good news, bad news, COPS

So it’s kind of funny that I thought my little discussion with the neighbor fellow would be my main interpersonal challenge of the day.  Because not an hour and a half after we arrived home for errands, just when I was about to round up my kids playing outside, Nels was brought home – in a squad car.  My son had (without checking with me first) tried to catch the bus to see his father at work.  With no coat. Or shoes. So this nice police officer brought him home. And lectured me (don’t worry, I did participate in the discussion). And called CPS. w00t!

I’m kind of through defending our lifestyle (altho’ I may in fact NOT be through with this, CPS-wise! Hee hee!), which I’ve done many times here on this blog, eloquently or no. At this moment I’m torn between laughing and thinking of the awesomeness of my kid vs. seriously dreading any follow-up (the PITA of which is at the discretion of Authorities), because really?  I have a life to lead, and get on with. But: whatever.  So I hope someone’s on my side when I get hauled off to the pokey.

I love the policeman (who is a mandated reporter, so he really did have to make this call) said I’d “done nothing wrong” and there was “no danger” and CPS would “do nothing”.  He repeatedly assured me not to worry.  “You have a nice house and clearly you are caring for your kids.”  Um, yay for being white and middle class?  Good luck, everyone else who isn’t in that category!

So something kind of amazing (altho’ minor) happened.  My husband had called Helsing Junction Farm to get their brochures to pass out around town so people could sign up for the CSA we’ve been enjoying the last few years (What’s a CSA? [here]).  Due in no small part to our involvement (including a collaboration with this farm and several other locals at last autumn’s Food, Inc. screening, which my husband spearheaded), I discovered the drop sites this year are the usual larger urban areas of Seattle and Oly/PDX and? Wait for it…  Hoqiuam.

Get that?  Local, sustainable, organic CSAs now available in larger urban PNW crunchy communities – and – Hoquiam.  Motherfucking Hoquiam!

Seriously, even though I don’t deserve to be a mom and stuff, I am not entirely a wretched human being.

(Bonus: vote in comments: should Kelly get to keep her son Nels?  Yes or no?)

15 thoughts on “good news, bad news, COPS

  1. Do people even think anymore? Why call the police? Are some people so damn lazy that they can’t take a moment to figure out such a simple situation and possibly come up with a reasonable solution? Calling the cops should be reserved for emergencies and illegal activity. If I had found Nels shoeless and coatless, I would surmise that he most likely lives nearby. Such an independent kid probably knows his home phone number. Did no one on the bus have a damn cell phone? Additionally, as a passenger, I would understand that the driver most likely couldn’t abandon the bus to assist Nels, so I would offer to walk him home.

    I must say that my head is spinning because a few years ago I was one of those parents that might ask, “Where is this kid’s parents?” More recently however, after reading about free range kids, reflecting on my own childhood and now visiting the family lives of homeschoolers via blogs, has led me toward the other side of the equation. I’ll admit that I still cling to the Mean World Syndrome to some degree, primarily when it comes to letting my 5-year-old daughter walk around out of sight. But I am learning, and more importantly remembering that even as a kid, a life worth living contains risk. As you already pointed out, shouldn’t we teach our kids to think for themselves?

    I had zero supervision when I was a kid and I was responsible for my three younger brothers and a younger sister. I think I overcompensated in the other direction with my oldest (now 18) and I can already see the damage that I caused. We protected her too much. I’m just hoping I can teach her to be more independent while she’s still living in our house. Don’t get me wrong, she’s a great person. She just has trouble DOING things that require problem solving skills or personal initiative. It makes me feel like crap every time I think about it.

    So yes, Kelly can keep her son Nels, because I would wager that he could have boarded that bus with shoes, a coat, bus fare AND a note from mom. They still would have called the cops. You did nothing wrong. Mainstream America just doesn’t trust children. The good news is that parents like you are waking some of us up and let me tell ya, it’s a GREAT feeling to be alive again.

  2. You only get to keep him as long as that beautiful hair of his gets to grow out again 🙂
    also – if you can, please send a brochure my way, I have been wanting to sign up this year for Helsing! THX!

  3. I second what K8 says. It makes me tired.

    My kid wouldn’t say hello to an older gentleman who walks his aged dalmatian by our house every morning. He walked by one morning and said hello to me as I was getting the 2 younger ones in the car for a visit to the doctor and mentioned that Maeve won’t respond when he says hello to her. I apologized and said that she has taken stranger worry to an extreme, which is the opposite of how she was in Germany, when she’d open the door without asking if it was okay (clad only in her underpants). I was glad he said something to me because I don’t want her to go around the neighborhood thinking everyone is a threat to her.

