School Fools

Published June 23, 2017 by sarcasmica

This is not going to be the most eloquent, charming & optimistic post i’ve done. I’m a frustrated mom of a kid who often gets overlooked, harrassed and left behind at school.

The reasons are not always his own fault, he’s a quiet kid in a shool setting. He learned early on that if he is invisible, no one will have an expectation of him. When teachers dare to challenge him, however, they are surprised by his demeanor, charm, intelligence,  and creativity. He makes people work to see the real kid. 

Because he gets extra support and stands out as needing more than the others, it makes him a bit of a target. He has had to endure harrassment and teasing a lot this year. 

Today was the end of my tolerance and rope. I’m done. Today was the recognition of all the 5th graders “graduating” to middle school and moving onto 6th grade. A new level for the district. 

For my son, however, he wont be. We moved and this changes our district. The new school will still be elementary capping out at 6th grade. (Next year he will get to graduate again)

That said, he wasnt all that invested in the ceremony. Still, he was being respectful and sitting quietly beside his friend. The whole time a row of four boys behind him were poking at him, teasing him, messing with him. 

He kept his cool while I continually fought the urge to jump up and threaten each boy’s happiness and ability to walk. 

My 11 year old handled it better than I did because he’s used to it. 

Why does he have to be used to it?

While my husband coached me through sitting still and leaving it alone, we watched our kid alternate between standing up for himself, to laughing it off and ignoring it.

The assembly was 45 mins long.

I have so much guilt for causing so much change and flux for our son with all of our moves. Honestly we had good reasons and intentions every time we made that choice. 

Today I watched him handle a situation far better than I or his dad did. 

No teachers were nearby monitoring their students. After the assembly there was chaos and mayhem as his teacher had no clue what was happening. First there was an additional activity, then there wasnt, and then “Ok, i guess it’s happening”. No one was directing the parents or kids – in a school parking lot no less.

The whole thing just solidified our choice to GTFO of there. Mind you, this school is mainly for advanced kids in the district (so they can pump up those standardized test scores) and will become mostly advanced placement next year. 

I will say it is definitey a special school- but more short school bus-special, not remarkable-special.

Happy to take my own remarkable kids elsewhere.

Reproduction

Published June 14, 2017 by sarcasmica

A couple weeks ago my kid’s school sent home a note saying that “The Health Talk” was coming up. My son happened to be pretty sick with an on and off fever that week, coincidentally. His friend told him, “You’re lucky you missed it.”. My friend and I were trying desperately to figure out from the broken incomplete sentences from the boys what exactly was taught since no other information came home about it.

Turns out the big reveal was this week. We had another notice – this time on gold paper – come home that they would begin covering “Puberty” and “here are some follow up conversations you can have at home.”

F*ckety freak frack. Seriously? He was just potty trained like a year ago.

(not really, but how is my child looking down the barrel of puberty already?!)

I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but I don’t really know what I’m doing quite yet. I figure the parental instincts will kick in eventually. For what it’s worth, I am on point with the second kid. The first continues to be mostly training wheels.

So I took the suggestions from the work sheet pretty loosely. The school district can barely manage my kid’s IEP. I doubt they have a better handle on hormone functions and sperm than I do. The only thing I took from the paper was to make sure if things feel awkward (“IF” ?!?! IF ?) you let your child know it’s awkward for the parent as well …. I agreed to a certain extent.

Anyway, after my daughter was sent off to brush teeth and get ready for bed, I figured i’d delve into it. I was more concerned with friend info and what the playground conversations were that resulted from the curriculum, to be honest.

I guess I should say here that my husband and I have always had a pretty open door policy on information with our kids. They are quite aware of what body parts are, what their functions are and if there are questions, just ask us and not friends. This has resulted in some pretty hilarious random questions from my 6 year old daughter the last few weeks. The first – on the way to school – was “did they have to cut open your pee pee to have us, mom?” which led to an even more colorful conversation. The very next day she had a follow up question; “What happens to the milk in your boobs, mom?”.

Needless to say, the discomfort level was laid out early and paved the way for the more possibly awkward conversation with the 11 year old of hormones, puberty, and erections.

