Menu

Baby, sometimes the officer is the bad guy

Seeing my son dressed as a police officer triggered so many emotions.

Baby, sometimes the officer is the bad guy

My 3-year-old son is a playful, witty, observant child who loves learning. Each week his school has a theme that's connected to their curriculum. The theme carries throughout the week in the hopes the children will gain an in-depth understanding of the topic covered.

During Community Helpers Week in October, I received the daily photo of my son's class. Each child was dressed as a community helper. Some were medics, others were doctors, there was even a crossing guard.

My child was dressed as a police officer.

A police officer.

My son's school doesn't know that I'm working to combat police brutality by holding officers accountable for unjust actions. If they did, they undoubtedly would have placed a different costume on him.

But looking back at his smiling face, I couldn't help but wonder: What "community" do police officers consistently "help"?

My community is three times more likely to experience excessive use of force when interacting with police officers and officers are rarely held accountable for these injustices. That's why we hesitate in contacting the police. The level of distrust and fear is heavy and real. Other communities may have the privilege of never feeling afraid or leery of police officers, of smiling when they see their child pretend to be an officer of the law, but that is not the case in Black America. We have no such privilege.

It was jarring to see him in this particular costume, a uniform that brings up such complicated feelings. My son is so joyful, honest, and sees the best in people—attributes I do not associate with all officers.

My son is also extremely emotionally aware: He notices when I, his Dad, or his teachers are flustered or frustrated saying, "Don't get angry" or "Are you happy?" He'll even add "I'm so happy" whenever he feels that way. The first time he said it, he was eating Cheetos at a school function. It brought tears to my eyes seeing that much sheer joy on his face. I asked him why he was so happy and he replied, "Because my daddy is happy." I'm not sure why or how he became so attuned with emotions, but he is.

Will an officer see this version of my child if a "community helper" called the police on him? At what age will my child transition from being a cute little boy to a perceived threat to officers and the "community"? Sure at 3 years old, he's pretty safe from society's biases, but happens when he's 13?

When I picked him up from school he had officer stickers on his clothes. He was so eager to tell me about the police officer who spoke to his class and about how officers protect us.

"The officers get the bad guys, Mommy," he kept saying.

I assume this was the best way the officer knew how to explain her role to a room of 3-year-olds. Once we got home, I saw he also had Las Vegas Police Department patches in his backpack. When I pulled them out, he repeated, "The officers get the bad guys, Mommy."

My heart silently broke. I didn't have the heart to tell my 3-year- old that sometimes the officer IS the bad guy.

Still, seeing my son dressed as a police officer triggered so many emotions.

  • Worry because I know what some officers do and get away with. Emotions like anger, knowing that my husband and I will have to have "the talk" with him in a few years to train him on how to handle (and hopefully survive) police interactions.
  • Sadness, knowing our community is not always helped, protected, or treated with respect by those who vow to do so.
  • Frustration that other communities are oblivious or simply don't care about how officers treat people that don't look like they do or have the opportunities they've had.

I don't want my son to look up to, admire, or want to be a part of law enforcement in its current state—not until accountability becomes consistent and the standard, not the exception.

I'm not quite sure what I'll say the next time my son says "the officers get the bad guys." It will likely depend on his age at that time. Hopefully, progress will be made in consistent accountability and de-escalation so I can honestly respond "most of the time."

I want to protect his innocence and Black boy joy for as long as possible. But in order to give him the best chance of surviving into manhood, I will have to let him know the truth.

Sometimes officers are the bad guys.


This piece was previously published here.

12 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$189

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

Shop

Products that solve your biggest breastfeeding challenges

Including a battle plan for clogged ducts!

When expecting a baby, there is a lot you can test-run in advance: Take that stroller around the block. Go for a spin with the car seat secured in place. Learn how to use the baby carrier with help from a doll. But breastfeeding? It's not exactly possible to practice before baby's arrival.

The absence of a trial makes it all the more important to prepare in other ways for breastfeeding success—and it can be as simple as adding a few of our lactation aiding favorites to your registry.

MilkBliss chocolate chip soft baked lactation cookies

MilkBliss lactation cookies

Studies have shown the top reason women stop breastfeeding within the first year is because they are concerned about their milk supply being enough to nourish baby. Consider MilkBliss Lactation Cookies to be your secret weapon. Not only are they wholesome and delicious, but they were formulated specifically for breastfeeding moms based on the science of galactagogues—also known as milk boosters. They also come in peanut butter and wild blueberry flavors.

$23

Evereden multi-purpose healing balm

Evereden multipurpose healing balm

Also up there on the list of reasons women stop breastfeeding: the toll the early days can take on nipples. Made from just five ingredients, this all natural healing balm is ideal for soothing chafed nipples, making for a much more comfortable experience for mama as her body adjusts to the needs of a breastfeeding baby.

$20

Lansinoh milk storage bags

Lansinoh milk storage bags

For a breastfeeding mama, there are few things more precious and valuable than the milk she worked so hard to pump—and it's the stuff of nightmares to imagine it spilling out in the fridge. With these double-sealed milk storage bags, you can be assured your breastmilk is safe and sound until baby needs it.

$12.50

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Belly Bandit bandita nursing bra

Nursing a baby is a 24/7 job, which calls for some wardrobe modifications. Because Belly Bandit specializes in making things more comfortable for the postpartum mama, they've truly thought of every detail—from the breathable fabric to the clips that can be easily opened with one hand.

$47

boob-ease soothing therapy pillows

Boob Ease soothing therapy pillows

For nursing moms, duct can quickly become a four-letter word when you suspect it's getting clogged. By keeping these soothing breast pillows in your breastfeeding arsenal, you can immediately go on the defense against plugged milk ducts by heating the pads in the microwave or cooling them in the freezer.

$25

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

Belly Bandit perfect nursing tee

A unfortunate reality of nursing is that it can really seem to limit the wardrobe options when you have to think about providing easy, discrete access. But by adding functional basics to your closet, you can feel confident and prepared for breastfeeding on the go.

$59

Bebe au Lait premium cotton nursing cover

Bebe au Lait cotton nursing cover

Nursing in public isn't every mama's cup of tea. But babies can't always wait until you've found a private place to get down to business if that's your preference. That's where a nursing cover comes in handy. This one is made from premium cotton and features a patented neckline that allows for airflow and eye contact even while you're covered.

$36

Lactation Lab basic breastmilk testing kit

Lactation Lab breastmilk testing kit

Curious to learn more about the liquid gold you're making, mama? The testing kit from Lactation Labs analyzes your breast milk for basic nutritional content like calories and protein, as well as vitamins, fatty acids and environmental toxins to help boost your breastfeeding confidence.

$99

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this

Shop

20 baby names to set your child up for success

What do Jacqueline, Morgan, Madison and Parker all have in common?

They say picking a baby name is an art, not a science. But when it comes to figuring out which baby names have been linked to successful futures, there has actually been some scientific work on the subject.

Keep reading Show less
News