We are running round the playing field, avoiding dog poo,a useful life skill you learn early when your parents don't have a car. All the other children and parents have given up. When we reach the steps it will be time for him to go back to school.
"Was I in care last year when it was a sponsored run?"
"No, you were at home with Daddy and me. You've not been in care a whole year."
"But it is a very long time. Why can't I come home now?"
"It's just a week now. You can manage a week? And half the nights will be sleepovers at home. You can do it, you're nearly there now!"
He's run further than anyone in his class or the one above, just like last year. He doesn't give up, when he understands what needs to be done.
It's just that none of us has ever understood what needed to be done to get him back home. How can social work be able invoke police protection just because a mother has been made hysterical at the threat of her child being taken away, and refuses to sign consent for him to be put in care? how can police protection be invoked without anyone examining the child, or seeing if the father can look after him if the mother is considered incapable? If neither parents nor child are ever questioned by police, and all mental assessments come back fine from every proffessional approached by social work, how the hell can anyone justify the distress to a child of being in care 8 months?
Everyone keeps saying you have to cooperate, do what social work ask. They have never asked us to do anything. All contact has been positive. Our child begs, makes wishes and prays every night to come home. The tearful clinging on at end of contact times does not come across in "the child wants to come home" in social work reports. We have only started to make progress because I worked out doing what social work ask/working with social work meant standing silent as they smear onto us whatever shit they can think up in order to justify taking our child away in the first place. As the psychologist they called in as the final hope to diagnose me with split personality (I use different name on the internet, obviously a clue) said " It is all opinion and circumstantial evidence." "What they say I said?" "Yes, there is no proof". Needless to say we were not shown his report, and nor is it being sent to the next Hearing for the panel to read, but hopefully it won't be needed, so long as we don't try to tell the truth.
I hate now. I can't remember ever hating, all my life. But I hate them. For hurting my child. For not caring that they hurt him. For making him afraid. I hate them for making me so angry that I cannot protect him against their lies.
Through the fresh bright air, round the lush neatly shorn grass, under blue sky the huge cloud gone over without shedding its weight, we can run, but what they have said will always be on our records.
My son jogs off to hug his Dad before joining the pink faced and dog poo smelling tail of P2's crocodile.
His Dad and I walk back slower, he's a hero getting here and going back when his back is so sore and he says his headache is like electric shocks; he wouldn't miss the sponsored run. The left crutch keeps scraping on the ground: I must get a new pad bit for the bottom from somewhere, as the hardware shop says there's not enough demand to get more in.
His Dad says "There was a boy, in P1, clinging to his Dad, begging to come home, he was crying, and his Dad said he couldn't, he had to go to the carer's, but he would see him tomorrow, and the boy was clinging on, pleading." I ask if the Dad had looked incapable of taking care of a child? "No, he didn't look well off, but he obviously loved his child, and the child loved him" His voice is weary.
A few weeks ago social work said as a reason for not letting us have sleepovers was that they were too busy to arrange them, as they were "very tightly stretched, there being 70-80 children in care on the island". This island's population is about 7000. If even half of these people are under 16 (unlikely) that is only 3500 children. The average in Scotland for children in care per 1000 is 14. Remember Scotland's average includes Glasgow. So you might expect there to be less than 50 children in care here. Yet there are "70-80". Who are they? How many have been taken away for "potential emotional harm caused by parents mental health problems"? We've seen the team leader buying chocolate icecream for a bemused looking little girl in the seaside cafe they take our child to to buy him chocolate icecream. We've seen the young Mum desolate because they refuse to give her baby back, even though I've known her for years and she's no way incapable of looking after a child, is just a bit gobby (like me, only more to the point. She said the social worker was "sick in the head". That's not cooperating. Sure sign of a mental health problem.)
The children's minister in Scotland is an ex social worker. My brother knows an MP (tory. We all have skeletons in the cupboard, if not the cabinet - he's only backbench) and he asked him to look into our case. The friend was horrified, said no one touched social work issues. Now my brother says "Don't worry about the others, just concentrate on getting your child back!" Last week in Oxfam an old lady was telling a friend about someone they both knew who had just died in the Inverclyde. She said "It was murther. I tried, but the nurse just didn't listen. It was murther I tell ye. If only I could WRITE!" I told my child when we were doing his spelling homework last sleepover that writing is powerful, like magic, it can show people what you think, tell your stories when you are not there. His carer had said homework was boring, wasn't meant to be fun. I said it was a game, a skill. You have to tame the pencil line like we tamed our ferral cats. Now they like being stroked and pur and sleep on the beds.
Somehow I've got to get my ferral anger under control too. I've got to get someone to question what's going on with social work here.
We get home. It's a sleepover tonight and we are both singing inside. His Dad gets a bit of rest ready to play and I start getting tea ready, counting the minutes till I pick him up from school.