I never told you, my reader...
When J was about 6 weeks old we had an incident with DCFS. The brief version is that she was crying hysterically in the car, I HAD to get the car inspected to renew our car tabs because I had already been pulled over, and no one ever acknowledged to me that it was stressful- oh and I got pulled over on the way to getting new car tabs after the inspect. Almost 2 hours of her crying hysterically in the way only a newborn can do I was stressed, frantic, going nutso. When I took her carseat (and her) out of the car I yelled, "Shut Up!" and while going into the house the chaos of the dog, a rug and a frustrated me made (apparently) enough of a scene that someone parking their car on the street called the cops on me.
1 hour later, in relative calm in the middle of a diaper change 3 cops show up and need to see me and my infant daughter. Separately. They talked about the matter with me, to me, and did a bit of listening, they looked for signs of abuse or whatever on my child; they called the Fire Department, who showed up, with sirens ablaze, and who rushed in to check the vitals on my daughter.
Lots of little things happened in this occurrence, this is after all the short version. We can talk about the ways that the cops realized I was just frustrated with my kid and that the person who called over-dramatized the story (couldn't they have just talked to me?), the way that the FD was confused because I didn't fit the profile of the person whose house they were coming into, or the way that this has impacted my perception of privileges (this wouldn't have happened in some neighborhoods in Seattle lets be honest) such as race, language, marriage, etc. At first I didn't blog about that experience because I was too ashamed, and then I didn't do it because I didn't know how to.
Anyway, I don't want to talk about all those details. It's too personal, too painful to hash out on a blog. Except I keep feeling, all these days with little J, that I am still haunted by this experience. I constantly feel like I am being watched by my neighbors (who are friendly), like each one of them could call, for an arbitrary reason, and slowly DCFS can build a file against me. Today, for example, we now have a baby pool in the back yard. J's swimsuit is a bit snug, so I didn't want to put her in it. So I just slathered her entire body in sunscreen and we went into the pool. She was crawling around in it, happy as a clam, but periodically swallowing and coughing on water, and I got scared that I was going to get into trouble for having my naked baby who was coughing on stuff out in the little pool. Because what has happened because of the DCFS experience is that the voice of "I can't care for my child properly" had been given a horrible validation by some stranger with a cell phone and a team of officers, firefighters, and a social worker.
This is one of the challenges I face in being alone with her these summer days. Still haunted by that experience, haunted by getting caught being angry, haunted by the fact that every parent gets angry and goes off- but I got caught.
Thanks for listening.