Sunday, September 12, 2010

Deputized

The thing about worrying is it leads to more worrying. E has become more and more preoccupied with getting tickets from the police, so much so that she yells frantically at every intersection, do you have your signal on? Certainly the tickets (and by extension the unfamiliar authoritative police) have become a fear themselves but we think that they're the manifestation of E's emotional uncertainty as she continues to find her way at school without her best friends who have left for kindergarten. And it has not helped that her beloved morning teacher took an extended vacation to India and stayed to recuperate from surgery, her beloved afternoon teacher reduced her hours as college classes resumed, and a string of unfamiliar authoritative substitutes have been making her daily routine an ever-changing thing.

It's been a choppy few weeks.

But the thing about worrying is it won't bring her friends or teachers back, it only leads to more worrying. And so we've been trying to coach E that you can't control what happens, but you can control your response to it. We say it like a mantra.

(Sometimes) it works (somewhat).

===

On Thursday morning as we approached our synagogue for Rosh Hashanah services, E noticed the police car at the edge of the parking lot and grew apprehensive. We told her that there is always a police officer in the parking lot on the High Holy Days, and he's not looking for anybody doing anything wrong, he's only there to keep everybody safe in such big crowds.  E didn't want to go into services but then we saw that the police man was a police woman, and suddenly she was very focused. She wanted to say hi to the policewoman, so we walked over together.

Although the officer was very friendly, E didn't speak. She looked up at her shyly, but with an excited smile. I asked E if she wanted to ask the policewoman any questions but she shook her head quickly. The officer invited us to come say hi again the next day, and she'd try to have something for the kids. We went in to services and E was jumping with excitement from having said hello.

When we returned to the synagogue on Friday, the policewoman remembered my girls. She had a little kit for each of them, and at first they saw the crayons and coloring book of home safety rules. Then they saw the MCPD silicone bracelet. E was now a little less apprehensive, so I explained to the policewoman that E had been having a lot of fears about getting tickets in the car.

This policewoman is our family savior, and I wish I'd gotten her name.

She kneeled down to E's level and said, "Always wear your seatbelt. Keep your head and hands inside the car. Don't be too loud that it's hard for your mommy or daddy to concentrate on driving. Those are your rules. They know their rules. And the police have our rules. We don't bother the good guys for little things because we want to spend our time worrying about the bad guys."

Then she stood upright, looked at me and asked in a stern voice, "Do you promise to be a good driver?" I nodded solemnly.

She kneeled again to E (L was busy jumping on and off of the curb, completely unconcerned about any safety lectures) and said, "Do you promise to follow your rules?" E nodded solemnly, as well.

"Well," the officer continued, "if you follow your rules and your mommy and daddy follow their rules, you have nothing to worry about. And by following the rules, you help to keep the streets safe for everybody. That means that you are helping us.

"That means you are a junior police officer, now, okay?" She reached into the kit in E's hands and pulled out something that E hadn't seen yet. She tapped it with her fingertip and said, "good girls who know the rules and follow them have nothing to worry about."




As soon as we were inside the synagogue E asked me to affix the badge to her dress. She wore it all day and didn't ask about the state of our turn signals on the drive home. Pin It