by Tanya Ward Goodman
My Grandmother’s death has brought the family together, but my daughter’s loose tooth has given us something cheerful to do. We are united by Sadie’s tooth. When she wiggles that darned thing, we stop thinking for a moment about how hard it will be to sell the house and what a waste it would be to send that antique cameo necklace into a hole in the ground. No matter how we feel about the President, gun control or healthcare, the loose tooth brings us all together. We plot and plan for extraction when wills and accounts and phone conversations with lawyers are the dark alternative.
Sweet Sadie with her big smile and her curly hair is an eight year old in a house full of sad adults. She feeds her virtual Ipod horse and talks to the very real cat. She curls up on the wingback sofa and flips through scrapbooks hoping to find photos of someone she knows. My uncle says we should reach up behind the tooth – get a nail under the raw edge. “Move it sideways,” he says. My brother makes a lasso of dental floss and spends the better part of an hour trying to slip it around the tiny tooth. Sadie chews gum and eats the hardened caramels we find in the kitchen cupboard. She wonders if she started running fast and fell down the big hill, the tooth would get knocked out on its own. When she is tired of grown up conversation, she cries and shouts that it’s not fair to have a loose tooth. It’s painful and keeps her from eating all the things she doesn’t like, though a child at a funeral can get by on only Jell-o salad and soft white rolls. She wiggles the tooth and lets others wiggle it. Fingers yellow with nicotine have touched the pearl of this little tooth. The funeral leaves us soggy with tears and chilled to the bone in the Dakota wind, but the tooth doesn’t come out.
The tooth is wiggly on the plane and in the taxi and keeps my girl awake all through our first night at home. She rages and gnashes and I think perhaps the tight set of her jaw will push the thing right out.
At dinner on our second night home, she asks for pliers. We have guests, but they seem not to mind, so I give her a Leatherman. We watch as she grabs and slips, grabs and slips. Someone suggests a paper towel. Once again this tooth is a project. We’re in it together and Sadie is happy to be right in the middle. There is wiggling and working. There is a ten-minute bout of frustration. Tears are shed. And just when we are all feeling like it should be over, just when we’ve begun to turn back to grown up talk, she pulls it out. Her smile is broad and bloody. The tooth is white and shiny in the black metal pincers.
And then, like that, we’re back on the girl.
we are both students of theatre
so that has to be a factor
on some levels,
like many arts,
if you’re doing it right
is a vocation
in my music
and my writing
I work at playing too
and I play at working…
I was in the kitchen…
cleaning the thing
which we can’t decide
whether to call
a griddle or a skillet
so we call it a skiddle…
I was cleaning that
and I heard Jennifer say to the girls.
“You guys are working really well together…
you are playing nice.”
to the older girls
who were playing some math games
on the iPad.
I am just grateful that
I have partnered with
and get to co-parent
who, like me,
sees these things; “work” and “play”
as intertwined or symbiotic, if not actually one and the same…
who takes playing seriously and sees the fun in work.
Not long after Maya was born
I was talking with an acquaintance,
a guy who modeled at the art gallery where I worked.
(I got to meet some interesting characters in that job!)
I was talking about the idea that as much as I had wanted to be a dad
for nigh on 10 years
and that as much as we had prepared
by reading books
and watching movies
and talking to parents
our minds were still blown…
by becoming parents
and the responsibility…
the work of parenting
was particularly mind-blowing
in that it is work… it is Work.
but it is different than any other kind of work
i’ll ever do.
and the difference is ineffable
here I am trying to eff the ineffable…
but these are the places
my mind occupies
when I sit down
or maybe I should say
these are the things
that occupy my mind…
It is a unique work, and a work that relates to art making
in that it is creative
and born out of love,
at least under the best circumstances.
it is a work that most of us who do it
we feel obliged to or inspired to
It is a unique kind of
not free of resentment
but an commitment that comes with a tender reward
that can only marginally be expressed by the joy I feel watching the flicker of an eyelash and last final sigh before the rhythmic breathing of deep sleep settles in… or the ecstasy on the face of a mudcovered child… or the profound fear of watching a ball roll down the driveway, child in tow… knowing that I can’t get there in time and hoping that my voice does the trick… and the relief I feel when it does.
