Writer and Social Reformist
I will persevere until Contempt becomes required reading for every family court judge in the country.
My 12-year-old son sits beside me as I type. Let’s call him Max, because that’s his name in my book. Max shouldn’t be here, he should be in school. Instead, he sits beside me, watching YouTube videos and eating a dried up coffee shop lemon loaf, while I work on edits of my book.
A year ago he had a normal life. He went to school, came home at the end of each day with details about his life there, did homework and chores, went to hockey practice and music lessons, and played with his friends. He was surrounded by normal, parents who did normal activities, family and friends. He had a regular home and regular life. Everything was stable, as it should be for every child.
Max’s life is far from normal now. He is into month seven of chaos, chaos caused by the actions of the Family Courts in Nova Scotia and the actions of the Government of Nova Scotia. Chaos that could have been avoided, if even one person had used an ounce of common sense, or dare I say it, did the right thing. But, no, not this crew.
In the past year, he’s slept in at least half a dozen different places, lived in four cities, and gone to two schools with the third one up in the air right now. Hence, his presence beside me at the coffee shop. School is complicated. To go to school you need a residence. For a residence, you need income, and on and on.
He spent his summer playing video games, because it was his only social interaction. I suffered guilt as a parent, but Fortnite became the lesser of two evils when the alternative was spending all of his time with us, who spend our lives fighting for our survival. You know it’s bad when the video game is the healthier option. The highlight of his day was a Crazy-8s tournament with me and a daily walk in the nearby park. He’s a trooper and didn’t complain too much that his only buddy was his mom, but it’s wrong. All just so wrong, and it was all so avoidable.
I couldn’t wait for him to start school, to be able to talk to another child. But, alas, here he sits.
It gets better. To qualify for basic health care, as in, the ability to go see a doctor, you need a residence. The Province of Nova Scotia took that right from him. For the past seven months, my child, my asthmatic child, has not had the basic right to go to a doctor if he gets sick. God help them all if something serious happens to my family, while they spin their wheels.
To understand how we got here, you will need to wait for the book, but in the meantime, what you should know is that people who should have known better – politicians, government employees, judges - failed to do their jobs and left my family in this horrific situation.
We’ve been trying to be heard for years, to resolve issues, but officials, instead of listening, have tried to silence us. I believe these officials know we have a story to tell. One particular judge in Nova Scotia has been sitting on this case for two years with no explanation, directly causing our circumstance today.
Now, it looks like we will finally get to publicly tell our story, and I am ready. Their story has been based on fluffy pink elephants and sand castles in the sky, narrated by the voices in one person’s head. We will have our chance, and I will finally get to speak my truth.
When I try to explain our situation to people, I am reminded of a video circulated through email, before the social media era, a social experiment.
Before the video starts, the viewer is instructed to count the number of times a ball is passed back and forth between the people on screen who are wearing white t-shirts. The video lasts a minute or so, and there is a group of half a dozen or so students, some in black shirts, some in white. The ball is passed around between the students and the viewer focuses only on those students in the white shirts.
At the end of the video, another statement appears on the screen. “Did you notice the gorilla?”
Huh? What Gorilla? There was no gorilla, only a group of students passing a ball back and forth.
I remember starting the video again from the beginning and watching, not the students in white t-shirts, but the video itself. After a few seconds of the ball being tossed around, a gorilla walks into the space, waves its arms around and walks off. So obvious. It was right there the whole damn time!
I’ve tried watching the video again, tried watching it without seeing the gorilla, but now, I can’t un-see it. There is a freaking gorilla walking around onscreen and I don’t know how I ever missed it.
Our life has been this video, for seven years now. For seven endless years we have been trying to get officials in the government and in the courts to see the gorilla, but with their tunnel vision, all they choose to see is white shirts. When they spot the gorilla, they quickly pretend they haven’t seen it, because that would mean admitting a mistake and taking accountability. No one knows what to do with that, but the cracks are showing, and we are getting closer.
Pay attention. Look for the gorilla.