Author Archives: marsha8of9

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.

*****

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.

 

****

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   

Be the Change…

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There are a few Christian songs that hit me, most unexpectedly, whenever I hear them included in a mass. One song, “Mighty to Save” is probably the one that evokes the most emotion from me, for some unknown reason. So Saturday night, as the congregation around me, began to sing this wonderful proclamation of love and faith, I found myself fighting-with my eyes, to keep the water, contained therein, from falling down my cheeks…

Well, everyone needs compassion
A love that’s never failing
But let mercy fall on me
Well everyone needs forgiveness
The kindness of a Savior
The hope of nations

My Savior
He can move the mountains
My God is Mighty to save
He is Mighty to save
Forever
Author of salvation
He rose and conquered the grave
Jesus conquered the grave

So take me as You find me
All my fears and failures
And fill my life again
I give my life to follow
Everything I believe in
And now I surrender
(I surrender)…

You see over that past week, my doll participated in the Yes Project, a non profit, faith in action event, which is only open to a limited number of high school students  throughout the area (she was blessed to have been chosen). Packed into the three day event, their primary goal and purpose was to “serve the people of Northwest Ohio, no matter what religious background they come from. A secondary goal is to foster the change in the hearts and minds of young people through their encounters with people in need and situations that they may have never seen. 

          So, as I sat there in the church, hearing the lyrics, “Well everyone needs compassion…” I began to fight back the urge to cry. Just watching  as she entered the church, I could see from her demeanor, she had experienced something profound and I eagerly waited to hear all about her three days of hard work, service and new found friendships.
 
          Following the mass and a brief slide show recounting the projects completed afterwards, our doll approached her parents and gave her father a great big hug and then me, before we retrieved her overnight gear from the main gym. As she handed me her gear, she stopped, walked over to another group of girls and gave out more hugs. Then I watched as she gave her cell number to another girl, before coming back to me. “Sorry mom,” She said, taking back some of her gear. “No worries doll,” I replied, happy she had made such good friends in so short a time. “Are you interested in doing this again next year?” I asked. “Yes, and I’m bringing my cousins too!” She said emphatically.
          Later, after she’d been home for a while, she opened up about her experiences, talking a mile a minute about all the people she’d met and encountered, the appreciative behavior from those who received their help, along with the realization of how poor some people really are. “Mom are you aware there are some adults who can’t read? We worked at a housing development sponsored by the Catholic diocese, where they offer GED classes. I thought all adults knew how to read. It’s really sad that they can’t.” She said. “I also wasn’t aware of how much gang activity there is in our city…” She lamented after recalling a story about a family gunned down, simply because the husband and wife came from different gang affiliations.
           “How does this make you feel?” I asked. She thought for a moment and then said, “I am so blessed. I mean, I already knew I was, but, now I know because I’ve seen what hardships really looks like,” She said, then added, “This experience has given me an entirely new and different perspective on the world. I’m so thankful for having had this experience and I can’t wait until next year,” she added with a smile.
 
          As the evening drew to a close, she asked me to pull up a song/video on YouTube, by the Christian singer Britt Nichole called “Be The Change”.  “This was our theme song all week and I’m going to try and carry this theme with me from here on out,” She said. “Great!” I thought as the song played, “Now I’ll have another song to entice my eyes to leak”.
          Thank you YES Project! We are so very proud of our doll and her growth through service and being the change in other’s lives.
                PS. Sunday night she told me, a junior crew leader, during affirmations; called her a “silent leader”–in that if she saw something or someone in need of help, she just took charge and helped out–without asking if this is what she should do. How did that make you feel?” I asked and she laughed, “That’s just who I am…” She replied and I smiled. “Not a bad trait to have,” I offered and she modestly nodded. Meanwhile, though invisible to her, but emphatic to myself, I vigorously  nodded my head in agreement.
YES “VERY PROUD” indeed.

 

I hate you… i love you

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There are always two sides to love and hate. Love evolves from trust and beauty, hate from anger, fear and despair. Even when someone says they “Hate” you, is that really the truth? On average, I try never to say “hate”, because that reveals more about me, than my dislike of some person. Instead I’ll use terms like “loath”, or “extremely dislike”. Sometimes however, the word “Hate” can be used simply as a means to gain someones attention.

