Valentine’s Day 2016

While my daughter, Tara, and her boyfriend, Justin, enjoyed a much-deserved and needed date night, I babysat 2 of my 3 granddaughters on Valentine’s Day.

Tara and Justin have had a rough time so far this year, as I had mentioned in a previous post, “Can We Have a Wednesday Re-do Please?”

Their only running vehicle, a Montana mini-van, slid into a curb on an icy morning while Justin was driving to work in late January. It was considered totaled and not worth trying to fix by their car insurance company. Luckily they did have the use of a free loaner truck for a week until that determination was made.

After that determination and while they were waiting for the check from the car insurance company for the value of their van, they had no running vehicle at all and no way to get Justin and Tara to their jobs or Evvie to school. So I loaned them my car until they could get another vehicle since I wasn’t going to be using it that much.

However, just before I loaned it to them, my driver’s side low-beam headlight went out and I didn’t have the money at that time to replace it so I had been using the high-beams on the very few occasions I had to drive at night. Most of my driving is within the Bay City limits and with all of the well-lit streets, I never had a problem with other drivers flashing their lights at me to warn me to dim mine.

So I cautioned Justin to use the high beams until I could get the headlight fixed because I did not want to be issued a ticket for owning a one-eyed car.

In my long driving experience, the owner of a car with any kind of mechanical problems was issued what is called a “fix-it” ticket by police that allows the car owner a specified time to get the problem fixed and then the ticket would be dismissed when the owner showed proof that the problem had been repaired. The driver, no matter if it was the owner or someone else borrowing the car, was not issued the ticket; it was the owner of the car that was given the ticket, usually by mail.

A week before Valentine’s Day, Justin, Tara, Evvie and Charlotte were returning back home in the evening from a grocery shopping trip. They had just pulled into the parking lot of a near-by business as a shortcut to their parking area in back of the house where they live in the 2nd floor apartment when a Bay City police officer pulled in behind them and drove up next to my car.

The police officer asked Justin if he was aware that he had the headlights on high-beam and Justin replied that no, he wasn’t aware of that. The police officer cautioned him to not drive within Bay City with the high-beams on again and he then turned around and left.

Justin had bought a headlight replacement bulb a few days earlier and had been planning on putting it in except that the temperatures had been down into the single digits and he was waiting for an opportune time when it was a bit warmer to do it. He had also planned on showing any police officer the new headlight package if he was ever pulled over and the police found out that my car had only 2 working high-beams and only 1 working low-beam headlight.

So we laughed the encounter off since this really was such a trivial matter and my headlight would soon be replaced as soon as the weather warmed up a bit more and Justin had the time and opportunity. I assumed that in the meantime if a ticket was ever issued to me, it would be a “fix-it” ticket and I would soon have the proof that the headlight was replaced.

Justin picked me up on Sunday, February 14 (Valentine’s Day) at 4 pm so that I could have a nice visit with Ava, the eldest of my granddaughters, before Tara and Justin had to take her back to her mother’s house.

Ava is Justin’s daughter from a previous relationship and although she is not my biological granddaughter, she is mine in my heart and I am one of Ava’s grandmother’s in her heart too. I love her just as much as I do Evvie and Charlotte, Tara’s children with Justin.

Ava and Evvie had each made me beautiful bead necklaces that I proudly wore all night and they, along with wee Charlotte, had given me hand-made Valentine’s Day cards with lovely drawings and their cards told me how much they loved me and had fun with me whenever I saw them. Their cards, and their presents brought tears to my eyes.

While Justin and Tara got ready for their night out, me and the girls enjoyed a pizza party while we played games and chatted about things going on at their school and at home. Ava didn’t want to leave and she begged to be allowed to spend the night so that she could have extra time to be with me and her sisters but because the next day was a school day, that couldn’t happen.

So everybody hugged and kissed goodbye when Tara and Justin left with Ava and it was then that Charlotte realized that Mommy and Daddy were leaving her behind. She turned 2 years old a few weeks earlier and she is going through that stage when young kids sometimes have problems watching their parents leave them for a few hours.

Tara and Justin don’t often have their work schedules arranged for the time to go out alone on a date night so Charlotte doesn’t associate me coming over so that they can leave and have some adult time together.

As Tara and Justin put on their coats and began to walk down their stairs to leave with Ava, Charlotte began wailing and tried to follow them. They reassured her that they would be back later and that they would see her in the morning but that can never console a 2 year old who has no real concept of time. Charlotte sat on the top steps crying and asking for Mommy and Daddy to come back while they closed the door.

Charlotte kept crying and calling after Mommy and Daddy for several minutes after Tara and Justin had left. I went to her and tried to hug her but she didn’t want anything to do with me at that point so I was patient and let her be. I could see her sitting on the top step of the stairs from the recliner in the living room.

