To the Woman Who Reported Me to Child Protective Services,
This past weekend, I was not doing great. A combination of ongoing illness, medical tests and a heaping helping of PMS had me in a foul mood. We were supposed to be attending a BBQ at a good friend’s house down the road, and in my sour mood, I was debating about whether or not to go, as I didn’t really want to be a bummer around all our friends.
In the end, it was my five year old who convinced me to go. He was so excited to see his two good friends and play with their toys and on their trampoline, and since he’d had to miss a birthday party the week before due to illness, I was loathe to make him miss it. In fact, I thought about just sending my husband with all three kids, but I realized it wasn’t really fair of me to do that. Plus, I knew that my mood was a product of hormones, so I figured some good friends, good food and good fun would actually cheer me up.
And it did.
We arrived at the party, and I immediately made my way to the newest baby in our group, picking him up and cuddling him. My kids found their friends, and ran off to play. Mark made for the queso and chicken wings, and we were all enjoying ourselves. Since I’m on some pretty hardcore medications at the moment, I had no intention of drinking, so Mark decided to have a few beers with his buddies, which left me on kid duty for the evening. But since I’m always on kid duty, I didn’t really mind too much.
Some time during the evening, a mini-beer pong set was brought out, and a couple of the guys were playing a game at the table. The kids gathered around and watched, laughing at the silly smack talk the men were using. Since it was mini beer pong, the cups were actually shot glasses, and filling them all didn’t even require a whole can of beer.
After a little while, the men finished their game, and the kids decided they wanted to play. I didn’t see the harm, as they have no idea what a “drinking game” is, and they just saw it as a fun thing to do. The first round my two older boys merely watched as two of the other kids played with apple juice in the cups. The second round, one of the dads came to ask me if it was okay for my kids to play with lemonade and Sunny Delight.
Honestly, for a moment I was torn.
My kids don’t get sugary drinks at home. Occasionally I will let them have a sip of Gatorade, and once in a great while their dad shares a bit of (un-caffeinated) root beer with them. So the idea of letting them drink lemonade or Sunny D was one I had to think about. But since it was a fun gathering, I decided to play fast and loose. I said yes.
The game took about four times as long as a normal one. The kids had no aim to speak of, and they were taking it so seriously. Each time it was their turn to drink, they were very careful not to spill and to drink the whole thing. We offered to give them half cups because even shot glass sized glasses were still pretty big for kids, but they were adamant they wanted to play it like grown-ups.
I found myself smiling as they played, and I was reminded of the famous painting of dogs playing poker. It seemed just as ridiculous. I snapped a quick photo and uploaded it to my public facebook profile. I captioned it, “My kids are beer pong champs.”
I never thought another thing of it.
Then, last night, as I recovered from some invasive medical tests I’d had done yesterday morning, I noticed that my messenger app was showing a message request. I opened it up and found this:
Immediately, I was confused. Deleted a photo? No, I hadn’t deleted anything. And what on earth possessed you to report me to the authorities? I went back to find the photo, hoping for a clue, and I saw the comment you’d left a few hours previously:
If I had seen the comment first, I’d have honestly thought you were joking. I couldn’t fathom how on earth ANYONE would have honestly believed my 3 year old and 5 year old were drinking beer. I mean, who in their right mind would actually post a photo of an illegal and immoral act like that for all the world to see? I responded to you, but you’d already blocked me. In fact, when I tried to respond to your private message, I got an error saying you weren’t accepting messages from me.
For the record, this was my response to you:
I didn’t delete anything. The photo is still there and as I responded to your comment, the kids were playing with lemonade and sunny d. I don’t know why you would imagine I would give my kids alcohol and then publicly post about it, but that isn’t something I’d ever do. I can’t stop people drinking in their own home, but I monitor my kids at all times so they are never left unattended. I’m just sad that you or anyone would report someone to the authorities without knowing anything. That’s a serious accusation to make against someone, and there are kids who are ACTUALLY in danger who they should be investigating. But I have nothing to hide, so if/when they come a-knockin,’ they’ll be able to see for themselves that there is nothing to worry about.
