Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Be Careful How You Step

30 September 2013

Your storyteller here often prides himself on what appears to be an uncanny knack to not only consciously observe his surroundings but to be subconsciously immersed by the sensory input and the mental processing that whisk him past all hazards. So it is with the most humble of moods that I engage you in this tale of doggie defecation mayhem.

My regular work in the building trades as a general contractor for home building and remodeling took a sudden downturn in 2008. From then I pursued the white collar trade of counseling my fellow parents and lawyers. I am now fully disposed to improving their child custody cases and lives in general. But I still help a friend with the building trades when asked. So here is the story of my latest misadventure as I recited it to a friend who also works in the building trades.

I was doing some electrical work in a house today where a dog also resided. It didn't bother me other than the non-stop barking. I was able to complete the work, get on my way home and settle in for a bite to eat. And some rest As the pleasant aroma of my culinary delights hung in the steamy air of the kitchen no such delights greeted me upon my returned to the living room. In there – where I had shed my outer wear and keep the bicycles – I was greeted by the distinct odor of, shall I say, doggie keester cakes. I grabbed a shoe and took a look. Sure enough the underside of my right shoe appeared as though I had trod through a hog sty. Out the door went the shoes.

Upon completing my meal in my bedroom, which was more appealing to the olfactory sense, I headed out to run some errands. Although I had left the front and back doors open, as I sat in the living room slipping my feet into my cycling shoes, I was still engulfed in the odor of doggie keester cakes. I pulled the bike back down from the ceiling and was on my way.

Upon completion of those chores I then cleaned the shoe I had worn while installing the electrical lines this morning. With a bucket of water and a wire brush I cleaned off the underside of the assaulted shoe as I sat on the deck. Although I had kept the door closed, when I went back into the house there it was again – doggie keester cakes odor. I repeat the airing out process by leaving the doors open again. This time for sure, there was a steady breeze that brought air into the living room and exited onto the deck which should do it.

While I was picking up a few items from the living room floor, my face on the same plane as my bicycle pedals, I discovered that the pedals were encrusted with some of the offending doggie keester cakes. At this point I am getting pissed-off. You know that doesn't happen often. So out the door goes the bicycle and the explanation of why the offending scent was ever present in my home.

Notice that I said “pedals” – the plural. Yep, it was on both shoes. So, I went back out to the deck and scrubbed the underside of the left shoe this time. The it was onto cleaning the pedals. There was doggie keester cakes mashed into the springs and every other part of the pedals. That was more challenging to clean but I got it done. I even used chemicals.

Back to mental stimulation. I was in the bedroom studying for an hour or so and then, of course with me, it was time to eat again. As soon as I step into the hall I smell that damn doggie keester cakes odor hanging in the air like burnt toast. That's when the power of the subconscious kicks in. There on the floor are my cycling shoes. Recall that I said I put those on to run errands and I used the bike which I had just scoured the doggie keester cakes encrusted pedals. Without conscious thought I pick them up and walk out to the deck. Sure enough there is doggie keester cakes packed into the cleats of the shoes.

So, I had stepped into doggie keester cakes while doing that electrical work. But it wasn't like walking through a yard. I trod through it repeatedly enough to get it all over both shoes. Then I rode home getting it into the pedals of my bicycle. While riding again, this time wearing my cycling cleats, it gets packed into them. I cleaned one shoe, then the other, then the pedals and finally, later, the cycling shoes. No wonder my house had doggie keester cakes odor in it all damn afternoon.

It's at this point that my buddy, while trying to overcome his laughter, queries as to who else was I doing electrical work for today. I responded that he better watch his step when he gets home and get out the carpet cleaner because I was talking about working at his house. He boisterous chuckles quickly faded.

I don't provide this anecdote to you today for the purpose of comic relief but instead to demonstrate the consequences of failing to abide by a valuable maxim – always consider the cause and collateral results. This is especially true in parenting decisions and child custody litigation.

One of my best examples is the father who comes to me to assist he and his attorney with an upcoming custody hearing. They had amassed the evidence and were ready to demonstrate to the court with their “proof” that the mother had abused and neglected the child. He was convinced that he would leave court that day with custody of his child. I suggested that he could leave court that day on his way to jail. Here is why.

Indiana has a duty to report statute[fn1] that makes it an offense if you suspect child abuse or neglect and don't report it to appropriate authorities. Their strategy was to begin with the testimony of Father, the moving party, as to his awareness of Mother's abuse and neglect of the child for over a year. Although he did much to ameliorate the harmful effects he still knew and didn't report it. Instead, I suggested that he testify as to the actions that he took to ameliorate the negative effects without revealing that it was done in direct response to knowing of the abuse and neglect. Then they could question Mother in a similar manner to reveal her offenses. If she denied everything then they could present their “proof” and likely be assured that Mother's abuse and neglect of the child as well as the lying about it in her testimony would obscure his failure to report.

In the doggie keester cakes debacle I shamefully missed this. I should have checked both shoes. I should have then been able to realize that if it was smeared across the bottom of both shoes then it was going to be on both pedals of the bike on which I rode home. But I didn't. The consequence was that it ended up in the cleats of my cycling shoes.

Effective management of a child custody case requires vigilance and forethought in all parenting actions. It is much the way chess is played – looking for a way to advance your position while ensuring that you are not opening yourself to attack. The further one can anticipate upcoming moves the more successful a player he or she will be.

Proper analysis is a must. When an event occurs think about what precipitated that event, what course of actions followed the event, and what are the possible outcomes from inaction or the various choice of actions and their potential results. For additionally perspective on how narrow focus – tunnel vision – can taint rational thinking see what I have previously written about unintended consequences HERE. http://bcchildadvocates.blogspot.com/2011/08/unintended-consequences-success.html

1] IC 31-33-5-1 - Duty to make report. “In addition to any other duty to report arising under this article, an individual who has reason to believe that a child is a victim of child abuse or neglect shall make a report as required by this article.”
While many attorneys and providers are aware of the requirement few are aware of the criminal penalty. IC 31-33-22-1 - Failure to make report. “(a) A person who knowingly fails to make a report required by IC 31-33-5-1 commits a Class B misdemeanor.” That's up to 60 days in jail.

If your clients' case involves an upcoming custody hearing and you want to be best prepared then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. There is no charge for initial attorney consultations.

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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

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