Monday, January 29, 2007

Anybody up for a Tragicomedy?

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.


weirsdo said...

Wow, that's awful. I've read of other instances like this in N. Y. They have had tough laws for a while now. I'm so sorry, but I'm sure it will be o. k. now that they know about Julian's balance problems.

First Nations said...

my best friend here works for CPS. she is a case investigator. she gets called out on tens of spurious or misguided cases every year. according to her, it is usually AT ONCE apparent whether a real problem might exist or not.
she is also used to being seen as the evil child-catcher general. however, she says that to FAIL to get that kind of spontaneous reaction from parents when she is on an investigation is one of the warning signs that there IS a high possibility of abuse occuring in that house.
That having been said, if someone would have shown up at my house to check up on my shit like that they would have got a shotgun stuck in their face.
oh sweetheart, i am so sorry. i hope your boy is ok.

Pavel said...

G, I'm so sorry you went through that. It's not bad enough that Jullian goes through what he goes through, and that you, as the wonderful mother that you are, have had many sleepless nights and have worried and despaired about him and his future. They put you through that, too. Bless you. I've been there and it's not a good thing.

I can imagine your husband must have been terrorized at the thought of being thought of an abuser.

As for the comedy part, I'll tell you a quick story. When the kids were younger, we would put them to bed and perhaps watch a movie. One time, my son came down and saw us watching the movie and said he wanted to watch tv with us. I told him that it was a movie for adults. Somehow or other it got twisted around in his head and he told his Sunday school teacher about how his parents were watching an adult movie.

cj said...

Oh G, first off let me tell you that I know that you and Scissors are wonderful parents, and that your children are lucky to have parents who love them so much. Know it, just know that is true.

Secondly, as a former case worker for child protection I must say - I enjoyed going to houses like yours. Going and interviewing parents who did not abuse their children but were victims of unforunate cicrumstances or bad reporting. Whomever made the call was a mandated reporter - meaning regardless of what the story is if a child reports they have been hurt they need to call it in. MANY times before it even would get to my desk it had been "telephoned" through 5-6 different people and the real story was so much diffrent than the true one. No case worker likes to scare the shit out of good parents - really we don't. But we'd so much rather to go on a visit and find nothing of concern, than find trouble. Finding trouble just means that the hoop jumping and judge pleading begins.... and even then sometimes nothing can be done.

I'm sending you hugs but just know - Your doing a good job, you and Scissors.

Diesel said...

Wow, what a horrible thing to have to go through. I've had similar thoughts about how things I've done or said to my kids could be twisted to sound really bad out of context. I guess it's necessary to take these precautions, but it's still scary. Sounds like the worst of it is over though.

G said...

Weirsdo, It was quite the ordeal and still is in some recesses of my mind. But really thank you for your support. The only saving grace may be that Mr. Banana was nowhere to be seen when they came. So there's always that silver lining.

fn: Thanks, Julian is fine and healing well. For the first couple of days, I was paniced to be away from him. Scissors was too - we were a fine pair. Believe me, we felt so violated. I understand why people protect them and thars with a shotgun. Oh yeah.

Pavel: Thank you. It is a sharp punch in the stomach for sure (is there such a thing as a sharp punch?). But thank very much for your words and I know if anyone understands what it takes to parent children with special needs, it is you. Your little story is priceless - too funny!

cj: Thanks, you really made me feel so much better. And your words of support mean more to me than you can imagine.

Diesel, We have whole slapstick comedy routines in my family and song lyrics that would well, be frowned upon if shared. So yes it's pretty scary indeed. I'm hoping the worst is over.

Doug said...

I'm sorry to that you went through that. I think they can't find the real abusers without checking up on a lot of good families. Somehow, though, that can't be an easy thing to swallow when it's your door they knock on.

actonbell said...

{{G}} I'm so sorry you had to go through that! Common sense WILL prevail.
Back when I was teaching kindergarten, there was boy in one of my classes who had aplastic anemia--he bruised VERY easily. His parents told me that they were initially afraid to take their son to a doctor. Imagine, they delayed having him diagnosed, out of fear of being arrested.
It's all very frustrating,finding hte real abusers.
I hope Julian's head is better!

cindra said...

