We’re driving down the street in the car.
We’re in some random neighborhood that you sometimes have to drive through in order to get to where you want to go. This isn’t a bad neighborhood, it just has more thrift stores and yummier restaurants. We drive down this street several times a week.
We’re stopped at a stoplight and a police car with the siren blaring zooms past us.
Crappy Boy (who is my backseat driver, newly interested in stoplights, traffic rules and such) exclaims that the police car just ran the red light!
I tell him that police officers can break the rules sometimes, like when they are catching bad guys and I explain that sometimes they might need to get somewhere quickly.
He seems impressed.
So impressed in fact, that he decides:
Police officer is way better than some of his previous career aspirations, like pirate and robot.
But before I can start going over the police officer job description (other than speeding and running red lights which obviously are perks) I notice that the police car stopped on the next block.
I figure they can get a close up look at the police car as we drive past. I figure that the police are probably just pulling someone over for speeding.
So I mention it. Point it out.
Only when we get a tad bit closer I see two police officers who don’t look like regular police officers jump out of a car holding guns that don’t look like regular police guns.
Actually there are a few police officers and a couple more police cars parked on a side street. They are surrounding the entrance of a fabric store.
It looks like this:
They are all crouched down like in the movies just before everyone starts shooting and people start to die.
Except there aren’t any of those movie trucks or lights or cameras or anything. No, this is real.
So naturally, I panic:
I want to drive away as FAST as possible! I must put as much distance between us and the stray bullets that I’m envisioning careening through the car windows.
Must. Protect. Children.
Only the car in front of me does not have the same reaction. Instead, the idiot just stops. STOPS TO WATCH!
Gee, look! Big guns! Let’s stop traffic and watch!
There is a parked car next to him and cars passing in the other direction and a line of cars behind me so I’m trapped. Trapped right next to where this is all taking place. With my kids watching from the back seat!
I consider honking. Should I honk? That seems like a bad idea. A loud honk might startle everyone and then the shooting and dying will start.
I have to get us out of here!
So I scream and make wild gestures at the car in front of me.
Finally, sloooooowly, he starts to pull away.
Finally, we move.
A few seconds later we hear a helicopter.
We continue to drive. We’re many blocks away now. Safe.
The kids are silent, probably because they could tell just how freaked out I was, which made them scared.
I calm down and start talking to them.
I have to make sure they aren’t scarred for life or anything. (Like I am.)
Crappy Boy asks me why the police were at the fabric store. I tell him that I don’t know. That maybe someone was trying to rob the store. Or they were looking for someone who was hiding inside. Who knows.
Then he suggests a possibility:
This idea is so incredulous that it makes me laugh a little. Creative though.
Almost sounds like a movie.
He excitedly agrees that he is indeed writing a movie script based on what he saw.
I know that pretend play is a way that kids process experiences. I remember reading (in the book Playful Parenting) about how kids always give pretend shots to their parents after getting a shot at a doctor’s office, for example. Makes sense.
So I continue with the movie thing.
Why would they rob a fabric store? Why not a jewelry store? Isn’t that a more classic choice? Maybe he’ll edit his movie.
But Crappy Boy has an answer:
Wow, that is actually pretty good. (And an appropriate thing for him to say since the last time I took him to a fabric store was to make his Halloween costume.)
Crappy Boy is okay. Totally his normal self. Phew.
So I turn my attention to Crappy Baby.
I ask him if he is okay. He has been pretty quiet. He is sensitive and gets especially scared if I’m scared.
But he isn’t scared at all!
And then Crappy Boy has a generous idea:
He offers him a part in his movie. And everyone is happy.
We live in Los Angeles, CA. No, this isn’t something we see all the time here. I see famous people more often than I see guns. I have seen police with their guns drawn one other time in my life but that was outside of a Target® in Madison, WI. So there.
Other than telling Crappy Papa about what we saw “Papa! We saw bad guys shooting people at a fabric store!!!” they haven’t even mentioned it.
However, Crappy Boy has been writing more movie scripts lately. But this just means he tells me what my part is and then I improvise while he yells at me that I’m doing it all wrong.
UPDATE: it was a robbery. That is all the info I could find online from those crime report map sites. It didn’t make the news, which means the cops were just cops and not bad guys in costume or anything interesting.