By Maria Padhila
That is the age-old warning, from parents to children, from grandparents to parents, from parents to other parents. We’re in a time and place where parent-on-parent judging is a contact sport, if not a blood one. In my neighborhood, if your toddler isn’t spilling the organic version of goldfish crackers into the sandbox, you may get child protective services called on you.
Which is the other big threat levied at parents who don’t toe the line. Do one thing wrong, and Judgy McHolier over there will drop a dime, and They Will Come Take Your Kids Away.
It probably happens about as often as someone putting an eye out on a playground. I don’t know about where you live, but where I live, social services are stretched pretty thin and those workers can barely keep up with the obvious cases of abuse and neglect, to sometimes tragic results.
But it still lingers in the back of my mind: If they find out I have a husband and a lover, that’s it. They’ll take her away. Or my husband, if he gets angry or jealous, will be the one making the call. Or his parents, or mine, or our siblings. All in the name of doing what’s right for the child.
One funny thing is that Isaac’s mother — for whom I have a lot of respect and admiration, but no, no, no, she does not know our deep secret! — has a master’s in a family service field and believes from experience and observations that families are best kept together unless there’s a clear danger. She is a kitchen-scrubbing fanatic and can barely stand to visit our place — she even thinks my hundreds of books, which are mostly on shelves, are just “clutter.” But she had no trouble with messy moms in her professional capacity, if kids are safe and fed.
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