We went biking with family friends Saturday morning and wound up at a fantastic farmers market here in the suburbs of Chicago. The five kids and four parents present enjoyed doughnuts, pretzel bread, squeaky fresh cheese sticks, and peaches.
Just before it was time for us to get back on our bikes and head home, I walked V and L down to a booth selling pickles. I said, "There are three kinds of pickles, you can pick two to sample." Both kids happily ate their two samples, and then V tried to reach her hand into the bowl and grab the third kind of pickle.
I don't really like my kids to serve themselves. There's just too much of an ick factor to germy little people putting their fingers in the serving dishes. Also, while I'm totally fine with negotiation, I don't allow my kids to just defiantly do the opposite of what they've been instructed. So I stopped V from grabbing pickles.
V proceeded to yell and thrash her arms. I led her and L away from the booth, and instructed them to walk towards their dad. L complied, and V launched into a full-out meltdown. We were still in a pretty crowded place, and I didn't want V to hit or kick me or anyone else while she flailed, so I held on to her. The whole time, I was saying, "When you're in control we can go back to the bikes" and "I can't let you throw your body around in this crowded place." She, on the other hand, was screaming "Don't touch me!" and "Let me go!"
In a few minutes she demanded that I carry her away from the crowd so that she could have a tantrum without me holding her, so I picked my screaming daughter up and carried her just across the street. At that point, a cop car came jetting down the street and parked directly in front of me.
The officer got out of the car and immediately came over to where V and I were starting to sit down. He asked me, and I gave him the brief version of the events. The officer then looked at V: "Would you rather come with me than stay with her?"
V stopped screaming and spun around to cling to my neck. He asked V again: "Would you like to come for a ride in my car? Or do you want to stay with her?" V stared at him with owl eyes and then hid her face against my shoulder.
"How about you stop screaming, then?"
Later V related that she knows police officers don't arrest kids, so she wasn't sure why he was threatening to bring her in the police car. I explained that he wasn't threatening; he was just offering, in case I really was abducting her or something.
And there is no moral to the story. Thanks, strangers, for looking out for kids. Mine was fine, though. Really.