Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Imaginary Stick - part I

Hello?  Mrs. K?  This is Mr. G from the Department of Child Services...
We’ve received a report that your daughter Peyton might be the victim of abuse...
Oh my God!
There are allegations being made that she may be being beaten with a stick at home...
Wait.  What?!
We had just moved to ‘idyllic suburbia,’ and we were excited to start our new life.  Out of the city.  Nice, big backyard.  Great school system.  Plenty of room to grow and unlimited potential.  
What could possibly go wrong?
Peyton was a year away from kindergarten.  She had been enrolled in the pre-school program at a nice Catholic school in the city, but now it was just far enough away to be a pain-in-the-ass to keep her there.  Not knowing anybody or anything about the area, except that it was ‘idyllic suburbia,’  we decided to play it safe and enroll her in the local Catholic school’s pre-school program (I mean they’re like a chain, right?)
What could possibly go wrong?
Her old school was bright and cheery, with a nurturing atmosphere. This new school was grim and severe.  
Her old school had screaming children running around the school yard, burning off steam before the bell rang and the day began.  This new school had little drones who waited quietly and patiently to file into school in an orderly fashion.
Her old school - loud and messy and happy.  This new school - quiet, efficient and somber.
I saw a change in her in those first couple of months.  There were behavioral issues that were never there before, but I just wrote them off.  After all, we had:  a.) moved,  b.) changed schools, and c.) just welcomed little Jack into the world six months earlier - lots to swallow in a short amount of time.  
But the biggest red flag I missed was on her progress report - the teacher had commented that she wished Peyton would participate a little more in class.  
My girl was (and still is) always chatty and bright and engaging.  What do you mean she’s not participating?  She’ll talk to anyone who’ll listen to her!  
When I asked her what was going on, she only said that she stayed quiet because she didn’t want to get yelled at. I brought this up at our parent-teacher conference, and they simply said that it was crucial to instill “proper deportment in our students” early on. 

Those dour bitches.  I understand the need to keep order, but we’re talking about a bunch four year olds here!  WTF?
Still, I kept sending her. 
 And this is where it went wrong.
We were coming up to the end of the school year, when the kids were allowed to wear shorts when the Awful Thing happened.  See, Peyton wasn’t used to being a 'free-range chicken,' so as soon as the weather was nice, she was out in our backyard every day until we dragged her in - swinging on her new swing set, riding bikes, busting her ass every five minutes on the ladder to the slide, climbing our apple tree (quaint, huh?)   And her shins (and only her shins) were dappled in little bruises.  We joked about it.  I used to say to my husband, “Look at those legs.  It looks like we beat her with sticks!  We’re gonna have to cover her in bubble wrap!”
We joke.  Inappropriately sometimes.
One afternoon, during quiet/nap time, a Concerned Faculty Member asked Peyton about her shins.  She thought nothing of saying, “Aah, you know.  They beat me with sticks.”
O. M. G.
"With a stick?  Oh no, you see, that’s kind of a running joke in our house.
I understand, but I’d like stop by, if you don’t mind.  I’m afraid it’s necessary to complete the investigation...
Investigation?!  Holy Shit!
Umm, okay, sure.  You can come by right now if you want.  I can cancel my plans for this afternoon, that’s no problem...
That’s great, I can be there in about forty-five minutes, okay?
After I hung up the phone, I felt myself getting flush and I just wanted to throw up.  What the hell was happening?  I sat down and collected myself, then called Peyton into the living room.  I struggled to swallow my anxiety (something I was usually quite good at,) and asked her if she knew what was going on.  
She actually started giggling (because, you know, it was fucking ridiculous!)  But I told her it was kind of serious - explaining to her the best I could what was going on.  I told her that someone would be coming over in a little while to talk to her about it, so I really needed to know what happened.
She told me about the Concerned Faculty Member.  She told me that the Concerned Faculty Member asked her to to take a walk down to the office for a little chat with some other Concerned Faculty Members.  And then she ripped my heart out by saying, “I tried to tell them I was only joking Mama, but they wouldn’t listen to me!  Am I gonna be in trouble at school?”
And so we waited for Mr. G. to arrive...

**To Be Continued**


  1. What happened next?? This is funny and sad at the same time - funny for obvious reasons, sad because your daughter's school sounds so glum!

  2. Very funny.. and I am also eager to hear part 2. :-)

  3. This is a great story, at the same time, I cringe because I have an almost 4yo who is starting pre school next year. She is also an over sharer. Good Job! I followed you on twitter!

  4. Holy CRAP! That would freak me out.

  5. We also joke inappropriately, and I'm just waiting for the day when we hear about it.

  6. im really sorry you had to deal with this. also? ive been visited by CPS for allegations, and you're NOT kidding about what it feels like. Im glad yours were totally ridiculous and as a result of a combination of play and misplaced humor!!

  7. My MIL had to deal with CPS several times when my husband was a kid because him and his brothers were always doing crazy things. I can't imagine this being any fun at all.

  8. Can NOT wait to hear the rest of the story!!!

  9. Sadly, I have my own pathetic story on this. Neighbors called on us b /c we homeschool....

    can't wait for part two.

  10. Whoa- how fricking scary would that be... can't wait for part 2!

  11. Since then, whenever we say anything provocative, we make sure the kids know that it's an "in the house joke." Because it's hard to run an opium den with the cops sniffin' around.

  12. ACK! You left me hanging! I can't wait to see whose ass you kicked. I mean, um, how this ended up!
    I came over from Mama Kat's!

  13. I can't even describe it. I felt my face getting all hot, and I swear if the kids weren't there, I would've thrown up right then!

  14. Seriously! I can totally understand that they have an obligation, blah, blah, blah, but some of these teachers KNEW us! Wait. Maybe THAT'S why...

  15. Well, you know, those HOMESCHOOLERS... (just kidding ;-) )

    Seriously, unless you were out in full view teaching a lesson on "hatchet wielding," it's nobody's damn business!

    I think the Concerned Faculty Members were trying to live out their 'Lifetime Movie of the Week' fantasy at our expense.

  16. Visiting from Mama Kat's...and now following you. I can't stop reading your posts ~ they're making me laugh!! I'm the serious one in a family of jokesters...and my husband's greatest gift to me (after the two kids, I suppose!) is that he keeps us all ... even me!.... laughing. Will look forward to reading more!

  17. Now in our house, the mantra is 'What happens at home, stays at home.' It's kinda like Vegas, but with a few less strippers...

  18. Wow, you were totally innocent but it still must have been terrifying. I'm looking forward to Part 2. Please tell us that you got her the hell out of that school; it sounds horrible.

  19. holy cow! i can't imagine what you were feeling. i'm a new follower - can't wait to read the outcome!


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