I regret weighing my son’s worth via a meritocratic scale. I do regret the parenting style I’ve employed—not because I’m too strict or not strict enough (depending on whom you ask) or because sometimes we eat McNuggets for dinner. I regret it because I have put my son at the center of my family’s orbit when he should be alongside us instead. In doing so, I have designated my identity and worth as strictly what I’ve achieved as a parent; I have made it nearly impossible to extend grace to a child who throws fits and says bad words—to see him as existentially valuable.
I want to be the best mother I can be, but perhaps the most efficient way to go about this is to remove my child from the center of my universe. Perhaps then I will allow myself to be a holistic human being; and perhaps then I can grant my son that same freedom.
A teddy bear probably isn’t the first thing that comes to mind when thinking of police gear. But for Officer Tommy Norman of the North Little Rock Police Department, teddy bears are essential equipment. You can find them in the trunk of his squad car, nestled right next to a cooler full of cold drinks and packages of chips.
This almost idyllic picture of an Arkansas community is due in large part to Norman’s ability to treat everyone he encounters as if he or she was truly valuable. Part of what attracts us to his Instagram account is that the Imago Dei in each individual — be they child, homeless person, elderly neighbor, or fellow police officer — is highlighted. These encounters are glorious because human beings are glorious; Tommy Norman truly “gets” this, and he treats them accordingly. As one Imgur commenter said, “Officer Norman is teaching us how to be human.”
This moving story highlights some of the often unseen aspects of police work and reminds us that Norman’s bond with members of his community, especially the children, can be truly life-altering. Norman explains that “the stats that matter are the hearts that you are mending, the trust and the love that’s instilled in the hearts of people that see that.” When they lay their heads down at night and go to sleep, are they at peace knowing that the police officers of their community care about them? In Officer Tommy Norman’s patrol area of North Little Rock, Arkansas, the answer is “Yes.”