Violence

Funny-Animals-funny-animals-fun-animals-bears-pics-3_largeLately the subject of violence has been front and center here. I was picked on a lot as a kid. I was small, had glasses, and was a tom-boy. I was also pretty fiesty if needs be. I guess I could say being the youngest in my family trained me to tolerate teasing—to a point.

But when it comes to your own kids, you want them to stick up for themselves. You want them to have the self-esteem to know teasing is wrong and people shouldn’t be allowed to do it. You want them to defend themselves or friends to bullies because little bullies usually turn into big bullies.

My daughter has been picked on or bullied several times in the last week, by different people. My response upon hearing this was to protect her, take care of her, fight FOR her. However, I wasn’t always there for all the events.

Situation #1 was at the baseball field at her brother’s practice. I love playing baseball so I had been volunteering to help the boys here and there. A boy came over to the playground and announced the game the girls were playing was stupid and they were stupid. My daughter told him it wasn’t stupid and they went back and forth until she tackled him. I had seen her do this before to other boys—and all was consensual wrestling. I assumed the same thing.

In the second situation we were at the baseball field again. My daughter came up to me and tells me this story:

Mom, I was playing in the sandbox with the sand toys I brought. A little girl came up to me and we were sharing my toys. But then she demanded to have the shovel—the ONLY shovel—and I said no. I was using it. She stood up, called me “stupid” and tried to grab the shovel out of my hand. I took my toys and went to the other sandbox. I saw her kick over my old sand castle.
Once I was done with the new sand castle, I came over to tell you what happened and she kicked over THAT sand castle.

Later on she asked me to talk to the Dad. This was one mean-looking somenabitch—complete with missing teeth. But Mama Bear I went up to him, told him what his daughter had done and I asked if he could speak to her. He glared at me, told me MY daughter had bent her finger back and NO he wasn’t going to talk to her. She was only 4 years old. Okie dokie then…

Situation #3 was at the YMCA. I left her in the childcare room and 2 hours later I came back and she had been silent and pouting almost the whole time, according to the staff. No, I don’t know why I wasn’t told sooner. That’s another issue. Some boys wanted to use the foam blocks she was using to build a fort. There were MILLIONS of blocks. The boys were just being pests, except when they wouldn’t STOP trying to steal her blocks. She yelled at them and a staff member came over and told her not to speak to other kids like that. Instead of telling the teacher about the ridiculous boys, she went and pouted.

I finally sat down and talked to her about the teasing and bullying. I had wanted her to use her voice more, to defend herself better. I explained that you should always use your words first. If someone puts their hands on you go get an adult. In a real pinch defend yourself using as little force as necessary.

So we went through each situation and I listened to her rationalize her reactions. I was astonished at how carefully she thought things through. I thought she was being meek. Her words:

Well Mom, with the boy, I knew him and he was the same size as me. He made me really mad. I know I shouldn’t have tackled him but we do that sometimes at school. He was laughing the whole thing.
With the little girl…well…she was little. I told her No and that’s when she tried to grab the shovel out of my hand (which bent her finger back). I knew I couldn’t do anything else, because she was little. So I just left.
And with the boys at the YMCA, they just wanted some blocks eventhough there were a ton around them. They weren’t hitting me or calling me names. I didn’t think the staff would listen to me because I was told not to yell at them. They weren’t even paying attention. So I just hid in my fort until they went away.

I realized in each instance she used a different tactic specific to the situation. She wasn’t being meek and she was using her voice when people were picking on her.

I was pretty proud.

Run a Marathon Without Standing Up!

Are you here because you want to know how to run a marathon without standing up?

You can’t.

But while you’re here, let me say I feel like I ran a marathon. Why so weary? Simple. I went to the YMCA with kids last night. I walked a quarter-mile around the track—with frequent stops to peer down into the basketball court while my son played with other kids. Then, my foot started acting up.

I have a bone spur (bunion) and it really bothers me. I have custom shoe inserts. I wear them faithfully. If I do any length of walking, my foot hurts. Even with cortizone shots. Only options left is surgery.

