Krista Vance/Voices: Frisk me if you must, but don't forget the fries

Krista Vance/Voices: Frisk me if you must, but don't forget the fries

By KRISTA VANCE

I whipped into a parking spot and heard yelling from a van two spaces down. "Bend! I'm not kidding! Bend!"

As I climbed from my car, the shouting turned to pleading, "Please bend. Mama needs you to bend. Please."

I knew exactly what was happening.

Inside the van, I found a 2-year-old girl with her back and legs straight as could be, red face scowling, one arm pushing away her mom, and the other arm trying to wiggle its way out of her car seat strap.

The mom was pressing on the girl's stomach, while at the same time trying to capture the loose arm; she was losing.

"Hi," I said. "Looks like you could use some help."

"Yes, please," the mom begged, her eyes brimming with tears. "She won't bend, and I can't get her buckled."

"It'll be okay," I chuckled. "There's nothing stronger than a toddler that doesn't want to be strapped in."

"No kidding," she agreed.

"I'll kneel on her, and you buckle," I suggested.

It might seem a bit inhumane to kneel on a toddler, but trust me when I say it's sometimes necessary. Besides, a couple other choices were knocking her out or letting her ride unbuckled, both of which are apparently frowned upon.

We did our best to wrangle the girl into submission.

The little one started yelling something only her mother could understand. "What's she saying?" I asked.

"Fries," the mom groaned.

"She really needs to work on enunciating," I grinned, trying to lighten the mood.

The mom snorted.

"I'm Krista."

"Sarah," she offered.

"Do you want me to get some fries?"

"Could you?" she asked.

"Absolutely," I stepped from the van, losing my balance as a little foot kicked me in the rear. I fell ... skidding my arms, face and knees on the asphalt.

"Are you OK?!" Sarah yelled, getting her own swift kick to the gut.

"Yeah," I moaned. "I think you might have a future soccer player."

"You're bleeding," she pointed out. "Stay here, and I'll get a wet towel."

We switched places, and I gave up kneeling and sat my bruised bum on the girl. "Don't forget the fries!" I yelled at Sarah's retreating back.

As the screeching continued, I rested my forehead on the driver's headrest. Looking to my left, I saw a lady giving me a, "There's something wrong with this picture," look. You'd think she would have offered to help, but nope, she had other plans.

I jabbed the button, closing the van door.

There must have been a long line, because Sarah took forever. My face was throbbing, and my patience had come to an end.

"I hope you hyperventilate and pass out," I said, frustrated. I was so focused on squishing the kid I didn't notice a car block in the van.

A loud banging got my attention. I glanced out the tinted window and saw a police officer; peeking over the car behind him was the lady. Are you kidding me? She called the police?

"I wonder if he can actually see me," I thought, realizing it wasn't necessary, since he could probably hear the nightmare losing her mind.

I opened the door.

"Everything OK in here?" he asked, taking in the blood running down my face.

"She won't bend."

"I can see that," he said with a nod. "I'll give you a hand. What's her name?"

Things just got awkward. I had no idea.

"Her name is," I paused, "Darla."

"No it's not," a tiny voice from the backseat piped in, "and she's not my Mama."

I whipped my head around.

"Where did you come from?" I asked, surprised. "You didn't make a sound."

"I'm not supposed to talk to strangers."

Oh, great.

"Ma'am, you need to step slowly from the van," the officer ordered, pushing the button on his CB. "Assistance needed. Possible kidnapping in progress."

I didn't even get a chance to explain before he frisked me and slapped on handcuffs.

As other police officers arrived, this time with sirens blaring, the nosy lady frantically explained that there was a huge fight and the mom ran into the restaurant for help, while I attempted to drive away with the kids.

The door to the squad car shut as Sarah hustled from the restaurant carrying a small bag and a handful of paper towels. She explained the situation while her stubborn child crawled into the car seat and promptly fell asleep.

Are you kidding me?

Moral of the story: Being helpful is not worth the jail time.

Krista Vance is a stay-at-home mom in Champaign.