I used to worry they’d call Child Protective Services on me. Now I plan to offer the social worker a FREE, All-Inclusive, 7-Night Stay in my home while I wait out the results in Tahiti.

I used to worry the doctor would call Child Protective Services on me. I’d bring my toddler girl — my first kid — to the pediatrician for her well child check-ups, and I’d look at the bruises on her shins and the inevitable goose egg on her forehead, terrified the doctor would be on the phone to social services before I could explain I seriously — like, for reals, Doc! — didn’t beat her.

I imagined the social worker showing up. I imagined taking the lie detector test because my imagination houses a very technologically advanced social services interrogation room. I imagined sweating and worrying and blowing that test all to pieces. I imaged sitting in prison with my head in my hands as a single lightbulb hung by a thin cord overhead and flickered. I imagined it all. The whole nine yards. 

Inevitably, I’d open those early doctor visits by stammering out some sort of explanation at the doctor, “she’s running… there was a coffee table…,” and he’d tsk tsk and shake his head and issue his proclamation. “Looks like you…” he’d say, and pause dramatically, “… are letting her learn to run. You probably even take her outside to play.” And then he’d look at me accusingly for a split second before he’d wink and tell me she looked like every other toddler he sees. The punk. All that good panicking for nothing. Geez.

Well, we’re five kids in, now, and we’ve had All the Injuries over the last 16 years, so whatever. Just whatever. I shrug my shoulders, I toss up a few Hail Mary Full of Grace’s, and I look forward to the plaque they’ll someday put in our local hospital to honor our endowment of the emergency services wing.

And I still consider the fact that Child Protective Services could show up, but I no longer sweat it. Like, AT ALL. 

Like this weekend, when Greg gave our 15-year-old son a real shiner.

FullSizeRender (2)Turns out, two man-sized people barging through one opaque door in opposite directions is a bad combo, man; a bad, CRASH BANG BOOM shiner-inducing combo.

So I sent my kid back to school this morning saying he ran into a door, which, coincidentally, is what people who are beaten say. “I ran into a door.” It’s not even BELIEVABLE, people! Plus, this is my kid with expressive language disorder, and so far, all he’s managed to say by way of explanation is, “Dad hit me with a door.” Which is technically true, so technically worse

Nevertheless, I’m prepared.

Honest to God, when that child welfare worker walks through the door, I’m going to offer him a 7-night stay in my home – FREE OF CHARGE; FOOD, LODGING and BARKY DOG INCLUDED – and see if he can pull off a lower injury rate than we do. I’ll be waiting it out at a resort in Tahiti. 

At the end, I expect they’ll fly in the President of the United States to honor us for valiant services above and beyond the call of duty. We will, of course, accept graciously.

……….

P.S. Far more torturous to this child than being hit with a door and having his eye turned into mush was taking selfies with his mama. Someone should arrest me for trying to make my kid smile. I’m a horrible, horrible person.

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P.P.S. Tell the truth – have you ever worried someone will call CPS on you??

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ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
38 comments
  1. When my oldest was two she would tell her daycare providers I pushed her down the stairs. Luckily she had been going there for awhile and they knew us, plus she didn’t have any bruising or other visible signs of abuse, but I was sure there for awhile they were going to call CPS to double check! I have no idea where it came from or where she even got the idea that people push each other down stairs. No kiddo, I pushed you into this world, and I push you into doing things you’re not sure you’re comfortable with like making friends and trying new things, but I have never pushed you anywhere else!

  2. All the time! I started asking myself, “how will this sound to the ER docs?” before I would let my kid try something….

  3. I am always worrying that our neighbours (we live in a semi-detached house) will call child protection (social services, we call it) on us because we shout at our children so much. When our second child was a couple of months old, I went out for a meal with friends, leaving strict instructions to call if it all got too much. Our neighbour (who we barely talk to) called me to tell me I needed to go home. It was one of the most humiliating moments of my life.

  4. My ex called CPS on us. We let them in, and did the whole rigamarole, and they determined that he was being a douchebag. Happily, the laws in my state have changed since then, and spurious calls to CPS now come with a FINE, so the next time he tries, he’ll be slapped with a big bill to pay.

    Since he deliberately misinterprets everything I say (or the kids say about me, which is what happened the last time), I really have no idea when he is next going to call them. But when he does, I will let them in again, and be polite again, and smirk as they leave again with no findings of ill treatment plus a fine for my ex for being a punitive idiot.

