never mind who might see you, the mission, should he choose to accept it, scare the bat crap out of his older brother, Boy #1, who had locked all the car doors so Boy #2 could not get back in.
My angel and I came out of the store and took off running to the car, it was cold and he wanted to race me. We arrived to find Boy #2 trying to get in the car and Boy #1 laughing at him.
“Open the door!”
We got in and took off to our next stop, across the street. I can see now why we looked suspicious. We made it to the parking lot and half way to the store doors when the first police car arrived, followed by three more police cars, which surrounded us.
“Ma’am, a young boy fitting this boy’s description was seen braking into cars in the parking lot across the street.”
“Wha? Officer I can assure you my boys would never brake into a car.”
“Ma’am, I’m sure you believe that, but we just received a 911 call from one of the stores in the shopping center across the street saying that a boy in a light blue North Carolina jacket was trying to break into a white van.” I looked at Boy #2 in his light blue North Carolina jacket.
“I … I just ... I was just … I didn’t … he locked me out of the car.”
“Shuuut uuupp ...”
“I didn’t try to break into a white van I just leaned on it, he locked me out of the car mom.”
“Mom? Are we going to jail?” This is from Boy #3, who at that very moment became my favorite.
“Ma’am can I see some identification please?”
I handed over my driver’s license to the officer and looked at my worried little boy. I knelt down so I was eye level with him and said, “You didn’t do anything wrong, right?”
“No, I was with you.”
“So there’s no way we are going to jail.” Relief washed over his face. He then peered around me to look at his brothers and looked back at me with a stare that I can’t describe as concern but more curious. I stared back at him, nodded my head to assure him that the other two were coming home with us.
Apparently I have a clean record; the officer started communicating with yet another officer across the street who was in turn communicating with our accusers.
“Maybe they really didn’t see him actually “try” to brake in the white van”. The officer explained to me. “There have been a lot of “incidents” in that parking lot and we’re just being cautious. Sorry.”
The police cars drove away leaving us standing in the middle of the parking lot, stunned.
“Well we’re already here, let’s go get Papa’s birthday present.”
Its funny how being surrounded by the police brings you quite a bit of unwanted attention. We had assembled a small crowd of onlookers and the management at the fishing/hunting store thought it would be a good idea to have security follow our every move. We ended up buying a gift card to let Papa come back and shop for himself because we’re never going back there.
In the car I said to my boys, “So, I need to be more specific when I say ‘Don’t Do Anything Stupid’?”