Oh, my gosh. That is horrible. We've worked with the system for a few years since we had to become foster parents for bonnie baby. Honestly, they have their plates are so full with the real abusers and neglecters and the caseworkers know you are a safe, loving environment...easy for me to say, I know...but I do believe it to be true. Hang in hang on and time will help this mend. xoxoxo C.

cj's mom said...

What my darling middle child forgot to mention is the call that came to my house twice regarding my darling child's well being. YES I did say twice. In one year she broke each arm twice, had countless sprains, jam's, and bone brusing.There was a gymnastics accident that happened at school, a monkey bars accident that happened on the playground, jumping over her older brother like a hurdle during the summer olympics, and of course tree climbing, water skiing, tubing, and whatever else I am forgetting that year. I took her to the ER myself 4 times, and made my husband bring her the other half.

I remember vividly how frightened I was when DH CPS came to see me. I she'd many tears, and many more after the worker said "How many times can she really hurt herself in a year?" She had no idea how many times I asked myself that. (That along with why can't she just play with dolls?)

Your not alone, there are quite a few of us mom's who've had a knock at our door and the wind knocked out of us from fright. Its been about 25 years since the last knock - but I still get chills thinking about it.

Mutha said...

My Gosh G -- so sorry you had to go through what I am sure shaved some time off your life-expectancy. I was investigated a couple of times over the years that I've worked with abused children. They were "retaliation filings," parents and even case workers filing against me for filing on behalf of their children. So -- I can honestly say, it sucks to be the professional agonizing over one's "Mandated Reporter" status too. But I am a mom as well -- and I know that both fight and flight would occur to me if I found myself put in that position. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.

G said...

Cindra: My hopes are what you've typed. It's an overworked system that is for sure. My very good friend is an attorney for ACS so I am in good hands with her on my side. It's just a nightmare, I can't look at Julian without thinking of this. But we're hanging in. Thanks friend. xox

cj's mom: It's so so very nice to meet you and thank you for stopping by to help assuage my fears. Haha, cj never let on what a rascal she was. She does seem pretty active though so I can see where she would have had your hair turning gray a bit early.

Yes if only workers knew what it was to raise a child for whom you're forced to ask the question "just how many times can a kid fall?". We never wanted to have him wear a helmet because it was so restrictive and in our opinions, he did not need it. I don't regret that decision.

I know the details of this day will stay with me for a lifetime down to the soup that was waiting for us on the table when they came to our door. Thank you so much for stopping by, it means more to me than you could imagine. You have a wonderful daughter too (daredevil and all).

Mutha, Yes I am sure if I took that RealAge test floating around, I'd be like 87. I'm just now breathing, albeit a bit shallow. You know I can intellectually sort this all out quite neatly then I get another irrational paniced moment and I'm off to the races in my head. But thanks for the reminder and for droppin by.

G said...

Doug: Thanks. I know that that's the case. It is a bitter pill but I understand.

Actonbell: Thanks. It just takes time to heal, but it's coming along nicely. Those poor parents. As a parent, we can become irrational with fear at what people might think. I never thought that way up until now, I always knew that Julian's pediatrician understood his difficulties and knew we were doing our best for him and that we and his team of therapists were all in this together. Oh well, I understand the rationale. It is difficult to fully accept though.

Thank you both so much for dropping by, it means a great deal to me.

neva said...

i believe i'm already on record with my thoughts on this (which will be on sale in the mezzanine at the end of the show).

after being confronted by the Health Department when our 11 month old baby developed intestional Salmonella (What? you can't cut up snacks on a board after chopping a raw chicken? who knew?? well, i did -- apparently that sitter who cared for my kid during the day did *not*), and our own "how the hell did you get that giant bump on your forehead?" question by school officials to our youngest boy, after he'd slammed into the corner of his night stand, i believe i know what it's like to have "the man" (or "the well-meaning woman") come knocking on your door. and it absolutely is a perfect example of adding "insult to injury", first to see your child sick/injured, then to be accused of causing it. oy. i am so so so sorry you had to go through all that.

my solution for the Scissorhands family? MOVE YOUR HAPPY LITTLE ACCIDENT-PRONE ASSES TO STAMFORD. i'll take care of you! besides, then you'll be around to help me cope with my "yes i've abused drugs for awhile but now i'm okay please let me move back home" situation. see?? win-win.


