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Motherhood Enforcement

by Rita Smith

August 15, 2014

There is nothing like the sight of a fully-armed police officer knocking on your  front door to stop your heart in your chest.

Which is what happened to me about 5pm Thursday. Through my new full-length glass front door, I could clearly see a Durham Region policewoman in full gear, including bulletproof vest emblazoned “POLICE” and heavy jackboots.

durham police2“Is this the little girl you called about, ma’am?” she asked, motioning toward a slight, pretty little blond child at her side.

“Yes! At least, yes, I think so. Everything happened so fast. But yes, I think so.”
Around 4pm, seated at my desk which is surrounded by windows, I was hard at work and focused on my computer screen. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little flash of blond hair streaking up the driveway next door.

The little blond girl caught my attention, because so far I have not seen any little kids on the corner of my street and the couple who live next door are seniors, too old for young kids. Maybe a visiting granddaughter, I thought briefly.

What happened next was very disturbing: a silver mini-van with its slide door open pulled up to the driveway. The little blond girl vanished from view and the silver mini-van took off very quickly, making a sharp turn at the corner of the street, slide door still wide open.
I sat in shock for a moment. What had I just witnessed? No parent I know would drive with a slide door open. Why was the little girl running? Why was the car moving so quickly? Why was the slide door open?

I picked up the phone and dialled 911. “Police, fire or ambulance?” the dispatcher asked.
“Police,” I responded automatically. “I just saw a little girl disappear from the street, into a silver mini-van that drove away with the slide door open.”

The dispatcher asked me a thorough list of questions, including the girl’s approximate age and what she was wearing.

“A skirt, I think. I seem to recall I saw the colour violet, but it happened so fast I can’t be sure.”

“OK ma’am,” the dispatcher wound up. “We will send a car around to see it the silver mini-van is still in the neighbourhood.”

Neither the dispatcher nor I ventured to speak the unspeakable thought, which was, what if the silver mini-van was NO LONGER in the neighbourhood? What if it disappeared, and the little blond girl with it? A sick shiver went down my spine as I hung up the phone. What had I just witnessed?

So when I saw the Durham Region Police Officer on my porch an hour later, I was instantly filled with dread. I recalled the time Ottawa Police visited my house to announce a murder had been committed,  and that the poor man died leaning against my car. Ottawa Police interviewed me to eliminate me as a suspect, since it was my car that was involved. My stomach lurched, wondering if Durham Police were here to interview me because something similarly terrible had happened.

“Is this the little girl you called about, ma’am?” she asked, motioning toward a slight, pretty little blond child at her side.

“Yes! At least, yes, I think so. Everything happened so fast. But yes, I think so.”
“Blond hair? Violet skirt?” she noted, pointing to the girl’s pretty violet skirt.
“Yes! I think so! Where did you find her?” I gasped in wonder.

“This girl,” the policewoman drew a deep breath and spoke with grave seriousness, “is my daughter.”

My head was spinning as I struggled to understand her words.

“What…how…who…” my voice trailed off in confusion. For a brief moment, I wondered if the policewoman had come to tell me to mind my own business. Welcome to Durham!
“My daughter. She delivers newspapers with her father, and I have told him over and over and over again it is not safe or legal from him to have her running papers out the open side door on the route,” she said, with obvious chagrin as a law enforcement professional.
“When I saw your report come over the computer –’blond girl disappearing into a silver mini-van with an open slide door,’ I knew immediately it was my daughter and my husband,” she continued.  office forest

“I wanted to come here personally, to thank you for calling this in,” she said sincerely, locking eyes with me for a long moment of intense, mother-to-mother connection. “Your call accomplished what I could not. Thank you, for calling this in.”

“Oh, well, my goodness!” I was so fantastically relieved that this story seemed to have a happy ending that I just started babbling. “I was at my desk – see, the windows right here, she just caught the corner of my eye…it seemed so unusual…and then she just vanished…” Eventually I saw there was no need for me to explain anything further. I shook hands with the first police officer I have met since moving to Durham, and we said good-bye.

It was not until the police officer and the little blond girl, the mother and daughter, were gone from my front porch that I realized, this officer had not attended my home on official business.

She came to say “thank you,” in one of the most sincere and humble expressions of gratitude I have ever experienced.

Welcome to Durham.

“Show honest and sincere appreciation.”
–Dale Carnegie, “How to Win Friends and Influence People”

–Rita Smith

Posted by: Rita Smith – Ideas and Ideals 

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