Other People’s Children

Yesterday afternoon I got a call from the principal of Milo’s school. She told me that some parents, as well as some school staff, approached her about my blog. They felt that the following paragraph in the post called “Four Days,” constitute a threat to Milo’s safety.

“The thought of Milo not being able to stay in school, the thought of spending the next 8 or 10 years with Milo 24/7,  twelve months a year, makes me want to strap us both into the car and head over a cliff.”

As a public school principal she said, she is obligated to call Child Protective Services, which she did.  I was astounded. Just, shocked.  I spent some time wondering if the authorities can actually take Milo away from my husband, who is clearly not guilty of dangerous parenting. But that implies that I am guilty of dangerous parenting. And I know that I am not.

I think this is a matter of poor reading skills. First of all, those sentences are not a threat. This is a threat:

If you do another nice thing for me,  I will personally come to your house and plant flowers all over your front lawn.

To describe how a thought makes me feel is simply to reflect upon my inner dialogue. It’s called the examined life, and everyone should try it. These clueless readers took these sentences out of context.  The full paragraph reads like this:

“Milo is killing me slowly. I mind that less than the toll he takes on himself.  I made it through the summer because I had my eyes on the prize of school. The thought of Milo not being able to stay in school, the thought of spending the next 8 or 10 years with Milo 24/7,  twelve months a year, makes me want to strap us both into the car and head over a cliff. I don’t mean this. Except for the split seconds when I do mean it. Then, to not mean it, I lean hard on the past and my faith in Milo. My faith that he’ll surrender to school, and to love. And that he’ll get the fuck out of his own way.”

I defy anyone to read that full paragraph, or the 100 other paragraphs I have written in this blog over the past 3 months, and conclude that I am anything but lovingly devoted to my son. My son Milo.  Are these people truly such sloppy readers? I doubt it. So what about me and this blog is so offensive? That’s not a rhetorical question. I would appreciate knowing what about my life with my mentally ill son would send someone to “the authorities” rather than to me. What would I think if I knew the inner workings of these people’s lives with their children? Glass houses and all. . .

I spent this morning cleaning my house in case CPS drops by. I don’t think they will, and if they do they will not find anything actionable. Now I’m going to do some work, go to the gym and be here with a snack and a smile when Milo gets home from school, because I’m his mother.  And I love him.

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26 thoughts on “Other People’s Children

  1. I think, quite simply, that you are being bullied. They want your son out of their school and you out of their hair. After all, if you are honest and uninhibited enough to make your own momentary dark thoughts public, what might you say about them and their smug little comfy lives?

  2. I am so sorry that someone chose to read only the part they wanted to, and then took it out of context. It is very, very clear how much you love your child.

  3. That’s out of hand, and I wonder if it’s partly in response to the news of the woman who attempted to kill herself and her autistic daughter in, I think, New Hampshire. There is always much debate when these things happen, with the people devoid of empathy crying for justice and those who “know” and experience extreme parenting having to silently understand. My friend and blogger, Single Dad, fostered some of this online discussion the other day on his blog. The link is here: http://disableddaughter.com. I am sorry that this was unleashed on you and hope it’s resolved.

  4. Your post is brilliant. Everyone has these thoughts sometimes and I interpret this as you needing to vent in what should be a supportive environment. I am sorry that the other parents in his class are unwilling to be supportive and misread your thoughts.

  5. I can see why someone might wonder why you share your life with such vulnerability — but I never thought the vulnerability that you would face would take this form and I do not understand what led these parents, in a zillion years to conclude from your blog, that Milo might not be safe. If there is one overarching feeling that I take away from your blog, IT IS LOVE. There is pain and suffering — your pain and Milo’s — and a profound sense of the struggle that you and your family face and that Milo faces. But the clear overarching message is that you love this boy and that you are giving him all that you can — constant care, supportive services and therapy — in addition to a stable, loving, secure home with two parents who care every day who Milo is doing and take actions to care for him, a terrific sister, a beloved dog, hikes in the woods, long talks with mom and dad about everything under the sun. I am surprised, given the uber educated nature of your community, that parents are not reading your blog with more sophistication and understanding and nuance. For today, I point to one column that made me cry. I wish I could italize and bold the last two words.

    Plus, new shoes, and coffee
    Posted on August 22, 2013
    1
    Mommy, I can’t sleep, too many bad thoughts.

    Let’s make a list of good thoughts.

    Like, . . . bunnies?

    Yes, bunnies, and B.

    And Daddy.

    O.

    A full moon.

    A crescent moon.

    Donuts.

    Legos.

    Trees.

    Sonic.

    Silly Putty.

    Laughing.

    Farting.

    swimming in a lake.

    Jumping off of the high dive.

    3D movies.

    Popcorn.

    Flowers.

    Flowers that smell delicious.

    Chocolate chip cookies.

