At 3:38 a.m., I heard a voice outside my bedroom window.
"Mom? Dad?" Spencer's voice called from the front porch.
"Everything's okay. I just need to be let in," he said.
He was supposed to be spending the night at a friend's house. I scrambled out of bed and wondered if he was sick. Maybe the boys had decided to drink alcohol or experiment with drugs, so Spencer came home. All of these thoughts flitted through my mind as I scrambled out of bed to the front door. I never suspect the worst of Spencer. I never think he'll make the wrong choice.
As I turned the key in the lock, I saw someone standing behind Spencer. Someone big and I became worried. This man, because it was obviously a man, was standing with his feet spread wide, both hands in front of him in a military "at ease" position. This was a cop.
I opened the front door and the young police officer began to explain.
"Why don't you come inside?" I suggested, aware of the short exercise shorts and tank top I'd worn to bed and wishing I'd had a little warning of a night time visit from the police.
I could see Spencer was fine. Just in trouble.
So they came into the living room and Spencer collapsed on the couch, running his hands over his face.
The officer explained that he had found Spencer and a couple of other boys outside after curfew. When they spotted the boys, they ran and hid in the bushes. Then a car picked them up and they drove away. The police pulled the car over.
I was picturing a high-speed pursuit through our little town.
The boys said they hid because they saw the police. They claimed they weren't doing anything wrong.
"I'm so sorry, Mom," Spencer said from his perch on the couch.
"What about telling this officer your sorry that he has to bring you home instead of doing his job?" I asked.
"I'm so sorry, sir," he said.
Then he moans and rubs his face again.
The officer said the boys aren't being charged with anything, just curfew violation. And he warns that the school is very strict about taking away sports and extracurricular activities if the boys had been charged with a crime. Then he asks me to sign that a paper that says he delivered my son home in the middle of the night after curfew. In our town, anyone under 18 can't be wandering the streets after midnight.
We'd been standing in the dark of the living room, a light from the top stairs of the basement giving us just enough light to see. I turned on a lamp by the front window and signed the document on a clipboard. I shook hands with the officer who didn't let his eyes stray to the wild curls standing around my head.
I switched on the front porch light as he made his way down the 24 steps to the street.
I held my hand out for Spencer's phone, which he was wildly texting on.
"Have you heard from the other boys?" I asked. "Is everybody home safely?"
"Yes," he said.
So I took the phone and turned it off.
"Have you guys done this before?" I asked.
"We'll talk in the morning," I said. "Are you sleeping here on the couch or going to your room?"
Tucker had two friends spending the night and they were sprawled in the basement main room.
"Don't tell them, okay?" he said desperately, settling on the couch.
"Oh, I'm sure you'll be an object lesson for many boys," I told him.
I climbed into bed next to my still sleeping husband. I nudged him awake and gave him an update on the police and our now delinguent son.
"He's grounded," my husband mumbled before he fell back to sleep.
I lay there for over an hour before I finally drifted off.
Our children's first brush with the law.
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