Are You Going to Arrest My Mama?
Fourteen years ago today, I met one of my favorite people. Granted, we’d been previously introduced considering he’d been bouncing on my bladder like a demented circus clown for months, but this was my first real introduction to Killian. My life hasn’t been the same since, but I wouldn’t change any of it.
Happy Birthday Killian!!!
In honor of the boy’s birthday, I’d like to share something I wrote a few years ago – yep…true story. You just can’t make this stuff up.
I had no gossamer illusions about child rearing. I never once thought it would look anything like the glossy pictorials of celebrity moms romping through appropriately upscale parks with their offspring, the nanny discretely out of camera range. After all, any children in question would have sprung from the combined gene pools of my husband and me. While I expected parenthood to be the most rewarding vocation I’d ever have, I also knew it would be at times, hard, scary and overwhelming. Still, I never imagined the cops would show up on my doorstep – especially before the kids were even out of preschool. Clearly, I was naive.
Perhaps, I should have heeded the omens. My oldest son, like many kids, had a predisposition toward nudity. He was more interested in accessorizing than dressing. Capes, baseball gloves and high-heeled pumps were his usual wardrobe choices.
My youngest son, also a budding naturalist, stripped out of his diaper as often as humanly possible. Even the duct-tape, my husband insisted on using in an attempt to keep our son’s bum covered, was pointless.
In addition to raising my own exhibitionists, I also provided daycare for three other miniature nudists. Thankfully, their parents were laid back and also had trouble keeping their kids clothed at home.
And then there was Betty. Betty the Biddy lives across the street, five houses down from my house. Betty never leaves her front porch. Unless she’s pissed. At me. We’ve discussed my shameless lack of yard morals, my front yard picnics and of course, my most grievous offense, my naked children. The last time the nudity issue came up, the kids and I were playing in the rain. It should be noted that I was clothed – nobody wants to see that!
She bandied about the words disgusting, immoral and lascivious. Foolishly, I tried to explain that they were small, innocent children who at this point had healthy body images and I wanted to keep them that way. More foolishly, I launched into a sermon about society’s warped view of nudity and sexualization of everything. She blinked at me several times before huffing and branding the naked rain dancing offensive. To which, I responded, “Not as offensive as the pink housecoat and fuzzy pink slippers you’re wearing.”
Now, if I had recognized these signs for what they were – Portents of Doom – perhaps, I might have avoided my run-in with the police.
Fast forward to a couple months later. A gentle, summer rain fell, and rainbows shimmered in the sky. My friend and her three children were visiting, and the kids begged to go outside and play. So off came the clothes and out went eight naked little bodies, none over the age of five.
My friend and I sat on my front steps and watched as the kids splashed in puddles, caught raindrops on their tongues and played a slippery game of “Rain Dance Tag.” We even left the porch to splash with our kids. While we were playing hopscotch in the puddles, a city police car drove slowly down the street and stopped in front of my house. Eight, naked children excitedly jumped up and down, oohing and ahhing at the shiny blue car with its flashing lights.
I approached the police officer fairly confidently, since I knew we weren’t doing anything illegal. After my last run in with Betty, I’d called both the Department of Social Services and the police station to make sure there weren’t any laws against small, naked children. I’d also gotten written permission from my daycare parents. So, with me standing outside the car and the officer tucked safely inside it, the conversation went like this:
Me: “Hello, officer. Is there something I can help you with?”
Officer: “Ma’am, are you aware that these children have no clothes on?”
Me: “Why, yes. Yes, I am.” (Insert uncomfortable silence in which the officer and I stare at one another. Finally, I broke.) “We’re not breaking any laws. I’ve already called the police department and DSS to make sure.”
Officer: “Well, ma’am, we’ve had a complaint from a neighbor.”
Officer: “I’m not at liberty to divulge that, ma’am.”
Officer: “Why not have them play in the rain in the backyard?”
Me: “There aren’t any good puddles to splash in back there. The water soaks into the ground.”
Officer: (Looks at me as if I’d grown a second head.)
Ridiculously, I attempted to explain the body-image-warped-society connection. The officer looked at me as if I’d grown a third and fourth head.
Officer: “I’ll need to take your statement, ma’am.”
Me: “Why do you need a statement if it’s not illegal?”
Officer: “It’s an official call, ma’am.”
Me: (Big sigh.) “Whatever.”
So I gave the overly polite police officer my name, date of birth, social security number, names and ages of all nude children, etc. This went on for a good ten minutes while Betty spied from her porch.
Finally, my eldest son, Killian, said, “Hey Police Guy, are you gonna arrest my mama?” The man shook his head, to which my son responded, “Okay good. When she’s done getting in trouble can we look inside your car?”
The guy looked like an acrophobic out on a ledge. I pointed out that the kids had their fun interrupted and had been waiting patiently. With a horrified expression, he nodded slowly and rolled the window down a little further. From the abject panic flickering in his eyes, I surmised the man had no children of his own. I lifted one naked child up after another to look inside the patrol car.
Killian: “Cool! You have a laptop in the car! My mama has a laptop. Are you a writer, too?”
Officer: “Uh. . .”
Killian: “Is that your gun? Can I hold it?”
Officer: “No, I-”
Killian: “Will you make the sirens go? Are there any bad guys in your car? Take us for a ride, please! And go really fast. I like to drive fast!”
Officer: “Uh. . .”
Killian: “What’s that button do? Can I push it? Wanna play rain dance tag with us? It’s fun.”
Conveniently, his radio crackled to life. Never have I seen a man so relieved to trade a group of inquisitive children for the relative safety of a robbery in progress. As he drove down the street, he glanced at Betty. The Betty who stood at her porch window, obviously confused and distraught. The Betty who glared at me with impotent anger. The Betty who had been forsaken by the defenders of law and order.
With the supreme satisfaction of the vindicated, I grinned and waved. Then I jumped in the biggest puddle with my naked kids.