    No ill-will here (ha!)…

    (I swear, I am normally a nice person, and he used to be, too. It was the introduction of the step-mother to the situation that made this degenerate as far as it now has.)

  5. While we were in the middle of packing for a big move last year, when we were travelling an hour each way to work/school/daycare (hence the move), a real estate agent came to give us a rough estimate as to value. 2 hours later there were CPS people on my doorstep wating to talk to me. I didn’t know I didn’t have to let them in so I did – when they told me w had been reported for neglect and child endangerment I burst into tears! Apparently we had dirty nappies all over the floor (half true, they were clean because my baby had been playing with them), clothes everywhere (true, I was folding the washing), a dead and diseased cat on the kitchen floor (NOT true, I started crying again here when they asked if one of our cats had recently died – admittedly our cats are of a particular breed that is not terrribly common but come ON he was ASLEEP) and had choking hazards all over the floor (not even a little bit true). My husband was picking up the kids that day which they found highly suspicious – what kind of father parents his own kids? They said if I didn’t produce them in 2 hours the police would be called.

    So my husband and the kids got home, they questioned the 5 year old (who had no idea what to say when they asked her what happened when she was naughty – Mummy and Daddy tell me what I did wrong and
    I apologise?) about our discipline and cleaning habits and what she loved and didn’t love about mummy (she lets me watch tv, and there’s nothing I don’t love. My mummy is the best!). Then they told us we had to have the space spotless by the next day.

    Meanwhile, they called both my daughter’s school and my son’s daycare to check how we were taking care of them.

    Of course, the claims were found to be unsubstantiated but they will remain on our records for life.

    I have never told anyone this before! I still freak out thinking about it and we no longer let anyone in our house.

  6. When me daughter was an infant, my husband somehow pocket dialed 911 while changing her diaper. All the dispatcher heard was a baby screaming and crying like she was being tortured. Thankfully the officer believed us when he showed up to check on everyone. And we also learned that police response time in our neighborhood is awesome!

  7. Some HAS called social services on us! My husband had a stroke with a 2% survival rate in 2000 and he’s still up walking and talking, albeit like a drunk sailor, but Pft! He’s ALIVE and that’s all I and my kids care about. He changed their first diapers and took care of me during several serious illnesses, but the teachers at my daughter’s school last year felt he wasn’t a capable parent and APPEARED TO BE DRUNK when dropping them off and picking them up. However, they did go ahead and let him drive off with them strapped in the back seat rather than stopping him and asking if there was a problem.

    STUPID mandatory reporting rules and dumb-ass teachers. Who looks dumber in this scenario, the school suspecting a drunk parent but letting him drive away anyway or us, surviving catastrophic odds to still exist in this world and have a smile on our face most days, and also having the GALL to refuse to let the social worker into our home when she visited unannounced (ooo, she was ticked too when I told her she was violating my constitutional rights by questioning my children without my permission!).

    Got the courts involved, made them get a warrant, and the court administrator laughed at them. Boo-ya!

    1. Let me re-phrase a bit above, not ALL teachers are dumb-asses (99.5% are wonderful!), just the TWO obnoxious/entitled ‘mandatory reporter’ b-words at my daughter’s school who would let someone they suspect is drunk drive away with a car full of kids and THEN call CPS two days later. This is what the courts found ludacris and why they laughed them out of the courtroom.

      Thanks for letting me clarify!

    2. …as someone who works in the system, believe me, the reporting rules are soooo important and the unnecessary visits to well-meaning/good families & homes (and amazing fathers who have SURVIVED!) are one of the only ways to find the kids who actually need the help. While I know it’s scary/inconvenient to have someone come and investigate you, the last thing these agencies want to do is have your kids taken away from you. Really. And when you’ve seen kids who’ve been neglected or abused for years and years and years and no one called in their suspicions, well, it makes these kind of calls all the more important. Too often, it’s the only way these kids are found and helped. I would ‘gladly’ be investigated for some accident, if it means a child will be helped in another ‘suspicious’ situation that was found through this mandatory reporting. (But I completely agree that if the teacher was suspicious, calling AFTER letting the kids leave while suspecting the kids were ‘in danger’ was a poor, poor choice.)

  8. A million years ago, when we were only 3 kids in, my second child (first boy) was playing outside and greatly amusing himself by throwing himself on the ground. And dislocating his arm. THAT sounded like a lie when I told the E.R. doc. Dislocating his arm (and having it popped back into place) didn’t stop him from continuing to pursue this amusement. You know when people do that thing with their fingers and their eyes “I’m watching you?” I felt like that…….

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