Growing up, my mother carried this big purse with her everywhere she went. It was a magical bag, kind of like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag. Not only did it contain her wallet and whatever else moms need to carry, if you were hungry, out came a package of saltines. At a fast food restaurant, if they ran out of salt, Mom would pull a small packet of salt out of her purse, or ketchup, or mustard, or pepper, or oh my god what else is in there? Breath mints, Kleenex, pen, paper, gloves, rain bonnet, the list goes on. My mother was prepared for anything. That’s the generation I grew up in. Obviously it’s the generation my husband grew up in too, since he’s always asking me if I have such-and-such in my purse. (No. I don’t. Carry your own purse.)
The younger generation doesn’t think like that. They know there’s a 7-11 on every corner, or a Starbucks, so if you need something – you can just stop at the next corner and get what you need. With our traumatized kids, we have to think like the older generation. We don’t have a StopNGo for our lives. We have to be prepared. So when CPS comes to call – that’s not if, that’s WHEN – be prepared. Be prepared from the moment this child comes into your home. Expect it. Do your due diligence, document, document, have your papers in order, doctors numbers, whatever you need to provide for that day when your child tells your teacher “My mom beats me” when in reality you’ve never laid a hand on him and never even thought that thought. You’re upset, you’re hurt, you’re afraid, suddenly people of authority are treating you like a criminal. How could the teacher believe that? Doesn’t she know you better? How could he say that? Didn’t just that morning he tell you he loves you? You’re in emotional shock. You’re devastated.
Time to pull out Mom’s purse. Be prepared. Expect it to come. Expect there to be a knock on the door, a phone call. Don’t expect it in the way of fearing it, like the world’s going to end, but the way you expect a rain storm. Some day it’s going to rain really hard. It’s going to ruin your day because you thought you were going to sunbathe and enjoy the sunshine, instead it’s pouring down rain. It’s going to happen.
If you have therapists on board with you, you can hand out their card. Have a lawyer lined up. If CPS comes to take away all your children, because the false accusation was just that bad – have a family member or close friend lined up where they can go for an emergency so that they don’t have to go into foster care. And know your rights – WHO you have to talk to WHEN, and when you can refuse to talk until you have proper representation with you, whether it be a therapist, lawyer, or even just a witness to record the entire interview.
Remember this, too, in your Mom’s purse magic bag – that social worker is not your friend, no matter how nice they are to you. That teacher you thought liked you so much now hates you because they believe your child. And really, can you blame the teacher? For her your child is all light and smiles, love and hugs. She has no idea what’s behind that facade, of the damaged, broken, destroyed heart the lies within.
Prepare your heart, too, for that day. Realize that your child is scared. You’ve hit a soft spot that has scared him. So he does what RAD kids do – chases you away in whatever manner he can. This is not about you, although it seems the spotlight is shining directly on you.
Expect it, be prepared, get your ducks in a row, guard your heart, and this isn’t the end of the world. It’s just part of the journey.