back to the story…
I was talking to this guy
who was not a parent…
But definitely was a dude
with an interesting perspective
a model, working on a degree
in ecology… sustainability in particular…
our previous conversations had ranged from
Carlos Castaneda, to Kurt Vonnegut…
and Pink Floyd to Complexity Theory…
This was in Eugene, Oregon, mind you,
a place where chances are high that your bartender has a PhD in Physics…
or is high on psilocybin…
So this shaggy, brainy male model and I were having a conversation on parenting and he recommended a book to me… the book was The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff…
A book not originally intended as a parenting book… but over time was adopted as one…
Many, many ideas from the book resonated with me, and as I have mentioned in the past, I don’t believe any book or author is a panacea, there is no magic recipe for any family, relationship or person… however… there are certainly lessons to be gleaned and important ideas to share and think about in so much of what is floating around…
So, of the many ideas that struck a chord with me – one of the prominent ones that applies to the ideas bouncing around in my brain today – is the notion that these indigenous tribes that Jean Liedloff spent time with had no concept of a distinction between work and play… they all just did what they could, with the faith that everyone was making a valid and significant contribution…
I should probably go look up that section of the book,
I may be characterizing it incorrectly
but it was something along the lines of they had no separate words for work or play…
We don’t live among the tribes of the Yequana Indians in the jungles of South America, so the reality is we can’t exactly mirror their lifestyle… but there certainly are lessons to be learned, and that knowledge can inform how we approach our work, and our play, and the work/play of raising kids.
By Ann Brown, Parenting Consultant
Poor, Poor, Pitiful You
Every once in a while I kinda wish we could all just sit down and discuss these parenting articles. Sitting together, maybe a little wine, talking face to face, instead of me sitting here all alone (with a little wine; it’s the weekend; don’t judge), so far away.
If you know me personally, you are rolling your eyes right now. It is no secret that I eschew most human contact outside of my job. I hide behind sofas and hit the lights when I see someone coming up my driveway. I look at my ringing phone and go through all the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. I am a wee bit protective of my solitude.
Still, this is one topic that warrants discussion because it can easily be misunderstood. Although as I sit here, it does occur to me that the clarity of my writing might be a factor in the misunderstandings. Hunh. Maybe I should have lain off that third glass of wine…
I want to write about rejection.
I am going to be stereotypical here by referring to the parent who is typically (oh wait. STEREOtypically) home with the kids. Please don’t give me any crap over this. I am not politically incorrect or misogynistic or chauvinistic or reactionary; I am merely lazy and it’s easier to just write “mom” instead of “mom or dad” or “mom or dad or grandma” or “adult caregiver who spends most of the day with the child” or even “ACWSMOTDWTC”.
First, a quiz:
1. When your child yells, “GO AWAY!” at you, do you feel:
C. Happy and FREE because the last thing you wanted was to have to deal with that obnoxious kid.
2. When your child prefers your spouse to you for bath time, bedtime, playtime, eating and everything else, do you feel:
C. Happy and FREE
3. When you walk in the door after being gone all day at work and your child looks up for a nanosecond, barely gives you a nod hello and returns to his/her activity, do you feel:
C. Happy and FREE
Are you beginning to get the picture? I want to talk first to those of you who answered either “Sad” or “Mad” to the three questions. The rest of you, those who checked off “Happy and FREE”, may be excused. You are not miserable so we don’t need to look at your happy and free faces right now. Shoo. Begone.
Okay. Let’s look around the room. You. The parent who is gone most of the day, the parent who only gets to spend quality time with your kids at night when they are exhausted or on the weekends, when you are exhausted. You. Les Miserables.
It can go like this: You finally get home from the cold, cruel world and you walk into your warm safe haven, brimming with love for your family, and you say to your four-year old, “I’m home! Give me a big hug and a kiss!” and your kid says, “GO AWAY!”
Or you make a huge Saturday morning breakfast for your child because you haven’t been able to spend much time with him/her and you make all his/her favorite foods, you even draw a picture with blueberries on the pancakes – a picture of Leonardo, your kid’s absolutely favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle – and you present it to your child with a flourish. And s/he says, “YUCK. I HATE pancakes. I like the breakfasts Mommy makes!” (Which, by the looks of the wrappers in the car is pretty much turkey jerky and Capri Sun) And then your kid adds, “Also? Leonardo is NOT my favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle, anyway! Go away!”
