So much was going on in school with my son and advocacy and they knew I was a parent that would exercise my parental rights. After all we’d already been to due process once and disagreed on numerous occasions resulting in ongoing meetings. Remember also the aid back in first grade said the district was mad at one point because I hired advocates and they were planning to call DYFS (Division of Youth and Family Services) on me. They were just waiting for the perfect chance. And shortly after these threats the once threat became a reality.
The weather was beautiful and my son was going for a private occupational therapy evaluation for his sensory integration dysfunction. I had two kids in tow that day. The baby was home with the aupair. When the evaluation was over my son was really riled up and overstimulated. I strapped my younger son in his car-seat. My other son was buckled up too. Well at least until I pulled away. Shortly after we pulled out of the driveway my son got out of his seat-belt. I pulled over in a gas station on the highway and buckled him back in. This happened three times on the way home. Yes, once I pulled over in the gas station and twice I pulled over on the shoulder of the highway. I was let’s say STRESSED and FRUSTRATED. And my younger son was crying. It was time for him to eat. We were almost to our exit and I couldn’t take the crying anymore. I told my son to give his brother the sippy cup of milk. I took one hand off the wheel and reached for the sippy cup to toss it to my elder son. Yes, I was a multi-tasking mom, ALWAYS! I told my elder son to give his brother the sippy cup and tossed it to to him. He leaned forward just as I went to toss it and BAM it hit him in the nose. His nose began to bleed just as I was pulling off our exit. I frantically grabbed tissues to hand to him and called my husband on the two way radio. I told him, “Meet me outside and quickly explained what had just happened.”
We got to the house in less then five minutes after the incident. Why couldn’t I have just waited to give my younger son his sippy cup since we were so damn close anyway? I felt horrible. My husband met us outside with a towel. He held my son’s nose and it stopped bleeding pretty quickly. Matter of fact, ten minutes later they went off on a quick motorcycle ride around the neighborhood. I went inside the house with my other son and quickly got ready for the Family Outreach Meeting.
My husband came back home and he took over the kid’s. I was relieved to see my son was fine. No bruising, no swelling, no more bleeding. Thank God!
I arrived at the Family Outreach meeting. I live in a military town and there were quite a few families there that night who were unhappy with the services and the fact that they could not get comparable IEP services from our school district as they had just from where they previously moved from. I started to talk about us organizing and going to the administration, cluing them in on how to seek services, their parental rights, etc…. The district representative who ran the program told me that the Family Outreach Meeting was not to be used for this kind of purpose. I replied, “I am not coming to these meetings for you to organize Halloween parties for the children with special needs, I am coming to seek and give support and to make real change.” I know she did not like my response.
Two days later DYFS arrived at my home. I was the one who answered the door. When he flashed his identification I nearly passed out at the door. I tried to keep it together but I was instantly sick. When he arrived my home was decorated with some school decorations. I invited him in. He looked around. My home was immaculate. It is not always immaculate but that day there wasn’t one thing out of place. He entered the kitchen. I had an army size pot of homemade chicken soup on the stove. My son was at the kitchen table and we were doing homework. And WAIT it gets even better I was wearing a t-shirt that said, “EVERY CHILD CAN LEARN.” I could not have planned it better if I had known he was coming. I was the picture of the perfect mom. Not the crazed in a rush stressed out mom from two days earlier. God was looking out for me and Thank God my husband and my au pair were also both home when this man arrived. He wanted to speak with me.
We went downstairs. He asked me about the incident. Shaking and about to vomit I re-iterated the whole story. He also spoke to my husband and aupair who collaborated my story. The aupair added, “She is the best mother I have ever seen.” Then he wanted to talk to my son alone but my son refused. He only wanted to talk with us present. The man agreed. He looked at my son. There were no visible marks on him at all. My son re-iterated his version of the story. He was being bad and taking his seat-belt off. Mom had to keep pulling over. His brother was crying for his baaaa baaaaa. Mommy tossed the bottle to me but it hit me in the nose by accident. I was bleeding for a few minutes but I was fine. But my nose was a bit sore. The next day at school I was in class and we were taking a test. I couldn’t pay attention and was touching my nose alot. The teacher asked me what was the matter? I told her my nose was sore because my mom hit me in my nose with the bottle. I couldn’t believe my ears. That is all the teacher had to hear. I could imagine the stories that were going around. In a drunken stooper she threw her empty beer bottle at his face. Christ, I didn’t even drink EVER!!! My God, didn’t they even ask him to explain what he meant? No, they whizzed him off to the Nurse and called DYFS.
After I heard what had happened, it clicked in my head to tell the man about the school district’s previous threats. I never even realized I had made a record when I called my Pastor, my son’s Pediatrician, and Neuro-Developmental Pediatrician. How could I have known about DYFS possibly coming before they came? It really didn’t matter anyway. The man believed me and my son. My son had no marks. He saw how we lived. He said he would close the case on the spot. I just had to sign a release for all my children’s medical records and after reviewing them they would close the case. I said to him, “It was the school that called, right?” He said as he left, “You know who called!”
I immediately went to my bed. I could not function. I layed down. I was sick. So so sick! I had never been so scared. The thought of loosing my children. I cried and cried all weekend. My husband came to comfort me. I was overwhelmed with guilt even though it was a complete freak accident. I still blamed myself immensely. I told my husband, “NOW I HAVE A RECORD!” He said, I didn’t have a record. He thought I was overreacting but at the same time he understood. It was at that point, the worse thing that had ever happened to me. Nothing could compare to thinking about loosing my children. I called my good friend Mary Ann and she came to my house. She was in disbelief when she saw there wasn’t even a mark on my son. I called my Pastor too. She also informed me that I did not have a record. The only record was that DYFS was called and it was determined there was NO abuse. That was the only record she said. Still I was sick. The school was probably waiting
for me to arrive and to flip out that Monday but I decided the best reaction was no reaction. I went to pick up my son that Monday and I never said a word. It felt like WAR and I had to be strong and strategic. An all out war was launched against my family. But yes, that Monday I just smiled and picked up my son. They probably wondered if DYFS had ever even showed up.
A long time after the incident an employee who saw me continuously suffer at their hands for my vigorous advocacy of my son said, “I just thought it was awful the day they called DYFS on you.” It was comforting to know there were people on the inside that thought it was just awful what was going on and it only reinforced me to continue the battles for my son. After all if I wouldn’t stand up for my son, Who would?
Copyrighted 2011: danadogooder and DMT