Monday, October 30, 2006

Run-ins with the law

What is it with me and Daniel and Georgia sheriffs deputies? First it was Macon County and the window-tint incident, now it's Henry County and what I'm calling the Speedway incident.
I'll start at the beginning. Saturday was Daniel's preschool Fall Festival. But dad procured box-seat tickets to the truck races in Atlanta. So we made a brief appearance at the festival, Daniel picked up some candy, and we headed north.
We got to the box, and Daniel was jazzed. My fault, he ate the candy in the car and was high as a kite on sugar, which isn't a normal part of his diet. So he's bouncing off the walls. And the chairs, and the floor ... you get the picture. But the box wasn't crowded, and there were a bunch of other parents and kids there, too. No one seemed to mind as we kept the Boy in our little corner of seats. But he'd occasionally get too out of hand, and require a little discipline.
So he got warnings, spent a little time in the corner, and finally was tucked between our feet on the floor. Then he got mouthy. Dad stepped in, and was in the middle of a stern talking-to when Daniel mouthed off to him. So he got a two-finger tap on the cheek. You know the one - "I mean business, and I'm your dad. There will be no more warnings young man, so you'd better pay attention to what I have to say right now!"
Well, the Henry County sheriff sitting in the press box next door saw the tap. And you'd have thought we'd taken a wire coat hanger to the Boy. He LEAPT over the back of his seat, and the seats behind him, came charging into our box, and called Chris out in front of the entire room. I thought for sure we were all going to jail.
So Chris follows the sheriff out of the box onto the balcony. Where he receives a stiff dressing down from a man with his hand on a gun. And God bless him, Chris held his temper better than I would have. He explained about our attempts at discipline leading up to the attention-getter. He explained that if the officer had been actually watching, he would have seen the lack of force behind the slap, and he would have noted that Daniel wasn't even fazed by it. In fact the kid was more scared by the officer's actions.
Back in the box, I'm surrounded by people talking among themselves. "What happened? I didn't see anything" and so on. I finally announced to the room in general that we got caught disciplining our child. And you could have heard a pin drop when the sheriff came back in the room. Nothing quite like a room of hostile parents when one of their own has been done wrong!
Chris received the support of the room, Daniel continued to misbehave, and I'm still fuming over the whole incident. Is it any wonder our teachers have no control in the classroom, that our pre-teens are going to jail for heinous crimes, and that our children are out of control when we, as parents, are not allowed to exact discipline? There's a wide wall between discipline and abuse, and when public officials can't tell the difference we as a society are in a heap of trouble. Further, parents are a self-disciplining lot; if we had been out of line with Daniel, you had better believe one of the other parents in the room would have stepped in. Families are just like that.
So I'm still wondering if a phone call to the Henry County sheriff's department will net me a formal apology or not. At the very least, the department needs a little training, I think.


Anonymous said...

As a mandated reporter, the deputy did what he was supposed to do. He "saw" an incident occur against a child and inquired about it. I would much rather somebody err on the side of the child, then not at all. We lose too many children every year to child abuse not to take it serious. I am sure the Deputy has seen things that we could only imagine. Wear his shoes for a few minutes, and maybe you wouldn't be so upset that somebody was acutally looking out for the wellbeing of your child. Kudos to the Deputy!

Anonymous said...

Kudos to the Deputy! As a mandated reporter, he was only doing his job. He saw an incident occur against a child, and investigated it. Walk in his shoes for a few minutes, and I am sure you would not be so upset about the incident. Law enforcement officers see the terrible things that parents can do to their children. I am sorry for your minor discomfort, but at least somebody cared enough about your child to make sure he was ok.