Yeah. Rejection blows.
But here’s the thing: it’s not exactly the same rejection as an adult’s rejection. I know that it feels the same, but it’s not. In fact, I wish there were a different word for it because the word “rejection” brings into it a whole lotta adult stuff that isn’t applicable.
Young children live close to their emotions. And they don’t have well- developed filters yet. They live pretty much in the world of archetypes – you are good if you give them a cookie; you are evil if you don’t – and not so much in the world of nuance and tact.
Plus, they are exercising their right to have some say in their lives.
This is so often where issues and hurt feelings happen, when imagine does NOT meet reality, and we get upset. In our minds, all the drive home, we are imagining a scene out of LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE, you know, Pa comes in from the fields and all the kids gather around him and shower him with affection.
Uh-huh. And they don’t want to stop what they were doing to get up and give you a hug. And you feel rejected. And pissed off because, let’s face it, what the heck did that kid do all day that was so hard that s/he can’t even get up off the sofa and hug you? Who appreciates you?
I hear you. I feel your pain. I – as my husband likes to say, – I am picking up what you are laying down. But I have some bad news for you: the kind of appreciation you are craving, the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE kind? Yeah, it generally doesn’t look like that right now when the kids are young.
Please don’t get me wrong – I am not condoning alienation of affection. I am not suggesting we allow our children to ignore us or be rude or blow us off. I am, however, suggesting that we help our kids find a less disrespectful way to tell us what they want.
Saturday morning. You declined an invitation to do something fabulous for yourself because you want (need, feel obligated) to spend the day with your child. You walk into your child’s room and give him/her a big hug and you say, “Guess what? We are going to the zoo today! Just you and me! YAY!”
And your kid says, “Gross. Your breath smells yucky.”
And you bury the rejection and say, “Okay, get dressed for the ZOO! Yay!”
And your kid says, “Go away! I am playing with this piece of used dental floss and a wine cork and I am having fun. I don’t want to go to the zoo.”
And you think to yourself, “Do you know how much I wanted a day to myself? And that I gave it up to be with you? Why are you so ungrateful? Did your mother make you this way? Because I am gonna level with you, she doesn’t appreciate me, either.”
And you wind up carrying yor screaming kid into the car and forcing a happy Daddy day at the zoo on him.
Now, let’s rewind and reconstruct. We’ll go back to the statement about your morning breath being gross. Because, let’s just be honest, it probably is. Your kid isn’t lying. She might be lacking a certain, I don’t know, finesse in letting you know. But she might have a point.
You can say, “Is it gross? Sorry. I will not put my face so close to yours until after I brush my teeth.” And THEN you can say, “Also, can you think of a way to tell me that my breath is bad in a way that is nicer and not so rude?” This way, you are acknowledging her right to not have to smell your funky morning breath but you are also defining the parameters of HOW she says it to you.
Okay. Next. S/he doesn’t want to go to the zoo.
Now I know that you have been planning this. I know what you gave up to do it. But is it possible, just possible, that maybe you are putting a little bit too much on the fact that you planned the zoo trip? That you are letting yourself feel a bit too much rejection over it? I mean, if your wife surprised you by saying she had planned an entire day for you, might you want to have been given the option of being part of the decision?
So, you reach deep into yourself to find the higher road, and you say to your child, “Oh. I thought you’d want to do that. Well, since I don’t have to work today, I want to spend time with you. What would you like to do?”
And then you have a conversation about it. And you share your ideas. And you come up with options and alternatives and compromises and finally, common ground. And you don’t take it personally that your child had initially said s/he didn’t want to go to the zoo with you. Because it really wasn’t a personal rejection. It was how a young child was learning to express his/her opinions.
Well, that brings us to a close. If you have questions or comments, please use the comment section below. You can try to come over or call me, but I will be hiding behind the couch.
By Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff
You’re making your list and checking it twice, but do you know what’s in the toys you’re stuffing in those stockings? Here are some quick tips to follow:
1. Avoid plastics made from or including BPA, PET, PVC and Styrofoam. 2. Look for toys made from natural materials like wood and cloth. 3. Choose gifts that are made locally.
That last tip is a quick and easy way to limit the levels of cadmium, lead and other toxic chemicals to which children are exposed.
In 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act was passed to regulate lead and phthalates in toys and infant products after a public scare related to the problem of tainted toys, imported mainly from China.
Some states are looking even closer at products marketed to kids, such as Washington’s Children’s Safe Products Act, Maine’s Kid’s Safe Products Act and California’s Green Chemistry Initiative.
How to tell which toys are naughty and which are nice? Before you shop, take a minute to check Parents magazine’s list of this year’s toy recalls.
And if you’re still set on plastic, try to assess what type you’re buying by looking for a “chasing arrow” symbol on the bottom of the toy. As with all plastic products, avoid the numbers 1 (PET), 3 (PVC) and 6 (Styrofoam), and seek out those marked “BPA-free.”
PET and PVC (also known as vinyl) are softened with phthalates. Even low levels of phthalates have been linked to birth defects, obesity and asthma.
Styrofoam takes 500 years to degrade, dissolves into tiny bits that end up in the ocean, is rarely recyclable, and last year it was assessed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen” by the government.
And BPA, used to harden plastics, is a hormone disruptor; it mimics estrogen in the body and has been linked to obesity, anxiety and a brain tumor called meningloma, among other problems.
That’s a list worth checking twice.
Update 12.10.12: Hasbro commits to eliminating PVC from toy and game packaging beginning in 2013, and has already started phasing out PVC from packaging; BPA was voluntarily eliminated from their products in 2011. I’d like to see PVC out of product, too, but looks like this company is on the right track! Read more in Hasbro’s corporate report, which I learned about from blogger Richard Liroff.
This post originally appeared on MommyGreenest.com
By: K. Pearson Brown
Get kids outdoors this year with some great gifts that will keep them going all year round.
A long winter break means lots of time for play this holiday season, so give on-the-go kids holiday gifts that will keep them busy and having fun ‘til next year, and beyond.
You never forget the sound of a Big Wheel rumbling down the sidewalk, and now kids can make their own fond memories on the updated version of this 40-year-old iconic ride-on toy. The oversized trike for big kids is back in several new styles by Kids Only, including the 9″ My First Big Wheel, the 11″ Big Wheel Sidewalk Screamer and the 16″ Big Wheel Spin Out Racer. $49.99 at toy retailers nationwide.
Kick It Good
Not all soccer balls are created equally. Senda soccer balls are made with fair trade labor, so your own child can play with pride, and you can feel good about supporting the craftspeople who made them. The hand-stitched ball features a high-quality, water resistant synthetic leather cover over a cotton-polyester liner for optimal bounce, durability, and shape retention. Senda’s premiere competitive balls are available with latex bladders for better touch and flight. For kids, the Valor Training ball is perfectly sized and weighted. $21.99. Available at SendaAthletics.com, on Amazon, and on Ebay.
Kids can roll in style with the latest line of Heelys wheel-in-the-heel skates, now in lighter styles resembling athletic shoes for active and sporty kids. Other new styles look like street shoes, and the new lifestyle fashion-forward line is designed for girls. As with all Heely’s, the wheel can be removed and replaced with an included heel plug for walking. $47 and up. Available a sporting goods and specialty stores nationwide.
Every kid needs a backpack – for school, playdates, overnights, and other outings. So get them a versatile backpack made to last from the pros at Kelty, like the lightweight Minnow ($29.95) for little ones who need to pack a lunch and blankie for preschool, the sporty Grommet ($34.95) for kids 5-10 to carry their notebooks, school supplies, and a water bottle for school or a day on the trail, or the comfy Captain ($80) for the high schooler or college-bound kid, or even Mom or Dad, for carrying all you need for classes, a day about town, or a weekender. Available at REI or kelty.com.
Lay N Go
The Lay-n-Go play and activity mat is the ingenious creation that allows kids to play while traveling without lost pieces and airport or on-the-road drama. Its unique design makes cleaning up hassle-free all with the tug of a cord. It’s that simple. $24.95- $64.95 depending on size.