    Ice cream.

    K’s rainbow cake.

    Spinach.

    French fries.

    A good book.

    Graphic novels.

    Harry Potter.

    Harry Houdini.

    Michael Jackson.

    Joni Mitchell

    Llamas.

    Ocean waves

    Hunting for shells.

    Finding gems.

    iphones

    Silence.

    You.

    You.

    • Wow. I hadn’t read this one and I burst out crying with those last two words, too.

      I’m proud of you for stirring up these people’s minds, but I’m sorry that they called CPS!! I’ll vouch for you.

  6. S., I work as a Guardian ad Litem (in Chatham, but I’m qualified in both Chatham and Orange), and if there’s anything I can do as an advocate, please let me know.

  7. Pingback: Single Dad / Disabled Daughter » Actually, I don’t want to dieSingle Dad / Disabled Daughter

  8. I have recommended your blog to every parent of a child with difficulties because it is so beautifully written, empathetic and honest. It is mind-bobblingly idiotic that someone took those lines out of context and viewed them as a threat.

    There is no parent I know who has not had moments of intense frustration with their children or moments when the responsibility of parenting has not seemed overwhelming.

    I am sorry that this has happened to you but I hope you know that it is one more instance of the crazy world we live in rather than anything “wrong” with you. xxo

  9. I’ve seen sentiments like yours written quite often on parenting blogs. That they are written regarding a child with high needs might be the reason why you are being called to task on this. The fact of the matter is that children, really people,not just children, who have disablities and need more care, tend to get abused more those who do not fall into that category. Not only that, but most people, fully can feel that those feelings are understandable and nearly justifiable. That may a reason for this focus, as well as the fact that there is a relatively high profile case in the news of someone who actually carried out waht you have said for nearly the same frustraitng reasons.

    It would have been so much nicer if people and agencies, stepped up and offered you help instead of more stresses and worried. I’m sorry that you are going thorugh this.

  10. It was a gripping sentence. It moved me like Thelma and Louise never did. Living in public, and exposing your vulnerabilities with such a flair for writing is what draws people to you. Unfortunately, some of those people are too literal, and perhaps too close.

  11. What a shame! Your blog is raw and deep and honest and real. The action of your son’s principal reflects a deep well of shallow thought. Is she seeking adoration from her staff (protector of all students)? Is she trying to prove something to those who supervise her? To fully understand her action, one must determine her motivation. I’d start by examining her past issues and failures with students who have similar IEP’s or behavioral problems in your son’s school. Surely they exist. To knee-jerk after reading a blog such as yours makes me consider this is a woman who is “on thin ice” related to children with behavioral issues. One must ask, “What really motivated her action.” Surely not this blog, which if anything exposes the heart and struggle of a mother trying to both fully survive and fully love. Thank God you have your work to help sustain your sanity. Please keep writing. By the way, I am a school principal.

  12. That is absolutely amazing. I cannot believe that someone could misconstrue that paragraph.
    Mom’s of the world unite. Soldier on!

  13. I’ve been reading your blog and enjoying it. Obviously, these people are just a little paranoid and don’t understand irony. People like this are out there. After so many people have expressed the same thoughts, I am only writing this to share a similar encounter with those who lack vision. I am also a blogger, sadly enough, and this is the post I’d like you to see: http://ericcoatesincoldtype.blogspot.com/2013/08/footnotes-youve-got-to-be-kidding-right.html
    I think you will probably relate.

  14. I think Elizabeth hit the nail on the head. This is a (over) reaction to what happened in that other case in Michigan ( I think that’s where it was..like Elizabeth not sure). There are certain vague parallels here. That moms blog clearly showed a very warm loving caring mother who ( maybe sorta) if you read between the lines seemed to have reached a breaking point and acted for the first time ever out of desperation in a way that was horribly wrong. As humans we try toact to prevent tragedy even after it has happened by seizing on something that seems sorta the same and overreacting to that. No one want to hear ” why did no one respond to the cry for help” and don’t realize their “help” is anything but.

  15. I came here from Single Dad/Disabled Daughter. I have a mentally disabled daughter with behavioral problems. I know that feeling you describe too well. As for the principal and the other parents, I just have to shake my head and tell them to walk a mile in your shoes.

  16. Good God… I am left speechless, or wordless at how inane our system as become. Susie you are nothing more than a smart, caring, truly funny, witty woman, who clearly adores her son. I love the Milo posts. I am gobsmacked. Truly gobsmacked.

  17. I think this post is the best way to educate those who totally misread your blog. My hunch is that someone passed around only those few sentences without the context, and then they got themselves worked up into a lather about how they’d only be caring for you and Milo if they reached out to the principal and CPS. Now they’re seeing this and gulping and sputtering. Also, that you haven’t heard from CPS yet suggests that they are much better readers than the school principal. So: onward with the blog!

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