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Smacking – Part 4.

January 28, 2012
by

The next morning was intolerable. But I set about making it my business to know what I was up against.

I have well placed friends and I started to research. One of my best friends is in the police force and I called her. I asked her about interviews, what I shoud say and what I should do. I told her what had happened and how it had been misinterpreted.

She was amazing. She advised me to absolutely take the duty solicitor for the following reasons:

– they can explain the whole process to you so you know what to expect

– they can go over all of the events with you and advise you how to word things and if there is anything you say that they think you should leave out due to it being irrelevant.

– he advised me on my emotions – he said I may think it would be better to be emotional and tearful but that actually it would be better to be composed and articulate to get it over and done with as soon as possible.

– he was supportive and he was there for me. 100%. And I needed that absolutely. I am so glad I made the call and told Dave I wanted a solicitor after all.

You can easily assume that agreeing to a solicitor implies you admit guilt on your part – i did – but it absolutely doesn’t. I urge anyone in this position to take a solicitor and let them help you. Let them support you and be there for you. If you are lucky enough to get one as nice as mine then that emotional support alone when you know you have done nothing wrong, is worth its weight in gold.

I also asked Dave to move the interview forward – I was so nervous waiting. It was due to be at 2pm but I had also planned on going to school that afternoon at 2.30 as Ella was due to be in the assembly to collect a certificate for good work. I explained and he was so sweet saying he wouldn’t want me to miss that at the school and that I should come at 12pm instead.

I got there on time but had to wait quite a while for the duty solicitor to arrive. I was desperately trying to control tears in the waiting area. People kept walking past me and I was some weepy, snivelling pregnant woman in reception. William was amazing. He talked me through the whole process. He and Dave obviously knew each other quite well and they went for a brief meeting first to discuss the details of the police evidence and so on for a possible charge.

When William came back we went to an interview room. Just like you see on the programs. A table, two benches, a massive tape recorder and grey walls. Nothing else.

He was very upbeat and straight off the mark told me that I didn’t have anything to worry about. He said it seemed very straight forward and that he couldn’t see it going any further than that day. We talked through the events of the previous morning. The children’s descriptions from their interviews.

He did a similar thing to Dave and said he could remember getting a good wallop when he was little – how we all come from a generation where that was how it was done. Dave had described how he knew it was hard – he had small kids too and he knew life could be tough with them. I felt like he was trying to get a confession to be honest. I just shrugged at William and said – well not so much really. I remember getting slapped legs when I was little and the odd slap on the face from my mum but I wasn’t telling him that! I just shrugged and said – not so much really. He told me about controlling my tears and keeping my emotions in check. He didn’t at all suggest I should be withdrawn or blank – just that crying uncontrollably wouldn’t really help.

Dave came in and told me the interview would last about 20 – 30 minutes. William had explained that Dave would ask questions as well as asking me to go over the events. Dave explained the same and then loaded tapes into the recorder.

There’s nothing quite like seeing scenes from various crime programs you’ve watched being played out in front of you in real life – to make you feel quite as much like a criminal as I did right then.

The tape recorder gave a loud beep, I had to say my name clearly, Dave gave his and William’s, the date and the fact I was there voluntarily being interviewed under caution. Then I had those words read out to me about evidence I may later rely on in court.

Crazy.

I can’t actually remember any of that interview at all. If I think back, I can picture the room, I can picture Dave sitting opposite me, William next to me. The baby kicking frantically swimming in the pool of adrenaline my body was creating – no doubt sending it absolutely whappy.

They asked me questions about my children, I remember they asked me about having a fourth baby in a two bedroom house. How will that affect us? Will we cope? Where will they all sleep? He asked about the children’s characters I recall – did they get on, were they naughty children, did they fight, argue etc.

He went on an on about how he knew I was really tired because Rowan had told them Kit was waking early every morning. How was I coping with that … and pregnant – crikey, the stress of it all. You must be so tired etc.

William had warned me – I wasn’t phased as I wasn’t surprised. I just calmly and positively answered all the questions – no they weren’t naughty, we were lucky, they were smart, intelligent, friendly, tactile and loving. They got on – they bickered but nothing special etc.

He asked how I discipline – I explained as I mentioned earlier – with tone of voice, asking them to describe their behaviour to me. Being firm, setting boundaries, repetition. Proper supernanny stuff! Did I smack? Yes I did. Often? No. Where? Hands and bottom and that’s it. And so very rarely. So rarely that Ella didn’t even think it had ever happened before. I explained that smacking was rarer and rarer. It was something that was used as a warning when they were say 3 ish. The years when they are likely to cause themselves harm by being silly, hyperactive toddler/ small child age and sometimes not listening when they really need to – like the time Ella ran into a road after wrenching her hand from mine. There was a car which swerved and did an emergency stop. Luckily she was on reins. Did I smack her hand? Yes I did. Did I shout? Yes.

Was I afraid she could have died? Yes. Would I do it again? Yes.

But my point is Ella never ran in the road again. She got the sharp shock of seeing my horror, the smack on the hand and the yell. She got it. Totally. Did I thoroughly explain on that occasion – no not totally – she was around 2 and a half years old. She wouldn’t have listened to war and peace on crossing roads. But yes I did explain about roads – but I think it was the yell and the smack she remembered. We’ve reinforced it ever after.

Do they get smacked for not eating their tea or bickering? for messing about in the bath or getting dressed slowly in the morning? No, of course not. For me it’s usually an absolute last resort and even then not for just anything. Usually first resort is a time out followed by losing a priviledge. DS games or Wii time, going to bed early and so on. This is how I explained it.

Anyway – the interview came to an end and Dave asked me – do you intend to change the way you discipline from now on?

That was a very difficult question – I knew he wanted me to say yes – I probably should have. Just to make my life easier. But you know? I said no. No I don’t. The big misunderstanding here is that people seem to think that I smacked her so hard that I hurt her. That’s just not what happened. I gave her a focusing short, sharp shock on the hand. A quick smack that didn’t even leave a mark or redden her skin. What happened to her finger is a mystery. I can only assume that somehow it got caught and rucked backwards with my hand maybe or possibly she put it down behind her when I plonked her on the sofa and she sprained it somehow. That’s if it even happened then. I would love to know.

So frustratingly – the only reason I was in this position was because I assumed that I had hurt her.

Dave explained the next step of the process to me.

His boss would have to look at case and sign it off. He wasn’t able to make that call and unfortunately there was no one senior to do that available until Monday. He was very apologetic but said this would have to go on over the weekend. He couldn’t tell me that the Police would be taking no further action but he certainly seemed to be implying that.

William and I went outside into the heat of the day and he did his best to reassure me that everything was nearly over. It was at this point that William made a comment that started the next ball rolling.

I probably could attribute a lot of what followed to him actually.

He said – this just sounds like a school wading in where it clearly wasn’t necessary.

We still had the Children’s Services hill to climb but they were supposed to be calling me on Monday – Anna had told me that they would take their lead from the Police and Dave had just said to me that as soon as he had a decision from his boss, they would inform CS of their decision and so on. So I was thinking – OK, the weekend and then on Monday this should all be over.

How wrong could I be!

The school is th enext step and there are parts I have left out up until now in an effort to not make the story too confusing. But what all started the following week was amazing. Gobsmacking, disturbing, wrong and just so frustrating. And I would love to help stop this ever happening to anyone else.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. mumof4 permalink
    January 29, 2012 5:35 am

    I am amazed you didn’t give birth there and then with the shock etc.
    Oh God – I know the school part is going to be worse and even more cringe-worthy.

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