Monthly Archives: August 2017

whazzup?

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My apologies for failing to write sooner, however, I’ve run into a few snags in the road recently which has prevented me from finding the time to write–one such snag as my laptop’s inability to charge–unless I hold my mouth open just right and pray. We tried a new charge cord and found the problem to be internal. Now the question is, do we chance paying for a new power supply and the inevitable viruses that will arrive (has happened on last two computers), save up to buy a new lap top or resort to holding our mouths open just right and hoping for the best? If you said hope for the best… that’s where we currently find ourselves.

So, a quick update to let you know where we are this summer and with luck another good blog written for later this week about something awesome that has happened. Pray that my muse and time come together to tell this fantastic story.

But first, we find ourselves in mid to late July. In mid June, the family, plus one took a trip, driving 13 hours to Myrtle Beach for vacation at our newly purchased beach house. The best decision we made was to bring a friend along for the doll to hang with–even the boy liked her friend (which made for great days and nights). While my hubby and I drove around trying to finalize things, the kids hung around the house–the girls doing facials, the boy watching materials downloaded to his iPad. Then when the sun wasn’t quite so intense, we’d hit the beach or the boardwalk–preferring to eat heavy at lunch and light at dinner.

But when we returned home, we had a “Coming to Jesus” meeting with the boy about his lazy attitude toward finding a summer job. Earlier that day he sent me a text which read, “I think I hate you, which I’m not comfortable with and I don’t want to write you an email expressing that hatred, because your attention span is such that you won’t listen. What I have to say has to be said in person”.

inching our way forward…

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With the days of Summer quickly fading, the doll has been preparing her entrance into Tenth grade (finally reading the required pages for her AP history class), next Monday, while her brother is trying not to think too much about his departure to college; the following Friday. Meanwhile, Mom and dad aren’t sure if they’re happy, sad or ready for the boy to act like an adult and be out on his own.

Maybe a little of all three.

I’ve been reminiscing lately, about the boy’s first day of preschool. After I dropped him off, I came home, put the doll down for a nap, then walked into my kitchen and jumped up and down with joy, excited I had two whole hours to myself. “I don’t think I’ll behave that way when we drop him off and leave.” I tell folks all the time only to hear their reassurances that I won’t be. But, every single time I expect myself to behave one way-concerning this child, my reactions are usually the opposite. It’s almost as if I’m trying to keep a stiff upper lip against my own vulnerability.

On Saturday, the boy and I took a trip to the laundramat so he could wash his new sheets, comforter and towels, for his dorm room. While waiting for the his blankets to dry, I asked him, “Are you ready to make this big step?” “I think so…” He replied without much inflection. “What are you excited about?” I asked. He thought for a moment and then said, “I’m excited to play Dungeons and Dragons with people who know how to play”.

I bet you can imagine, the look I gave him in return.

“I mean I’m really excited to play a true game,” He added. “Bay…” I replied and he smiled and then added, “I’m excited for my classes, though I’m worried Journalism will be different than I thought. “How so?” I wondered. “Less print, more radio/podcast stuff,” He explained. “Well, unfortunately, that’s the wave of our future,” I replied and he nodded. “Some of my favorite news sources have been in podcast formats. I’m just not sure what to do…” he said. “Well bay, here’s the great thing, if you meet your professors and talk over your plans, or have questions or anything concerning the class, you get brownie points. The teacher sees you’re willing to do your best, so they’ll give you some leeway and maybe even some pointers to move you along,” I explained. “I never know what questions to ask though,” He returned, stumbling. “Trust me bay, so long as you meet with the professor/teacher about your work, they will help steer you in the right direction. They do not want you to fail, they will be willing to help you succeed,” I tried to reinforce.

“Besides Journalism, what else are you worried about?” I asked, checking the dryer clock for time. “That I’ll oversleep all my classes, that I won’t have the reinforcements I have at home…” “Reinforcements?” I asked puzzled. “You know, you and dad, to keep me in check,” He explained adding, “I’m worried I won’t follow through and fill out the right stuff for future scholarships…” “Sounds to me like you’re afraid of being a grown up,” I said. “Mom, that’s not….” He began but I interrupted him, “Bay, guess what? These are all perfectly normal worries. Heck, I don’t want to be a grown up most of the time, how can I expect you to want to be? But here’s the thing, since you’re paying for school–that’s an incentive to attend your classes, plus between the mentor and the first year seminar, and guidance counselors, I think they’ve got you pretty well covered. Plus, you know, your dad and I are only a text or phone call away…and we both, will always have your back…” I said hoping to convince.

