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Practiced 911 calls with DS

lilies21 posted 9/30/2019 15:54 PM

I was going to log on to comment on the "get laid" post but then this morning happened....

DS (9) was at Asshat's this past weekend. I picked DS up on Sunday night and I could tell something was bothering him but he didn't want to talk. He had a stomachache last night and still had it this morning, he was also extremely sleepy, so we took part of the day off school and work. He finally talked and apparently there's been a lot of fighting at Asshat's, mostly the girlfriend screaming at Asshat (about "things Dad does wrong."). DS said it's been happening a lot since Asshat moved back in with the girlfriend; she briefly kicked him out at the beginning of August but they made up in less than a week.

Recommended or not, I needed to know more to know what DS is dealing with at that place so DS and I had the following conversation:

Me: What do you do when it happens?
DS: I go to another room.

Me: How do you feel when it happens?
DS: Scared. I don't feel safe.

Me: Because of the yelling?
DS: Yes.

Me: You don't feel safe. What do you think will happen because of the fighting?
DS: That Dad will have to move out again.

Me: Do they hurt each other or anyone else?
DS: No.

Me: Do they break things?
DS: No. She just really screams at Dad.

I grew up in a violent, chaotic household and I know people don't have to hurt each other, hurt you, or break things for you to be scared and how badly it can traumatize a child. I don't minimize DS's feelings at all and I know how quickly those situations can escalate too.

That said, I really don't know how serious it is over there but I know my son and I know whatever has been happening has really affected him. I asked DS on a scale of 1-10, how scared it makes him when they fight. He said a six. I told him if it gets higher than six, if people start to break things or anyone gets hurt, he is absolutely to call me and/or 911. We practiced 911 calls this morning because DS knows to call if there is a fire, a medical emergency, a car accident, etc... but I never taught him to call 911 for something like this so I feel like a shit for not thinking ahead. I just made it simple:

Me: 911, what is your emergency?
DS (his own words): Grownups are fighting and I'm scared. The address is...".

I told him that it is not just for at his dad's but anywhere he goes, even at home; not that I ever have anyone over anyway but I felt telling him this would make it seem less...I don't know...less scary and more like just information. Remember to brush your teeth, change your underwear, here's when to dial 911....

So...did I do/say the right things? It feels like I did because he seemed much better after our conversation. His stomachache magically vanished and he looked forward to going to school. Counselor has been updated. Lawyer has been updated, just to document it really since I know her office will likely reply that it could have been a minor argument over socks left on the floor that DS took to mean more than it actually was. Is there any way I should be addressing this with Asshat (aka: the brick wall)? Other advice? Thanks, everyone.

[This message edited by lilies21 at 3:55 PM, September 30th (Monday)]

annanew posted 9/30/2019 16:18 PM

So...did I do/say the right things? It feels like I did because he seemed much better after our conversation. His stomachache magically vanished and he looked forward to going to school.

Pretty sure you did GREAT, mama! You gave your son a way to feel safe. He doesn't feel without recourse, which is the scariest thing. Awesome job.

I am hoping he never ends up having to call. But knowing he has the option must make him feel much better.

k8la posted 9/30/2019 16:54 PM

I grew up in an angry home too. I wouldn't say anything to AH; the world revolves around him. To know this impacts his son negatively will play into his trying to get under your skin rather than protect his son. His son knows where he is on his dad's hierarchy of priorities, coming in dead last over OW's son, baby, OW, with of course the King Baby top of the list.

Knowing that's where your son is and knows he is, 911 training is the best means, because it's not coming from you when he makes the call, and you can pull him out of that emotionally toxic place legally.

Snapdragon posted 9/30/2019 18:29 PM

Part of parenting, as you know, is preparing children for difficult situations and empowering them to get help and know where to get that help.

I manage the visits of international medical students that visit the USA. One of the first things I teach them is how to dial 911 and for what reasons and how to manage the call. These are young adults! I do a similar kind of scenario call with them during orientation. I give examples (someone collapses on the street in front of them, a fire breaks out in their home, there is a violent situation, etc.)

As a kid, my father was a volunteer fire fighter. We were all well schooled on what to do in emergencies. It is very reassuring to a kid that you CAN do something if you are not safe. Like practicing fire drills or what you will do in the event of a tornado.

I know there are a lot of emotional issues going on with your son and the fighting issue. But, simply having a tool or two to help him cope has clearly made an impact in empowering him.

As for talking to asshat....I have no opinion. It seems like, you said, he is a brick wall. I wouldn't want him to take it out on DS for "snitching" about what goes on in that dysfunctional house. Knowing that DS can come to you with his worries means a lot. Even if it takes him a little while to process before sharing.

You are doing a good job, mama!!

barcher144 posted 9/30/2019 19:33 PM

I agree with everything that you said and did.

I was raised in a home where my mother (and still does) "go off" at any time and start screaming at anyone and everyone. Apparently, my stories have made quite the impression on my psychiatrist. She literally has concluded that it's major childhood trauma.

