Our family's tradition is to welcome the new year with a walk outside. So far, that tradition hasn't included getting pulled over by the police and given a ticket. Until this year.
We've taken New Year's walks on barren North Carolina beaches, in Raleigh forests and up mountains in southwest Virginia. We've trudged through mud at Teddy Roosevelt Island and climbed on stone walls at the U.S. Capitol. Our destination today: the MLK Jr. Memorial which Kent and I have both visited individually, but always without the kids.
We walked rather quickly around the monument because despite the full sun and warmish temperatures, I once again underestimated the chill from the breeze that perpetually blows off the Tidal Basin. The kids sat beneath dormant cherry trees and ate sandwiches and cookies while Kent read from park signs and donned his amateur tour-guide hat.
"A straight line runs from the Lincoln Memorial to the Jefferson," he said. "And right in between, sits Martin Luther King."
"Martin Luther King, he led soldiers, right?" Desmond asked.
Kent ran ahead with Tobias to retrieve the car while I waited with the other three at the front of the memorial, where the narrow mountain pass opens. There's a long, sloping granite wall there that the kids hurtled themselves up and slid down. Over and over and over. I leaned back and watched and smiled when other children joined in.
Off in the not-so-far distance I heard the police siren chirp, then saw the lights flash. Behind our car. "Come on guys," I said. "Papa got pulled over by the police."
The kids skipped along, no one thinking anything other than, oh look, the police, it figures.
Turns out, the automatic door on our minivan started acting wonky and rather than manually close the door, Kent thought he'd drive the half mile to pick us up with the door wide open. "It'll be an adventure," he told himself and Tobias.
The DC police didn't think so. They actually thought it was dangerous and presented us with a New Year's gift. Thanks, 2012. May the $25 citation be the worst you have to offer.