But this Sunday, after passing through Harrison, Arkansas and going a few miles on Highway 62, our right rear tire blew. It was bad, splitting all over the place and practically disintegrating. I pulled off the highway and putted up to a smooth cement driveway to change the tire, having to put on that rinky-dink modern spare (you know, the motorcycle tire they try to pass for a temporary car tire). And so we then had to turn around and go back to Harrison, to Walmart, to buy a new tire and have it put on. Meanwhile we went shopping in the store.
When the tire was ready, we piled into the station wagon and drove back home, being too late for church. When we got home and got out of the car and into the house, Micki asked, "Where's Julia?"
Whenever I got into the car with the whole family, I always asked, "Is everybody in?" And when I heard a positive answer, off we went. I did this at Walmart, but everybody thought that Julia was sitting with somebody else in another seat. Micki thought she was sitting up in front between Sam and me. No one was sitting between Sam and me. We had left almost-4-year-old Julia at Walmart in Harrison, Arkansas -- 40 miles away!
Micki called Walmart, and they said she was at the Harrison Police Department. I called the police department and talked with Staff Sgt. Hudson, a very mean fellow, who said that officer so-and-so was bringing her in, and the last thing he told me was, "Come on in, we have to talk."
We have friends who have had their child or children taken away by Social Services for even less reasons, and so Micki and I were terrified that the SS would take Julia! When Hudson said, "We have to talk," instead of "She'll be here," I was beyond worried. That drive down to Harrison was the longest drive I've ever made. We really expected to see a Child Protective Services (CPS) agent there.
When we got there, we had to wait by an "Authorized Personnel Only" door, and finally the door opened, and no Julia! There stood two police officers. There was a moment of silence before Micki said, panic-stricken, "Where's Julia? Where's my little girl?"
Hudson, one of the men, just said coldly, "She's in a safe place." Our hearts fell. Micki began shouting, and Hudson said, "Now if there's any anger displayed, even the slightest altercation, your child will be turned over to DSHS and put in a safe house!" That didn't make us feel better about this man, but it certainly shut us up. Then I as calmly as possible told him what happened, and Micki later told me, "I don't know what you said to him, but it sure made them change their attitudes."
They then led us back to the office, where Julia was happily waiting for us, having had a "happy meal" at McDonald's on the way to the station, and drinking pop and eating cookies and holding Teddy bears. (Some retired women's group made Teddy bears to help comfort lost and/or traumatized children, and the police must have a surplus because they had given Julia five of them!)
Both Micki and I had to fill out reports separately about what had happened, and then we were free to go...with Julia. But Hudson's last words stung: "DSHS will probably be calling you."
Julia took all this experience in stride. She said she wasn't worried or afraid when alone in Walmart (had stayed in the electronics department, where she had been left). Her only worry was when the police officer came and took her from the store. She thought we were still somewhere in the store, and so didn't want to be taken away. She didn't fuss though, but the officer said that that was the only time it looked like she might cry. She told me quietly afterwards that she thought she was being taken away forever and that she'd never see us again.
The DSHS (Socialist Services) is one of the most corrupt and scary institution in the U.S. Even for such a measly reason as to provide more funding for itself, it commonly finds excuses to take children and place them in foster care, and (because taking care of children is good and politically correct) it is allowed to do just about whatever it wants, with no interference from any other governmental body. The parents are considered guilty until they can prove themselves innocent, and this process can take years. Meanwhile the child is in foster care, and often abused and/or molested. Well, once they start after you, they usually persist. Often the father (or mother) loses it in the process, and does something violent, and so is imprisoned, and the family is then forced onto welfare and the children then belong to the State. It's horrible.
Fortunately we had Cheryl Barnes as our good friend, who had founded CPS Watch and published a magazine. She told us just what to do if CPS/DSHS contacted us. "Whatever you do," she said, "don't let them into your house." Once into your house, you become their Case #___ and even if they see a dirty diaper, or food in the corner, or whatever, they can take the children and accuse us of child endangerment.
Luckily we had Caller I.D. service, and the next day (Monday) we got a call from a "blocked" line. This means that the caller didn't want you to know who he/she is. Since the only other blocked call we had ever gotten was from Micki's friend Alice in California, and Alice knew to leave a message to let us know it's her, we assumed this call was from DSHS. On Tuesday we had three calls from a blocked line! On Wednesday two calls. On Thursday one call. Then they stopped.
Cheryl said that if they do come to your door, don't let them in, but if you don't want to slam the door in their faces, step outside to speak with them, saying something like, "Look, we're discussing the most important thing in the world to me--my children, my family--and so we should be very careful and we shouldn't cut corners. As Americans we have the right to privacy. If you want to come into our home, you'll need to get a search warrant. And if you do, I will cooperate." Now, Cheryl said, they won't get a search warrant, because in order to get one, they have to provide proof to a judge of child endangerment. And even if they do provide some sort of proof and do get a search warrant, they still can't enter your home, but they can have the child brought in for an examination. This would be an extreme possibility, and I hate to think of the trauma such a molestation would be upon a child, but then, unless the doctor finds proof of abuse or molestation, you take the child back home and they have to leave you alone.
I wasn't too worried about it, because virtually everyone we told about this terrible experience of leaving Julia at Walmart then told us of a similar experience they once had. It turns out that it's fairly common, but it was the only time it ever happened with us. After that, instead of just asking, "Is everybody in?" I made sure.
For the complete contents of the Butter Rum Cartoon, click here.