Of course the child we’re caring for, Kabooyah, is Someone Else’s Child, but that point was driven home the other day:
The other morning, I was making breakfast while Seth and Kabooyah were “playing tag” with Ladybug. They have done this before, and while it’s probably not Ladybug’s favorite activity, they only ever chase her – never grabbing or even actually touching because she is too smart to let herself get caught by a 4- and 5-year old. Well, that morning, she had had enough, and plopped herself on the couch to signal, “No really! I’m done with this game!” Kabooyah got up in her face, and she nipped him on the ear. (I was within hearing, but didn’t have direct line-of-sight, so this is how I picture it to have happened.) When K started crying, I rushed over to comfort him, and learned that Ladybug had bit him. I checked out his ear, and saw no marks other than his ear looking slightly pink. No blood, no scratch marks, etc. I told the boys not to chase the dog anymore, as this was now proof that she doesn’t like it.
K was scheduled to have a visit about 90 minutes later, so I sent an email to the social worker along the lines of “Everything’s okay! but just in case he mentions it, our dog nipped K’s ear but left no marks.” Upon picking up K from his visit, his SW told me she had taken a photo of his ear, and asked me to get him checked out by the doctor. I said, “Sure” and within 10 minutes I scheduled an appointment for on our way home.
While we were waiting the 30 minutes for the doctor to check K out (which, by the way, is a 30 minute block I’m so glad I never have to re-live again. Thirty minutes in an 8 x 8 room with tired, cranky 4- and 5-year olds who just spent an hour in the car, with only a single Let’s Find Pokemon book and the contents of my purse as entertainment, is NOT FUN.), a licenser called to ask if we were going to be taking K to the dr. I said that we were waiting for the doctor as we spoke. She said, “Great! Because his SW didn’t know if you were going to be taking him or not.” Grr. When the doctor did finally arrive, she said to keep an eye on it for signs of infection, and apply cool compresses or give him children’s ibuprofen if he complained of pain. And to be fair, between when I looked at it in the morning, and the afternoon, the spot had developed three teeny-tiny marks. But other than me checking on it occasionally over the next couple days, K never mentioned it again.
A few days later, the same licenser called to make an appointment to come to our house to interview K and meet our dog. I got pretty anxious, not knowing what level of seriousness this was — if I would get a black mark for being in a different room than kids + dog, or if they would want us to get rid of Ladybug, or remove K from our home… Fortunately the licenser was much friendlier in person. She stayed for about for about 45 minutes, getting the low down from K about what happened (whose details by then were pretty fuzzy), met LB, and spent a lot of time talking with me and answering my questions about what this meant. Now we wait for her report, in which the claim of a WAC violation will come back as “Valid” or “Not Valid.” Even if it is valid, all is okay, as long as dog bites don’t become a recurring problem. Even then, we would simply figure out an Action Plan, such as not letting K and Ladybug share space, or for me to make sure that I always closely supervise their time together.
I have tried to remind myself that if the shoe were on the other foot, I would probably want the same level of investigation if our son had gotten bit by a strange dog at a strange house. But long story short (too late!), this incident is a great reminder that parenting K is a very public job.