Dan said...

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.

Gosh, while I don't have kids myself, I can certainly understand your frustration. This is society run amuck. Unlike you I can't intellectualize this because there wasn't any pattern established.

The same happened to my friend at work some years ago. His daughter, was climbing a tree and feel a short distance and broke her arm. It heeled, she did something else and broke the arm again. The overly-concerned doctor (who knew my friend well enough to know he wasn't a child beater) reported my friend and the social workers came to visit. Amazing!

I think of Soviet Russia or Nazi Germay when I hear tales like this.

Hang in there my friend, OK? I know that's easier said than done. When you begin thinking about it, try not to follow the thought.

Joel said...

See Neva comment above...

We know your pain - thoughts & prayers are with you.

The good news is it does get easier.

What? Don't lie to our friend? But I'm trying to make her feel better. Oh, okay.

The good news is...ummmm

it builds character?...never a dull moment?...keeps you on your toes?

Well yes that is the best I can do on short notice...wasn't prepared for all this truthiness.

Let me think on this a bit and get back to you.

somewhere joe said...

G, being falsely accused is bad enough. Accused of something that is at cross purposes to your very heart is awful. I hope your good report will innoculated you and yours against future misunderstandings. That's the up side.

Brian said...

(((GQ))) and family. I'm sorry you have gone through this. The laws have gotten to the point that all people that have contact with children have to report anything they see or hear. If they don't, the provider could be charged. It's a bad situation all around.

I hope you are coping better today.

pinky said...

Man, that is terrible! My heart goes out to you and your family. You are right, there are so many homes that should be investigated that aren't and that's sad.

I'll add you guys to my prayers and hope that things look up for you. You have a beautiful family that you love and care for and it would be hard for someone not to see that. HUGS and tons of love and support!!

G said...

Neva: Yes you are and I so appreciated your support early on, you'll never quite know. Thanks for all of your sharing and support. Oh how I would love to - we could maybe use the dogs to herd up ChooChoo and keep him on his toes (no wait actually we don't want him back up on his toes, he did the toe walking stint for a while). That does sound like a perfect win/win situation. Here's to the strength it takes to be a parent. L'chaim. XOX

Dan, Thanks. Yeah each day things are getting easier. Thankfully our pediatrician is there to support us and feels very badly about what we went and are going through. YOu know we did feel as if we were in some communist state. It is so intrusive to have the government come into your home. You can't imagine. Thanks for dropping in.

Joel: thank you. I so appreciate your stab at truthiness. If you weren't going through your own things as parents right now, I'd almost buy the encouraging words of how things get easier :) Just the same, your support is felt. So thanks.

Somewhere Joe, it is and I'm beginning to breathe a little easier each day. I couldn't even think straight for a couple of days after. Thanks you so much for your kind words.

Brian: Thank you Brian. It's very difficult to ever answer such a knock at your door. But we have so much support and our pediatrician has all our visits and concerns well documented. In fact, they never even contacted her which pretty much says they didn't find merit to the charge. So yeah, each day gets a bit easier. Thanks a lot for dropping in.

Pinky: Thanks so much for your thoughts, prayers and support. You're very sweet and I do appreciate it. XOX

Kyahgirl said...

aw, that must have been very, very upsetting. I'd feel sick about it.

On the other hand, I just have to say 'wow' for CPS. If that kind of diligence can make a difference, I'm glad they are doing it. Unfortunately, my inner cynic says there are probably lots of little kids getting beaten and abused but they are just not around adults who would notice, care, or bother to get involved.

Big hugs to you and the family G. Oh, and stay away from my neck will ya'. I know that big juicy carotid is pretty appealing to you types but I'm not donating.

ann said...

g... I can't believe what I've just read. Bureaucracy gone crazy. To put it one way, I would have been well and truly sh***ing myself. It's the same in this country when children end up in the ER. My 2nd son was always there he was so accident prone.

I do hope you are sleeping now and putting this nightmare behind you.

You and your husband must be going through hell. How is Julian now?

In one way it's great that there are people on alert, but look at the number of real tragedies that slip through the net with heartbreaking results.

