Last night, after the kids were bundled in their beds and all the shades were drawn, Jeff and I indulged in some luxuriously mindless yet effective couple-strengthening activities.
We watched COPS.
As we sat beside each other in bed, huddled beneath the covers, eyes affixed to the flickering flatscreen before us as people in uniforms attempted to manhandle unruly, shirtless, spitting people into the back of their squad cars, I had a revelation:
When people are drunk and/or under arrest, they behave A LOT like 3-year-olds.
It was actually quite hilarious. One officer had received a call about a man who was publicly intoxicated. As he approached the man, the officer began his line of questioning.
Officer: Stay where you are, please.
Drunk Guy: Hey...it's the police....
Officer: Sir, have you been drinking this evening?
Drunk Guy: Uh...Maybe....
Officer: How much have you had to drink tonight, sir?
Drunk Guy: Uh...two or three beers...four, tops.
Officer (pulling his cuffs from his belt): Sir, I'm gonna have to arrest you for public intoxication and open container.
Drunk Guy (holding out his beer and stumbling a little): Okay. Okay. Just...lemme just put this down first.
Officer: Sir, please turn around.
Drunk Guy (bending down to place his beer on the grass and seemingly pleased that he got it to stand up): Okay, just wait a second, here....hang on....uh...
Officer: Sir, turn around please.
Drunk Guy: Okay, okay, I will. Just hang on a minute....
Officer (obviously unamused with this guy's antics): Sir, I'm not gonna ask you again. Turn around.
Drunk Guy: Hey now, I'm gonna....I just need a minute...
Through his drunken haze, the guy seems to realize that the cop is this close to brandishing his billy club, and he reluctantly offers one arm to the cop. One arm. I love it. I felt like I was watching a reenactment of me trying to get Rollie into the car to take him to school this morning.
Drunk Guy: Okay, okay. See? I'm co-op-er-ate-in'. See? Here, here's my arm...go ahead....
Officer (now behind the drunk guy): Give me your other arm, please.
Drunk Guy (holding up a cigarette in his non-cuffed hand): Look at this....Look at this....
Officer: Sir, give me your other arm.
Drunk Guy (waves the cigarette around in front of him like he's about to perform a magic trick): Look. Look at this....
Drunk Guy: Hey now, just...just wait a minute--
Before Drunk Guy can attempt to stretch out this fiasco any further, the cop takes him by his one arm and flips him face-first onto the grass. Not a difficult move considering the cop was pretty much holding Drunk Guy up at this point. And I'll be golly-darned if Drunk Guy didn't start giggling while the cop kneeled on his back and finally got that elusive Other Arm into the handcuffs.
As the cop was dragging Drunk Guy into the squad car, Drunk Guy kept saying, "Why'd you have to go and do that? I gave you my arm. Why'd you have to throw me like that?"
"You didn't give me your other arm."
"Yeah I did."
"No you didn't."
I'm pretty sure that's when Drunk Guy started spitting. As the cop was sitting him down in the backseat, Drunk Guy leaned over and spit.
"Don't spit inside the car, sir."
"I'm trying to spit outside," Drunk Guy said. Pretty indignantly, I might add. As if he were being wrongly accused of perjury and was an upstanding citizen, possibly even with a decent job.
It was the first time I'd really watched COPS post-children. It was like watching a train-wreck, a car accident, a kid having a temper tantrum in the middle of Target. I couldn't look away because it was so familiar. I thought back to all the times I've chased Rollie or Elsa across a park or down the driveway as I shouted at them to Stop! Halt! Freeze! All the times I've stuffed their squirming bodies into the car, all the times I've stopped myself from breaking out the pepper spray as they argued with me about everything from washing their hands to taking a nap to whether or not it's too hot outside to go to a park. I realize this is all about power, and how desperately children want to cling to whatever scrap of it they think they have like it's some magical and delicious piece of candy that will not only grant their every wish but will also eventually turn into a unicorn. And they'll be golly-darned if I win the Hot Outside argument, even if they look out the window to see lizards spontaneously combusting in our driveway.
But I do feel like I understand on a small scale how difficult it is to maintain your own self-control when you are constantly dealing with people who think spitting is an acceptable form of communication. Or that they can outrun you even though they aren't wearing any pants and trip over their own feet. Or that they can talk their way out of a jam if they argue loudly enough. It's one of the more challenging aspects of motherhood: Keeping your cool in the midst of chaos. Sometimes I can do it, but sometimes, like when I tell Elsa to stop chewing on the coffee table and instead of complying with this simple request, she lunges at me with her teeth bared, I really really wish I had a taser.
Alright....Time for a Dunkin run. Peace out.