Water Balloons, Water Balloons Everywhere
Nothing spells fun like a water balloon exploding on your back. Kids will love to build their arsenal for the equivalent of a warm-weather snowball fight with the Kaos Tie-Not Battle Pump. The portable one-gallon filling station features a carry handle and an easy-to-use nozzle with a notched tool for quick and easy knot tying, and the pump comes with 250 water balloons to get the party started. Watch a fun video about the pump at vat19.com. $14.99. Available at vat19.com.
By Susan Howard
This is Part Two of my Tater Tot series where I suggest ways for you to keep your child at a healthy weight and instill in them good habits for years to come.
Never tell your child to eat everything on her plate. Teach her to listen to her body’s natural cues of hunger and fullness. Let her be in charge of taking inventory as much as possible.
Fill their plates with tons of colorful nutritious options and then let them decide how much of what they eat. Our pediatrician, Dr. Liddy, told us kids will self-regulate if given the chance. Isn’t that what you ultimately want? When they are out of the house you aren’t going to be there telling them to finish their veggies (unless they are still in the house after college, which seems common these days, but that’s a different story).
Teach them about what food does. Brandy is tireless in explaining to the kids that protein builds muscles, milk helps bones get strong, carbohydrates give energy, and veggies give vitamins to see and keep you feeling good. It doesn’t have to be too complex - simple stuff like “that broccoli has fiber in it so you can poop.” Then they understand what a balanced diet is and why they need it.
Take them to local farmers’ markets, farms, and berry picking spots. Teach them that food doesn’t come from a package; it comes from the ground or a pasture. Allow your children to have a connection with what real food is. No it’s not in a Twinkie wrapper.
Plant a garden. Herbs are an easy way to start. And let your kids help! My daughter loves dirt and worms and being a little pioneer toddler; she’s a regular Laura Ingalls. She also now loves basil, parsley, and rosemary, and can pick it right off the vine.
Cook with your kids. Start with something easy that involves a lot of stirring and pouring. A fun recipe to try is basically penne pasta, veggies, and cheese in a muffin tin –super easy pasta muffins!
Make healthy foods flavorful. Take a cooking class, buy a new cookbook, watch the Food Network. If your kids aren’t eating it, up your game.
Limit excessive television watching. One of my clients just told me her house rule: if the sun is out no television. I like that because it seems to encourage kids to take on the day and be active.
Inquire about the hot lunch program at your school. Be involved! Try to link fresh produce with the cafeteria. It is a battle worth fighting for.
By Mark A. Largent / Take Part
Vaccines, once the savior of an entire generation, have become a hotly contested issue in American culture, and fears that they might cause autism have dominated parents’ discussions about vaccines for more than a decade.
Parents of as many as one in 10 children refuse to vaccinate their children with a state-mandated vaccine, and more than a third of American parents may delay or outright refuse a doctor-recommended vaccine for their children. To make matters worse, officials have found that vaccine exemptions cluster in particular areas within a state and around the country, so some communities have very high rates of under-vaccinated children.
Claims about a potential link between vaccines and autism emerged in the late 1990s from two independent sources. In Britain, a group of researchers published a paper suggesting a potential link between the combined measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine [MMR] and symptoms associated with autism.
Subsequent researchers roundly rejected their hypothesis, and the journal eventually retracted the paper. At the same time in the U.S., parents learned that many childhood vaccines contained a mercury-based preservative, thimerosal, and they grew concerned about its effects on their children.
Health officials aggressively defend the safety, effectiveness, and necessity of childhood vaccines, and they are dismayed by the resiliency of parents’ fears that vaccines might cause autism. Hundreds of published studies and countless authoritative statements from health authorities seem to have little influence on the debate.
Physicians and public health officials allege that ignorance and anti-science attitudes are to blame, and they worry that science alone is not enough to compel parents to vaccinate their children. Nonetheless, medical professionals continue to attack the claim that vaccines cause autism as they call for increasingly strict laws to compel vaccine compliance.
