Tonight I called DCFS on one of my daughter’s friend’s parents. I’m not sure if I did the right thing, or, more accurately, I’m not sure if it will actually help.
Some background, Reagan has been friends with the child, “Venus,” since kindergarten; Venus is a smart girl, funny and vivacious, however, she does have a tendency to take offense easily and to be pretty emotional about things. Unfortunately, Reagan has these same characteristics and it seems they are either getting along famously or having huge dust-ups.
This last summer was particularly rocky in regards to their friendship and, early in the school year, Venus’s mom decided she wouldn’t let her be friends with Reagan. (Background to the background, whenever Reagan and Venus have had arguments, the mom, Carrie, has blamed it 100% Reagan. Once, she even swore at her on the phone, making me question the mother’s mental health; I can understand being protective, but that’s completely overboard. Oh, and I promise, it’s never been a case of my daughter being viscious, just normal grade and middle school spats.)
I try to stay out of such disagreements, only meddling to remind my child “Don’t gossip.” “Own up to your part in any altercation.” “Be kind,” etc… Nevertheless, I was secretly relieved that Venus and Reagan seemed to be growing apart. The Carrie related drama had just gotten to be too much over the last few years and had caused my daughter quite a lot of heartache.
I was surprised, when, earlier this week, Reagan asked if Venus could spend the night. I said yes, and forgot about it until today. Chris and I went into Peoria, and upon arriving home, Venus was at the house.
The girls were getting along well, planning on watching a “Project Runway” marathon this evening and doing some baking.
Then the phone rang.
It was Venus’s mom.
Venus had lied and said she was at another girl’s house. Carrie was understandably upset, having called the other house only to find out her daughter was not there, and no one knew where Venus was. She called around, and found her at our house.
I felt for her, I think almost every parent has had that heart stopping feeling of “OMG, where is my child?” It’s awful. Plus, I’d be really, really pissed off that my child had lied to me.
Carrie asked if we could bring Venus home. I offered to have Chris take her in about an hour when he and Taylor left for the Bradley game and she acquiesced.
I told Venus to get ready and a little later she and Reagan approached me in the kitchen. Venus was crying and said, hesitatingly:
“I’m not scared of getting yelled at or getting grounded; I’m scared of my mom. Last night she was mad at me and put her arms around my neck and…” (Venus gestured with her hands around her neck like she was choking.)
I asked if Carrie had choked or hit her before and she said yes, which made some things Reagan had said previously click, in that, “Oh, my gosh, how could I have not seen it” way.
I asked what she thought would be the right thing to do.
(I know, I know, it seems silly to ask a child such a thing, but I was just dumbfounded, upset, and horrified for Venus, who I do not doubt is telling the truth and seemed honestly terrified of her mother.)
She said she has thought about calling DCFS for a long time but didn’t know the number.
I asked if she would like me to call and she said, yes, please. So I did.
Was it the right thing? I don’t know.
On paper, in terms of black and white, it was, because I don’t doubt Venus. On the other hand, will it do any good?
There are so many gray areas. She had no visible marks. It’s her word against her mother’s. The report-er (me) has had problems with the mother in the past. Venus had just done something really wrong in lying to her mother, so will they take her word?
And, if they do believe Venus, what will the consequences to her mother and her *family be?
*There isn’t a dad in the home, just Carrie, Venus, a new baby, a baby daddy and his two kids that visit on the weekends.