So, yeah, protect your kid.

One suggestion would be to have your kid call you and have you go pick him up when he gets scared. You might want to talk to your lawyer about that first.

JanaGreen posted 9/30/2019 20:04 PM

I think what you told him sounds PERFECT.

Chrysalis123 posted 9/30/2019 20:15 PM

I think you did great. Good job Mom!

In my case, my children had to deal with a vindictive alcoholic dad. He would take it out on them and call them names/shame them, and bully them if they reached out for help, for instance when he was drinking and driving with them in the car. Both kids were very afraid of him.

Their therapist taught them a code word phrase, to use in the event he was sitting next to them when they needed help. She taught it to them, so I would not be accused of alienating the children.

She did what you did with the 911 example. However the call was to to let me know they needed immediate help. They knew to only use that phrase for an emergency. We had a pet canary, and their code phrase was, "How is the canary?".

It gave my children a lot of comfort to know they had a lifeline if dad went off the rails.

WornDown posted 9/30/2019 21:52 PM

Well, I guess I'll be the contrarian...

Your DS said it's just the girlfriend yelling at your ex.

But, you've escalated it to "violence."

I agree that you should know (to document) that they are fighting, and that your DS is affected by it, but...That's (almost) to be expected in WS/AP relationships.

Sure, call 911 for an emergency. But this feels like you are setting up your son to call 911 because his dad's/GF are having a shitty relationship. (Not really a shocker considering his past behavior with you).

At the end of the day, I think telling your kids to call the police when their dad's relationships are going sideways is a bit over kill. Maybe I'm reading this post wrong...It sounds like it's best to document it, and bring it up in a custody battle to gain more custody.

Slowlygoingcrazy posted 10/1/2019 12:12 PM

I think you did great!

Itís totally appropriate to call 911 if the fighting escalates. Iíve had to do it as an adult for ďdomesticsĒ (so glad I donít live next to those neighbors anymore). What starts as yelling and screaming can get out of hand quickly. People tend to escalate abusive behaviour, and yelling at your partner to the point of scaring the children, thatís abuse.

Itís wonderful that your son has the tools to keep himself safe if the situation should ever turn violent. Smart that you made it a lesson that wasnít specific to your ex. I always read your posts and think youíre the best mom!

Catwoman posted 10/1/2019 12:54 PM

But this feels like you are setting up your son to call 911 because his dad's/GF are having a shitty relationship.

I disagree--from what the OP said, it seems to be affecting this child fairly significantly. He's now been given a tool (call Mom or 911) if his feelings of insecurity rachet past a certain level. I think just having a tool or a plan helps his feelings of security.

My thought would be to instruct him to call you first and you can figure out if he needs to be picked up or if things need to be escalated to law enforcement. I think that's probably the best way to handle this for now.

You can't control or mitigate what goes on there, but what you can do is give your child tools and a course of action in case things escalate.


WornDown posted 10/1/2019 14:27 PM

My thought would be to instruct him to call you first and you can figure out if he needs to be picked up or if things need to be escalated to law enforcement. I think that's probably the best way to handle this for now.


tushnurse posted 10/2/2019 14:17 PM

As the mother of 911 dispatcher, I think you did an amazing and very empowering thing for your son.

My son tells me all the time about when people call and they are upset and can't even get out what is going on, or where they are, or even worse hanging up.
I would reinforce to him that it is perfectly ok to tell the person at 911 that he does not feel safe, and to NEVER hang up on a 911 operator until they tell him to do so. So many people do this, and w/ cell phones a lot of times they have a very difficult time finding out where that person is.

These are just good Life Rules.

You did very very very good.
TN Approved!!!

HellFire posted 10/2/2019 16:33 PM

Please know that I understand your worry. It must be very hard to send him somewhere where he gets scared because of the yelling.

I think instructing him to call you is an excellent idea.

But, what happens when he calls 911,and they show up? The police will talk to the adults, who will downplay the entire thing. They may speak to your son. If no one was physically abusive, they will tell the adults to calm down before it escalates. They may suggest one of them leave for a bit. But no one will be arrested for arguing loudly, if there was no physical violence. And,if it's yoir ex's weekend for visitation, they won't insist he take your son home.

Then they will leave. And then your son will be alone with two adults who will be angry and embarrassed that he called the police to the home.

My worry is, your ex is a shitty father, at best. He has never protected him from the girlfriend's son who bullies your son. The girlfriend is already not very nice to your son. I'm worried that this will cause the girlfriend to treat your son badly, at least worse than she already does. And she may encourage her son to be mean, because she is smart enough to know she could get in trouble for being mean to your son, so she will do it through her kid.

Again, I understand your worry. My worry is if he calls 911, things will get worse for him while he is there.

[This message edited by HellFire at 4:34 PM, October 2nd (Wednesday)]

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