DJ’s taekwondo school is in the whitest, safest part of Portland that you can find. And it is also in the middle of all of all of these family places – taekwondo school, dance school, a toy store, and a library. Toss in the Starbucks and yoga studio, and there are families milling around constantly.
We were sitting outside as DJ had been doing taekwondo when Indigo did something that made us decide to send her to the car as a punishment…..the car that is right there next to the school – totally visible to us even in the school. The taekwondo school has very little seating, so most of the parents sit outside and let the other kids play. Plus, there are other kids (siblings) sitting in other cars. Pretty common place practice really. Oh, and all of the parents at this level know each other, so we all watch out for the other kids.
G and I had stepped inside to watch DJ spar. She got done right as two cops walked into the place asking for us.
My first thought “oh fuck, what did Indigo do??”
We step outside where were reprimanded for letting our child sit in the car alone.
“Even if it is a punishment, you shouldn’t do it.”
G asked in his way if there was a problem with that, and they just reiterated that it wasn’t a good idea.
He goes to check on her, and she is freaked out. Why? Two scary policeman, well, scared her by knocking on the window and asking her all these questions. G settled her down and brought her back to stand outside the school.
The parent next to us asked if he really just overheard the cop tell us our kid can’t be in the car alone. We confirmed that it was true. He shook his head and said “good thing I just got my 4yr old out of the car a second ago, so I didn’t get in trouble.”
He was shocked that of all of the things they had to do, this topped their list. Then we took note of how many other siblings were sitting in the car. There were 5 others that we could see. G speculated if maybe the fact our car was not a Lexus or BMW had something to do with it as most of the other kids were sitting in more expensive cars.
After class, the owner of the school asked if everything was okay. We explained it was and what had happened. He is not a US citizen, but is from Eastern Europe, so immediately worried there was some US law he did not know about. He started asking all of the parents what the rules were as he has a couple of kids himself as does his assistant who is new to the country. We explain that there are rules around leaving your child home alone, but not in the car alone. Leaving your kids in cars was more of a common sense judgement about safety, age of the kids, risks of a kid screwing with the parking brake, etc. This just made him more perplexed. We all assured him that he was not alone in his confusion.
DJ and I headed home while Indigo and G headed to the auto parts store. DJ and I had stopped to take some pictures when I got this text from G:
“Indigo asked if she had to go into the auto parts store with me. She wanted to sit in the car and wait. I told her getting in trouble by the cops once was enough for me today, so she’s coming inside.”
Who knew we were the bad parents!