The times, they are a-changin'.
Today is Wednesday and Wednesday is the day that the kids go to their dads for the night, so in typical Wednesday fashion we lost the entire morning due to a hunt for a missing shoe (as usual Secondborns left shoe) followed by tantrums from both of them (to be fair Firstborn isn't very well at the moment so I think it was feeling grotty and being hurried along by an irate Mama that did it) and by the time we left the house we were running nearly half an hour late and I wasn't a particularly happy bunny. Now that the Firstborn is walking everywhere we can go the short way to my mums through a side road with one of those metal rail maze things in it that stop cars but allow pedestrians and bikes through if they walk through the maze in the correct way. I could never fit the double buggy through it so we always had to go the long way avoiding that road but now that the Firstborn is walking with me as I push Secondborn in the single buggy it's much easier and we fit. Anyway, the route we take from the house to my mums goes through a park and we like to take our time and spot squirrels and dogs and birds and all kinds of things that get the kids excited and make me laugh and naturally, as it's such a lovely walk, I return home the same way once the kids are at my mums waiting to be picked up by their father. And I take my time, I spot squirrels and I spot dogs and I smile at the birds chattering in the trees and I must look like a right weirdo, a woman with electric pink hair in a biker jacket laughing at the trees... But I do it because the moment I say goodbye to the kids I am overwhelmed with this crushing sense of being more incomplete than I usually feel. But anyway, today is Wednesday and today I walked through the park smiling at the animals as usual. Until I passed this school kid in full uniform, aged no more than about 14 years old, having a conversation on her mobile phone which went something like this:
"No mum, no, yeah I ran out of school... No, I'm in the park now. I'm hiding mum, the police are after me so I'm hiding in [name of park] park from 'em now. Yeah I'll be home later. I dunno, summink and chips..."
And that's where the conversation faded as I had walked past her. I was just thinking to myself "back in my day we had to hide in the park from our teachers during lunch break..." when she suddenly legged it past me. I stepped sideways off the path just as a police officer ran past me in pursuit of this kid, followed by 2 more. As they reached the fenced off Bowls Green area of the park, they had caught up with this kid, unable to pin her to the ground (because lets face it, 3 burly male police officers pinning a 14 year old girl to the ground is never going to look good) they had cornered her against the railings of the green and were trying to protect themselves from her furious swipes and punches. I mean seriously, this kid was hulking out. As I walked past them one of the officers was on his radio calling for backup. Back up for a 14 year old girl. So I wandered on home wondering what she had done in order to need this much police attention at 1:45pm on a Wednesday afternoon and I got to thinking. I hate starting sentences with "back in my day..." because it makes me feel like I belong in either a Hovis or Worthers Original advert from the 90's where I play the part of an elderly Yorkshire born man in a flat cap with a walking stick and carpet slippers but honestly, back in my day things like that just didn't happen. We hid in the park from our teachers during lunch break because one of us had a lunchtime detention that they skived, usually for talking in class. And if we saw a police officer we were polite and helpful because that is the way we were raised to be. We never ran out of school during lessons, (I remember vaguely walking out of a history lesson once and sitting in the library for 20 minutes before returning and apologising but I would never have dreamed of leaving the school premises... My mother would have KILLED me!) We certainly never did anything that would have meant that we needed to run from the law! I mean, maybe times have changed, it's been 11 years since I left school, maybe things have changed in the way kids are being brought up or taught at school or something or maybe this kid is just an exception (although it was nice of her to let her mum know where she was and what was going on, although I doubt she got those chips for dinner in the end) but I have been genuinely been left with deep sense of unease. Is it the norm these days to have school kids arrested? Is it something I should expect from my kids or is there a chance that I could possibly be able to raise them to behave better? Is it something I should work on or should I worry about what they're being taught at school? Taught by peers and friends? TV and movies? Music and games? Is involvement with the police really the big deal these days that it used to be when I was a kid? I have no idea why but I panic whenever I see a police officer, it's a deep seated fear that I've had since I was a child and I wonder if either I've been brainwashed into fearing authority or that kids these days are simply desensitised to everything, more than we previously suspected...
Either way, I'm not happy. I'm not happy with what I saw today and I'm not happy that I'm now worried that my kids will turn out to be juvenile delinquents (who will cause me to worry so much that my hair turns prematurely grey) through no fault of my own. If it's simply a case of bad parenting then hallelujah I'll be happy working to make sure I do the best I can to ensure that my kids grow up to be honest, hard working, productive members of society, but if it's something new - something developing in the minds of the human race as we as a species evolve, then how the hell am I going to fight that?!