I am still spooked, disturbed, distraught and otherwise sick in my heart by something that occurred this past week. It occurred mainly because we live in times when people are afraid, strike that, have lost the ability to use good judgement. So children slip through the cracks and get beaten and starved to death in this fine city of New York and the caseworkers come a knockin' at my door.
I'll give you the very quick version. Julian had bumped his head playing in our home two weeks ago. The school was alerted so that they could keep a special eye on him the following day. Fast forward to 6 days later when Julian had a tantrum because Daddy had taken something from him that he shouldn't have at bedtime. He hit his head in - the very same spot. It of course, opened the wound and it bled anew. My heart breaks with each drop of blood this child has spilled. He has fallen more than a five year old should as he has balance issues. He's gotten much better, really; but they still happen. So much so that his IEP (Individualized Education Plan) has a safety para (assistant) assigned to shadow him in school.
The following day in school, we let the teacher know and she said "don't worry, I'll keep an eye on him." But Julian sees various therapists throughout the day and the communication doesn't always flow to all the people. As the physical therapist was working with him, she felt the bump and asked Julian about it, to which he responded "My Daddy pushed me". He got taken to the nurse whereby a conference of adults gather round and Julian reaffirms yes indeed his "daddy pushed me and I bled". What did Mommy do? "Mommy screamed at Daddy". Well I wouldn't say I screamed, but you know if my child gets hurt, I'm yelling at someone, sometimes even G-d. I only know this part after the fact when I finally spoke to Julian's teacher. What I do know is that Tuesday evening two caseworkers from Children's Services knock at our door with a complaint against my husband, which essentially means they come in, interview us, and take a look around.
It is at this point in the story that I almost passed out from the shock and fear of what was occurring in my home. My knees buckled and I had to sit down. I cried like I haven't cried since I had gotten a mistaken amnio result for Julian before his birth. I'm still crying over it, but I'm getting a bit less frantic and paranoid about it. Julian's teacher apologized as she knows us and sees us daily with Julian. She sees Julian as a happy outgoing sweet child in school.
Essentially the caseworkers after not too long got a sense of Julian's story as they didn't have the benefit of any of his background before they'd arrived and can see our family, our home, a fresh dinner just about ready to be served. It was even nicer than usual as my niece is in town for a work-study program through her college, Amherst and is staying in Manhattan but visiting us for the night. It should be noted that she was there for the initial bloodletting. But in any event, she's here for dinner and we aim to feed the girl.
They told us not to worry and to not lose sleep. It was all protocol and that they just had to go through the process once they receive a complaint. Not lose sleep? Don't worry? Are they insane? How can I not? How can this not be in my every waking worry and thought and fear - a parent's worst, losing their child. They tried to reassure me but I wasn't buying. The point they told me is that since a sweet little 7 year old girl faced a gruesome abuse death at the hand's of her stepfather last year in our fair city, things have changed. Everything is reported and investigated. Yet I still read of tragic children's deaths in the paper and the caseworkers are at my home.
Well they've gone and everybody is trying to reassure us.
In the meantime everything takes on a new meaning. For instance, I open the refrigerator to give Julian milk yesterday and I say absently, "we don't have any more milk?" and Julian says "No milk, just water to drink". Then I realize we have milk in our fridge downstairs. You see it's not enough to have one fridge, we have one downstairs for backup. But I realize how an innocent thing like that could be twisted. "Julian tells me he has no milk, just water to drink". He asked my niece after the caseworkers left the other night "Do we drink blood?" It's then in my tears and my fears that we both burst out laughing and I said "What next? We'll be accused of being Vampires." Scissors is from Transylvania originally after all.
Intellectually I understand how this happened. Really, I wish I could believe that this heightened awareness saved the children in despair. But emotionally, I'm wrecked. I sit here worrying how I need to document everything and what if Julian falls again? Not like the odds aren't good.
I pray that common sense will prevail. I also know I wouldn't think twice about relocating to another country if push comes to shove.
Stop stomping on my parental rights city of New York and go out and find the real abusers. Please.