Last week Arthur had his two-year check. A check that apparently is supposed to make sure he’s hitting his milestones, that he’s happy, healthy and doing everything a two-year-old should be.
I guess it’s also a chance for the professionals to make sure I’m doing my job as his mum and that his world is everything it should be at two-years old. So when a very polite young man turned up I expected him to play with Arthur, interact with him and get to know my little man. Instead I was subjected to a questionnaire which ticked boxes as I answered yes or no to a barrage of standard questions.
Frighteningly they were questions I could hide from had I felt the need. Questions that, without proper interation from this health visitor, didn’t even scratch the surface of my little boy’s world.
Granted he did talk to Arthur but it was only brief words when Arthur initiated it. I was asked, “Can he build a tower, jump, does he enjoy nursery, does he use his imagination” and so the list went on. Scribbling answers in his little book and he didn’t even want to see our red book. He also said if I wanted to get Arthur weighed to take him to a clinic as he didn’t have his scales.
After he went I thought long about our experience. What if Arthur was a little boy in trouble, desperate for help, covered in bruises that would have been clear if undressed and weighed there and then. What if I had wanted to cover up his progress? I could answer as I pleased and there was no way this was picked up.
This check should be a safety net as well as a medical requirement. Despite a written report they know nothing about my boy and whether he’s happy and healthy. Today the news has been filled with horrific coverage about the vile woman who beat her two-year-old son to death over a prolonged period. What if his check had been a detached questionnaire.
Perhaps I had middle-class , two-parent family written all over me – a low risk where time, stripped to the bone by overwork and understaffing, is rationed and saved for those who really need it. Their assumption, many of us know, is the mother of all f*ck-ups. They don’t know me and my boy and the more I thought about this the more it filled me with a sense of unease.
I was talking to a friend who said her check had been completely different. Her daughter had been asked to build a tower, thread some beads, talk, dance and generally interact. Not much to ask is it? I just hope we were the exception to the rule. I would question why these checks are not standardised. That those carrying them out are not told and told again how important it is to understand the child physically and emotionally.
How many children have had their check and fallen through the net I wonder.