Yesterday I was driving on Highway 60, running some errands. Should have been a normal Thursday afternoon errand run. I drop kids at band, then get fresh milk and head back to pick them up. Pretty ordinary and boring.
Only this time it wasn’t. This time I had to pull over three separate times for police. First I saw lights behind me so I pulled to the side. Then suddenly that same cop who had just passed me was flying into a ditch and spinning around as a pickup flew by me with two more officers chasing it.
I whipped to the side of the road instinctively, as my brain tried to process the fact that I was in the middle of a car chase. That driver wasn’t stopping or pulling over. That driver was flying down the road erratically, disobeying the police on his tail.
I watched them fly by and the officer in front of me spin around through the ditch and back into the road in the matter of a few seconds.
It didn’t really hit me until I was back on the road headed to pick up my kids. Then my hands started shaking, my chest started hurting, and the tears started falling. My brain was catching up with what had just occurred and the realization that I had just been in the middle of a high speed chase hit me hard.
I had to again pull over for more cops racing by.
And then I got angry. I mean raging angry. That jerk, who had made innumerable horrible decisions to get to that point in his life, had put my children and those police officers in danger. Mortal danger. Just a little more over the center line, just a jerk of the wheel and I wouldn’t be sitting in my living room typing this.
Say what you will about police officers. Believe me, I’ve seen the rhetoric flying around. Heck, my own governor has thrown the police under the bus. In that moment, as I watched those officers put their lives on the line for me and other total strangers on the highway, I was angered. So angered for those men and women.
They lay their lives on the line everyday. They kiss their spouses and kids goodbye never knowing if they’ll make it home. Now more than ever. If you are a police officer or love one dearly, I want you to know I support you and I pray for you. I would love to thank those cops that didn’t let up in that chase.
Later that day, we were hiking with some friends. I was honestly still shaken up and it was good to enjoy nature and soak up some sun.
After the hike one of my kids and one of my friend’s kids got in a little spat. One hit, one pushed. It wasn’t a huge fight but there was obviously some frustration.
So we each took our child aside and talked with them about what they had done, how it was wrong to react that way, what they could have done differently, and what they should do to make it right. The kids hugged and apologized. It was all over in a matter of minutes and they were happy little friends again.
What struck me in that moment, probably because of what I had witnessed earlier, was how absolutely important that interaction was. I told my friend, “if we didn’t do that with our kids, no matter how small the altercation, it could easily be them running from the cops. What we do in these simple moments matters for their adult lives. Teaching them to resolve conflict and apologize and make good choices now while they are little matters for their entire lives.”
All too often I fall into the trap of thinking I’m not doing enough and I’m failing in some way or another. We think we need to be more, do more, get our name in lights.
But the thing I’m really supposed to be doing is the small stuff. Teaching my kids to own their mess ups and sins, teaching them to say “I’m sorry. Will you forgive me?”, teaching them to forgive. Because those little moments will make all the difference.
I can’t totally guarantee my kids won’t make some awful decisions in their lives. But I can guarantee I’ll do whatever I can now to teach them how and why to make good decisions. We say in our house, good choices equal good consequences, bad choices equal bad consequences. And honestly, I hope that driver faces some bad consequences for his bad choices. Not because I wish him/her I’ll, but so that they can hopefully see the trajectory they’ve put their life on and change it for the good.