Now I will freely admit that biology talk has always been quite uncomfortable for me. I get through it, I try to hide my discomfort, and I realize it’s my own hang up. But you know what? It doesn’t matter to your kid. If they want information you have, they will water board you, pull your finger nails out, or perform Chinese water torture to get that information. (or is that just my kids?) I anticipated this conversation to be excruciating, but I managed to go into it nonchalantly and just see how it would unravel. I had no idea how much info I was going to give, and I had no plan. (big surprise there, right?)

While my son was occupied, I asked if the talk had begun at school. He told me yes, and we went on from there. I was surprised at how comfortable it was to communicate with him about this. It seems we had laid the groundwork already leading up to it by being honest and open about biology.

Don’t get me wrong, it was not a cake walk, but it was less painful than a Minecraft monologue.

One thing that surprised me was how interesting he thought it all was. He told me in class he didn’t find it embarrassing or weird, but he had to act uncomfortable “like all the other kids so they wouldn’t think i’m weird because I liked learning about it.”

My son has always loved science and how things work and operate. It shouldn’t surprise me that biology would be any different for him, but I guess it did.

I think it’s unfortunate he didn’t feel like he could safely behave in a way that might even model positive behavior for his classmates. Instead, he had to camouflage his curiosity and interest to avoid social mayhem. (and how many other boys felt they had to do this? Were they all secretly comfortable with it and just interested in the science of it all?)

Our conversation lasted about 45 minutes, and I feel like we covered most of the important stuff. It’s always sort of a need-to-know basis, and every kid has a different level of maturity so no script is going to be 100% effective. Apparently if you go in with an open mind, not a lot of expectation, and honesty, it doesn’t have to be a painful experience.

The entertainment factor will help mask some of the awkwardness, also. The one exchange I feel I need to write down for fear of forgetting it later was this:

I was explaining how he’s already begun to notice some changes, especially in the mornings. He asked if that meant then that sex could only occur in the morning. I explained more, and also that it was just his body wiring itself, practicing functions, programming everything for when it would be necessary MUCH MUCH later in life.

“Oooh, I think I get it, mom. It’s like a video game. You have to start out practicing your abilities and begin slow. They don’t just throw you in a level and expect you to fight the Big Boss right away.”

Yes. I think I will let him believe that sex is like fighting a Boss at the end of a level. A big, mean, ugly vicious Boss. He wont be dating until he’s 30.

Tentative Two Cents

Published June 11, 2017 by sarcasmica

I kept hearing controversy about a Netflix series entitled, “13 Reasons Why”. If there’s anything I love, it’s to jump into a controversy and pick a side. Isn’t this the era for having an opinion and pushing it four steps further and being belligerent and righteous about it and expecting praise and glory?

So here’s my take on the ultra controversial show about a girl who commits suicide and wants to leave much more than a note.

DISCLAIMER: I *just* finished the show. As in we saw the final episode tonight. I haven’t neatly organized my thoughts or managed opinions. This is just my immediate review.

I have more than a couple views on this. I have always prided myself on playing devil’s advocate. Maybe I was a lawyer in a previous life, but arguing is a natural gift for me. When I hear an overwhelming lean from a majority, I have an automatic inclination to try out the other side first. This show is no different. I’ve heard how up in arms teachers and school districts and therapists are over this show. I wonder how many have actually watched it…? To hear the premise, it is easy to jump to a conclusion, but that is ignorant. If you are going to throw an opinion at a wall, you must have a catapult from which to toss. You cannot form an opinion from Cliff’s Notes.

So I did the time. My husband and I both, admitted old fogies, watched the first season over the last week. It’s definitely emotional. It makes you feel. It makes you question and it makes you think. I’m pretty sure that was the goal. I’ve heard the creators wanted to give parents a reason to open up a dialogue with kids about the topic of suicide. Parents of middle teens are encouraged to watch the show with their kids, even. This is a great idea, but it also feeds into a little bit of what the show chides adults for. Following the script of adulthood rather than just actually committing to paying attention. It’s not about checking boxes and having the reasonable answers. It’s about hearing what your kid is saying to you, even if it’s ugly. Listen to them, give them credit for being an intelligent human being, validate the struggle that is high school, and just be there.