Imagine receiving and email from your son which reads, “I think I hate you…” How would you respond? In addition to “Hating” me, he also added that since I don’t take the time to listen to him, I must listen  effectively hate him in return. I replied with an email saying, “You sell me too short, but we need to talk…so let’s set up a time this evening to talk”.

We met on our front stoop and sat down to talk. My husband, who was not invited to participate nevertheless, sat just inside the house, waiting for a chance to offer input when the boy voiced his displeasure with me. “You don’t even recognize me for being in the room…” His first salvo began. “How can I miss you?” I replied. “I’m not talking about my size mom, you never listen to what I say-you simply tone me out,” he returned. “Are you prepared to enter college right now?” I asked. “What?” He replied. “Because in two short months, you’ll be entering your college alone-without your father or I standing behind you, ready to catch you if you fall. Are you ready for this?” “I don’t see what this has to do with you ignoring me,” He replied. “Think about this bay, I won’t be there…you won’t have anyone with you to make you stand on your own two feet and get shit done. Are you ready for this?” “You’re not making sense… you don’t understand what I’m saying to you. Half the time you act like I’m not even here, except when you yell at me about getting a job…” he tried again.

“Have you found a job?” I asked knowing the answer. “No, but that’s not what this meeting is about…” He returned. “Hell if it isn’t. Tell me why you haven’t actively looked for a job? I mean seriously, how do you plan to pay for books?” I asked. “Don’t you think I wonder that too?” He said, acting as if the money fairy was going to appear and take care of everything. “Then where’s the job bay?” “Mom, stop lecturing me and listen to what I have to say…” He said angrily. “Okay…speak your mind…” I said and there was a long pregnant pause.

“I had a script written in my head earlier, but now, I can’t seem to find the right words to explain how angry I am with you,” He began. “When we were on vacation, there were several times you cut me off, when I was speaking. You treated me as an invisible person, never allowed me to voice an opinion…” He tried again. Once he concluded his father jumped in and said, “But hey, you weren’t interested in doing anything we wanted to do. Every time we went out, you decided to stay home…you separated from us, and now your mad at your mother for treating you the way you treated us?”

He thought for a moment and drew in a heavy sigh. “Bay, why haven’t you actively searched for a job this summer?”  I asked and he finally spilled the beans, “Because I don’t want to…” “Yep, just as I suspected. Are you going to get out of your own way at school?” I asked. “Considering I generally like school, I don’t see why you’re worried about that…” He said. “Considering you don’t want to get a job to help pay for books and general needs at school, considering you are required to find a job to cover your work study loan, will you get out of your own way and do so? Will you be able to find this job without me pushing or harping on your back? Will you be able to find a job on your own?” I asked.

Finally, I hope, he understood where I was coming from. “I’d like to think I will…” He said. “For your sake, you’re going to have to grow up a lot in the next two months and become responsible. We don’t want this to be a one and done year at Muskingum. We’d like you to have a wonderful experience at school…but you have to make this happen on your own…” His father explained.

****

Since the conversation, the boy has told me he loves me every time he sees me–even when he’s upset with me; which is great. But as his mom, I still worry about his future three and a half hours from home school.  But I am happy to report he has begun to take more responsibility for his future–he’s taken driver’s ed and with luck will have his license before leaving for school. In addition, last week he opened a checking account and deposited his graduation money, which incidentally, will pay for his first semester of books.  Yes, he’s making strides into adulthood. 

But, during our conversation he asked me to stop including him in my Mean Mommy’s blogs saying, ” I don’t like meeting friends of yours who know me (through your blogs), but I don’t know them”. Trying to salvage his inclusion I argued,  “They don’t know you, they only know my interpretation of you–that’s different,” which didn’t add much to his dislike of the situation. Considering he’s eighteen, I agreed to his request.

So, while the boy is away at school…he will only be written about in passing. The doll however, has made no such claims to me so for now, she’s fair game.

However, he hasn’t left yet…

 

 

raining cats and dogs…

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Three weeks ago, our dog Dixie went to heaven, contrary to what some may think. She was a Jack Russell terrorist by name and deed. She was not the nicest of dogs you would ever have met and frankly, had we not rescued her from a sad situation, she would not have been our first pick for pet. But, in the eight years she was ours, she was a member of our family and is missed. 

