Wednesday, December 5, 2012

CPS: A necessary evil?

So I'm torn. At what point is it appropriate to say enough is enough? I have had primary custody of all three children for almost two years now. In July of this year, a visitation was ordered granting the younger children's father every other weekend with them, the oldest child having come from a previous relationship. I have taken care of every boo-boo, runny nose, parent-teacher enquiry, replenished wardrobes (they grow like weeds), and kept them on the straight and narrow. The two older children have both tested in the Academically Gifted range, the youngest is showing similar aptitude, but still has two years before testing. In that time I have been slapped with a motion for a psychological evaluation on the basis that being a long-term migraine sufferer I am an unsuitable parent (I have had 3 migraines in the almost 2 years since separating in comparison with 2-3 migraines a month during my contentious last few years of marriage), and now a visit from CPS after a complaint was filed that I was leaving my children with inadequate supervision. The irony here being that the accuser (I don't care how anonymous they think their system is, I still figured it out), has used my 12 year old to babysit their own children and others on MANY occasions.

So here's the story. I have now been single for 21 months. I LOVE football, however, watching it home alone is not always as enjoyable as with a crowd of like-minded fans at my local sports bar. So far, no crime has been commited. My favourite team, if you couldn't tell from my profile picture is the San Francisco 49ers. I live in Raleigh, NC, so watching every single 49ers game is a challenge since I have Time Warner Cable who flat out refuse to offer the full NFL package (so far this is the only crime in my opinion). My choices? Miss out on watching my favourite team and attempt to follow along online (my solution last year; not terribly fun reading about each play). Or. Leave my 6 and 8 year old home with their 12 year old sister for a couple hours. Some might say I should not leave my children home. I should not be entitled to socialise with other adults. I made my solitary bed, I should lie in it.

I was 12 when I first began babysitting for my neighbours and their friends. Regularly, every Friday or Saturday night around 6pm, I would go next door, and sit with their 2 and 6 year old until around 2 or 3am. Sometimes earlier, sometimes there would also be 2-4 other children ranging in age from 6 months to 8 years. I worked with the same 3 families this way for 3 years. I made a killing!! So is the problem the fact that I am a single mother trying to get her groove back? If I had PAID someone else's 12 year old to watch them, would that have been 'ok'? The simple answer, yes.

How odd, right? My own child is deemed inappropriate to supervise her younger siblings (who I should point out are actually neatly tucked up in bed at this time), but her 13 year old friend next door is perfectly acceptable?! I should also mention that not only do I have a monitored security system, fully working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, my daughter has her own cell phone, knows the password AND panic code for the security company AND my neighbours include TWO federal corrections officers, a nurse, a retired New York police officer and a retired Army Major.... Yes, I could see where the danger lies in me driving 3 miles down the road, consuming at LEAST 3 glasses of sweet tea over 2-3 hours and shooting pool while watching the game might possibly be considered endangering my children...

To add insult to injury, North Carolina has no law regarding the age at which a child may be left home alone, however the FIRE DEPARTMENT has set a GUIDELINE that no child under the age of 8 should be left home alone. So again, no crime has been committed, no injury has befallen my children, and I get to spend just a couple of hours doing something I enjoy.

At the end of the social workers visit, while filling out paperwork, she asked me: "what do you do to socialise?" At that point I wanted to crack her over the head.

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