The fear that vaccines might cause autism is in fact proxy for a complex set of concerns that many parents have about the modern vaccine schedule. Health officials have failed to address parents’ underlying fears, and most parents lack the technical knowledge to effectively parse the many intertwined concerns that they have about vaccines.
What are parents really worried about? They are worried about the high number of shots kids get in the first several months of their lives. Today, a fully vaccinated six-year-old will receive nearly three-dozen inoculations, most of them in the first 18 months of life.
The routine vaccination schedule now calls for shots at almost every well-child checkup, including four inoculations at the two-month appointment and five inoculations at both the four- and six-month appointments. As parents scramble to explain their fears, the only explanation available to them is the claim that vaccines might cause autism. But when their anxieties are carefully and respectfully examined, we see that they emerge from a wide variety of often well-informed philosophical and moral concerns parents have about their children’s health.
The solution for the problem of vaccine non-compliance is not increased pressure on parents or more passionate rhetoric from health officials. State legislatures that have made it easier than ever for parents to opt out of mandatory vaccines and the increasing number of “vaccine friendly” doctors who authorize medical exemptions mean that most American children can be legally exempted from some or all of their vaccines.
The only way to effectively address parents’ vaccine anxieties is to admit them and respect the fact that their concerns ought to be considered alongside scientific evidence as we add new vaccines to the modern vaccination schedule. If our ultimate goal is to ensure that as many children as possible are vaccinated against as many dangerous diseases as possible, it is critical that we preserve parents’ trust in vaccines and in their medical care providers.
This requires respectful engagement with vaccine-anxious parents and careful consideration of their particular concerns and contexts. Pediatricians who kick non-compliant parents out of their practices and health officials who continue to insist that vaccine anxieties are merely the result of ignorance and anti-scientism heighten the growing tension between vaccine-anxious parents and mainstream medicine. Their actions drive parents into the arms of the anti-vaccinators and undermine their own efforts to increase vaccine compliance rates.
This article has been reposted from TakePart.com
By Susan Howard
Over half our country is considered overweight or obese. We keep hearing these statistics about how fat Americans are, but how can we as parents do anything about the next generation of potential weeble wobbles? Here are a few tactics to keep your little ones from turning into bigger ones.
Lead by example; make healthy food choices a part of your day to day regimen.
Put out a colorful bowl of fresh fruit that is visible to your family.
Let your children see you be physically active. Be it swimming, running, weightlifting, hiking –whichever you pick, make it consistent.
My daughter sees me lace up my shoes and she asks, “Are you going for a run, Mom?” At four and a half she is already asking if she can try and run with me. They want to do what you do. You are their mentor.
Be active with your children. Coach their soccer team, practice playing catch in the backyard, or let your kid ride their bike while you run.
Create fitness traditions. Sunday afternoon family bike ride, Thanksgiving morning 5k, Parent and me yoga, after dinner basketball hoops. Many of my clients get in an extra workout with their children by running with them at soccer practice, doing baseball drills, hitting tennis balls back and forth, you name it. Nothing gives me more joy than to see parents passing the torch of wellness on.
Never eat out of a container. Make yourself a plate with a portion on it!
(Confession: I mess this one up sometimes.)
Wait as long as humanly possible to introduce soda, or better yet don’t introduce it at all. Even with the huge cash flow in soda companies I have never read anything good about it. One would think they could find SOMETHING. They can afford to hire scientist to try test after test. Likely there is nothing to uncover except rotten teeth and obese kids.
Throw in some protein for most meals. If you have a kid who likes eggs, that’s a great way for them to start their day. Peanut butter and a cut-up apple is an easy treat, cheese sticks or yogurt. You could try pieces of chicken with a mound of shredded cheese.
Offer veggies as often as possible, make it with something they like, put a thin pad of butter on top or sprinkled cheese. Use spices as well; many kids (not all) like flavor.
If one parent is obese in your family, your child has a 40% chance of being obese. If both parents are obese, your child has an 80% chance of being obese.
Let’s tip the scale in the right direction. We can inspire ourselves and our little ones. They are watching you, believe me.
