So there I was… trying to comfort my three-year-old son when he said something that made me wish my daddy was there to comfort me. Especially since he’s a Korean War vet, and much more trained to deal with this type of situation than I was from my teacher education classes.
This story starts, as most tales involving toddlers do, with a piercing noise awakening me in the middle of the night. The unusual aspect this time was that instead of a screaming child, the sound emanated from our alarm system. I frantically threw back the covers and leaped out of bed ready to defend my family only to be met at my bedroom door by Jack, my now understandably frazzled son. He was coming from the stairwell which explained why the security system was going off. Obviously, he had triggered the motion sensor we had recently installed at the bottom of the stairs. I ushered him back to his room as my wife punched in the code to reset the system.
As could be expected, Jack was pretty worked up by this point. I held him in my arms and could feel the pounding of his heart through his jammers. To his credit, he calmed down pretty quickly and was soon resting peacefully on my shoulder. Just as I was putting him down in his car-shaped bed, I turned his puffy-eyed face towards me and asked him a simple question, “Hey, pal, what were you doing downstairs anyway?”
“I wanted to play with my toys…” Before I could interrupt with an admonishment about leaving his bed when he was supposed to be sleeping, he finished up with, “…but the big man wouldn’t let me.” My stomach instantly clenched up.
“What big man?”
“The big man downstairs.”
And the belt on my insides tightened itself another couple of notches. Had Jack just seen someone inside the house? I was suddenly faced with the very real possibility that there was some sort of intruder waiting for me right now in my hallway closet. I quickly carried Jack back to my room and was grabbing my second line of defense, a wooden bat, from under my bed when I heard the noise of someone jiggling a doorknob. I peered around the edge of the steps but couldn’t see anything moving below. Then I heard it again. Someone, or something, because at this point I hadn’t ruled out a zombie attack, was messing with the handle on my front door which, of course, I couldn’t see from my current position. My knuckles were white on the base of the bat as I waited to bash whatever came into view. When nothing happened immediately, I waited a few more seconds. Just as I was putting my foot on the first step to investigate further, I saw the beam of a flashlight dancing all over my front living room. This was getting real.
In my mind I bobbled back and forth between two courses of action. I could stay defensively crouched in my doorway, or I could madly dash down the stairs and confront the criminals head-on. I had just about screwed my courage to the sticking place when, without warning, the flashlight clicked off. Now what? Had they heard me? Did they get enough loot and decide to leave? My fight instinct having won over the one to flee, I cautiously continued towards the base of the steps. I hadn’t made it down more than six or seven when the flashlight returned. This time is was coming from the opposite side of the house. How many burglars were there, for crying out loud?
Enough was enough. If I was going down, I was going down like a man defending his family. Just as I placed the bat over my shoulder, I plainly heard someone messing with the lock on my rear patio door. I rushed down the steps, not bothering with the last seven. I turned left, saw nothing, and sprinted left again into the kitchen. I could just make out two figures silhouetted against the sliding glass door. I raised my bat over my head and drew in a sharp breath for my war cry when I was completely blinded by two brilliant beams of light in my face. I lowered my weapon and instinctively put one hand up to shield my eyes. That’s when a very authoritative voice rang in my ears.
“Stop!! Adelanto PD!”
They were policeman. Evidently, after my son had tripped the sensor, the security company had tried calling us to see if it was a false alarm. They weren’t able to get through because I had knocked the phone off the hook in my initial hasty departure from bed. Following protocol, they then called the cops to come investigate. The patrolmen were the ones checking all of the doors and looking in the windows. At that moment, fully illuminated by two certified million-candle-rated flashlight beams, I simultaneously had never been so happy in my life to see members of the law enforcement community or regretted more my decision to go to bed without wearing pajamas.