Wednesday, October 10, 2012

The Adventures of a Misplaced Alaskan: I Got This!

The Adventures of a Misplaced Alaskan: I Got This!: While the following scenario represents an actual conversation between two sentient beings, the names have been changed to protect the idiot...

Bully Update

My last post detailed a situation where my child was being bullied at school.  I contacted the school and spoke with two grade level principals. 

The children involved were questioned and talked to.

As of yesterday, our school has implemented a district wide telephone hot line for any child, parent or guardian to report bullying or abuse.  The tip may be completely anonymous or person reporting can leave a phone number to be contacted for discussion. 

I feel as if our district proved to be a front runner in being proactive about instituting programs and resources for our children.  Through calm conversation and rational reasoning my problem was addressed immediately and effectively.  Not only did the resolution benefit my child but every child in the district!

If you do hear of your child having problems at school don't hesitate to address it with the proper people and don't hide it.  Talking about problems is what stimulates solutions.

Keep it Real!

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bully, Bully....

I never thought that I would be involved in a situation where my child is being bullied.  I have one daughter who is in college and two in middle school.  They are each honor roll students, involved in other activities and have never been sent to the Principal's office for attitude or behavioral issues.

I was surprised when my daughter told me that another student had knocked her down in the hallway at school.  "Tell me what happened," I asked.

"I was just standing in the hallway talking to a couple of friends and this girl walked up behind me, kicked the back of my knee and I collapsed onto the concrete floor." Sydney explained.

"Why would she do that to you?"

"I don't know, I didn't do anything to her," she said.

"Well, I don't know Syd, she probably didn't mean to actually knock you down.  Maybe she was just trying to say, "hi!" and get your attention?" I offered.  "I don't think she actually meant for you to fall to the ground!"

"Yeah," Sydney agreed "probably not."

"OK well let it slide and lets just assume it was an accident, OK?" I said.

She seemed fine with that and we let the matter drop.  I thought that was the end of it until I got this text message from Sydney at school.

     "I have a bloody mouth, got punched in the face."

I was horrified! Now what?  I waited patiently for her to come home.  I wanted to hear the whole situation and in her series of emails she said she didn't want me to tell on the other girl.  I later learned that Sydney actually was holding her text book very close to her face while sitting at her desk.  The same girl walked by, punched the book and smashed it into her face causing her lip to split and bleed.

My daughter said she felt so humiliated and she tried not to cry while she got up and went to the rest room.  That part breaks my heart ... to understand this feeling of shame and not want it for her.  She went on to tell me that all of the students are talking about the situation but none of the teachers seem to know.

This IS a bully situation.  The sad thing is that other child needs intervention right now! I am taking the steps to empower my child.  I have spoken with her in depth about what this means.

This situation is NOT about her.  It's about a child who has not been taught to control her emotions or cope well.  The anger she must be feeling probably has very little to do with Sydney but she is a convenient outlet for this girl.  Once she figures out that she will not bully my daughter, she will unfortunately move on to another person's child.

If a parent sends their child to public school they need to learn the rules.  If they do not learn how to behave, I believe it is the job of the public school to intervene at THIS age!  Every doctor, every psychologist and every psychiatrist will tell you that if counseling will be effective it is at the youngest age possible.  These kids that act out aggressively need some sort of behavior modification classes.

I placed a photo of my child on my personal facebook with the caption, "This Child Won't Be a Victim"....I knew that many of my friends would offer support and this would allow my daughter to not fear having told an adult.  I knew this would show her that she did the right thing.  I wanted to allow her to feel strong and not weak.  Not only did my friends support her, but many students and friends of all of ours.  For that I am so grateful.  It really helped her to not be afraid to talk about this.

I spoke to the 6th grade principal and he was so engaging and I felt like he really cared.  He explained the school will be including the program "Rachel's Challenge" in the near future.  This program teaches children about caring and compassion.  I felt he was truly understanding the situation.  He gave me some tips and asked if they could speak to Sydney and connect her to another teacher or counselor who could stay apprised of the situation.

