Teeth and Police

There have been dramas, exceeding the bad haircut variety. Mostly, dramas involving the sweet baby, for which I am eternally sorry and horrified.

But FIRST! We went to Wales to see our friends and sample welsh cawl and go deep underground into a mine. On the way, about an hour away from the hotel, the truck started to lose fuel and there was a smell of diesel and the back window got all greasy. We pulled over and had to call the RAC, and while we waited, the boys played some sort of feral roadside war game involving polluted damson berries and sticks. It looks bucolic, but it wasn’t. Every time a huge fast lorry went by, and we were swayed by the vacuum, I thought we might well die by the roadside, like a badger. A family of badgers.

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But then, thanks be to the RAC Man’s clever way with the tightening of a Very Important Nut and some really expensive diesel from his emergency diesel tankard, we were on our way to get artful photos of bridges and to the cawl, which was hearty and delicious and life-affirming.


We went to the Big Pit, which is a truly excellent name for a big pit, down to through the mines and into the museum and through the old was house which was stylish in an institutional sort of way. And there was a proper canteen with the most excellent, rib-sticking, proper food. I had faggots and mushy peas and so many chips, with barabrith and teacakes after. The faggots hinted of liver.


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The plan on Monday was for us all to go to a National Trust House, but as we were checking out of the hotel, Otis had an accident. He fell over in the hotel carpark on his face and Casper fell on top of him and his front baby tooth got pushed up inside his gum. OH YES. So we spent the day at the A&E and I felt very sorry for the terrible life Otis has had thus far, with mirror accidents and baby tooth horrors. It was bloody. Meanwhile, there was pumpkin-carving for the others which was painless and autumnal.


Here is Otis at the A&E, looking a little bit like his mouth REALLY HURTS and he doesn’t trust anyone anymore:


So that was regrettable. It seems we wait for his poor, lost, confused tooth to either come back out again, or for his gum to grow over it. Really.

So then we had another thing. Last Monday it was an inset day, so I had all of the kids and the dog and we had to walk him, so off we went to Hyde Park. They always moan about going out and the retrieval of shoes and jackets is a painful endurance exercise, but we finally made it and we played around for a bit and then it started to spit, so we wandered back. Barnaby and Noah were having some sort of their usual pushing over fight, which I ignored, and kept on making my way through the paths to the gate that leads to our street. Finally, Barnaby runs up to me and says Noah is on the ground somewhere crying, because Barnaby pushed him over a bit too hard. I tell Barnaby to go and sort it out, to apologise to Noah, and to bring him back. He runs back to him, but Noah is really mad, and kind of angry at all of us, and starts sulking and falling behind. We get to the top of the path, wait for Noah who has been winding his way through the trees, slowly and sullenly, and then, I can’t see him anymore.

So we all turn around, and look for him, and yell for him, through the now-solid rain, but he has gone, girl. So I take us all to the Pirate Park cafe and ask for the parks police number, I call them, we wait, they find him 10 minutes later, he gets brought to us in a police van followed by a cop car, details are taken, Noah looks kind of half embarrassed, half smug, we go home, all the while me telling him that walking off is a massively bad idea, no matter what kind of fight he has got himself into, and no matter how mad he feels.

And then, I get a call from social services.

Very concerned about the incident, the social worker wanted to know exactly how it had happened, blow by blow, and she said that as it had also happened in 2012, would I like some support with this? And did I give my permission for her to look at Noah’s school and health records? Permission granted, of course, owing to the fact that I have nothing to hide and I am not someone who actually needs any help from social services. REALLY, THANKS BUT NO.

So I had an internal freak out, despairing over how scary all this actually is, and then the phone rings again and it is the Westminster Council asking me to answer some questions about how happy and satisfied I was about their contact with me. So I say that actually, I am really upset and feel threatened by the police referring me to social services based on my dreamy 8 year old kid wandering off in our local park, and that when this kind of thing happens, it makes you feel very exposed and frightened, and that it made me feel that asking for help from the parks police was actually the wrong thing to do. I said that it seemed to be a rather heavy-handed way to deal with the matter, and I would be disinclined to ask for help again, fearful that I would suddenly come under scrutiny from the authorities again.

Am I wrong here? Does this seem completely horrible and awful? I know that this kind of approach may well help some kid who isn’t being cared for properly by their parents, but HOW ABOUT SOME COMMON SENSE?