Just then the dryer buzzer sounded and our conversation came to an end.

So today, he continues moving one step closer to college, to hope, some fear and probably a few jumps for joy that his mother will be out of his hair–at least a little while.

 

Sticks and stones…

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When I was a kid, growing up in the 70’s, there was a popular television commercial for Charmin toilet paper where the tag line was “Please don’t squeeze the Charmin”. When my brother was in third grade, he had a small speech impediment, one he would eventually outgrow.  But at the time, whenever he pronounced an “S” word, such as “some” he would say, “Shome” So a few of the kids at school teased him by saying to him, “Pleash don’t shqueeze the sharminsh…” over and over again. If I heard the kids, I would tell them to “Knock it off,” which they usually did (in my presence), after first telling me they were only having a little fun with him.

When I was young and other kids threw shade or slants in my direction, I followed my mother’s directive:

  1. Consider the source: Did these kids even know me outside of school? Did they hold a place of importance in my life? Were these kids even worth the time I was taking wondering/worrying about where they fit in my life?
  2.  If a snap remark was needed, I was to recite to them, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me,”  as I walked/hurried away from them.

At the time, I remember not quite understanding just what that old adage meant. I mean, was I giving those bullies permission to ramp up their attack and throw stones at me? Thankfully, most of the time, we all walked home “Unharmed” with the memory quickly fading. Of course, this was also before I understood that names and insults actually hurt worse than sticks and stones.

And long before the internet introduced the world to a 24/7/365 connection to social media.

What used to be seen as a minor skirmish back in my day, has now become open season to inflict the most pain possible, all under the guise of having a fun tease on social media. Except the fun tease has grown out of control. “According to the American Association of Suicidology rates for suicide among 10 to 14 year olds has grown 50 per cent over the last three decades. f1″ In addition, of the kids who are bullied online, one in five ever tell their parents.

This is unacceptable. Our kids deserve the opportunity to grow up in a safe, loving, nurturing environment and our computers, phones and game systems should not be used as instruments to induce pain, despair and eventually sadness and grief.

I don’t have the answers to the many questions facing us today, I wish I did.

Earlier this year, I wrote a blog about watching Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, a drama series which deals with teen suicide; with my daughter. I made a point of watching this program with her to create an open dialogue with her, about the finality of suicide and the many other choices out there to keep her safe. I also wanted to point out to her how devastated we would all be by the loss of her life. One of the lessons they pointed out in this series is that kids under the age of 18 lack the cognitive ability to see past the crap in their lives, to the future that holds so much promise. In talking with my doll, I tried my best for her to see, the future is bright and to hold onto that belief above all else.

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Over the past two days, I’ve been informed about two different 14 year old boys who, after considerable cyber bullying, chose to end their lives. As you can imagine, their families, friends and classmates are devastated. With school only a few weeks from starting back up, many parents are at a loss as to what to say to their own children, to help them understand what they themselves can’t. As parents, a neighborhood, a parish community, a nation, we must  no longer allow bullying to be a part of life, simply because it doesn’t have to be. If we follow the tenants of God and love one another as ourselves, then this type of grief and sadness will disappear.

We need to rise up and say NO MORE!

We must find a way to keep our babies whole, happy, feeling safe and loved–together.

 

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f1:https://nobullying.com/bullying-suicide-statistics/

Some help in navigating how to talk to kids about suicide: https://teenlineonline.org/

Suicide Prevention Hotline:

800-273-8255

Trevor Project (LGBTQ specific):

www.thetrevorproject.org

NASP guide for Educators;

https://www.nasponline.org/resources-and-publications/resources/school-safety-and-crisis/preventing-youth-suicide/13-reasons-why-netflix-series-considerations-for-educators

Webinars (by Teen Line Staff):

Teen suicide prevention on 3/30/17.

https://infopeople.org/civicrm/event/info?reset=1&id=668