Alright, I’ve had my second cup of coffee. Ready to write… and shake a little while I do it. It’s like sky diving with a badly packed parachute… Dangerous and exciting. So it was family night. We decided to head to the local hot air balloon festival. It’s an awesome event in AZ where a bunch of balloons take off at the same time.
We drive up to Carefree where the little town is a-buzz with activity. Roads are blocked off, streets are filling with parking vehicles as we drive by. It’s a frenzy for the cow town, and we love it. So you might imagine our little cavalcade of cars, following each other about (us and another family). We find we need to make an illegal U-turn in order to go back and park in the perfect little spot we just passed. So we pull to a slight stop in traffic as my husband rolls down the window in front of a uniformed man, right in front of a squad car that says, “Sheriff”. You get the idea, right?
We are pulling up to a policeman they call sheriff because he is in charge of the other policemen who have been called out to make sure the crazy balloon festival stays in order. The man is kind enough as we smile and ask if we can about-face with the car following us. And while my husband is mid-charming sentence, my 8 year old son yells out, “Are you a REAL sheriff?” And because the real sheriff did not answer immediately he yelled louder, “I know your car says sheriff, but are you a REAL sheriff? ”
Now mind you, that was mildly embarrassing, but I turned to shoosh him with my wild mommy eyes that say, “Shut up!” without using those awful words. It’s a gift.
My 8 year old had unbuckled from his seat and was almost standing between my husband’s seat and mine. Awesome. As I usually do, I pause for a second to reassess. We have stopped to ask to make an illegal U-turn in front of a real sheriff. While my husband and I are obviously trying to be charming, my son decides to unbuckle from his seat nonchalantly, which neither of us, as parents, has noticed and let him yell at the sheriff and question his true validity, not once but twice. Policeman love that. Anytime you want to piss off a policeman, question his or her validity or authority position in the universe. Great idea. How many infractions is that?
I read the man’s facial cues. He’s probably thinking we are terrible parents who don’t care about our kids. He’s only half right. We do care about our kids. We care a lot. I cared enough to turn around and tell my son gruffly to sit down and buckle in right away. And like any concerned law enforcer, he allowed us to make the U-turn probably because he was concerned for our safety as a family. Better get us off the road as quickly as possible. And as soon as the cavalcade turned the corner, I burst out laughing like every nervous mother should when things have once again been turned upside down. I laughed so hard I thought I’d cry. I love that boy of mine. I love that the world’s rules never apply to him until you’re screaming at him. And I bet you’re dying to know what the uniformed stranger’s “real” status was. I would be. He answered my son, “yes, yes I am a real sheriff.” Super.
And I hate to judge, but Mr. Real Sheriff didn’t really seem concerned about our family like he probably should have. Oh well, we’ll consider this one as a gimme. To law enforcers and kids who make life interesting and a little dangerous.