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16 Responses to Teeth and Police

  1. Gill says:

    Poor Otis. And poor YOU, having to deal with all that shizz about Noah.

  2. shambition says:

    Argh, that social services thing must have been awful. I suppose from their point of view they must feel a responsibility to err on the side of caution – we know you are wonderful and that Noah is fine – but they don’t. I know when we (I feel a bit sick about this) dislocated my toddler’s elbow, the hospital told us they would be writing a form that went to CYFS and that it was routine for them to do so – so if they had called me I would at least have been prepared. And you are absolutely right it would make you think twice about calling the cops next time – so their erring on the side of caution might not be the safest option in the long-run. All in all I think they would have been better just asking you directly if things were ok and not escalating things. Distressing!

    On a less distressing note, with your lovely body positivity work I thought you might enjoy this thing I did http://jessica-hammond.com. The reaction has been really positive and it turns out people seeing my ugly bits did not make the streets run with blood or fire rain down on us all or a plague of bagpipes or anything equally horrifying. Of course my husband’s reaction was that I should be more internet safe and should use my name and photos. Do you ever worry about that sort of thing?

    Also – what – in the Welsh context – is a faggot? We eat them? I feel like whatever it is, some rebranding might be in order 🙂

    • theharridan says:

      A faggot is a meaty livery peppery thing encased in a sausage skin, looking like a swagman’s bundle. It is kind of good, kind of not. And how I LOVED your body project! Wonderful. I may well do the same. We should learn to be thankful and appreciative of our bits, really. Nice one!

  3. Salad says:

    Oh you poor thing having to go through all that and just because of the actions of your offspring…it’s not your fault!!! I COMPLETELY understand what it is like to have children fighting and they not do as asked and as a mum not wanting to make a HUGE scene in public. I hear you!!! Common Sense is not something that is thought of quite so often these days. It would have been good if the police had just asked you there and then if you needed any other assistance. Chin up – you’re doing well!

  4. Patience says:

    Oh dear oh dear, I would have been horribly upset about the social services referral.

  5. Cath says:

    I would also have been horrified at a social services referral. God help you when one of them breaks a bone or something. Come back to New Zealand, where children cycle around the block without adults, don’t wear shoes, and there is no such thing as park police.

  6. theharridan says:

    That sounds kind of wonderful.

  7. Cath says:

    And you could live in an enormous house with a garden. Mind you, there is no local Europe and all your shopping for fancy clothes will be online. And there are no sample sales online.

  8. lyndsey says:

    After my son’s homebirth ended in a hospital transfer I was asked if I’d like a visit from Social Services. I declined. Not long after, I was left alone with the baby’s records at the pediatrician’s and I just removed the page referring to SS. perhaps a bit baby-brain of me but I was scared, and this preceded computers and I never heard more about it and we muddled through to baby’s healthy, well-educated and generally happy adulthood without social service’s input. It was very frightening and I get what you are feeling. Also, my first memory is of falling and pushing a baby tooth back into my gum; it grew back out and it isn’t a terrible memory, mostly just tinged with a slight sense of failure at not being as coordinated as the big kids. No mothers are blamed in my memory and I think my ability to trust remained intact!

  9. Tara says:

    I think it is a huge over reaction from Social Services. You’re child was lost and you asked for help to find him. I think that is common sense not bad parenting. From what I read here I think you are an amazing Mum.

  10. Louise says:

    I am so sorry for your string of three horrors. I am totally with you about social services’ response to your lost boy – it must have felt awful and invasive and over-the-top. You must have triggered a process designed to safeguard children in real need – not a well-parented wanderer making a point…
    I have personal experience of the tooth being bashed back into gum scenario. I was taking my step-children to the pantomime. We hadn’t left the house and the youngest (aged 2?) was being whirled round and round lying on her tummy over a wheeled office chair on the wooden floor. Predictably she fell off, and she landed on her face. Blood everywhere and what we thought was a broken tooth. We crawled around looking for the tooth but no joy of course. Off to Hammersmith A&E. All they offered there was paracetemol and sent us away in time to make the second half of Aladdin! Gradually the tooth came back down though never as much as the others. Fortunately the adult tooth behind it was undamaged and grew fine. She’s 16 now and apparently unscathed! I’m sure your Otis will be fine.

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