The world turned upside down, English

When my son Zach was born my world was in many ways reshaped and redefined, and me with it. It wasn’t the earth-shattering Mack-truck of love that hit me that everyone was talking about, the process was slow and far more profound than that simple metaphor could ever infer.

I was told by many that when our child was born, everything would change. Predictions ranged from me and the wife not getting any sleep for the next 18 years to having every single aspect of our world flipped upside down. The more obtuse advice-givers predicted that we’d lose our own identities entirely; transforming from Ida & Joakim into Mom & Dad, and while I at the time found the concept absurd I couldn’t really rule it out either. It turned out I was right – we didn’t change much, and neither did our world. At least not as fast and as much as people said it would. We weren’t exactly party animals from the start, so staying home with a child didn’t differ much from staying at home with a movie or a book – it just alternated between being slightly more cozy and slightly more noisy. Granted, in the first year Ida did a lot more of the night-time servicing of our New Baby Unit (this has sinced evened out quite a bit), so while my sleeping habits weren’t disrupted too much, hers might have been. You’ll have to ask her about that. Since then I’ve also learned to walk to the kitchen, mix baby formula and walk back to the bedroom in my sleep. That takes skill.

The first 3½ months were heavily colored by Zach being one of those prized children to be hit by colic. He more or less screamed 24/7, sleeping only in short bursts at random intervals. It drove us to the brink of actual insanity, saved only by Idas parents who came to our rescue, saving not only our fragile minds but also most likely three lives in the process. It’s so strange to be able to sit down and analyze how my mind worked during that time. It started out with me feeling so incredibly sorry for the little bugger, hearing him scream like someone was tearing his insides apart was heartbreaking to say the least. Day by day and scream by scream this slowly changed; going from “Oh, poor little thing” to “Oh, my head” and finally to “If I hold him under water just for a short while, maybe the screams will stop”. While that sounds (and is) really insane, it felt 100% logical at the time. Still, our world hadn’t changed all that much yet.

Around the time Zach turned one, we moved across town in an attempt to get ourselves a cheaper place to live in while Ida started up her scholastic career again. The only school available was just outside of Stockholm, and this brought with it a lot of traveling – and also a lot of extra costs. I’m not really sure when I found it, but while I was sitting around surfing the web, I came across a kindergarten that really appealed to me. They focused heavily on teaching the kids different languages, something I both think is fun and also something that has been a huge help to me while I was growing up (and still is, to some degree). I showed their site to Ida, and we both thought it looked so good that we decided to apply to see if Zach could go there. Imagine the joy when not long after our application were offered a spot there. Before he could start, they invited us for a short interview and to show us around a bit, and explain how they ran the place. Our first impressions of the place seemed to reaffirm our belief that we’d made a good choice. The actual premises were somewhat small and austere, but they had a decent-sized outdoor area for the kids and the staff seemed both competent and nice. They managed to answer our questions in a way that gave me a good impression overall, if not a stellar one.

Fast forward a few weeks. Zach had started attending kindergarten, I was driving a cab to make some money and Ida studied and traveled her ass off. Everything was going rather well, I had not yet started having issues with my boss and Ida hadn’t gotten sick of trains and buses. I took care of 98% of the transportation to and from kindergarten, and every day I asked the staff if things were going fine, and every day I got the same response. Everything is fine, we’re all good. They didn’t much like us having a dog and asked us to clean his clothes and pram more, and sometimes I forgot some of Zachs stuff at home, so I had to drop it off later during the day, but that was the extent of it all. Dropping Zach off brought with it tears sometimes, but they reassured me that it quickly subsided after I left – all in all, life was pretty good. Days turned into weeks, and weeks into months – the mantra “everything is fine, we’re all good” never changed. Or so we thought.

One day, we were called to a meeting by the staff at Språkskolan. I wasn’t really sure if I should mention their name, but I decided that if it might help to spread the word about what happened to us to someone who is considering them as a school or kindergarten, then it’s worth any amount of backlash that might come my way. Anyway, back to the story at hand. We were called to a meeting where they said they wanted to discuss Zach and his progress. As he is our first (and so far only) child we had no experience in how things like this were conducted, and never really thought more about it than that.

