I haven't really blogged my experiences with social services.
How do you write about three years, 13 assessments (OT, Adult services, child services and repeat on a loop) and all the pain and shame of admitting your life is not - and will never again be - what you need it to be?
Cutting a long and miserable story short, I'm a disabled parent of two young kids (cue looks of confusion and "we don't have a box for that") with a fluctuating condition (cue looks of confusion and "we don't have a box for that) who stubbornly insists on being enabled not disabled. (Cue looks of.....you get the idea)
But today, I just have to convey the utter ridiculousness of at least one aspect.
I can't pick the kids up from school. I'm totally housebound when Dave's at work. I can't walk far at all, but I can usually manage the steps in or out of my property on a good day. On a bad day I can't get out of bed at all - as you, dear readers, know very well. I can't drive as DVLA are "reconsidering" my right to a driving licence and I can't possibly get on a bus or the problem wouldn't exist, would it?
For 2 YEARS various friends have stepped up, either looking after my kids after school until Dave finishes work and goes to collect them or bringing them home if I'm up to looking after them til Dave gets here.
But that can't go on forever. Things go wrong, friends have their own lives. Invariably, Dave has to leave work all too often and get them. This is putting his job at risk and though his employers have been amazingly wonderful, he's on a very sticky wicket by now.
Child services won't help because the kids aren't the ones with disabilities. Adult services won't help because - yep you guessed it, they're not the ones with disabilities. Education won't help because I live within 2 miles of the catchment area - though of course you and I know that 2 miles might as well be 200 if you can't walk to the end of the drive. OT can't help with ramps to get an aid in and out because I couldn't self-propel my wheelchair far enough to be of any use on my own anyway and "they don't provide access for scooters". And DVLA can't help because, quite rightly, they don't care about any of that, simply whether or not I'm safe to drive.
Nonetheless, there is a legal requirement for my children to attend school! When I asked what would happen if we simply couldn't get them to and from school, education said then we'd be a family in crisis and they would have to step in. But we're "good" parents, "responsible" parents who "try to do the right thing" in politico speak. Nothing would allow us to see the children suffer.
So we're trapped. I'm not "disabled enough" to tick any of their boxes (except of course when I am, but we're back to the looks of confusion...) but "too disabled" to actually manage to pick the kids up.
And the moral of the tale is that endless cuts and sanctions and remote, academic theories see thousands like me fall through the cracks. The tighter the system gets, the more real lives stop functioning. I've lost count of how many people have peered patronisingly over their glasses at me and asked "Do you feel you can parent your children effectively?" And I've lost count of how many times I've cried tears of shame once they leave, realising that no, I can't. Not on my own. Not in any of the nice convenient tick-boxy kinds of ways they mean.
Demeaning and disabling, we muddle along in the same chaos we've juggled for three years now and every time, I have to pick myself up, dust myself down, maybe give myself a little slap and remind myself that life isn't lived by tick boxes. The love of your children isn't dependent on how far you can walk, how many trees you can climb or swings you can push. Their brave little faces know all to well what Mummy can and can't do. They celebrate the cans and brush away the can'ts. But every time hurts.
Even Nastier Post-Script.....
Feeling as though I may tip into desolate if I stayed home, I texted a friend and pretty much begged her to take me for cake. She duly screeched up outside my door, Flintstone style, just moments later and we munched our way through butter, sugar and icing salvation.
But I had to be back, because child services were also booked to come and see me today at 4.00pm Restored and just about able to face another onslaught, I went once again unto the breach. I asked rescue-friend to stay for moral support
Remember, Adults services had contacted them, simply to see if they will fund the "collecting kids from school" half an hour every day that means I could pay someone to bring the kids home. It would cost them £18 a week.
She arrived, hadn't confirmed any of the things she'd gone away to confirm three weeks ago and insisted on speaking to each of my children, one to one away from me, in their bedroom!! My youngest is 5!!!
Th 5 year old was too frightened to go, so she agreed he could sit with me!!! She asked what he worried about? Did he like school? Did he have lots of friends or just one or two?
He was upset. He would only whisper the answers to me.
After she'd gone, he cried twice over silly nothing-things. My friend cried too and said she was horrified. The social worker said it was just procedure, they did it with all referrals.
Me? Oh another little piece of me curled up and died.
Is there seriously a human being in the country, that believes anyone would subject themselves to this humiliation, this scrutiny if they didn't absolutely have no other choice?