Evvie crawled into my lap and she whispered loudly, “What are we going to do with Charlotte? She’s so sad!” And I told her, loud enough for Charlotte to hear, “You know Mommy and Daddy will be back later tonight after you both have gone to sleep and that you will see them both in the morning when you wake up, right?” Evvie replied yes, and then I said, “Well, while Mommy and Daddy are gone and before you and Charlotte go to sleep, we’re going to have lots of fun!” And then I started tickling her which Evvie loves for me to do.

As Evvie giggled, Charlotte reluctantly came into the living room with a tear-stained face. And even though she was still mad, she was curious as to why Evvie was giggling so hard. That kid can scowl worse than Scarlett O’Hara in the movie, “Gone With the Wind” and as Charlotte stood there glaring at me so hard, I had to bite my tongue to keep from giggling myself.

While Evvie kept begging for more tickles, Charlotte scowled at me even more and then she pointed at me and loudly said, “No! You go way! No!”

I had to struggle to keep from smiling or laughing! But that would have just made her more upset, and rightfully so because the only thing she understood was that I had somehow made Mommy or Daddy leave and so if I left, then they would come back.

So I gently told her that I was here to have fun with them and I began tickling Evvie again making her giggle even harder. Charlotte was torn between wanting to join our fun and being angry and she stood there for a few minutes watching Evvie and me, sometimes smiling and sometimes still scowling at me.

Then Evvie and I began a familiar game of tossing some of her little stuffed animals back and forth to each other and as we laughed, Charlotte decided to join us and soon we were all laughing as our toy-tossing got more and more frenzied.

Evvie and Charlotte had fun hunting up more and more of their little stuffed animals and we soon had a huge pile of them on the floor and I took turns hoisting them up as high in the air as I could then gently laying them down on that big fluffy pile of toys while they giggled with glee.

The girls each have little ride-on cars so when the toy and kid tossing got boring, we began to have little races in the living room with me as the starter. “On your mark, get set, go!” Evvie was very generous by letting Charlotte win as often as she herself did and I would happily give each winner one of the stuffed animals as race prizes.

After that the girls both piled onto my lap and cuddled with me while we watched some of their favorite DVD cartoons. I also brushed Evvie’s long hair and braided into a long pony-tail and she had fun twisting her head to make it fly around.

We also got out their crayons and drew in their many coloring books. Then we made a game of picking up all of their stuffed animals and putting them into a neat pile in the corner of Evvie’s bedroom.

It was now bedtime so I helped them brush their teeth, got Charlotte freshly diapered and I tickled them into their pajamas. I read them several stories and sang songs and lullabies to them while I rocked them and cuddled them both in the recliner.

After getting them both all settled into their little beds and asleep for the night, I exhaustedly slumped down into the recliner. I love my granddaughters so much and I know they enjoy that I so whole-heartedly play games with them and frolic with them but oh, my goodness, my poor pain-wracked body does get a work-out! But I also love it as much as my girls do.

After I watched “The Good Wife” and then the news, I popped in the first “Back To The Future” movie. Tara had bought the trilogy set as a Valentine’s Day present for Justin and they had both said I could watch any of them that I wanted while they were gone.

The first movie was almost over with when Tara and Justin came back. I was so happy that they had had a great time on their Valentine’s date night and they excitedly told me all that they had done.

They first went to Lucky’s Steakhouse and I dramatically moaned with envy. Lucky’s is a really nice restaurant with great food and their steaks are heavenly. I have never had a bad meal there.

It is always packed with people inside and with people waiting for a table in their lobby and it was no different that Valentine’s night. But the long waits are always well worth it once you do get a table.

Tara and Justin each had their left-overs boxed up but unfortunately, Justin slipped on a bit of ice out in the parking lot and dropped the containers. Tara had ordered an extra steak to take home and enjoy the next day and she was unhappily dismayed to see her lovely steak plopped onto the pavement.

Justin apologized and apologized but I laughed when she said she had seriously considered picking up her steak, carefully brush it off and still take it home. I told her that I didn’t blame her in the least for even considering it. But she laughed in return when I told her that her and Justin probably made some poor little stray cat a very, very happy kitty for that unexpectedly luscious Valentine’s treat.

After dinner, Tara and Justin then went to see the movie, “Dead Pool” and they said it was sooo good! I had never heard of that comic book series and so Justin gave me a bit of background on the main character and the plotline.

They both said that Ryan Reynolds was the perfect choice to play the main character because he definitely brought out the sardonic, ironic, funny, smart-ass aspects that were a highlight in the comic books.

After the movie they went to a couple of bars to karaoke and hang out with some friends of theirs. They both had had such a good time and I was happy for them because they have had such a rough time lately.

Because he was driving and he knew he still had to take me home in my car, Justin only had a few beers the whole night. It was now going on 4 am and we were all very, very tired.

I only live a mile away from Justin and Tara’s apartment so the trip back to my place only takes a few minutes if you can catch the lights at the right time.

There was nobody else out on that main street and Justin and I were chatting and laughing about different things as I kept a wary eye on the one car up ahead coming towards us. I just had a bad feeling it was a police car and Justin had the high-beam headlights on.