Copyright 2006 by Carol Scibelli said...

What a terrific story...I know it's true and in some ways sad of course, but you tell it with lots of flare. I can picture each scene.

G said...

Thanks Kyah. Seriously it is such a societal problem and this is not the answer. Children continue to be abused but they are in neighborhoods where their voices aren't as readily heard and the caseload is a bit heavier. I do hope that at least one child is saved by these means - I really do. My friend is an attorney for ACS and I have somewhat of a different perspective from hearing her side of things.

As for your carotid, with all that fur around it, you'd be a tough target!

Ann: I would have been, if I weren't so busy passing out. Julian above all else is fine and living his life with zeal albeit with another bump. Each day gets a little easier but it still stings. You know I wouldn't feel so bad (perhaps) if I didn't know that society is screwed up and this is not going to rectify it. We have whole communities where children don't have a home that is a warm and comforting nest and that just breaks my heart. Thank you so much for your kind words, Ann, they mean a lot. XOX

Copyright (may I call you Carol): Well thank you (although it didn't feel very terrific for me, I'll take that as the compliment that you intended it to be). Thanks for your visit and welcome.

al said...

Wow, G. Glad everything's OK, but, wow, 21st Century parenting, huh?

G said...

At its worst Al. Thanks for dropping by.

quilldancer said...

The innocent parents get caught up in crap like this. The abusing parents get away with it because they know how to work the system.

G said...

Quilldancer, sadly I think that is often the case. Thank you for dropping by.

tsduff said...

Hello G - I've been a lurker at your place here and there for quite some time... thank you for stopping my place :-)

That said, it looks like you have had a very difficult week! Thankfully, I never went through that with my own children (I had three little rugrats) but I have had to deal with it with my now 5 year old grandson. My daughter is divorced from the emotionally disturbed father of my little cute boy boy, but the obsessed father continues to wreak havoc in all of our lives. I remember the first time CPS walked into my house - you described my reaction perfectly with your own experience. The worst of all is that you feel helpless to be able to convince the "nice" lady that it really isn't what it seems. The courts are blind, and the whole thing is purely insane. Hugs.

goldennib said...

Oh, it is scary when the gov comes into your home. My husband is not my daughter's father. We went through a brief thing when she was younger. She told my mother that he hit her. Well, you can imagine. I tried to related the actual circumstances and of course my mother thought I was protecting him to the detriment of my daughter. What a mess.

Dan said...

G, I'm glad to hear that things are getting better.

G said...

Terry: I'm so glad to see you swoop down and comment then. I've long enjoyed your comments and sense of play at Doug's and a few other places.

Oh it's a horror show to have the government walk into your home, no doubt. I always pray that reason prevails but you're so right that feeling that you need to convince them. A funny (not funny) part that I didn't share in the story because I wasn't quite up to this level of humor yet was when Julian walked by as I was talking to them and muttered (as he is want to do) "don't tell the truth" in a singsong voice. I saw the woman's eyes dart. I mean this is a phrase not uttered in our house but I must say wherever he drew that from, he couldn't have tossed it out at a worse time. Well we seem to be putting more distance between us and then. I wish the same for you and your family. Hey Julian and your boyboy are the same age!

Goldennib: I know the old "me thinks thou do protesteth..." Blending families can be very difficult. I'm glad it is behind you now, though sorry you had to go through it at all.

Dan, Thanks. Each day a little better. Thanks for dropping by.

Cheesemeister said...

I once had a vindictive former friend that I had cut ties with and called the police on because she was sending me abusive mail, the kind with letters and words cut out of newspapers and magazines to form sentences, find out where I had moved and call social services to allege that I was sexually abusing my son. It was all I could do not to go over to her house and beat the living crap out of her. But going to jail wouldn't have accomplished anything. However, she traumatized not only me but my son, who was terrified that he was going to be taken to live in a foster home. He was 11 years old at the time.

G said...

What a terrible terrible experience to have gone through. I know the feeling of wanting to strike out and in your case, there was a little more fuel to the fire. You are so right as it is always worse for the children to have to live with such a fear.

She should have been jailed for filing a false report (in my mind of justice being carried out).

Hobbes said...

Wow, Cheesemeister! I hope Cie had kept the woman's letters to show authorities.