My mantra, for the past two years of siren awareness, has been, "oh, here comes a firetruck/police car/ambulance to help someone". We hear our share of sirens, and yours, and your neighbors, and my explanation has always been that they are helpers, off to aid someone who has been hurt or treated poorly or lost. And so when Mary and Kate see the flashing lights and hear the screaming siren they wave and thank the firetruck/police car/ambulance that is racing by.
Last night, at about mile 908 out of roughly the 1,000 we had to cover, Jack clipped along past a Illinois State Trooper going about 77mph in a 55mph stretch of highway just outside of Naperville. All the way to Nebraska and back, my race across Iowa at 85mph, and he needs help this close to home. And there it was, the flashing red light in the rear view mirror and my sudden realization that I had to explain to Mary and Kate what was about to happen. "Now, we have rules at home, right, like we don't throw balls inside. And there are rules outside also, for everyone to follow, and some of those rules have to do with how we drive our cars. Who knows what a red light means?" STOP!! "Right, and there are rules that tell us how fast we can drive our car, to help keep us all safe, and Daddy (did Daddy break the rules? What are the consequences for a Dad who breaks the rules? Time out?) was going a little faster than the rules say and this police officer decided to stop us and remind Dad to slow down a bit".
Mary: why did Dad break the rules? Why are we going so fast?
Me: sometimes, especially after a long trip, when we are excited to get home, we go a little too fast and the police man stops to help us remember to be safe and slow down.
Continued jabbering from me while I hope, really hope, that this guy is a nice and friendly police man who doesn't scare my children, scaring them for life, creating horrid fear of authority, sending them into the certain world of sneakery and sly'ness.
He flashed his little light into the backseat, finding two very tired children, strapped correctly into their carseats, surrounded by books and stuffed animals and then stepped up to Jack's window.
Mary: Daddy was going too fast!
Officer (very) Friendly: license and registration please sir.
He moved back to his car as I continued on with my lesson on civil obedience: rules are made to help everyone get along, to make our lives easier and to keep us all safe. Sometimes people don't follow the rules and they get into trouble, just like at home.
Kate: who makes these rules?
Me: Dick Durbin and Barack Obama
From Officer Friendly Speedy Jack received a warning, a very kind warning to slow down, follow the rules and keep his family safe. From Mary Jack received a request, "ok, now we can slow down?".
Over eighteen hours of car time in four days and for the last 30 minutes we followed the rules, as we should have done from the very beginning. Rules are there to keep us all safe, and to help us get along, right?