Yesterday was warm, we had the back door open. My son went to it and stuck his head out.
"Oh, no. This is so bad," he said. "I still hear the bus sound."
Curious, I walked to the door and stuck my head out. "Do you hear it?" he asked me.
"You mean that whoop-whoop-whoop?"
"Yes," he said.
"That's the alarm on the neighbor's house" I told him. He had gone over a few minutes before to play with his friend, but came back and said nobody was home. "When you went over to see if Jalen could play did you open the door?" I asked.
He nodded. "It was an accident. I was knocking and it came open a little bit and I closed it."
"Never open the door to someone's house if they aren't home. You can ring and knock but never open the door," I said as I walked to the mud room to put my shoes on. He followed me, tears starting to well up in his eyes.
"I am in so much trouble. I'm going to get arrested," he said, putting on his shoes.
"No, I think I can explain what happened to the police and they won't arrest you."
"Are you sure?" he sounded doubtful.
"I hope so," I said. He shuddered. I laughed and tussled his hair. "Come one, you'll be fine."
We walked through the garage, and when we got to the driveway I saw the Sheriff's car parked across the street. It was empty. We crossed our yard to the next-door neighbor's house. They were coming down the street in their car and waved to us, and they pulled into the driveway just as we walked onto it...and just as a Deputy Sheriff came out from their garage, holstering his firearm.
Tears were rolling down my son's cheeks as the Deputy walked over and my neighbor got out of her car.
"I can explain this," I said to both of them. "My son came over to see if the kids could play, and he opened the door by accident."
"Do you live nearby?" the Deputy asked.
"Right next door," I said, pointing to my house.
The Deputy had has pad and pencil ready. "What's your name?" he asked my son, who replied with a very feeble "Max."
"What's your last name, Max?" he asked. Max was crying, looking down at the ground. "Max, look at me," the Deputy said. Max looked up. "You're not in any trouble, okay?" Max nodded.
"Tell him your last name," I said.
It took a couple tries before he said it clearly. "Max, you want to be a police officer, this is just part of their job. They have to ask questions and write down what happened. You're not going to get arrested," I said. He had stopped crying but was still upset. I let him go in the backyard with his friend (who had just gotten home with his mother and younger brother).
Max went into our garage to get his soccer ball. My wife was in there, about to leave for a friend's house for the evening. She spotted the cruiser parked on the street.
"Oh Max, look! A police car. Did you get to talk to them?" she asked. Max nodded quietly and got his soccer ball. That's odd, she thought. He's usually really excited to see a police car. She had been upstairs getting ready and knew nothing the situation.
My wife was looking for me to tell me she was leaving, and she heard me laughing with our neighbor and came over, and we explained what happened. The Deputy went to his car and wrote up an incident report and gave it to my neighbor. No harm done. They get three false alarms per year before they get charged for them. Max's emotional scars healed quickly, and I think he learned an important lesson about forced entry. Plus our neighbors learned an important lesson about making sure the doors are all locked.
They also know that the money invested in the security system was well-spent.