Arriving at the meeting,  the principal of the school and the top dog of the Zachs group attended. After the initial welcome-and-sit-down-routine, they launched into a long diatribe about our parenting. They managed to accuse us of not feeding him properly, of not taking care of his hygiene and not dressing him properly for the winter. They stopped just shy of accusing us of straight out abusing our child. No, fuck that – they did accuse us of child abuse, they merely dressed it up as polite concern… and come to think of it, it wasn’t really all that polite either. They said they had been worried about him for the last 4-5 months, and that they wanted to see what was what with us, to make things right. The meeting lasted about 30 minutes, with the main part of it taken up by their berating us as parents. After it was all over, we left feeling shellshocked beyond belief.

Now, this is a fairly long story, and I’m not going to go into detail on all the meetings, the lies, the deceit and the false accusations and faked protocols from meetings – it’s just too damn much. The long and short of it is that they felt we couldn’t and didn’t take proper care of our child, and that led to us not having any faith in their abilities whatsoever. They had hurt us both, and made us angry as hell. Ida felt more hurt than I did, and my rage could have powered a semi-large city for a couple of years. Anyway, we decided to take Zach out of their care. In hindsight, this was both the best and the worst thing we could have done.

About two weeks after Zach was extracted from their “care”, we got another call. This time, it was a representative from social services. She explained that they’d gotten a call from Språkskolan, outlining how horrible we were as parents. This meant that they had to investigate us, to see if we were fit to keep our child. We had to show them we weren’t abusing him, and… pay attention here, because this is rather important: We had to prove that we were fit – they didn’t have to prove that we weren’t. This is just so fucked up. We were reassured that it’d be a fair process, and that it would take at most three months (if I’m not mistaken – I was rather upset when they gave me the information). That investigation included repeated interviews with us, they visiting our home and meeting Zach and also a meeting with the kindergarten. It was a fucking horrible process, and it was prolonged during all of summer making our lives about as awful as they’ve ever been. The anxiety, the fear, the depression… it just all floated together into a black, seething mass of pain that stuck with us the entire summer. Everything they’d said just made us stop and doubt every single move one made. It was an ordeal I wouldn’t wish upon anyone. I realize that social services has to investigate everyone that are accused of something like this, but fucking hell, they can do it a lot more painless.

In the end, we were cleared of every accusation that was made against us. Every. Single. One. Not only didn’t they find anything wrong with our parenting, we also had the documents to prove that the kindergarten lied and changed their statements as time passed. In the written accusation against us, they really went out of their way to paint me as the worst father in history, and to this day it stirs the cauldron of rage within. The report we filed against Språkskolan didn’t really go anywhere – and honestly, I wasn’t surprised. For a while, we pondered if we should try to make a fuss about it all, but we decided against it. I didn’t really want to go quietly into the night and let them get away with behaving like utter jackasses, but at the same time I didn’t want to prolong our ordeal anymore than absolutely necessary. It has taken me almost two years to come to the point where I felt even remotely comfortable in writing this text, and it still makes me so intensly furious that I almost feel the veins in my head burst.

Our world had been thoroughly shifted and reshaped, not by becoming a parent but by trusting a group of  adult child-care professionals with the care of our son. They made our world crumble and for no better reason than wanting to cover their own asses when push came to shove. I’m glad that I feel secure enough in myself to speak up and question things like this when they are presented to me, and I hope and pray to whatever deity you prefer that Språkskolan didn’t do this to someone without that ability. If writing this text can help even just one person to do the same, my mission here is complete.

To the staff at Språkskolan, who I don’t doubt will find this and read it:

You put me and my family through hell; not a metaphorical one, but an actual honest-to-god hellish experience here on earth. For that, I sincerely wish that you some day get to experience the same fear and self-doubt that you inflicted upon us. I wish I could say that I’m the bigger man here, and that I could forgive and forget; I cannot. Fuck you. Fuck you very much, you pathetic excuses for human beings.

2 Responses to “The world turned upside down, English”

  1. That truely is an aweful experience but to spin it Kimmy… you went through 3 months of hell but that was 3 months confirming you and Ida as great parents. I truely believe in the 3 folds rule. The director of that school as well as the person whol enitially filed the complaints will get theirs.

    • It was all in all closer to 7 months, but yes, we came out in the other end stronger for it. Angrier, more paranoid.. but stronger. ;P

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