Aaron R. Davis
What a difference a day without the Internet makes.
I was blissfully offline the other day when most of America came to a grinding halt in order to scratch their collective heads and watch an empty balloon float away while the Heene family pretended their precious snowflake was trapped inside and in mortal danger. Getting online that evening, I saw that the Internet had already reduced the incident to a series of memes, with Kanye West interrupting and Adolf Hitler getting angry about it and all of the other dismissive bullshit that keeps everyone distracted from doing any real work.
It was a quintessentially American moment: an outpouring of caring (for an endangered white child) punctuated by a stop of productivity and an emotional immaturity so powerful it’s almost dangerous, and it made everyone involved – the Heenes, the police, the media and everyone paying attention to it – look like total idiots. And then it all turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by the Heenes for media attention so they could sell a reality show.
Yes, we love to exploit our children. We also love to watch people exploit their children; it’s entertaining. And when it stops being fun and it becomes more obvious that Kate Gosselin is insane or Dina Lohan is a dumbass of dangerous levels and the whole thing gets creepy, we have the pleasure of feeling superior to someone who would exploit their own babies, because we would never do something so vile. And if there’s one thing we love more than watching freaks, it’s having the moral high ground. (Hell, I’m enjoying my smug superiority right now by dismissing the Heene Hoax as an act of idiocy perpetrated by idiots for the pleasure of idiots, aren’t I?)
But there are times when having the moral high ground doesn’t take any effort at all. There are some people who just so terrible, who do something so unforgivable, that they seem to have been put in this world for the sole purpose of providing object lessons to the rest of us on how not to act.
This is a case with an unnamed woman in the UK whose exploitation of her young son make the Heenes, the Gosselins and even the Lohans of the world look like they just made a couple of honest mistakes.
This 35 year-old woman thought the easiest way to make money would be to claim that her baby was seriously ill. For six years.
For six years, she claimed around $200,000 in benefits because she lied to the authorities and claimed her child was very ill.
Now, it’s one thing (one very bad thing) to lie and say your baby is sick. But this gets even worse.
She provided fake glucose and urine samples to prove her son was diabetic.
She claimed the boy had cerebral palsy and cystic fibrosis, so she got a wheelchair and made sure her son’s school spent thousands making itself wheelchair-friendly.
She claimed he had dysphagia (a throat disorder) and all manner of food allergies, and the perfectly healthy boy had to be hooked up to a drip to take in liquid food. Which is nothing compared to the fact that, even though the doctors found nothing wrong with the kid in actual medical tests, doctors installed a tube in his stomach to avoid reflux at her behest. Unnecessary surgery on a four-year-old kid? That almost makes Ali Lohan’s underage boob job seem like mother-daughter bonding.
The kid, now eight, was on a special diet for diabetics and prescribed medication he didn’t need. He received care at three hospitals, where apparently they just take the mother’s word for it and don’t do any actual medical testing. Who runs that hospital? Jenny McCarthy? According to her, being a mom makes you medically qualified, right? And this woman, just like Jenny McCarthy and her dangerous anti-vaccine bullshit, claimed that she had some sort of medical background. She even wore a nurse’s uniform when taking care of her kid’s made-up illnesses.
The kid was perfectly healthy, and that’s the truly sick part of all of this. This kid was apparently a bit of a celebrity – he appeared in magazines and on television, got to meet members of the Royal Family and even conned X Factor tickets out of Simon Cowell – but away from the public eye, he would get out of his wheelchair and run and play with his friends and eat hamburgers and chips and generally act like, you know, a perfectly healthy child. Which is what he was. Except that he had a mother who was sick and ridiculous and, I’ll just say it, lazy.
We’re talking about a woman who thought it was a great idea to have her son undergo completely unnecessary surgical procedures and medical treatments and spending six weeks a year in the hospital and being fitted with a permanent feeding tube so that she could go on vacations and make improvements to her house. She makes the Octomom look like an underachiever. She conned charities and the government and the British public, and all she had to do was exploit her child for sympathy.
How well-adjusted was this woman? Whenever doctors would finally become suspicious, she would cancel appointments by claiming she had been raped.
Apparently it was the kid himself who blew the whole deal. And not purposely, either; just by being a kid and telling his friends that he didn’t have to use his wheelchair or his feeding tubes at home. It got enough people suspicious that the police finally searched her home. They actually found a home video of the boy running on a beach and looking like a perfectly healthy child. Which, again, is what he was.
Unfortunately for him, his mother was a very sick woman who probably has Munchausen’s Syndrome by Proxy. She needs help. And the British medical system needs to figure out why it took them six damn years to figure out that she was lying.
But none of that changes the fact that she nearly sacrificed him for some money and some attention.
Frankly, I’m surprised she doesn’t already have her own reality show.
Aaron R. Davis lives in a cave at the bottom of the ocean with his eyes shut tight and his fingers in his ears. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.