Prol'ly shouldn't have said that...
...'cause it felt good.
Just like LawDog, I don't like when parents point me out to their kids as the boogieman. In fact, I hate it.
Last night, having finished booking in a guy at the jail, I drove around to the front of the building and ran in to get some paperwork from the Communications office. As I walked in past a couple of kids swinging on the handicapped rail at the edge of he parking lot, an adult male was hollering to a 5 year old boy from a bench set on the wall near the door.
"Deon, get away from the street. Deon, you better get away from that street. Deon, if you don't quit, the police man's gonna get you..." All said in a sing-song "wait'll I tell on you" voice, and the man didn't so much as pitch forward from his seat like he was thinking about getting up.
I let go of the door handle, and turned to the little boy. "No, Deon, I'm not going to come get you." It was a parking lot, not a street. The boy wasn't doing anything wrong besides failing to mind the man, and the man brought that on himself. I walked over to the man.
"Why do you do that?"
"Why do you insist on demonizing me and other police officers to your boy?" I asked. "We try very hard not to be the bad guy to kids, but when you use us to threaten the boy, you portray us as the boogeymen. Someone whom the boy should fear. Someone to run away from."
At this point, I almost said something to the extent of "don't you want him to grow up better than you have?" but that would have been overstepping things, making assumptions on the fact that the guy was waiting on a bench out front of a jail for someone to come out. Also, call me a coward, but I didn't want the race card pulled on me.
"Well," he said, "I was just trying to discipline my child, and was seeking your enforcement of my positive reinforcement, to keep my child safe."
My mind briefly wandered, bringing up the Princess Bride, in which the swordsman Montoya to the Sicilian who has once more declared that a circumstance was "inconceivable," says: "I do not that that word means what you think it means."
"If you want to keep your child safe, don't use the threat of my actions to make him behave-- get off your butt and go get him yourself," I said.
"If I went an' got him, he'd just jump back up again and..." but I was already walking inside.
I got my paperwork, and started to head outside. Thinking on it, though, I went out a side door to my car. It had been 3 minutes since I'd left the guy, and false pride can percolate up just that fast. I didn't figure he'd read my uniform patch to see who I was with. He could, if he thought to do it, step into the parking lot and read the side of my patrol car to find out, though.
But he was too lazy to do that.
I drove off without further confrontation.