I need to get pulled over by the police. Has that thought ever crossed your mind? Probably not. But I have been needing to be pulled over by police.
I work with Sylas regularly on what to do if he is ever stopped by a police officer. We practice how to answer questions appropriately. How to display that your hands are empty and up. We review that you should never ever run from the police, even if you are confused or scared. We talk about respect and safety.
Even though these are regular discussions, I know my Sylas and his disabilities. He doesn’t remember things in a moment of crisis. He gets confused and overwhelmed easily. He is impulsive and can blow up at a moment’s notice, especially under stress. One of the best ways to reduce that possibility and help him learn how to react to situations is practice.
Which leaves me thinking, I really need to get pulled over by the police.
It’s quite a dilemma. Do I call the police department and ask them to have an officer pull me over? Do I drag race in my old HHR down Sixth Avenue and hope an officer sees me? I don’t tend to be much of a rule-breaker, but I have a kid to teach.
I didn’t have to consider this conundrum for long because Tuesday night I saw the red and blue lights flashing in my rearview mirror. Sure enough, I was getting pulled over with Sylas K in the car and I had no idea why. We had a real opportunity for practice.
I had Sy turn the radio down and did the normal parent panic check praying this hadn’t been the time he unbuckled while we were driving. That’s when I saw the look of fear on his face.
“Mama, I’m scared, what did we do wrong?”
I reassured him that I had no idea what we did wrong but the officer would tell us. And sure enough the officer approached and said he pulled me over for not having my headlights on. Ugh! I was pretty embarrassed that I had forgotten to turn them on, but again, this was great practice. The officer asked for my license. I nudged Sylas so he would really pay attention before I spoke.
“My license is in my purse in the backseat. May I reach for it?”
Once the officer said yes, I did so. He checked my license, made sure I got my lights on and wished us a good evening. As we pulled away, Sylas chilled out and said “That wasn’t so bad. I think we did a good job.”
We did do a good job and so did Officer Hensley with the Emporia State University Police Department. He was polite and respectful to us just as we were to him. We couldn’t have asked for a better first lesson in pull-over etiquette. I’m so thankful it went well.
Now I’m going to have to figure out how to repeat the practice lessons every couple months without being a real law-breaker. Though, if you see us speeding by on Sixth Avenue, know I’m just doing some proactive parenting. I’ve got a young man to teach a few things after all.