As a blogger, I realize I have a lot of eyes on me. The majority of them are kind, sweet and wonderful people who are supportive and generous, offering kindness, positivity and sympathy if it’s warranted. There are a few nasty people out there who are just waiting for me to screw up in some way so they can run back to their forums and talk about what a crazy, psychotic lunatic I am. But I don’t think you are either of these things.
I don’t know how you found me or why you were looking at my profile. Maybe you are a reader of my blog, or maybe you just stumbled across it somehow. Maybe you have some trauma in your own past that makes you overreact to anything you perceive as child neglect, or maybe you are just the kind of person who gets off on judging others. Maybe you genuinely think my kids need rescuing from my sinful ways.
I don’t know you or your story. All I can tell you is that you should not judge a person by one candid photo. You shouldn’t really judge a person at all! Especially one you don’t know. There are children in this world who are being neglected and abused. I’ve read the news stories of kids being force fed alcohol or given cigarettes to smoke. I’ve seen videos of babies born hooked on drugs. I’ve seen the photo of the toddler being held down and tattooed against his will. I’ve seen the sick folk in this world who like to hurt kids or allow kids to be put in situations that are not in their best interests.
So I get it. It’s easy to think the worst.
But maybe the next time you see a photo you think is wrong, try reaching out to the person and offering some compassion or understanding. If you feel you are in need of an explanation, ask for one – though no one is under any obligation to provide it. It would have been so easy for you to send me a message saying, “Hey. I saw the photo of your kids playing beer pong. It’s not sitting right with me, and I’m worried.” Believe me, you would be able to tell the parents with something to hide, as their response isn’t likely to be kind or accommodating.
At the end of the day, I find myself remembering that I need to be careful about what I post online. Though neither I nor my kids were doing anything wrong here, I’ve left myself open to people misinterpreting our photo, and that is on me. I didn’t think it would have been necessary to explain what was in the cups because I trusted that those who know me at all would never in a million years think I would give my kids something that could hurt them.
But you don’t know me. And you probably never will. If this should make its way back to you, I can only hope you will remember that your accusations have an impact. I thank you for looking out for my kids. I want the whole world to look out for them. But in this case, you were wrong, and that just plain sucks.
Yours in the spirit of motherhood,
I’ve been given a TON of support from almost everyone for sharing this post, and I greatly appreciate it. I’ve had my share of negativity in the form of comments, emails and private messages, and I’ve been able to ignore it because I know that these people don’t know anything about me and are reacting to something inside of themselves.
However, this morning when I woke up after a VERY bad night sleep (Chester was up from 2 AM, and the two older boys wouldn’t leave my bed), the first thing I saw was a private message from the original poster. She accused me of sicking my “evil minions” on her and said that she had proof that I was giving her name out (I haven’t) and telling people to harass her (I never would). Honestly, I take these sorts of things with a grain of salt, but I did want to share the exchange with you all because it is a good reminder for ALL of us to be careful what you put out there. This woman commented on one of my PUBLIC posts with her REAL facebook account. By doing so, she opened herself up for ANYONE to view her profile and/or contact her in whatever way her privacy settings allow. I can’t control that.
However, if anyone who has read this and thinks that they are doing me a favor by attacking her, I would ask that you please stop. I did not include her name in this post because I wanted to take the high road, and I hoped she would learn something. Instead, she has shown even worse behavior in the way she has dealt with her communications with me. Here is our full conversation.
Please note that I was severely sleep deprived, and it took a lot for me not to stoop to her level. I don’t know if I handled it as well as I could have, but I know I could have said a lot worse.
So there you have it. I don’t think I’d be overreaching to say the girl is not alright in the head. I gave her the benefit of the doubt before, but I’ve now had to block her from my facebook because I find her behavior totally ridiculous. However, I still want to make it clear that if anyone has taken it upon themselves to message her, I would appreciate it if you would stop. It doesn’t help the situation.
Thank you all for your amazing comments and support over the last week. And to answer another question – no I have not been contacted by CPS as of yet. I don’t know if the original threat was an idle one or if CPS didn’t judge it serious, but either way I am grateful not to have to have dealt with them.