Ever since I let the doll in on the fact that I pushed the age requirement for her to have a dog by two years due to a mispronunciation on her part; when she was six, she’s enjoyed hammering me with pictures and queries about when we will give her this long awaited/overdue dog or cat. The original excuse was, “We can’t bring a puppy into this environment with Dixie. It just wouldn’t be fair for her” but has since become, “Give us at least six months on the dog…” (and never on the cat),” even though, I wouldn’t mind never revisiting the idea of getting another pet.

Yet every day she hammers me about her desire to have a pet. All of her friends have pets–in fact some have more than their share…

“Mom, Kay has seven cats, two dogs, two pot bellied pigs, five rabbits and a bird,” She told me the other day, owning that hint of envy in her voice. “Good for that smelly house…” I replied. “But, it’s not fair. I mean yesterday she found a kitten in her bushes and her parents let her keep him and he’s soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute!” She further pushed. “Well at least you got a picture of the kitten to admire…” I began before she gave me a very unhappy look. “Sorry for your luck doll,” I replied and moved on.

“The next time I see Kay I’m going to ask her to stop sending cute pictures of her pets to our doll, or I won’t let her talk to her any more,” I said in frustration to my husband. Of course, I can’t stop them from talking, but it sure feels like a good solution-if only temporary. “She’ll lose interest once school starts back up,” He offered in support. “That’s far too long a time to be needled by her,” I returned adding, “Plus it doesn’t help when the two of you scroll through animal videos together.” “Wha? I’m trying to be the nice parent,” He replied. “Do you want another dog right now?” I asked. “Well, not at the moment…” He offered to which I replied, “Then stop encouraging her!”

But alas, no encouragement is needed. “Mom you promised me a dog…” “Mom you lied to me…” “Mom you never should have told me the truth…” She hammers at me every single day. So I decided to change the rhetoric a bit asking her if she could really afford to have a pet. “Do you have enough money saved for vet visits-at least once a year. Sweet Pea (our first dog) had allergies, so we had to pay for the drugs and shots she received every year. Do you have enough money saved to pay for these services?” “I thought you would help me,” She replied. “But this will be “YOUR” dog, so you would be the one financially responsible for the pet. In addition, when you go to college in three years, what are you going to do with the pet then?” Think long and hard doll if caring for a dog right now-instead of waiting until your better equipped to care for one, is the best choice,” I tried.

Yesterday she didn’t hammer me with her want of a puppy, so I thought maybe we were over the hump. This morning she asked how close to Christmas would she have to wait, before receiving a puppy.  Oh brother!

 

Breathers…

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The doll is taking an online summer school health class and for some reason she’s decided to wait until the end of each day to do the reading and take the chapter quiz, which has put her in a very testy mood each night. “I’m going to murder someone soon!” She announced. “Doll?” “Mom this laptop keeps freezing…” she retorted. “Why did you wait until the end of the day…” I began but was cut off. “When I do my homework should have no consequence on why this stupid laptop freezes,” she angrily retorted. 

Last night, while the boy was happily sitting on the living room floor playing a video game, listening to music through his headphones, his sister decided to take umbrage with his presence, while she worked unhappily on her homework from the loveseat behind him. “Must you breathe so loud?” She yelled. Oblivious to her remark he continued to play unaware. A minute later she offered, “My God, you sound like you’re snoring!!” “Doll!! Knock it off!” I scolded. Then she replied, “He needs to learn to breath through his nose! He’s so freaking loud!!” She said as her voice rose with ire.  “Doll, go and do your work in another room. He’s minding his own business and furthermore, I don’t hear him breathing loud. You’re merely taking your frustrations out on him. Knock it off!” She moaned in frustration and quit complaining, but remained in the room.

After a spell, she apologized about her outburst saying, “I’m sorry about my behavior. My chapter on “stress” was stressing me out!”  Smiling, I shook my head and replied, “Fine, but perhaps if you didn’t wait until the end of the day to do your work…” She nodded in reply, then promised to do the work earlier in the day from here on out. But, knowing my procrastinating doll, I doubt little will change in that capacity.