Tag Archives: parenthood

Bullying and the F Word

th[1]When The Girl was in 8th grade, she was targeted by Mean Girls. She was lucky. Not because she was bullied. There is nothing lucky about it*. According to nobullying.com/causes-of-suicide/ “Teenage bullying is one of the leading causes of teenage suicide, and suicide is the third leading cause of death in young children.” My daughter was lucky because she was targeted by a handful of Former Friends, and the bullying consisted of them telling her “We’ve never been your friend” and running away when she approached. While the loss of a BFF can be devastating (at any age) it does not compare with the stories that make the rounds via social media or breaking news.

broken-bullying-deppressed-drawing-Favim.com-1236404[1]

Image courtesy of keyword-suggestions.com

I had no idea. I mean, I knew something was wrong – my usually cheerful, gregarious tween became curiously quiet – but, when pressed, she would only say that she was “tired”. Her mysterious fatigue (which we blamed on a growth spurt and hormones) only lasted a week. It wasn’t until one of the other mothers greeted me with “I’m so sorry that Lauren’s having problems in school” and suggested I pick up Queen Bees and Wannabes that I knew there had been a Serious Problem. When I confronted discussed the situation with her that night, she shrugged “It’s no big deal. I’m not going to be friends with them in high school, so why should I care if we’re not friends now?”

“But why didn’t you tell me? I’m your mom! You’re supposed to come to me when you have problems.”

She gave a slow “no comment” blink.

“Because I would have gone to school to kick a** and chew bubble gum….”

She smiled. “…and you are all out of bubblegum.”

Seeing that 8th grade is far behind us, you might be wondering why I’m bringing this up now. Contrary to what the EIC says, it’s NOT because I’ve been unable to come up with a topic for a post for days weeks months. My daughter went to camp last week.

I know what you’re thinking (I do! I’m psychic! No, wait – I’m psychotic. I always get those confused) What does camp have to do with bullying? Did she go to a special anti-bullying camp? No. I don’t know if they have anti-bullying camps, but if they do, they should include karate or self-defense classes (please note, WE DON’T HIT!) Was she bullied at camp? No. Did she flip to the dark side and bully kids at camp? Also no. Did she have horrible flashbacks and wake up screaming in the middle of the night? Not that I’m aware of, although when she was little she did have night terrors. Did she run through camp wearing a plastic mask and screaming “Welcome to Camp Crystal Lake – run, bullies run!” While that would have been really, really funny, again, the answer is no.

According to the youth leaders, my daughter epitomized this year’s lesson on forgiveness. She stood up in front of hundreds of young men and women and spoke about the different types of bullying, and the importance of forgiveness. She warned the campers that “If you don’t forgive fully, memories and emotions will pop up when you least expect it.” She told them that she had reached out to the girls who had bullied her to tell them she forgave them and shared their responses.

“I told them ‘I don’t mean to make you feel guilty, but I want to let you know that I forgive you for what you did to me.’” The Meanest girl (the one who wanted to replace Lauren as BFF to the Queen Bee) responded with “You have nothing to apologize for. We are the ones who owe you an apology.” A second girl responded with a lengthy text message, thanking her for reaching out because “I have always felt guilty about what happened, but never knew how to approach you/how to bring this up. I knew it was wrong, but, as an incredibly insecure tween, I didn’t have the strength to stand up to the others to stop it.” Not all the girls have grown up. A third girl responded with “I think you have the wrong number.” Which would be possible except for the fact that my daughter had JUST gotten her phone number from another friend.

I am so proud of my daughter. I think it’s amazing that she was mature enough to handle the situation on her own (although I’m still butthurt she didn’t come to me). I am in awe of the fact that she was willing to share her story with hundreds of strangers, and I think it’s incredible that she was willing to reach out to her bullies to tell them she forgave them. I’m also proud of the girls who showed remorse for their actions. The F-word has allowed all of them to heal.

