It was a Sunday, four days before Thanksgiving, and my mom was in town visiting. My son had a good morning, and feeling encouraged by that, we selected a new park to visit, the boardwalk on Lady Bird Lake in Austin.
That was her near-fatal mistake.
Her son, you see, is moderately autistic. He makes odd noises, sometimes dresses funny, and “can’t stand having his hair brushed.”
We headed back to the car. My husband walked ahead with my son while my mom and I high-fived at what a great day it had been. It was the first time we had left a park without him fighting us, and she was marveling over that. We looked up and noticed two police officers striding toward us. I assumed they would keep walking past us, but one of the officers stopped and removed his sunglasses.
“Can we talk to you a second,” he asked, “about your son?”
“We got a call about your son. The people who called were worried that because of his hair, and because of his pants, that you weren’t taking good care of him.”
Luckily, the cops realized immediately that nothing cop-worthy was going on, and the one doing the talking was almost painfully apologetic about bothering this family.
But think about how badly this could have gone wrong if a different kind of cop had gotten the call.
And then think about why the call was made in the first place… because a five-year-old boy had messy hair and ill-fitting pants. Think about the sort of person who makes that call, and don’t be one.