That being said, I feel split about it. I watched as a current parent of two children whom I believe, of course, will grow up to be super heroes or presidents or sheriffs. I also watched it completely identifying with some of that dreadful teen loneliness and despair and hopelessness.

One big term being tossed around with this show by professionals is “glorifying”. They claim the story glorifies suicide.

I disagree whole-heartedly.

What I left feeling may piss some people off, but it’s my opinion. What makes me frustrated about this show, if anything, is the wide spread feeling and acceptance of complacency. Not in reactions of characters to a supposed friend, but in the expectations of the main character. If you haven’t watched it, maybe don’t continue reading. There will likely be spoilers because as I’ve said before, I have watched it all and this whole post is my reaction to it. Naturally things will be given away. I will not babysit and give any type of “alert”. Common sense is a dying art.

So. More than once, this desperate character says she felt one thing, stated a feeling, and then expected the other person to do the opposite. She “wished” the other person had “understood” how she felt despite screaming the exact opposite at him.

Huh?!

This character had a lot of moments of going through with an action and then having a soul crushing reaction when the person didn’t read through the gloom and haze and WORDS and push at her. This is a very dangerous game. I don’t think people need to go around with a neon sign declaring their opinion, but you damn sure need to say what you need, or at least express you are unsure of what you need and then at least attempt to muddle through it.

Aside from the casting of what are clearly adults and college students passing for high school sophomores, juniors and seniors, this show did an outstanding job with the actors. The perceived drama that followed some of the story lines left me scratching my head and feeling totally out of touch with what this show implies is reality.

All in all I hope anyone curious about it just gives it a chance. The show is really well done and I was impressed with all of the performances. What I think needs to be talked about is not necessarily the topic of suicide, but all of the other issues. Why is it so hard to have a dialogue with a teenager? That absolutely goes both ways. Why is it so hard for teenagers to speak to their parents – preferably in complete sentences! If you haven’t said what you mean, how can you crucify someone for not coming through for you?

I failed to see the glorification of suicide in this show. What I did see was someone wanting to set the record straight when she felt she had no voice. She had the last word, and laid out what led her to such a desperate, horrible, unimaginable solution. I do not see how this would sway or convince people watching that suicide is a valid and enviable option for life’s troubles. If anything it should show that mumbling a nebulous thought under your breath is not enough to get help. You have to say the words. You have to beat adults over the head sometimes with your thoughts. You have to scream and fight to be heard, but if you can manage some form of that, it’s worth it.

 

 

Birthday Parties

Published June 5, 2017 by sarcasmica

Children’s birthday parties. More specifically, school friend birthday parties.

Did you get a little tummy flutter? Did you picture ponies and gift bags? Then you are not my people. Move along. 

Did you cringe and feel sweat bead up on your brow? Did you reach for a nearby cocktail? If so, read on.

It’s not so much the screaming over-excited kids that I mind. I dont even particularly mind the germy venue. The cold pizza and token veggie plate dont bother me either, it’s the chit chat. The chit chat with other people I only barely recognize from car windows as we pass each other at drop off all bleary-eyed and zombified. It’s figuring out how to start a conversation with someone I dont know and will likely never see again. (because after this school year we are switching districts) I’m no good at big parties, and i’m only marginally better at smaller shindigs. I’m more of a friendly suaree partier. If I’m in a known group of people, it’s fun and I have even been known to enjoy myself. Those conversations mean something. I know the parent they are bitching about. I understand the tantrums and attitude of the small human they are rearing. 

So today began with us preparing our newly habitated house for our son’s party next week. It moved onto my kid being snubbed out of a neighborhood birthday playdate, and ended with the school friend party. 

Last weekend our neighbors had an impromptu potluck gathering. We know this only because when my daughter went to play with Kid K, her mom mumbled something super noninformational about it in passing. Later on the driveway across from us was decked out in tables, food, and people from all over our street. After things got underway, and after my daughter and I were standing on the driveway obviously waiting for a “oh hey! Come on over” wave, we received an apologetic half assed invite to which my husband and I bowed out of as we already had plans to go to a friend’s BBQ. 

