I received the the little pink slip from the police station a little while later asking for me and a parent to appear before Judge Hoffman, if memory serves correctly.
Soooo… that was awesome.
I don’t remember my dad and I talking leading up to the day or even on the way down to the cop shop.
Until we stepped inside the front door. There was a small lobby outside of the judges chamber and my dad turned and looked at me and said, “When you talk to the judge say ‘Yes, Judge’ or ‘Yes Your Honor’, understand?”
That surprised me so much that I just looked at him and shook my head up and down to the affirmative.
We opened the door to the judges chambers and made our way to some seats a few rows from the front.
It was a weird scene for me.
There was the judge up in front, off to his left was a police officer that I knew who knew my mom and dad real well, there was a high school kid we all knew off to my far right, I couldn’t tell if he was reporting for court or what he was doing there, it was odd, and then there were some odds and ends of people there for their particular court hearing.
The lady who was talking to the judge when we walked in, was there because her neighbors called the cops on her dog for barking. My dad leaned over and said, “There not gonna do anything with that”, and sure enough the judge dismissed it, when she pulled this tiny little dog out from her bag and showed him who was making all the noise.
As one or two more cases went before ours a kid and his mom who were up in the front row stood up and turned to leave. As they did I saw that it was my arch nemesis and his mom. I nudged my dad and whispered, “That’s the kid.”
When my dad saw how tall, and how much bigger than me that he was, the look on his face changed. I could tell he was thinking, “Damn boy! What were you thinkin’?” But he was proud, you could just tell. I thought that was funny because you could tell he was surprised.
So after the barking dog and a few traffic tickets and what not, we were called to step up to the table in front of the judge.
I remember standing with my dad on my right side and him right in front of the judge.
I started this little series of writings with a title, “Talk your kids up once in awhile”, here’s the reason why.
After the judge was handed the file folder, and after he received some whispered input from the aforementioned police officer the judge asked if we had anything to say.
I looked at my dad. But he was already about to address the judge so I didn’t say anything.
My dad looked at the judge and declared, I use that word because he was confidently loud with his response, not yelling, just, well… declaring.
“Your Honor, this is not a problem child. He doesn’t go around fighting or looking for trouble. He’s a good kid.”
That’s it. Very proudly and confidently. I was shocked. I couldn’t believe he was talking about me like that. It felt really good.
Again, all that happened was the judge leaned over to the police officer and they whispered back and forth, again, and the judge straightened up and came back with, “That’ll be a twenty-five dollar fine, pay the clerk at the counter, next case.”
That was it. I walked a little bit taller with my dad back to the car. If you’re a parent talk your kid up once in a while so they can hear you, don’t go over board with it and really mean it. It will pay huge dividends down the line.
I only wish my dad and I could have had more than one of those instances. But we didn’t.