“So you think she had a death wish?” I said.
“Not exactly. She just seemed to delight in provocation.” Said Mick.
“Are you happy to talk in front of Ishmael?” I said.
“Hey I’m happy to go bug someone else.” Said Ishmael.
“She wasn’t my client. I owe her nothing. As long as you don’t ask for details of my patients I’m happy to talk no matter who hears.” Said Mick.
It was nice that he was happy but I wasn’t I’d rather my little brother not hear this stuff but he’s a big boy and in spite of what he’d said he looked like his arse had taken root on his chair.
“What was she like?” I said.
He took a long pull on his beer while he considered. “At first she seemed like every other Social Worker. When I first met her she called me up about one of my patients. The patient had signed a consent form permitting me to talk to her. She asked all the usual questions and she nodded in all the right places. I didn’t know there was a problem till I got a copy of the report she sent to the case conference.” He paused and took another drink.
“And?” I said.
“And I was very upset. My first instinct was to call her senior and complain about wholesale lies. But the more I thought about it the more I realised that none of what she’d said was actually untrue. That was the worst thing about it.” Said Mick.
“What do you mean it wasn’t untrue.” I said.
“I mean that it wasn’t so much what she’d said as how she’d said it. On first reading of the report it sounded like she’d quoted me saying that my patient was violent and difficult and I felt intimidated by her. Actually what she’d done was carefully place things I had said alongside her own impressions or unrelated facts in such a way as it sounded like there was a narrative there. I say my patient is dealing with deep seated anger issues, the Dingo felt intimidated, there had been violent incidents with the neighbours. What she didn’t say was that the patient was successfully dealing with the issues and the violence was from the neighbours toward the patient and that the Dingo’s impression had nothing to do with anything.” He stopped talking to drink more of his beer.
“So what happened in that case?” I said.
“Oh the children were looked after within the family for a few months. When the mother got them back she moved out of the city as soon as she could.” Said Mick
“So what is it about the Dingo that people aren’t telling me.” I said.
“Oh good question. Have you ever thought of studying psychology?” Said Mick
“Nice deflection. Have you ever thought about politics.” I said.
“If you keep insulting me like that I shall leave.” He said, but he was smiling.
“Back to my question.” I said.
“What they’re not telling you is that she was as broken as any of the people she worked with. I can’t say exactly how she was broken. I could guess at a diagnosis but it would be a guess. She had a gift. She could spot a person’s hidden weaknesses and use them like a big key to wind a person up till they would snap. And then she would swoop in and ‘save’ their children. Even if the snap was no such thing.” Said Mick.
“But you just said she would wind someone up till they snapped.” I said.
“Oh come on. You’re a clever woman. You know that there’s a snap and then there’s a snap. The things a mother or father might say or do to another adult often don’t really have much to do with their ability to care for their children. But would you bet a child’s life on that?” He said.
And he was right. I have my buttons and they can be pushed. I’ve felt the black rage rise up and I’ve fought to hold it back but the overwhelming desire to use my walking stick as a suppository on certain adults does not make me a danger to my children…