The rest of the evening I read my book while the kids went up and down the climbing wall. SUPER strenuous, I know. Yet, today, bone weary.

Well…I’m also doing a lot of over-time at work. 2 hours a day to be exact. So on top of all the other things this Momma (and every other Momma) has to do in a day—I also work at my job for 10-hours. That might be a part of it.

But I’m not complaining about working. I want to work. It’s good money, and I need money. The kids Dad still has no job, which means no child support. I make ends meet but not without some serious budgeting and prioritizing. And my rent is going up. And the kids need clothes (thank God for Goodwill) and they need food (thank God for Aldi’s)…and yadda yadda. Oh, and I haven’t actually been able to contribute financially to this big party coming up in October—the wedding.

Apparently the pity wagon made a stop at my house! Well…those boot straps won’t pull themselves up…time to make dinner.

Scared

Once again, it’s that time: the time I drive my kids to see their father. He lives quite far so we meet up at a halfway point. The kids get to see him only 2-3 times a year. For me, that’s more than enough.

Since our divorce I feel like we have become strangers to each other. I barely know or understand him anymore. So, why wouldn’t I be scared about letting a stranger watch my kids for a week?

Last night I went out and bought the girl a pre-paid phone. She is aware of the chronic issues her father deals with, even if she doesn’t fully understand them. She knows what he ISN’T suppose to consume while they are with him. She knows to call for help if she ever needs it. And it completely saddens me that she has to deal with this at such a young age.

I haven’t always been a religious person. Now I’d say I was more spiritual. I believe in a higher power. I have seen my HP work wonders I cannot ever explain. I know is sounds hokey, but when I pray to my HP, I actually see results. No shit. So I am praying for my children’s safety and happiness for the next week. I am also praying I will relax a little and enjoy the much needed break.

Heaven Help Me

Anniversary

Today is very near a bad anniversary for me. I wanted to share about it tonight because I want to always remember how far I have come, even if it’s just a little bit. Someone close to me at the time made some really bad choices that landed them in a heap of trouble. Worse, my kids were there. Thankfully no one was hurt and the kids were unaware of what was really happening.

I went over the details of those days again and again. So many “What Ifs” came to mind. I was feeling like I was a horrible mother because I allowed my kids to be with this person that day. I felt a lot of shame, I was angry at myself, and I felt worthlessness. But looking back today I have a different perspective. Someone was watching out for us, keeping us all safe. I also needed to accept the reality of my life.

I realized I had choices.

My life was unmanageable. Once I accepted that—slowly, very slowly my life began to change. I made different decisions. I took time to think, not react. I adopted catch phrases to help me slow down like, “You might be right,” during an argument. I began letting go and detaching from this person. I also began living my own life.

Today things are very different. I am learning how to take care of myself. I have no control over anyone but myself. I am learning I can support my kids but I don’t have control over their pain.
It’s better, but not perfect. I think they call that progress.

My New Year Started with a Slap

OKSlapShot

I’m back from 10 days off from work and I’ll tell ya…vacations with children don’t always seem like vacations to me. Sometimes I need a vacation from my vacation.

We had a great time seeing family. My kids played with 2 soon-to-be-cousins and had a great time. The parents of said children were also great. It’s nice to meet other parents who actually supervise their children. That being said, coming home was a tad rough.

I don’t spank my kids. I was never spanked (truly.) My brother raised his 3 without spanking. But my son…he REALLY tests my boundaries. Like…a lot. My daughter has always been a rule-follower. A side-eye glance from me and she usually toed the line. But my son, God love him.

So, while on vacation I witnesses some very consistent parenting and was really jealous. I know what my faults are in parenting, but I don’t always know how to fix them. Consistency is a problem that my son capitalizes on frequently. While watching these parents in action I learned a few other things like: following through with discipline. A kid who realizes you are going to follow-through might not be tempted to act up again. Especially when they use spanking. Therefore spanking might only need to be used a few times.