So today as i’m washing my car I notice Kid K and all but 1 of the kids my daughter has been playing with in the neighborhood for the last 4 weeks running all around and having a fabulous time. Tables are set up at one house and one kid excitedly shouts, “Thats so cool it’s actually her birthday today!” And they all scamper around the lawns together.

Three of the moms cozy up in chairs with wine across from my house….again…and I just minded my own business and washed my car.

I should have just swallowed my ridiculous pride, totally interrupted their guzzling, and just slapped a plastic smile on my face while overzealously waving and shouting, “Hello!!!” to all of them. 

I totally should have. Maybe next time I feel dismissed I will.

But my kid had a birthday party to go to she didnt have to crash theirs.

She had a great time at the class friends party. I, however, sat off on my own after an initial ‘Hello’ and tried to look entertained. After a few minutes i just hid in my cell phone. I began to wonder if the person who wrote The Hunger Games was inspired by a similar situation resulting in Sponsors. I would have done nearly anything to see a parachute drop a martini down to me at any point during that party. 

I was able to chat a bit, met a couple parents who said they had heard a lot about my daughter from their kids at home. I felt bad having never heard my kid talk about their children. 

It all ended well and good until the exodus. Everyone left and as I was holding the door for the person behind me, my daughter tuns at the same time I do and BAM! She twirls ear first into my hard nail head purse.

Fiery bolts of lightning charge from her eyes and green poison flies out of her mouth as she starts screaming at me and alternately wailing into my chest over getting hurt.

It wasnt a scene, it was the entire play.

One sweet grandma asked, “Oh no, what happened? is she okay?” and through the mist of fury I call out by accident she got whacked with my purse, but was fine.

That parking lot emptied faster than a box of Thin Mints. Tumbleweeds. I quietly, but hauntingly, explained the situation my kid just caused to the demon that had obviously overtaken my kid. At some point the horns broke off and my kid was returned to the front of the identities and we resumed our party exit.

I despise going to these parties and quite frankly may just be otherwise engaged for any more classroom invites.

In fact, I did receive one today and I think I may just RSVP no and say “I’m sorry, we have the exorcism scheduled for that day.” 

Batty

Published May 23, 2017 by sarcasmica

My kids are driving me frigging batty! 

I know it’s me and not them…sort of…except for the whining and the not listening and the talking back. That is definitely contributing to my asylum fantasies. But if I were walking, eating fruit instead of chips, crunching on veggies instead of peanut butter toast, they’d still be annoying as hell, but i might be less likely to be sucked into the void of insanity. 

My daughter has begun a particularly irritating habit of asking a question, me saying no, and she immediately says, “But Im going to do it anyway…”

And my eyes roll back, my head spins around and I hear Latin chanting.

She has also figured out how to try for Door #2 if she doesnt like whats already been offered. “You wasted story time because you didnt pick up your toys.” 2 minutes later I hear, “Grandmaaaaa? Will you read me a story tonight?” (Sweet face closer)

And my fists ball up, my neck veins bulge, I turn loud and green and burst out of my pajamas. ..The Mulk. 

I am not going to end this with how much I love and adore my kids. I’m not going to elaborate on my blessings. I just want my little humans to listen, follow through, and then use their noggin for making life easy. 

Ha! And monkeys might fly outta my butt

Garage Garbage

Published May 22, 2017 by sarcasmica

There is nothing like buying a house to test the limits of your marital bliss, except for maybe sugery for a spouse. ..also moving can definitely make you revisit some wedding vows. My husband and I can now say we survived this all simultaneously over the last four months. The sprinkles on the top of that divorce cake was the neighborhood garage sale this weekend. We just moved in like three weeks ago. My forward thinking proactive spouse had all the big furniture items we knew we wanted to get rid of strategically placed in the garage to be easily accessible. Genius! 