By: Tanya Dodd-Hise
This is hard to talk about. It is embarrassing, humiliating, and somehow a reflection of how my parenting has somehow taken a wrong turn. I am one who has no tolerance for bullying – EVER. When my oldest son was bullied in high school by some redneck kid (because his mom is a lesbian), I took action, went to the school, talked to an administrator, and it was straightened out and over. When my youngest son was bullied this year in middle school by a snarky girl (because his mom is a lesbian), I took action, called the teacher, who spoke to the counselor and together they dealt with it. So imagine my absolute horror this morning when I receive a call from the assistant principal of the middle school: my son was in her office…for bullying.
She proceeded to tell me that he and another student had gotten into trouble during band class for talking too much, and when they didn’t stop, they got sent to the office. The other student had told my son to “shut up,” but when pressed for the reason, the truth came out that it was because my son had been picking on him for weeks during band. Teasing him and making fun of him when he got notes to the music wrong, or for making a mistake while they were all playing. I hung my head as I heard her tell me that while my child had told the truth and admitted his role, that it was indeed a form of bullying, and she had just suspended another for ten days for the same thing. What do I say? What do I do? I was immediately at a loss, and wanted to crawl under a rock. I told her that I absolutely did not understand where it was coming from, considering he had gone through the same thing just a short time ago in the school year. She also knew about the previous incident, and therefore didn’t quite understand herself. So she said that she wanted to put him into in-school suspension for today, and for the two days following; I told her I was absolutely behind her one hundred percent. But now I have to figure out what to say and do when he gets home – there has to be consequences here as well. I am just at a loss.
I have thought about it all day, since I got the phone call. When I called Erikka, she was at a loss as well. We have both seen how he can be with other kids, and have had talks with him about the way that he treats others. We know he is very intelligent, but with that comes the problem that HE knows he is very intelligent. We have seen and heard him with other kids, talking down to them like they are dumb, or not as smart as he. So now he is apparently talking down to kids in band, speaking to them like they aren’t as good as he is as well. After years and years, for as long as I can remember, he has been taught tolerance and to treat others as he would want to be treated. We don’t believe that we are better than anyone else, so I’m not sure where he would obtain this arrogant attitude. It is very troubling to me, as his mom, just as it was troubling when he was being bullied by someone else. I absolutely cannot abide my kid being THAT kid – but how do I stop it? I will, of course, call his dad this evening, and I am sure that he will want to talk to him. It just seems that no matter what any of us say to him, or take away from him as punishment, nothing seems to get through. I think this is what is the most disturbing to me – consequences don’t seem to phase him. How do I get through to him, to make him see all of the potential that he possesses in that magnificent brain, if only he would use it for making himself into a productive and successful person on planet Earth?
What do you do when it’s YOUR kid who is the bully?
I tearfully told him of my disappointment, embarrassment, and disgust over his actions. I told him about the little boy who lived a few miles from us, who killed himself three years ago at the age of nine, because he was bullied. That boy would be twelve today, and in the sixth grade. I told him that I could not tolerate my child being part of this horrible problem of bullying in this nation.
“Noah, you absolutely cannot be part of the problem, and it is a very big and very real and very wrong problem. You MUST be part of the solution. That kid that you picked on may not have very many friends, and what if you were the factor that pushes him to suicide – you don’t want to live with that kind of guilt. Every one of those kids that have killed themselves over bullying experienced someone who was part of the problem – the bully. You don’t want to be that person. You can be part of the solution. You can be his friend. We can never have too many friends.”
“You will never reach higher ground if you are always pushing others down.”
~ Jeffrey Benjamin
By: Danny Thomas
also, when I came downstairs this morning
the kitchen was clean
because my mother and I
had done the dishes together
does it get much sweeter than that?
also, Saturday afternoon
we spontaneously had a terrific
gathering in our backyard.
A couple other families
some other friends and colleagues
spent the entire afternoon
hanging out in the backyard
playing with kids,
having good grown up conversations
and drinking good grown up drinks.
I ask you,
what could be sweeter than that?
It portends a fantastic summer.
I am looking forward to lots of
fun summer afternoons
sitting in the yard
drinking a big ginger
or a beer
laughing and enjoying the company
of other families
our dear old friends
and delightful new ones.
I am going to make this a priority for our family.
Social time, it is key to my mental health.
It does us all a world of good
and it’s a pretty simple way to feel good in the world.