537720_322504497830281_1627535944_n1[1]

image courtesy of discovryproject.wordpress.com

Mostly, I’m impressed that my daughter has a heart that’s willing to forgive, because she comes from a long line of stubborn strong-willed women who hold a grudge. I’ve spoken before about the importance of forgiveness, but the lesson isn’t sticking. Evidently I have a lot to learn, because I still want to punch the little B’s** in the neck.

*The statistic (courtesy of bullyingstatistics.com) on bullying and suicide are alarming:

  • Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths/year according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14% of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7% have attempted it
  • Bully victims are between 2-9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
  •  A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides amount young people are related to bullying.
  • 10-14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
  • According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30% of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 1600,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying

If you are a victim of or witness to bullying, you can report it here.

If you or a friend are fighting thoughts of self-harm or suicide, please call. Someone is always willing to listen.

**Bullies! That’s the B word I meant – could I have meant anything else? 😉

And, lastly, a song that never fails to make me cry

Merry Christmachanukwanstice!

th2!

I know, I know, I’ve been remiss – I’m way behind in my biweekly posts (and have been for a while). Trust me, I feel really guilty (hey, I’m 1/2 Jewish – guilt is my specialty!) I’ve been crazy busy (or, at the very least, crazy). This week’s excuses are all holiday related – I’ve been tangled up in holiday lights, last minute shopping ,  holiday parties/plays/parades (not all at once). Wow. that was a lot of asides. Next year I’m finding a different way to express the voices in my head (I promise).

I’ve also been busy writing and mailing my generic Christmas letters. I know, you hate them. Most people do, but I just can’t stop myself (is there a 12 step program out there?). I started writing generic Christmas card letters when I was in college (too little free time, too many people who wanted to know that college hadn’t killed me). That was a few several more years ago than I am willing to admit to. It’s been so long ago that I’m pretty sure I started the trend (please don’t hate me). Here, for those of you who are interested, is my latest version (for those of you who aren’t interested, try learning how to adult instead).

thuukvo8ys

Happy Holidays! – To borrow from adequateman (you really need to read his hater’s guide to the Williams-Sonoma catalog) – “2016 has sucked – all the good guys died”. I beg to differ – we’re still here, and that’s what’s important. It has been, with few exceptions, a less than pleasant year – but it’s almost over, and we’re not dead yet, so here’s to not getting on the cart!

It’s been a busy year for our family – my husband continues to heal from his near death experience(s). He is 97% of normal, which is closer to normal than I am, by at least 62% (you do the math). At this point, we are just waiting for the lawyers, and then he’ll be ready to get out and GET TO WORK. It’s been nice having him home (dinner on the table when I walk through the door? Yes please!), but we’ve spent more time together these past two years than we have in the previous 29 😉

Our daughter is enjoying her junior year of high school (with the exception of all the acronyms – PSAT, ACT, SAT AAAGHHH). This year (thanks to summer school) she was able to load her schedule with electives – ASB, choir, dance and Drama2 (as if she needs help Being Dramatic). She’s also finishing her 2nd semester of ASL. She and her fellow thespians are looking forward to getting fluent enough in sign language to produce a “deaf-west” style performance (with performers both speaking and signing). She wanted to raise a steer this year for the fair, but she’s decided to wait until her senior year (if it is anything like raising a pig, I’ll be eating a lot of chicken next year).

As for me, well, I’ve been staying out of trouble (mostly). It’s taken a year, but (one year post-op, as promised) my knee is finally feeling good enough that I can run (Let me be clear. I can run. I choose not to). This year I fulfilled my dream of performing at the Hollywood Fringe festival. I played Gertrude/seamstress in a 30 minute production of A Little Hamlet. I had so much fun that I’ve actually started reading audition notices again. I’ve also returned to writing/blogging –  I actually submitted pieces to two writing contests this year (I’ll get my winning notification in January) and I’m hoping to complete my WIP before I retire die. I’m also looking forward to returning to stand up next year. In short (too late) now that my daughter is 16 and no longer needs me is getting a life of her own, I’m free to return to my BM* life.