We came to the red light at Center Avenue at the same time as the other car approaching us and I was dismayed to see that I was right, it was a police car. As soon as the light turned green we both crossed Center Street and as I kept a careful watch out my passenger side mirror, I saw that police car do a U-turn, come up behind us and put his lights on for us to pull over.

Justin pulled over, rolled down his window and shut my car off. We both said at the same time, “Why are we being pulled over?” Justin is a very careful driver (I would never let anybody who wasn’t borrow my car) and he wasn’t speeding, and he had his seat belt on but I think we both realized it was probably about the headlights.

I told Justin to not worry, that I would be getting the ticket if one was issued, not him, since it was my car. If the police officer wanted to check out my headlights and discovered that one of the low beam bulbs was out, we could just show him the new replacement bulb that was still in the tray between our seats.

The police officer came up to my car and asked to see Justin’s driver’s license. He briefly glanced at it and then asked, “Didn’t I warn you about driving with the high beams on last week? What are the odds that this would happen again?”

I spoke up and told the police officer that it was my car that Justin and my daughter had had to borrow for a few weeks because their only vehicle had been totaled and that I had forgotten to remind Justin how easy it was to turn the high beams on whenever you used the turn signal control stick.

Which was the truth because I have done that myself several times. That stick with the combination of turn signals and low-beam and high-beam controls was sometimes a pain in the ass.

The officer said he would be right back and he went back to his car to run Justin’s driver’s license. I sat there, feeling more and more indignant that this was the second time that Justin had been pulled over for a really trivial matter.

The officer came back, handed Justin back his driver’s license and told him that he was glad that he had a very clean driving record but that he needed to be more aware when the high-beam headlights were on because the next time it happened, Justin would be given a ticket that would put a point on his driving record.

I incredulously asked how could that happen when it was my car and it was the stupid way that control stick was designed? Wouldn’t the ticket be given to me instead of Justin?

The police officer said no, it was the driver’s responsibility to have the headlights set for the proper road conditions and that driving within the city of Bay City with the high-beams on was illegal.

Then the police officer asked Justin, “Didn’t you see me flashing my lights at you as you approached the intersection?” Justin replied that no, he was sorry, he must not have seen him do that because we had been so engaged in our conversation.

The police officer then said that he was going to be nice and give Justin a second warning but if he or any other police officer caught him doing this again, he would definitely get a ticket for improper use of a vehicle. He said good night and then he walked back to his car, got in, did another U-turn and left.

Justin waited until the officer had turned around before he started up my car again to drive the remaining quarter-mile to my apartment. I angrily said, “That cop is a god-damned liar! I watched that lone car approach us for a half-mile until we met at Center Avenue and at no time did that son-of-a-lying-bitch ever flash his lights at us! Did you see him flash his lights?” Justin said no, he never saw him flash his lights either and I sat there fuming all the way to my place.

I have long-known several police officers in my life and I have a great respect for the good ones. I have long believed that a good cop does not, and will not, resort to lying to make a point or to make an arrest or give out tickets. The bad ones, the shady ones, the ones who have to resort to lying or other nefarious ways, are the few cops who give the majority of police officers horrible public images.

I asked Justin if we could sit in front of my building for a few minutes just to make sure that that cop wasn’t waiting to ambush Justin on the way back to his place. I didn’t trust that lying cop at all. He probably ran my car’s license plates and knew where I lived and he also knew where Justin lived as well.

Then Justin told me that he had sat there while we were pulled over, hoping that he wouldn’t be given a Breathalyzer test because even though he had had so few beers earlier, he was afraid that it might be just enough to be a problem, especially with the very strict Michigan laws. I hadn’t even considered that but then I rarely drink. I also haven’t had a ticket since I was 19 years old, and that was 41 years ago.

Justin also told me that before him and Tara had come home, they had bought a few beers to have as a nightcap and that the beer was in a paper sack in the back seat. I told him to ease my mind and to please put the beer in the trunk just in case that cop was waiting to ambush him and Justin did that.

I also asked Justin to please take the back streets home and to also text me just to let me know he had made it home okay.

I was still so mad about this and I asked Justin if he had ever heard that it was illegal to drive in the city of Bay City with your high-beam headlights on since he has lived here longer than Tara or I have and he said he had never heard of that law before or knew of anybody else getting pulled over for that reason. I told him that because that cop had lied about flashing his lights at us, I believed it was possible that he lied about that as well.

Justin did take the back streets home and he sent me a text me to let me know he made it home okay. I had gone upstairs after he had dropped me off and cried and cried.

I felt that this whole thing was my fault, that I had loaned them a car that had caused so many problems for them. But February had been such a horrible month for bills, and when the low-beam bulb went out, I literally had no money to fix my headlight.

Tara reassured me the next day that it was okay, no harm, no foul, that I hadn’t ruined their Valentine’s Day good times and that made me feel so much better. And I felt even better when I got a text later that day from Justin letting me know that he had replaced the headlight bulb so that nobody would be getting pulled over like that again.

So other than a temporarily angry Charlotte, a dropped steak and a lying cop, we all had a pretty good Valentine’s Day 2016!



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