The other day I was thinking about the first time in my life that I called 9-1-1 a little over two years ago.
And that led me to thinking of the second time in my life that I called 9-1-1 a little over a year ago.
Huh, I thought with a smile, I made it through March without calling 9-1-1. That’s a new record for me!
“What do you want to draw this time?” I asked as Bubbers handed me a pink piece of sidewalk chalk.
He looked down at our driveway and then smiled, “A bus! A biiiiiig bus!”
“A bus!” I repeated, “That’s a great idea!”
“Let’s draw the road first!” Bubbers decided and began drawing a long blue line along the driveway.
I helped him along and we chatted with smiles and excitement. Neighbors and their children milled around, riding bicycles and going to the park. We waved and smiled.
Man, I love our neighborhood, I thought to myself as I glanced up the road. And then froze.
A police car with flashing lights was flying down the road straight for us.
What… on… earth…?
I instinctively stepped closer to Bubbers and never took my eyes off the racing car.
It pulled up next to the park and the officer visually scanned it through his open window. Then he turned and looked right at me and my neighbors.
“Get inside your houses and lock the doors!” he shouted at us before turning around and speeding back up the road.
In the blink of an eye, crazed-and-paranoid-Momma-bear roared forth and devoured sane-and-level-headed-adult-Heidi. Swooping down with lightning speed, I grabbed the Bubbers King and flew into our garage, punching in our garage code on the way. Thankfully, Scooters was still sound asleep upstairs.
Within minutes I made sure all my doors were locked and I pulled down every window shade.
I had no idea what to do next.
And my mind was going crazy.
So, I called 9-1-1.
“What is the nature of your emergency?” the operator asked.
“Um, I don’t have an emergency,” I said quickly, “I just have an urgent question… A police car just drove by and told us to get inside and lock our doors… Do you know what’s going on?”
After a pause, she answered, “Yes, they are looking for someone.”
“They are? What does he look like?”
She told me.
“What did he do?”
She couldn’t tell me.
“Was it in my neighborhood?”
No, but it was nearby.
“So, what do I do?”
“Stay inside and call us if you see anything suspicious,” she answered.
I thanked her and we hung up.
Then I called my husband at school. Something I was only allowed to do if it was really important.
After a few rings, Charming finally answered and asked in a hushed voice, “Hey Love, what’s going on?”
“You need to come home!” I said urgently, “We were just outside playing and a police car raced up and told us all to go inside and lock our doors! So I called 9-1-1 to find out why and they’re doing a manhunt.”
“I’m on my way,” was all he said and we hung up.
Poor little Bubbers kept following me around asking questions.
“Mommy, what’s a manhunt?… Mommy, tell me a story about the police car racing down our street!… Mommy, where’s the bad man?… Mommy?… Mommy?…”
My mind was racing. I knew what to do in a fire. I knew what to do in an earthquake. I knew what to do in a flood. But I did NOT know what to do in a manhunt. In my neighborhood. With two small children under my care.
Physically unable to just sit there and hang out, I searched for something to do. Suddenly, I grabbed my emergency phone list and started calling every neighbor on it. After warning one, I would call the next. In between calls, Charming called me on his cell phone to tell me he couldn’t think straight while breaking every law known to motorists to get home faster. Then he told me to get in the car and leave. His instincts were telling us to run and my instincts were telling us to hold up and wait.
“The policeman said to stay inside! And the operator said to watch and report!” I insisted.
“I don’t care!” Charming insisted back, “Get out of there and go somewhere else!”
But my mind was crazy. Suddenly, the whole world was dangerous. Nowhere was safe except my own house.
Then my neighbor called to report, “We heard the guy stabbed someone.”
And poor Bubbers was still following me all the around the house as I paced, “Mommy, is Daddy coming home?… Mommy, why did the bad guy stab someone?… Mommy?… Mommy?… Mommy?…”
Finally, Daddy came home.
And he was still insisting that we leave.
“Okay,” I finally said, “You’re the protector. Whatever you think is best.”
“Great, let’s go.”
I thought about taking our camera and then changed my mind. I was way too distraught to take pictures of anything.
Then I looked down.
“Uh… Do you mind if I go change out of my sweats first?” I asked.
Charming gave me a look.
“Never mind, never mind!” I cried as I grabbed jackets for the boys and we piled in the car.
Then we drove down the street to Applebee’s. A very public place that Charming considered to be very safe.
But my mind was still crazy and I was convinced a lunatic would shoot us all before the main dish.
“Hey Love,” Charming suddenly said with a little smile, “Happy Anniversary.”
I laughed, “Thank you! Happy Anniversary to you, too!”
Then someone called Charming’s cell phone and he went outside to hear better.
“They caught him,” he said when he came back in.
“Oh good! Are you sure?” I asked, my nerves strung so tight it would take years for them to loosen up again.
“I’m sure,” he smiled, “They found him down inside a porta-potty.”
I raised my eyebrows, “You mean down down inside a porta-potty?”
“Yep!” Charming laughed and I guffawed.
“Oh, that’s gross!” I wrinkled my nose.
Slowly, the fog lifted. Crazed-and-paranoid-Momma-bear yawned and went back to sleep in her cozy den. Sane-and-level-headed-adult-Heidi stepped back into the sunlight and blinked, shading her eyes.
Then I snuggled into Bubbers and put my arm around him.
“Hey Little Man,” I smiled, “Would you like one of my French Fries?”
His eyes sparkled back up at me, “Sure!!!”
I laughed and moved my plate closer to us. Then I reached out and pinched Scooters’ gloriously chubby cheek.
And after a few minutes, I pulled out my phone and took some pictures.
And then I knew everything was going to be okay.