WE spent another Halloween volunteering at the best “haunted maze” in Ventura county. If you haven’t been to Deadzone805, you’ve been missing out. But you don’t need to, because NOW THEY’RE OPEN ALL YEAR! (They are running escape mazes for private parties/celebrations). We’ve also been volunteering at the ventura county animal shelter – she walks the dogs, and I schmooze the people. I keep trying to pimp out the pitbulls, but most people refuse to believe that their reputation is just bad press.

th52nrjpy8

vicious pitbull

 

2016 has been…challenging**…for most of us. I’m hoping that in 2017 we can get off the rollercoaster and board the cruise ship – it’s time for some smooth sailing (just remember – don’t get on the boat marked “3 hour tour”).

Thank you all for you love, support and prayers – and for helping me to find my sanity when I lost it. I made a huge dent in my New Year’s resolution to spend more time with family and friends, but I want to spend more time with YOU (you know who you are). Let’s set a date!

*Before Motherhood

**F-d

May your holiday season be filled with L’s and F’s***

(Love, Laughter & Light and Friends, Food & Family)

***Or chocolate and adult beverages – whichever works best for you

th8deomehe

 

 

To Twist or not to Twist, that is the question…

I am several days behind on the Blogging101 “Blogging: Learning the Fundamentals” course. I thought about hitting more than one lesson a day until I’m current. I am tired, fighting a cold and have writer’s block, so it sounds like too much work for today. For now, I will work one lesson at a time. It’s nice back here. I’m so far behind I think I’m first!

Day Two: Make Sure You Love Your Title

I thought about changing my blog’s title when I realized that my blog needed a reboot. I considered it for a nanosecond (not to be confused with nana second, the length of time it takes your grandmother to realize that you are Up To Something).

images7My instincts whispered that I should keep my title, and I ALWAYS listen to my instincts.*

In truth, I could have used a guide to suburbia when I first moved here. There are books about what to expect your first year of marriage, what to do when you’re expecting, how to handle the toddler years, but I couldn’t find one on how to survive suburban soccer moms in minivans or how to avoid joining the PTA PTSA.

The suburbs are scary, even if you have some sort of experience with them. I grew up in a small town (the same small town we live in now), but after a few years in the city I was afraid to buy a house in the suburbs, and not just because the houses all looked alike. 

There were too many perfect parents with perfect children living in perfect houses with perfect yards. TBH I spent the first month looking in the closets and under the bed for my Stepford duplicate.

stepford-wives1

The good news is that, with a little bit of detective work, I was able to find my tribe – the suburbanites who don’t quite fit, the parents with a slightly skewed sense of humor, the PTA moms who wear black to back to school night, the parents who go Drink or Treating on Halloween and the suburban soccer moms who drive jeeps instead of minivans.

Suburbia isn’t quite as scary when you twist it to suit you. Trust me.

I like my blog title and tagline, but I am open to suggestions. Let me know if you think of something that would be better suited.

11460_1167528866116_7109996_n[1]

*I almost said that with a straight face

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Foulest Four Letter Word I Know

thFOZVIT6EWednesday’s post quieted my muse, albeit briefly.

You should write.

I wrote Wednesday

Doesn’t count – you wrote about nothing.

Seinfeld was a show about nothing

You are not Jerry Seinfeld

I’m not an old Jewish man? Good to know. You are my muse. You’re supposed to give me ideas.

I do. You don’t listen.

…..

Write!Write!Writewritewrite!

O

M

G

Please shut up. I would write, if I could think of anything to write about, and if I could find the time.

Ah. There’s the rub. And the topic.

Time.

It’s a four letter word, and out of all of them, it’s the nastiest. It stretches and bends, twists and turns, slows down and speeds up at random.  It slows when you want it to move quickly (during the last hour of work on a Friday, the 5 minutes before the school bell rings, and any amount of time at any mandatory meeting) and flies by in the blink of an eye.

