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Police officers for a day

Jun 1, 2017 - By Clair McFarland

Each time the spring season wanes, graduation season begins - and a new generation steps into this mosaic of struggle and victory, toil and joy, where every man and woman goes to fill a purpose.

Some call it "adulthood," but that sounds too serious for the humor-driven chaos-train that it actually is. Call it something else!

Yet here we are, admiring the new heights with the graduates. The days are inviting, the thermometer is kind, and the summer vacation yawns before us.

Every person, graduating or geriatric, can lean into these days and hear the possibilities whisper. Every person can sense the promise and the potential unfurling like rosebuds.

And even though only one of them was a fresh graduate - that is, a preschool graduate - I know my boys felt it too.

That's why all four of them decided on a profession this weekend. You know, because of the graduation excitement. And other things.

It all started when we were cooking a light dinner for the boys - probably 50 corn dogs and 200 chicken nuggets or so. Just then, a police car pulled a vehicle over, right in front of our home! That was interesting enough, so I mused about it out loud, which was foolish, because my musing made the boys climb all over me so they could see out the window.

But then, more cop cars started to show up! Two, then three, and I think a fourth, but I couldn't smash my face close enough to the window to see around my garage.

"Uh, guys," I said, "Get off me real quick. I gotta lock the door."

Not against the police, mind you, but against whatever had provoked the triple call for backup.

Four officers emerged and focused their attention onto one person, and various processes took place, most of which I can't label correctly because I don't watch TV.

The individual was arrested.

Here I tried to get the boys to get down from the countertops where they'd finally settled, because I felt uneasy about us gawking at someone's misfortune - deserved or not. Call me a bleeding heart, I guess, but I always think a person in cuffs can let his heart be changed at any time, and that it's never too late, and he's never too broken, to do so.

I didn't want our gawking to keep him from hearing the possibilities whisper.

"Get down, guys, get down! That's enough!"

The children hopped down and started asking me questions.

"Why is she in handcuffs?"

"Who?" I asked.

"The lady in handcuffs!"

"Oh," I said, "that's a man. Sometimes men wear their hair long too."

Funny how the children understand that aspect of gender in a traditional sense, and yet, despite my long hair, they still routinely call me a "he." How long?!

"What did Mom say?" one asked.

"He said it's a man," said another.

"He did? Hmm."

I shook my head. The Husband came into the kitchen.

"Dad! Dad! Dad! The cops are handcuffing a man! They're putting her in the cop car right now!"

He looked out the window to see, not just three (or four?) police cars, but also many neighbors who had come out of their houses to - ahem - adjust their lawn chairs and watch their grass grow.

"Oh, Dad! Can we go outside and get a closer look?"

"Sure!" he said.

I shook my head violently. I think a boy might have even fallen out of my hair.

"As long as you stay out back and just peek through the fence," he said, in compromise.

Well, that didn't last long. The twin 3-year-olds ran "out back," crashed into the fence, and burst through the front yard and toward the police cars, whooping.

I bolted out front to squawk them indoors.

"You guys get inside, right now!" A police officer waved us away like Sophia Petrillo of the "Golden Girls," and I blushed in embarrassment. Now we had gawked at misfortune AND become a nuisance to justice!

But then the police hauled their man away, and all but one officer departed.

"Hey I know him!" the Husband said, "he must be waiting for the tow truck. Let's go say hello."

So four little boys crossed the front yard barefoot to mingle their starry eyes with the weary but good-humored police officer.

They offered him toy handcuffs and asked him questions - and he was inviting, and kind, though he was, admittedly, weary from a tragic weekend.

That was all it took. Now I live with four little cops.

I hope that the boys can still feel the promise in these days, even though they've decided to be police officers. Even though they've decided to be "adults." Even though they just keep growing up.

And as for them, and you, and me - I hope we can all stand on that lofty peak with the graduates and hear Dr. Seuss, a wonderful and not-at-all-infantile poet, who wrote:

"You have brains in your head. / You have feet in your shoes. / You can steer yourself any direction you choose."

Because on a day like today, you can.

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