This happened to me several years ago and the same scenario presented itself again recently. I was having a quick bite to eat. I was in uniform so I was sitting at the far back of the restaurant, in the last booth, facing the front, in case a robbery or flash mob breaks out.
When you’re in uniform, you don’t particularly want to eat alone because you feel like people are watching you—mostly because they are.
As I sat there eating and looking to crush crime at the same time, I looked over and saw a small boy, about four-years-old, starting at me from his seat in the booth. I smiled and waved. He smiled and then stared some more. After a while it was time to go so I strolled over to the cashier. As I passed the boy’s booth, I smiled and winked. His dad, a young person, got this really goofy look on his face and said: “This is the man who puts you in jail if you don’t eat everything on your plate.”
I stopped and looked the kid who now had a look of terror on his face.
Thanks Dad. Not only are you asking me to do your job, you’re scaring the hell out of a four-year-old. We’re supposed to be the good guys.
I thought about just blowing it off and walking on over and pay the bill—but I didn’t. I smiled and asked the kid if he liked the carrots that he was obviously shuffling around the plate.
“Well then, don’t eat them—and it’s perfectly okay with me.”
He looked back at his father as if to say: “Did you hear that?? It’s okay with him!! Halleluiah!! My emancipation has arrived!!”
Dad looked at me. I looked at Dad. Dad said nothing. I smiled and said: “Sure is a good day for an ice cream”—just to rub it in.
I probably won’t get a Christmas card from Dad but folks, heed some advice here if you have young kids: If one of us screws up, it’s all over the news and yet nothing is said about the thousands who do a good job—a great job in a difficult time.
Cops love kids and hate being the bad guy for parents who don’t want to do their own dirty work. In that setting, take him or her over and introduce them to the cops. They’re human. Let the kids see that part of them.
Believe it or not, even if kids don’t eat their vegetables all the time, somehow they’ll be just fine.