We found out soon after moving that there was going to be a huge neighborhood garage sale and we stupidly thought, “Hey! We have some shit we can sell!” But because rifling through the cardboard chaos to find singular items to hock from our driveway wasnt stressful enough, I had the genius idea to let the kids sell lemonade. 

That lasted all of about four sales before they abandoned their posts for the shade of the couch inside. My 6 year old daughter angrily hounding people to buy her lemonade didnt live up to the retail money tree she had built it into I guess.

I was truthfully doing just fine until we had to put all the crap that didnt sell back into the garage. 

That’s when it happened. Somewhere between the mildly sunny day sweat, the defeat of leftover inventory, and my husband’s OCD need for rows in the garage I lost it. I felt that imaginary matchstick snap in my brain and fantasized about just burning down the wholefucking garage. To hell with the boxes and multiplying bikes and holiday decorations that have been dragged across four states and seven garages-give or take-Burn it down!! 

Instead I quietly told my husband, “The next time we decide a garage sale after moving is a good idea, lets just pass. It would seem, dear, that I am now overwhelmed.”

After my head stopped spinning around we did manage to get it all squared away, we cleared some crap out of the garage, the kids made some money and we survived­čśÄ

And now because I am old and fat I need to recover from the whole thing! Goodnight

Seriously

Published May 11, 2017 by sarcasmica

This is one of my more serious posts… read at your own risk, but be courageous enough to consider reading it and please leave a comment with your thoughts.

I believe I have mentioned maybe once or twice (or 8,000 times) that we have recently moved. We went from private-ish acre properties in a huge sprawling community to a close-quarter development. Tons and tons of families. Kids run to and fro from one house to the next without invitation or knocking. It has struck me in the past week just how many parental units are freely interacting and just wandering about with their kids- like parental interaction is a normal activity and not an extra curricular. It’s fantastic, really.

But the other night I had a dream that has made one thing glaringly clear. The stranger-danger talk with my kids, specifically my daughter, is long overdue at the ripe old age of six.

Here’s the part that I am compelled to write about because no matter what I do, I cannot scrub this horrible dream from my brain. I’m hoping in writing about it it will stop the post-dream-feeling I woke up with and have not been able to shake. I purposely did not share this with my husband because there’s no need to transfer this awful feeling, but I’ll share it with the faceless followers and anyone who is brave enough to take on the challenge this has inspired.

Let me start by saying as a woman now, I grew up a girl. Shocking, right? Oddly enough most women start as girls. There are lots and lots of us. Tons, even! While this shouldn’t be a novelty, for predators it seems it is. Mothers and sisters begin as girls. Despite this, men seem to continuously victimize girls. I do not understand it, and there is no reason big enough to justify it … ever. But still, it happens. I had multiple attempts as a child. From a camp counselor, to family members, to family member’s friends, to neighborhood regulars. For the most part I was able to avoid physical contact, but not every time. That does not mean it isn’t still atrocious and scar-building. I will drop this disclaimer here and now and only this once, because i’m not writing this to be careful. Yes, sometimes women are the predators. Yes, it also happens to boys. Yes, some women actually start as boys. However, let this not distract from the overwhelmingly massive numbers that it’s usually men, and it very often happens to girls.

Now, having said all of that, you understand I have a foundation for some opinions and deep rooted reaction. Here’s the dream:

My family is at a restaurant. My six year old daughter needs to use the bathroom. I walk with her to the restrooms and let her go in. I’m waiting in the hallway outside the bathroom.

A few minutes later she exits completely naked and looking lost and confused. She’s smudged and her hair is a mess. She walks out with a haunted look and crumples to the floor.

Then a man leaves the women’s restroom well over six feet tall with a handlebar mustache looking completely sure of himself, buttoning his pants.

I stomped up to him and immediately put my hand through his nose and into his face, turned to gather my daughter and then woke up.

……

5am, shaking, sick to my stomach and fighting everything to go wake up my sleeping innocent daughter and hug her to me and never let her go. The dream and feelings and reason continued to play out in my foggy brain. I couldn’t help but replay it over and over with different outcomes of me exacting vengeance on the nightmare monster in my dream. Nothing alleviated the helpless, dark, hopeless feeling I was left with.

