Chris S. called the police on her son last night. The boy is 8 years old.
It is not the first time that Chris could not handle E., who is almost as tall as she, and who suffers from what she describes as "a severe psychological disorder." As he gets bigger, and stronger, she is in potentially more danger. Officers have been to her home before.
What set E. off this particular time, she says, is that his routine and expectations were disrupted by the strike by teachers in Chicago, where she and her husband live with E. and his younger brother. Children like E. thrive on consistency, she wrote on a blog about the strike, because "the regular structure that school provides wears a groove in them that grows deeper with each passing day. When that stability and routine is pulled from them suddenly... there are consequences. This change of schedule and brand new environment at a contingency site is too much for him. I'm ready for my son to be back in school..."
As she described on Facebook last night, things got ugly, quickly:
I have a bruised hand, sore forearm, and who knows what condition the back of my knee will be in once it stops throbbing. He just snapped tonight. It is not usual for him to snap. He's nearly as big as I am, and I can no longer fend for myself against him. There was some post I read in my feed a few months back -- Lisa Belkin, maybe it was your Huffington Post column -- about what it would take for a parent to call the cops on their child. I can tell you from experience in this house ... five seconds.
I certainly remember that post. It was prompted by a mother who could not handle the constant fighting among her five children, and who called the police to take the two older teens away. "I want them out of here," she said.
Readers responded back then by either proclaiming the mother a hero for putting her foot down with her disrespectful kids or excoriating her as an unfit parent who is takes the easy way out -- in this case, calling the police -- rather than disciplining them.
Chris's 911 call, though, was something else altogether. It was a cry for help from a fearful woman whose husband was not home and who was watching her child build to what seemed an inevitable explosion.
As she wrote later in the evening:
I think he just had a psychotic break. He had taken some sedatives prior to his break, and they kicked in about a minute before paramedics/cops arrived.
Two officers and two paramedics stayed for awhile and evaluated the boy, deciding he did not need to go to the hospital this time.
"Just" a psychotic break.
How to live with a little boy who frightens you?
What would it take for YOU to call the cops on your child?
The names in this article have been changed to protect the family's privacy.