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?
HOLY CRAP. i have general love for you, and very clear distaste for police/law. i’m so very sorry this happened.. i can barely imagine this happening in real life. it doesn’t make ANY sense. they should invent robotic police that don’t make stupid judgmental mistakes. ACAB, forever.
I just fell in love with you all over again ;-P
Well, since you ask, YES! But only because I am staying at my mother’s place in Tauranga (the new crime capital of NZ, apparently) and there have been 3 incidents right outside her place within a week – the last one being yesterday. 2 stolen cars abandoned, and 1 meeting of the Triads underneath her rhododendron bush. But no social services. Yet. I did once almost get reported to them though, for being so wild and negligent as to leave my sleeping baby in the car for a whole 90 seconds while I ran into a shop to collect something. A security guard told me off, and I fired back that what did he suggest I do, wake my baby from his sleep just to run into a shop instead of letting him sleep in a locked, shaded, car that I could see the entire time I was 20 metres away from it? But inside, my heart was racing and I felt guilty all day. Blimmin interferring paranoid nazis. Motherhood is a hard enough job without them. Glad you told them off Jodi!
Err no. My weekend was safely copper-free. Perhaps North London coppers are too busy with like, crime , to bother the millions of mums hereabouts whose scooting kids are 100s of metres away during the school run. You are clearly in a crime free zone if they have time to bother with this! Bloody scary and frustrating though as any brush with the law makes you feel guilty as hell even when totally innocent.
Ha ha…. he was made to apologise, now that’s awesome!!! Well done you for standing up for yourself. xx
You rock. He is the worst kind of bullying self important looser. The end.
Bloody hell. BLOODY HELL.
I have had a brush with social services a couple of years ago. I befriended a boy (though a local charity) ages with my son (about 8 yrs old). We met him from school every Thursday. He was variously dirty, hungry, smelly or cold (no jacket), and we did our very best to give him a bit of normality. His mother was a drug addict. Supposedly ex-addict.
The kids eventually got taken into care. No one told me. I wasn’t allowed to see the little boy (even though his temporary carer was keen for him to have a bit of normal routine). I wasn’t even allowed to visit him to give him a Christmas present. I was to drop the Christmas present off at Social Services office. I asked for confirmation that the present had been delivered. Of course, I never heard.
I guess I just became yet another adult who appeared to let that child down.
I gave up befriending shortly afterwards – what’s the point of being invited into a child’s life when, if they are in trouble, the social services just shut you out?
Sorry – am having a bit of a rant about this…. 😦
Just occasionally, I actually reply to people who other to comment on my blog posts of inconsequentialness. And so, tonight, I do just that. Thank you very much for commenting. I am like a hungry dog for commenty-scraps.
Elizabeth – I have general love for you too, I checked out your blog and anyone who values nail polish gets a virtual high five from me. And yes, robot police who Are not bastards would be quite awesome.
dragon thief – me loves you too. You going to the chambers reunion? We can love each other there, and drink a fair bit.
Jane – am horrified by the rhododendron bushes criminal activity and the fact that you also got told off for normal mothery behaviour. When will the persecution end?
betty M – I am frankly jealous of your non-interfering north London constabulary.
Any a and cath – he was a total wanker, and no mistake. The apology was about as sincere as my love for Garth Brooks, but it still must have hurt him a little bit. I hope.
Ali – your story is really awful! What a terrible way to deal with that little fella, and how dumb of them to handle the situation in such a way as to lose you forever. you are entitled to rant. And you are pretty cool to have done that in the first place. Another virtual high five x
Oh Harridan, this does not sound like fun at all. Lots of sympathy from me, as the owner of a child runner who has had more than his fair share of attention from security guards in Waitrose and Whiteleys….and next time the police are bothering you, suggest they come and check out the underage girl working outside my house with her horrible druggy pimp sitting in an adjacent car. It’s only round the corner from you, and she’s even been seen soliciting at school drop-off time….where are the police when you want them?