I was on duty and stopped by the local Stop-n-Rob to refuel the car and get a drink. It was evening, maybe 2130 or so. After pumping the gas I went inside to sign the charge ticket.
At one of the tables was a young mother and her daughter. The girl appeared to be about three years old and was apparently eating dinner. Why you would take your child to a gas station for dinner is beyond me. It also seemed to be beyond the little one as she wasn't eating. Mom was trying to talk her into it when she saw me. She pointed, "See that policeman? If you don't eat your dinner he will take you to jail."
That kind of comment gets under my skin a little. Great way to get your young one to thinking that the police are the bad guys. Misbehave a little and they are just looking for a reason to take you away from Mom and Dad and throw you in a cold cell. These are often the same parents who will wonder is several years why their kids think the police are bad and won't trust officers. I normally just shrug and ignore those types of comments. I tried that tact on this particular evening.
Mom was persistent. "You had better eat or he is going to take you away." The girl looked at me and then at Mom. "Ask him if you don't believe me." The child looked my way questioningly. I was caught. I spoke to the girl, "If you don't eat I won't arrest you. Your mother will probably give you a spanking though." Mom was shocked. She stared at me as the girl turned back to her. She stammered and then told the little girl that nobody was going to spank her but that she still needed to eat. Sorry to void your abdication of responsibility lady.