Ah yes, it is high time, I hear you all muse softly to yourselves, that I post something about my recent brush with the law. If you follow me on twitter, you will have a very clear idea of how Myself and The Law had a hypothetical fisticuff and The Law won. For a bit, anyway.
So, it went like this.
I was walking home with the four kids on Friday from school. We were one street away from our flat. We were walking the same route we always walk, that we walk every day, and have been walking for nearly two years now. The baby was in the buggy, Barnaby was walking ahead and waiting at the curb, Noah was just behind on his scooter, Casper was wandering along muttering something about Scooby Doo and little furry animals. A cop walked up to me, asked me if Barnaby was my kid (pointing to him at the curb) and I said that he was.
Cop: He is too far away from you. He is unaccompanied. That is putting him in danger!
Me: No, it is not. He is six, very road-safe, and we live here. We do this walk every day. He knows to wait. Look! He is waiting right now. There is no problem. We live just over there!
Cop: [Visibly outraged] Are all of these kids yours? What do you think you are doing, letting them run around like that? How old are they all?
Me: They are six, four, nearly-three and one. But they live here! This is our neighbourhood! We do this walk every day! And they are not anywhere near the road. Come on!
Cop: You don’t seem to understand me, madam. This is a very dangerous way of dealing with your children. You are clearly not managing them. They should be either in the buggy or tethered to your buggy. The road is dangerous, madam! The estate over there is dangerous! They could get run over, or snatched!
Me: Yes. The earth could also open up and swallow them. But until it does, I still need to get us to school and back, Officer. And unless you can propose a better way of doing that, then I cannot see how I can do things any better. I have four kids to get to and from school every day, and so we have taught them how to ride their scooters safely, and to wait at the curb. I do my very best to keep them safe. You can see that.
Cop: Your best, Madam, is not good enough. I will have to make this official. I will be contacting Social Services, if you continue to refuse to listen to me.
Me: WHAT? That is ridiculous! We are just walking home from school! My kids are responsible and streetwise and they know how to handle the roads, and the cars, because WE LIVE HERE! This is our home! We live in THAT flat, JUST OVER THERE! What is the problem?
Cop’s Partner: Madam, we are just trying to make it clear to you that these roads are not safe, and if you are just distracted for a second, your children could go onto the road and that is what we are trying to avoid.
Me: I understand what you are trying to say, and I appreciate your concern. Why does your partner think this is suddenly a matter for Social Services?
Cop: Because you are not listening, Madam.
[on and on to infinity and beyond, until they get into their cars to take off, leaving me open-mouthed, scared, and furious. I decide to act.]
I go over to the car, knock on the window, ask for the cop’s name and number, then he gets out and makes it official. Which means, Dear Reader, that when faced with the prospect of me following it all up with a compliant, he preemptively strikes by reporting me both to the station, and to Social Services.
It was awesome. A moment of parental glory. All of those years of not killing the children through neglect or recklessness, all of those years of not going to jail for criminal activity, all of those years of behaving well and never once being an arsonist/kleptomaniac/bad recycler suddenly seemed a Proper Waste Of Time.
So, I wait for Social Services to come and pronounce me actually not worth their time. The real tragedy here is that while the police and social workers spend time on our case, someone else who actually may be in real need of help is being left to wait. Some small child.
Saturday was spent marching up to the police station, all six of us, and me laying a complaint for the intimidation and the bullying and the lack of sense and the way that the police now feel like a threat to me and my family and the unnecessary nastiness of involving Social Services when we were actually having a difference of opinion concerning risk management, and crying, and speaking to a sergeant and an Inspector, and being sweet-talked and placated and PR-ed and then, finally, getting an apology for the way that I felt I had been treated. Yada yada yada.
We walked home, me still snivelling, saying that I was not sure how I could go about my normal daily mothery business of ferrying the chilluns around without being scared of policemen who might decide to report me again if they saw something they subjectively didn’t like, and then an unmarked police car pulled up ahead of us and Original Cop climbs out and walks towards us. He shakes Mark’s hand, turns to me, and apologises. I say to him that threatening people with investigation by Social Services is not the best way to handle these kinds of situations, and that perhaps listening to me would have been a better way to deal with things. Snivel, snivel.
And so there it is. My Brush With The Law. Anyone else been involved with the coppers this weekend, then?