Next, the 7th grade principal (who didn't know I already spoke to the other principal) called me.  I almost felt deflated.  She seemed totally disinterested, uninvolved and had nothing to offer.  She did say she would speak to my child and investigate the matter further but then I think she was finished painting her nails so she had to let me go.

I will have my eyes on the school and I did feel compelled to tell the 7th grade principal that I will not tolerate my child being bullied at school.  It should not happen again.  I am anxiously waiting to hear what Sydney says about how today went.  I hope that for us, the bully will move on.  I hope for society that we find a way to deal with these children that scream "help" before we have another news event.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

GYM Class in Public Schools - Should it be Required?

This year seems to be spoiled by a P.E. class. One of my children has asthma and the other one hates dressing out. Each week, I have to talk to my kids about how, "I hated gym and I got through it. You will too!" I detested gym class. I failed it every year because I refused to "dress out."

Then I started thinking about how things change.

When my grandmother was little, they went to the dentist and had work done without painkillers such as Novocaine. Women bore children with no epidurals. That doesn't mean that I would! So, why should I force my children to experience the pain of gym class?

If the school is so concerned about my child's health then why not pay for healthy lunches in the cafeteria? My children have had doctor's orders NOT to eat lunch at school. My pediatrician says school lunches are terrible for kids! She told my oldest to choose three days each month that she wants to eat at school and the remainder she had to take healthy food.

Is that why they insist on gym? So they can exercise off the fat they ingested at lunch?

I do agree that it is healthy for kids but sometimes the mental stress can far outweigh (pun intended) the benefits of running a lap in gym three times each week. What is WRONG is that we force kids to take a class they do not want to take. Didn't we learn a long time ago that it is wrong to force a lefty to write with their right hand?

If kids want to participate in gym class and take gym that is wonderful! If they don't why force them? Someone PLEASE tell me how my children will benefit from this experience. It seems masochistic to force this on them week after week. Not every child is coordinated or enjoys playing sports. They end up being ridiculed and how many kids have horror stories about being picked last in gym class?

How many females have had to examine their self image in the presence of 50 to 100 other girls? Now it's all coed too. I see huge issues with this as far as self esteem and I don't understand why we force it. We wouldn't force Art class each year or make a child play a musical instrument that frustrated them so we could tell them it was "good for them!"

My kids are very involved in sports. One is involved in gymnastics and the other has played on an organized softball team for four years. It isn't that kids don't like sports either sometimes, it's simply about performing in front of others. That is a skill and a talent many don't want to work on. I say their time can be better spent allowing them to engage in a class that would help them in their future instead of leaving them with horrible memories of gym.

Don't even try to say that "public school is helping these obese children" or I will have to ask you to meet me for lunch, in a school cafeteria!

I think we should allow kids to choose if they want to take part in gym class in public schools. It should not be manadatory for those who are hurt by it - each and every class!

Keep It REAL!

Monday, October 1, 2012

It's Not So Good in the New Neighborhood!

Two huge things were going on in in 2005...I bought a new house and quit working to be a stay at home mom.  I started a small business that required my husbands full time employment in a field that we both worked in.  He was not warm to the idea of this entrepreneurial type business at first, but slowly, I convinced him that we could make a living selling information.

Information is a commodity that not many think about.  It is never free is it?  And the beauty of it is - you can sell the same information OVER and OVER again to different people.  You hear me?  Information is a very valuable thing to have. 

When we are younger we think we know it all.  When we get older, we fear we don't know enough.

I love having a small business and one of the advantages is that a lot of it is done from home.  I knew that I needed to buy a bigger house prior to quitting my job because our small business had only been operating for about 18 months at that time.  No lender would use that for a loan reference.

One of the resources we use are the court house research rooms in local counties.  Many matters of public record can only be obtained through their books and records.  Location, location, location.  We had to move in a central area near as many adjacent county seats as possible.  I wanted to buy private property.  My husband wanted to move to a suburban neighborhood so that the kids would have friends to play with!