    I think what you’re doing with the kids is great. Anyone from CPS who thinks that your kids are in danger should look back on their own youth for a moment. 25-30 years ago we slid on metal slides in the playground, rode our bikes everywhere without helmets, played outside, climbed trees and had what seems to be more freedom. We knew our neighbors and they knew us. And our parents didn’t freak out. I don’t think life was simpler; I think it was more relaxed, in a way.

    Oh, and you can keep Nels. Unless he says otherwise. Somehow I suspect you’d have a hard time getting him to leave you, adventurous though he is.

  4. Wow, what a lovely bunch of supportive comments.

    I used to get angry. Now I just try not to feel scared (I wish I could rise above that). You know, my heart is softer for the cop-callers these days, honestly (altho’ what they say about ME I probably would be hurt to hear). I used to be irritated and all that but, what good does that do? I wish – as Kidsync and others have said – people would do their own investigations first – and then call the cops if they really gotta. But you know, I accept the reality of American (fear and overblown sense of danger-danger-danger even for kids in low-risk scenarios), even if I think some people use poor strategies.

    I am filled with (occasional bouts of) terror and anger when I think of the fact that calls to cops then CPS in some way threatens my right to my children. I know it’s a long shot that anything would happen because I know we have nothing to hide. Sadly, justice doesn’t always prevail. I try not to worry about being made into one of those crazy cases where a mom or dad gets arrested for something they shouldn’t. I can’t help but worry though, a little. If I’m that unlucky, shit. That just sucks for me. & my family.

    So yes, Kelly can keep her son Nels, because I would wager that he could have boarded that bus with shoes, a coat, bus fare AND a note from mom. They still would have called the cops. You did nothing wrong. Mainstream America just doesn’t trust children.

    Wow. You know, you are right about those points.

    The good news is that parents like you are waking some of us up and let me tell ya, it’s a GREAT feeling to be alive again.

    Thank you. Seriously, it does mean a lot to hear.

    This is such a wonderful example of a neighborhood conversation. How nice to reassure a person that you don’t find him scary, yet give your daughter the space to have her own feelings. Well-done!

    Brochure will be sent! (Nels may come deliver it. Handcuffed in the back of a cruiser.)

  5. Ahhh… I think if you’re gonna get carted off to the pokey, Kelly, then quite a lot of us are. (And, likely, the judge will be an old and greying chap who ALSO tried to catch the bus barefoot and with no money when he was Nels’ age, and he’ll nostalgically reminisce and then decide to let us all go. And we’ll all go for icecream and soda pops at Ma Kettle’s street corner ice cream saloon afterward. So, nothing to worry about, really.)

    Oh, but yes: Ditto on what K8 said. I always pictured bus drivers as nicer than that, to be honest.

    By the way, did I ever mention the book ‘Stopping at Every Lemonade Stand’ to you? If not, I’ll order a truckfull and you can have them distributed around Hoquiam.

  6. Wow. This is one of those “I’m laughing and crying at the same time” moments. Gotta love Nels, and you, Kelly, for being able to look at this for what it is. Not knowing all of the circumstances (like how the police were contacted) I do have to say that there is a sense of comfort, for me anyway, in knowing that if there was a child actually in danger, that we can most likely be assured that someone will do something. Saw a news story the other day where a homeless man had been shot and was lying on the sidewalk and there was video of people just walking by, no one offering to help. I can honestly say that this would not happen here. But my question is “Should Nels get to keep you?” Answer: Yes, this time. Love you all.

  7. yes- Kelly, and Ralph, and Sophie, and Chickens, and Gecko, and Cats, and Neighbors- they all get to keep nels

  8. @ Daniel, thanks for the book recommendation. I checked my library and they actually have a copy. I put it on hold and will pick it up Monday. I read the intro on Amazon and it sounds like a good one.

  9. […] I’ve thought about the support I receive from most vocal quarters regarding the trust and freedom we Hogabooms give our children. Sadly, on any subject we tend to encamp with those who share our same views, fears, trepidation, and judgments. But I wish every middle-class parent/caregiver who kept their child under wraps – in what I would consider the typical style of many Americans – would read this piece: “What The Authorities Can Do If We ‘Take Our Children to the Park…And Leave Them There’” a guest post by Trip Gless at Free Range Kids. Gless gives a parent’s perspective on children’s freedom (to walk about town, to go to the park, etc) which includes some “child neglect” statistics, the intent of “molestation” laws and their confluence with the ogre of Stranger Danger, and CPS investigation and response to child neglect calls. Rather timely for us I need hardly say, as the article was posted yesterday, the same day of our little CPS visit for Nels’ jaunt to the bus station. […]

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