Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
Last Saturday evening at our nearby beach something occurred in the water that required the presence of police officers and paramedics. I’m unsure exactly what it was and it ended up not being as dire as it first seemed; we stayed away from the crowd of onlookers and held our son close to us, letting him dry off and keeping him clear of the situation.
We discovered a few days later that we’d inadvertently made him feel very anxious around police officers–that by holding him close we’d signaled to him that when police were around there was something inherently to fear by their presence.
For as much as I’ll comment and rage about cases of police abuse and corruption, I’m not opposed to the stated function or need of the institution and I won’t assume every police officer I meet is terrible when I know for a fact it isn’t true. During that ugly year and a half of trying to handle our downstairs sociopath the police officers who showed up to help us were courteous and sympathetic. My wife’s family includes retired police officers who I don’t always agree with but who I know to be decent people. Raising my particular small human in a world with existing predators requires finding a balance between telling him to be open with others and distrusting everybody’s intentions.
Caveat: I recognize that my social interaction with the police is not the same as it is for other communities, and I will not judge those communities for their experiences and the choices they make based upon those experiences. This is Chicago and I know Chicago’s history.
Yesterday my wife and son were on a bus and an officer stepped aboard. Dana encouraged Robin to say hello, explaining to the officer that she was trying to help him get past his anxiety around police officers. The officer acknowledged this, but as he got off the bus he also said to Robin:
“Some cops are bad cops. My boss is a bad cop. He’s racist.”
This officer, incidentally, was white.
I don’t have a thesis statement here. I’m still processing what happened: what I want my son to know, when I want him to know it, and how that information comes to him. I find myself feeling conflicted, feeling both appreciation for the officer’s honesty and annoyance at the manner and time in which he chose to express it.