It was a hot and humid 97 degree day last summer. I had an hour's worth of driving to do in 30 minutes time. I had just picked up my 15 year old sweat soaked son from his soccer practice, and we were on our way to his swim lesson, with three stops in between. He sat, shirtless, next to me, while I was my own Garmin "recalculating" my way between two small towns amid all the summertime construction and road repair.
Wisconsin has two seasons: construction, and winter.
We were in construction.
Earlier that day, with a string of errands before me, I had run out of the house barefoot, jamming two twenties into my front pocket. With just my housecleaning clothes on, I grabbed nothing on the way out except for my lemonlime Powerade. Before hitting the community pool, I had a planned quick stop at MickeyD's for dinner to make tonight work, (I hear your gasps, and I know, and I don't care) and then a run into the grocery store--which he'll have to do for me--sans shoes and all, AND all the while knowing that I had 20 minutes to make it to pick up Baby E from his soccer practice.
I guess I must've been going too fast, because as I looked in my rear view mirror, I saw the cherries go on behind me.
In the front seat, sitting across from my impressionable teenage soon to be driving son, I glance into the rear view mirror and say, "shysters."
And, this is just what I need.
"Mom! Is that the cops?? Are they after you?"
Holy frijole. "Yes. Yes. They are after me. And what's worse? This is never quick. Never."
"Mom? How do you know it's never quick?"
OK. Inner dialogue, going like this: the role parents play in the lives of their children coming into sharp focus. This is truly a defining moment. One my son will not soon forget. Great example. High expectations. Awesome role model.
I look across the seat at my young, morally developing teen son. I take a deep breath, and say, "You know what we do now? We pull over. And then we stay in the car and wait. He'll walk to us here."
"Then what happens, mom? Do they take you to the police station right away? We're going to be so late."
"Yes, yes, we are. And I must've been doing something. And the sign somewhere must say what the speed limit is, but I didn't even see it."
The police officer walks over to my rolled down window. "How are you this evening? May I see your registration and license?"
Me, extending my palm out: "Officer? Please give me a ticket."
My request was earnest.
I continued, "my son is at an impressionable age, and he needs to see what happens when a person breaks the law. Please serve me with the maximum allowable for breaking the law in a residential area----NEAR A CHILDREN'S PARK YET--- in this obviously quiet, residential street."
"Is that your son here?"
"Yes, officer. This is my son. And I want him to see what happens when a person breaks the law. Please. Do everything allowable by penalty of law for speeding while driving." I feel the need to have this ticket.
He peeks into the car, and looks at my son: "Hello, how are you? Ma'am? how's your driving record?"
"Yes, officer. Perfect."
::son whispering: "mom! don't lie!" me whispering: "I'm not lying!" ::
"Let me go check, if it's "Perfect," we'll decide from there."
The officer walks away with my registration information, we wait, a tense 10 minutes we wait. And don't think there was quiet in the car: "See, son, because of this now we're really messing the whole night up. I should've noticed the speed limit. Look, there's a kid's park, and it's a single lane, all CLUES, honey...all CLUES..."
The police officer returns, "Well, your driving record is perfect. I'm going to give you a warning. Pay attention to the speed limit. There's a kid's park here."
"Officer, I really need you to give me something. Like a ticket. My son needs to see this." There is such an affordable lesson here, I want this ticket.
Officer: "ah... I gave you a warning."
"Officer, I think my son needs to know that I should have gotten a ticket for speeding NEAR A PARK." I will plead my case.
"Ma'am, I did do something. I gave you a warning. You have a perfect driving record for 30 years. A warning is what you got for going 6 miles over the speed limit. Don't do it again."
"Officer, can you tell my son that speeding is wrong while driving? And that he should not do as I did, and he should pay attention to the speed limits posted?"
"Ma'am? I think he's gathered enough information from our interaction here. I think he gets it."
"Well, thank you, officer. Thank you. And this was a wonderful lesson. And God bless you. And I won't speed again and I'll make sure that I talk about this with my son some more and thank you for doing your job and pulling us over. This was a time appropriate opportunity, thank you so much. I'm so happy you pulled us over. This couldn't have been more perfect --he'll be driving soon, and this was just wonderful. Thank you..."
"Well, you seem like a very nice woman. And I think your son understands what happened here."
"Officer. I know I should really leave this alone, my husband tells me this all the time. But, I just have to ask you one more time, can you give me a small ticket? Just like, a little bitty small one? You know, to show this is wrong...for my son to see..."
::son hissing: "mom!! you should just go, dad is right. just.go".::
"OK, then officer, thank you, again...this has been such a wonderful, wonderful night. Thank you!"
::son eyerolling: "mom, you are so crazy. You know that? So. Crazy."::
"Yeah, well, honey, I may be crazy, but you won't forget what it feels like to see cherries going in your rear view mirror and looking back at your own face reflected in officially issued regulation aviator mirror sunglasses anytime soon, will you?"
*This is a true story that happened last summer. I hear my son tell it to his friends, still, as in, "man, that was the scariest thing. I hope I NEVER get pulled over."
I will never understand why I didn't get the ticket, I wanted my son to see what happens. I think, pretty sure, it's because of my 30+year perfect driving record.