It stayed with me all day. I resisted sharing this with my husband because I couldn’t see causing this for both of us, but something had to be done. I told him I needed to talk to the kids about predators. We both agreed it was necessary. We have spoken before to both kids about all the standard things. Bathing suits cover your most private parts and that is never to be showed to or touched by anyone, etc etc.

This did not convey the real life worry, though. Not really. It’s just become one more thing for them to ‘learn’.

This morning on the way to school I changed that conversation. I shared with my kids that moving into the neighborhood is wonderful, but it’s made me realize that we haven’t really talked about what that may come with. I told them when I was a kid that I had a family member’s boyfriend say creepy things about my body over and over again, and I didn’t tell and I wish I had. I told them when I was my daughters age I had a trusted camp counselor try and take me outside into the dark one night and hide me from my mom while he tried to get me to kiss him on the mouth.

My daughter looked horrified.

I told her that I had the presence of mind to say “NO!” and run to find my mom. I told both of my kids that the predators are hidden. They only reveal themselves to the kids they try and prey on and convince those kids never to speak up which keeps them hidden.

I told them there are grown ups and older kids who are not right in the head, and they try to touch children, specifically. I explicitly told them that there is never ever a reason for a grown up or other person to ever ever see, touch, or feel their body or have my kids see, touch, or feel another person’s body. Ever.

You can vaguely discuss the concept with a kid, but until you honestly speak with them about what you are actually protecting them from, how are they going to know? There are not child predators on cartoons that look like Uncle Bob or the neighbor’s father, or the football coach trying to pull down their pants.

It’s a difficult concept to allow into your brain. Believe me, I understand that. This conversation is markedly more difficult than fathoming how to speak to kids about puberty and sex. This conversation breaks that innocence bubble and begins the reality that the world can be ugly and cruel and unfair. It’s revealing scary concepts that grown ups – a trusted group of people – can actually be dangerous.

But it’s necessary. It’s absolutely necessary to protect them. Children, girls especially, need to know they have a voice. They need to know it’s possible they will one day be in a situation where they can and must stand up to a grown up – a VERY scary situation to a kid – and they absolutely CAN say “NO!” no matter who that person is that is trying to harm them, touch them, feel them, or see them.

I wrapped it up by saying it isn’t something that happens often and it isn’t every adult, but it does exist, unfortunately, and I’m sorry that I have to talk about it. I told them fires aren’t an everyday occurrence, but they still know to “stop, drop, and roll”, right? Burglaries don’t happen to everyone, but we still know to lock the doors and shut the windows.

Kids need to know this is a danger, and it’s real, and it’s the most sinister because the perpetrators are mostly unknown. Hidden. They lie and they threaten and it’s all based on the assumption the kid stays quiet and is able to be manipulated.

My kids know they are smart, they know they are strong, but now they know they have permission to fight for themselves. They were always told and warned, but now they have been given permission to fight and deny and resist and tell, tell, tell. Shout it, yell it, bite scratch kick, get away and talk and tell no matter what.. and to my daughter’s delight, yes even cuss and use “those words” if needed.

So the challenge is to talk to your kids, boys and girls both, about the reality that a grown up may lie or threaten them to allow access to their body, or give access of their own. Our kids must know that it is absolutely okay to deny, to say NO, to run, to fight that authority figure. Under no circumstances are they to believe or listen to that grown up, and it is always safe to talk to mom and/or dad about it.

This subject is horrifying and awful and unfathomable on so many levels, but at the most basic level, it’s real. It’s something children will be confronted with and will need to know what to do before they find themselves in that situation. Give them permission to use their voice, and know that there are safe places to tell and get help.

It’s so ugly that I have no witty closer. I want to say that I pray for those children who have experienced this, and it’s true, but it makes me sad that I have to. I want to say that I pray for those parents who have had to deal with the reality of this, but I know that there are parents who are creating this very situation and that is just too depressing to fathom.

It is sometimes a shitty world, and when you reveal that to your kids, you are empowering them despite the feeling you get that you just dropped a giant crap bomb on their heads.

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