The speed of life gave me whiplash last week, when my baby girl had another birthday. Her birthdays affect me more than my own do. I am able to ignore the grey hairs and the “life lines” in the face in the mirror (mostly because I don’t look), but I can’t deny the fact that my girl is no longer a baby – or a toddler.

My life changed when I became an accidental mother. I had just started a career in the entertainment industry (no, not THAT one) when the girl came into our lives. I told my manager that I would take “maybe a year off” to spend time with the baby.

That was 16 years ago.

It doesn’t’ seem possible. The past 14 years have been a blur. It could be because I’ve been juggling work/school/household chores, because I’m sleep deprived*, or because I’m a character in a movie montage – but I’m pretty sure it’s because Momtime is different than real time. Mom years are inversed dog years. 1 mom year = 7 real years.

Or perhaps it’s because I’ve been wasting Time. I should have listened to the Mad Hatter when he warned Alice about the perils of pissing him off.

“Alice sighed wearily. ‘I think you might do something better with the time,’ she said, `than waste it in asking riddles that have no answers.’ `If you knew Time as well as I do,’ said the Hatter, `you wouldn’t talk about wasting it. It’s him.’ `I don’t know what you mean,’ said Alice. `Of course you don’t!’ the Hatter said, tossing his head contemptuously. `I dare say you never even spoke to Time!’ `Perhaps not,’ Alice cautiously replied: `but I know I have to beat time when I learn music.’ `Ah! that accounts for it,’ said the Hatter. `He won’t stand beating. Now, if you only kept on good terms with him, he’d do almost anything you liked with the clock. For instance, suppose it were nine o’clock in the morning, just time to begin lessons: you’d only have to whisper a hint to Time, and round goes the clock in a twinkling! Half-past one, time for dinner!”Lewis Carroll

My daughter’s birthday wasn’t my first reminder that time is fleeting. I have lost too many people in the past few years. Their deaths reminded me that we need to spend less time doing the “Have Tos” and more time doing the “Want Tos”. We need to spend less time making money and spend more time doing what we love. We need to waste less time visiting with acquaintances on social media, and make more time to see those we love “IRL.”

Life is short – eat dessert first.

And whatever you do, don’t blink (and not just because there are Weeping Angels)

bigchiefstudios-weepingangel[1]

 

So – if you could spend the day doing whatever you’d like with whomever you want, how would you spend it?

*Despite what friends/family/doctors tell you, parenthood induced sleep deprivation does not disappear once your baby sleeps through the night. The sound of my daughter’s  cough, gasp, or moan of a nightmare rouses me from the deepest sleep

 

 

Hope, Lost and Found

OnceYouChooseHope[1]“Whoever said life is fair?”

That was my mother’s favored response whenever I whined “…but it’s not fair!” As a mother to a teenaged girl, I’ve said it more than once myself. My daughter responds the same way I did at her age – with an eye roll, a huff of exasperation and stomping feet. I understand her frustration, both with my response and the situation.

I’ve been reminded that life isn’t always fair several times in the past couple of months (more than several times, to be honest). Evidently I have a life lesson that I am Just Not Learning. I have reached a point in my life where loss is a constant. Loss of material goods (and yes, I know that stuff is just stuff, and that I can’t take it with me), loss of health (not my own, say I, as I cross my fingers, knock wood and spit for luck), loss of life (again, not my own), loss of hope. The last one is my own. My husband lost his job several months ago, and it’s been….a blessing, I suppose.

We are learning that time is just as valuable a commodity as money. We are spending less AND more. We spend less time doing things that cost money: less time watching television, less time surfing on the computer, less time eating in restaurants and shopping at the mall. We spend more time doing things that matter: more time talking, more time laughing, and more time playing.

My husband and I are returning to the early days of our courtship, when time was all we had. I am rediscovering things about my husband that (after twenty-six years) I’ve long forgotten or taken for granted. He makes me laugh. After all these years together, he can still take my breath away with a look, and he gives me hope. So I guess I haven’t lost it after all.