If anyone is chronically marking a calendar for each day anarchy rears its ugly dome, the letter X is likely getting lotsa play. Baseless, unruly behavior persists. Political pundits lob low blows at each other while Americans endure a pandemic rife with uncertainty. Social media channels plunge seemingly surreal hubbub at us 24/7/365. School districts across the country are navigating uncharted territory trying to accomplish the mission of educating our children in a seemingly confused climate burdened with fear.
Indeed, the youngest minds in America are experiencing matters adults never ever imagined. Yet, kids have an uncanny capacity to somehow keep things in some decent context and perspective whereby they interact well and exude innocence —as children should— despite the horrendous health circumstances posed by COVID and social upheaval challenging humanity at just about every turn.
Recently, I came across a contemporary artist’s rendition of the famous Norman Rockwell painting “The Runaway.” I didn’t save a copy, but it depicted a state policeman sitting next to a reverent young boy at the counter in a yesteryear diner setting, the railroad car type with ribbed chrome panels and a “waiter” donning white apron, white pants, and white shirt. My brain was teased by something slightly dissimilar: the replicated, modernized depiction the artist generated illustrated the original scene by Mr. Rockwell, only there were three or four fixed/empty stools between the cop and the kid, both staring/smiling at each other with a respectful social distance. My immediate thoughts were Look at how these two admire and respect each other, still close in character and content and respect…despite COVID-caused distancing.
This is but one display among many I’ve seen lately, demonstrating real-life sterling examples of how, despite conditions and uncertain times, cops and kids always seem to click and naturally jibe well. These mini episodes have massive appeal and impact, especially for adults who may have adopted the fallacy that cops are bad and have no purpose in our societal composition.
Out and about recently on a resupply venture for our continued COVID-imposed hibernation period, I saw a young boy with a blooming smile (noticeable behind his face mask)…simply chatting with a beat cop pulled curbside for a shoplifter call. Enamored expressions shone across the child’s face. It was mutual, actually. Like symbiosis, the child and the cop blended together in a simple yet meaningful moment in time…organically exhibiting humanity is alive and rather well (with health-based precautions, of course).
I sought out reading material regarding police/community relations for another article, and I was flooded (gratefully) with images and short stories of cops and kids in varying environments and for an array of reasons…to include spontaneity.
A young boy named Nolan had just bought his first set of handcuffs (sign of a youthful aspiring police officer) and coincidentally saw a Kensington policeman out in a parking lot. Nolan’s mom, Heather Leigh, offered the following storyline to illustrate our subject matter:
“This cop had just gotten his dinner and getting in his car to eat. My sweet Nolan had just bought hand cuffs 10 minutes prior and just wanted to show him. This man opened his door and talked to Nolan about his cuffs and even let Nolan hold his. His smile hasn’t been anything less than ear to ear for an hour. Shout out to Kensington Police—you made my boy’s night.”
Many years ago, a classic black/white photo-image appeared, depicting a seasoned-looking cop kneeling down to tie the errant laces of a young boy’s sneakers. It is captivating. It portrays police officers tending to simple matters and offering lessons while fully knowing how that minor moment caring for a child’s welfare could be entirely, tragically different in the next hour or so.
Thankfully, such poignant moments are duplicated daily, indicative of the unique constructs of capable cops in a much more contemporary society rife with complexities…nonetheless unfailingly delivering compassionate relations between a cop and a child leaning in to “Officer Friendly.”
Regarding the photograph you just viewed, the story is both heartrending and reassuring. Seems the little guy was in need and noticed by some Tukwilla cops:
Two Tukwilla, Washington police officers out on the beat “came across this guy running around in torn dirty socks and bleeding from a decent sized cut on the bottom of his foot. The sergeant cleaned up and patched his foot with his First Aid kit. When asked where his shoes were, their new friend told them that he didn’t have any shoes because the pair he had were too small for his feet to fit in.
“The sergeant ran out and grabbed a pair of shoes for him while the other officer kept him and his friends company. He came back with not only a pair of shoes, but also with a bunch of popsicles because what isn’t better than a cold popsicle on a hot summer day?! The officer helped to tie his new friend’s shoes and they all enjoyed a popsicle together before parting ways.”
Cops are always on the spot for the needs of any tiny tot…and we thank God for such selfless, courageous, and caring peacekeepers.
Defies logic that some people want to rid our schools of resource officers, despite the potential realm of active shooters, notwithstanding the fact that some kids need exactly a police officer to talk to when things are perhaps not so smooth at home and/or bullying is occurring on campus.
So glad to see many kids standing with the forces of good: Police forces. We have much to learn from young people, indeed.
And with Halloween approaching, now more than ever youngsters need to heed precautions not only about safe streets and COVID and bad actors lurking but also assured that safe supplies of sweets can be placed in their bags or buckets by cops at any local police station. How’s that for a go-to safe space?