Bean1’s preschool parent meeting was going so well. I was being told all sorts of lovely things about her and towards the end I asked my usual “is there anything we should do at home with her? Any concerns you have?” (Poor child has two teachers for parents. We are pushy.)
“Well,” her keyworker replied, clearly a little nervous. “There was that bruise on her head a couple of weeks ago? She told us you hit her with a champagne bottle?”
It’s true. I did hit my darling daughter smack in the middle of the forehead with a champagne bottle. We were in M&S, and I was getting supplies for a friend’s baby shower. I turned to put the bottle in the trolley, Bean1 moved round to the side of the trolley and the result was a circular bruise in the middle of her forehead and a story she can wheel out that will make people fear her mother is both abusive and alcoholic.
One day I may even find it as funny as the nursery staff did (once they were reassured I wasn’t beating her). The thing is, when Bean2 was 6 weeks old, he fell and hit his head. It was completely my fault – I was responsible for him and I dropped the ball in letting him fall. Unfortunately, an x-ray (of course I took him to hospital, he was 6 weeks old and he’d fallen hard enough for a bump to appear) showed he had a skull fracture (whether from the fall or a birth injury, we will never know) and, though he was, thank goodness, completely fine, it led to a series of investigations and placed me under all sorts of suspicions.
It destroyed my previous naive belief that everyone would understand that all children have accidents and would instantly see that MrHSS and I are, for want of a better word, ‘good’ parents.
So now, when my children injure themselves (well, or fall victim to their mother’s appalling lack of co-ordination), “We have to investigate if you are safe to take him home.” and “I will accept this was an accident. But if there are any more accidents I will have serious concerns.”, ring in my head.
And I knew exactly what her preschool teacher was doing in asking that question. It’s the kind of thing I have to ask, at work, fairly regularly. Because some children do get hurt by their parents, and for their sake we can’t afford not to ask. I just wish I could rationalise that when it comes to questions asked about my own children; if I could just shake off that early experience and live without a fear in my head (that my children will be taken away) that just doesn’t need to be there. Because whilst I know my children have a loving, stable and safe home (lucky things), can I always prove it to others?