About a dozen years ago, my middle son called the cops on us. For real. Our crime? Not allowing him to go to a sleepover.
My son, who was around ten at the time, wanted to sleep at a friend’s house. I was never a fan of overnights for a variety of reasons. Mostly because the kids don’t actually sleep and are hugely cranky the next day, which then becomes the parents’ problem. And there was the time my youngest got lice at a sleepover. Yes, I realize you can get lice anywhere but the memory of that has scarred me to this day.
Getting back to my middle son. He requested the sleepover on a night before we were to host an evening holiday meal and celebration. Since I knew we would all be up late the next night, I said “no” which made my usually docile son go a little crazy. He stormed out of the house and railed at the fates on our driveway, actually beseeching God to help him overcome the adversity which had befallen him. I watched for a moment, somewhat bemused, and then decided to ignore him as I went upstairs to go to the bathroom.
Next thing I know, my husband tells me I need to get out of the bathroom because a policeman was in our garage waiting to talk to us. I was like “Seriously?” So, I went downstairs to see what was up. (I may have to write about how moms don’t get left alone when they are in the bathroom, however that’s a piece for another day.)
Apparently, after I left the scene of our crime, my son came inside the house and dialed 9-1-1. To be fair, my husband had put the idea in his head when he kiddingly suggested our son call the police about our “abuse,” a suggestion my son took seriously. Here’s a tip: be careful what you say to your children as they may not always be able to detect sarcasm.
As my son started to dial, he most certainly pressed the 9 and, possibly, the first 1 before my husband took the receiver out of his hand and hung up the phone. Evidently, the 9-1-1 system is fairly sophisticated and can detect when people start to dial that sequence to alert the police even without the person actually dialing all three digits. Or at least that’s what the police officer told my husband. The officer explained to my husband that since a call to 9-1-1 is, by definition, an emergency, the system tries to detect any initiation of the sequence in case whatever crisis is occurring prevents you from punching one or two of the digits.
As my husband and I stood nearby, our son proceeded to tell the police officer what we had done. To his credit, the officer listened politely for a minute or two to his tale of woe before he cut our son off. He then looked around our garage and pointed out the sports equipment, which included tennis racquets, soccer balls, baseballs, footballs and basketballs, bats, gloves and an array of cleats, bicycles and more and said to our son, “Looks like you have it pretty good here, kid.”
At that point it started to dawn on our child that he was alone with his convictions and he was not going to get any sympathy from law enforcement. He stopped talking, probably realizing that everything he said could be held against him. Suspecting he might be the one in trouble, he started to look a little nervous as he stared up at the very large, no-nonsense police officer.
After their conversation, the officer left in his cruiser and we had a long talk with our child about when was the correct time to use 9-1-1. And I had a conversation with my husband about when it’s appropriate to “joke around” with our children.
We knew we would laugh about the incident someday, however that day was still a bit into the future.
Although there were times with my three sons when a few days in a prison cell actually sounded like an excellent alternative to being home with them, none of them ever dialed 9-1-1 on us again. We all learned a few lessons from that 9-1-1 call, including me, who decided that it would be okay to allow an occasional sleepover.