Here’s why I mention spanking: because it’s something I haven’t tried yet. When we created the new house rules, one of the rules was No Hitting. My son usually doesn’t hit on purpose but somehow he hits his sister about 1x a week. He will more likely be playing, get riled up and fling something that hits you. Or he will be happily dancing with his sister, being silly, she will shake her booty at him and he will decide to tap her on the butt with a plastic wand. Only, it’s not a tap. Yes, this is what happened last night.
I heard the *snap* from 2 rooms away.

Luckily his sister didn’t cry but I. Had. Had It.

So the No Hitting consequences changed that minute. I calmly told him to go to his room. I calmly went in and talked to him about what he did. How do you think your sister feels? Does she like being hit? How does it feel to be hit? Is it nice even if it’s an accident? And so on…He admitted he didn’t know what it felt like to be hit. So I spanked him 5 times, fairly hard, with my hand. He laughed afterward and said it didn’t hurt. So I got the wand and asked him if he thought this would hurt worse. He didn’t know. So I spanked him with it and you could tell it stung. His eyes welled up (insert sound of my heart breaking).

We talked about what it was like for his sister. Everything was going along nicely then all of a sudden she gets HIT with this wand and it HURTS. Suddenly the fun vanishes. And this happens to her weekly. How must she feel? I reminded him that I always love him even when he makes poor choices. I reminded him that he is a good boy who sometimes makes poor choices. But he had to stay in his room for the night and no electronics that night or the next day.

You want to know something? His reaction to being separated from the rest of us was worse than the spanking. Very interesting. Let’s hope this helps. I just don’t know. He’s 7 and even if he seems old enough to control his actions, he clearly can’t or won’t do it. Disciplining children who don’t have the capacity to do as you ask seems silly. It’s like slapping a cat for not being a dog.

I’ll update as news unfolds.

Take Action

So I’ve mentioned I am my daughter’s girl scout leader. Sure, I complained about it. Who needs another project to do with all your copious free time, right? Except on nights like last night when the girls impress me so much, I go home on cloud nine.

Girl Scouting has changed. It’s not just about badges and camping anymore. Now it’s about Journey’s—specific theme-based projects where you learn valuable life lessons about yourself, your community, leadership, and communication. Oh, and you still earn badges.

Our girls decided to do the Get Moving! journey which talks about the environment, global energy, recycling, and our own energy. We talked about different kinds of energy—electricity, solar power, wind power, and our own bodies way of making energy. We had to tie this into our Take Action Project—a project where you do a community service, but take it a step further by working within your community to solve a problem and see if you can design a solution that continues to flourish after we finish. Yeah, to say I was panicking about how we were going to accomplish that, is an understatement.

This is where I don’t give these little girls enough credit because they weren’t panicked at all. They decided to piggy-back on “Bike Rodeo” day here in town. Why not put signs up all over town advertising to take in your old bikes? We could wash them, pump up their tires, and donate them. There is a guy near here who takes in old bikes and refurbishes them. How do we make this project continue on without our help? We make signs and ask permission to place them at school, on the well-known bike path, or at the playground. The signs would alert people to donate their used bikes to the used-bike guy.

I know. The solution seems simple, now that it’s down on paper. And they did it all themselves. But seriously, I was really anxious about how I was going to coach them through, what I thought was, an amazingly daunting task. They took the challenge, shrugged, and spit out a solution as easy as if I asked them to explain to me how to tweet.

These are the moments that make leading a girl scout troop an amazing honor.

Sick Kids

The girl often has stomach trouble. It might be stress, it might be that she doesn’t drink enough water, it might be a bug. You never know with her. And of course the ONE day I decide to take a stand, to MAKE her go to school because she isn’t acting sick enough—I get a call from the nurse saying she has spewed her lunch all over the floor.

{{smacking my forehead}}

Do you have a kid like this? Do you make them power through or let them stay home? How do you decide?

Discuss.