Dave won and I made up my mind that I would make the best of it.  I am a very private person and I love to socialize, but I am very particular about when I feel like doing that.  I don't want neighbors, really.  Sorry.  Two or more people in a group and you will eventually have some conflict.  I try to avoid that at all costs.  Neighbors scare me.  They can't be easily gotten rid of, if things get ugly.

I found a decent two story home adjacent to a corn field.  Bonus - it's on a corner lot.  We moved in quietly, a couple people smiled and waved but everyone pretty much kept their distance.  I thought this was a good sign! Boy was I wrong!

The next day, a girl came over from across the street and introduced herself.  Turns out - she lived with her parents and her three children, ages 3 to 12.  I asked her in and she launched into the business of filling me in about everyone in the neighborhood.  I knew what that meant, too.  Soon, she would be running door to door informing the neighborhood about me.  I told her very little.

I decided I was going to just try to be polite but distant.  The attached video is exactly how I feel about neighbors and how you should behave.  Just don't get too chummy.

Next, the little lady next door came over.  Let's call her Carrie.  (Like in the Stephen King Novel!) 

Carrie, short brown hair, blunt cut - no make up.  Carrie spoke with her arms crossed, body slightly rocking, chin up.  I knew right away this was  a "little Hitler" and I resisted the urge to salute her.  I already knew I was not gonna be asking her over for a glass of wine.  Too freaking up tight and knowledgeable.  You know the kind.

Carrie and her husband, Anis have 3 kids.  The kids are nice.  I kindly said all the right stuff and sent Carrie packing while I finished my own unpacking.  I am pretty good at avoiding people so I didn't see anyone much for a while.  I did think things were odd though.  It was like we were being avoided.  I did not mind this at all though so I just enjoyed the silence.  This went on for two years!

I was commenting to my husband that there was something weird about this 'hood.  He said it was just my over active imagination until one night when we were coming home from dinner out.  It was just about dark as we drove down our street.  Carrie, Anis and a few neighbors were playing basketball in the hoop that I have in my driveway.

The second they saw our headlights - the ball dropped and rolled and everyone ran!  Dave looked at me and we were both laughing, incredulous!

"What was that about?" he asked with a shocked look on his face.  "They scattered like roaches!"

Well, one day a lady that lived down the block struck up a conversation with me.  I liked her a lot - she was an older lady and a smart one too! She did end up sharing with me a very funny story.

Apparently, since I did not fully inform my neighbors about how I earn a living they decided to make some assumptions of their own!  I guess since I only run out for shopping and errands, and Dave leaves the house at 10 or 11 wearing cargo shorts, carrying a brief case gave them lots to talk about.

Nobody was talking TO us.  They were too busy talking ABOUT us.  I found out that we were in the Witness Protection Program!  Yes! They got me! They figured it all out.  Genius! 

I did have a couple of suits from the IRS come knocking on my door shortly after we moved in.  They were looking for the previous owners.  I suppose that could have added some fuel.

Eventually it got around that we have a legit business and things settled down for several years. 

Like a time bomb waiting to explode - after 7 years - the ticking started.  I do not want to waste a bunch of my time getting all involved with the neighbors.  I did find a way to effectively deal with a bad neighbor.

I was trying to figure out how to make Carrie and Anis just stay the hell on their own lawn after several ridiculous visits about my dogs barking.  Suddenly, the people with three large dogs of their own, protest my indoor dogs barking.  We all know it isn't about the dogs folks. 

I noticed a peculiar thing about people.  They behave in ways privately that they would NEVER be caught dead doing if all eyes were on them.  So I decided to put it to the test.  I have now outfitted my house with Night Owl Security cameras.  If they are not embarrassed about their behaviour then I supposed it would continue.  If they wouldn't want the whole world to see what they were doing, because they know it's wrong - they would stop.

So far so good! Here ya go - take care of that naughty neighbor quietly so you can enjoy the rest of your life!

Keep it Real!