Thursday, March 17, 2011

"But she's so pretty and what a nice looking family..."

I said this today. 


I realized that I suffer from the same mass media induced preconceived notions of what makes us "normal" or at least having the appearance as such. 

I was chatting with a friend when she told me that her child's school called to tell her the tragic news of her daughter's classmate committing suicide.  What?  The same age/grade as my kid?  So, the social networker that I am, I looked up the name/family shared with me and said, "but she's so pretty and what a nice looking family."  What???  Horrifyingly, had I assumed that the pretty and popular kids weren't vulnerable?  Clearly I had.

I've seen it in the news.  It has made for gripping Dateline NBC specials on bullying and its effects on all involved.  But to hear of a case of a child killing herself separated only by geography and by not so many degrees of separation???  I'm lost.  I'm a parent, the grown-up and I'm lost.

I have been known to say more than once... "if you can live through Middle School then you can do anything." For the love of Pete, why should they have to "live through" school? Why can't they thrive, flourish and discover who they are without fear of what others will do and say?  Why do we place these kids in these fish bowls and then watch the piranhas feed on the guppies?  Do we simply excuse the behavior as "kids being kids"?  When did that become approved child-like behavior to create an environment for other children to struggle, hide, fear and ultimately hate themselves because of the words and/or actions of others?

I don't know a parent who hasn't said, "they bully others in an attempt to make themselves feel better."  Great.  Problem solved then, right?  I mean we have outlined a cause and an effect here.  Shouldn't we be past this growing concern and the increasing bullying situations?  We seem to outline the cause and effect just fine it is the solutions that we seem to struggle with.  How do we fix this?  Some parents don't want you involved in their lives for any reason, others live in denial, some may not care and some just don't ask for help.  How do we reach out to them and hope that they let us in?

Someone said to me today..."In the 'old days' as my 13 year old says, we feared hellfire, and that kept us from attempting such [bullying behavior]. With religion falling so far by the way side, kids are only thinking 'they will be sorry when I'm gone.' "  Sadly, I think that this is true.  Some falsely see it as a revenge while escaping.  While we all believe, practice and hold things differently I think that we have let pieces of our values go.  In the iconic era of "Leave it to Beaver" or "Father Knows Best" they seemed to lead idyllic lives.  But even The Beav had issues but they were prettied up and watered down for that generation's viewing standards.  They had real school yard bullies.  This generation didn't invent it. They had absentee parents.  This generation didn't corner that market.  They had children full of insecurities and self doubt.  I think it just feels like we perfected that when it is so close to us now.

My own child has said to me, "the guidance department does nothing so why bother going to them?"  Of course, my kid said it a bit more colorfully than that!  This has been a rough year for her.  I'm afraid she hasn't revealed all the pain she has felt this year as she can see in my face my anger, fear and shock when I hear about school bullying.  I've seen it first hand with things kids have said to her on-line.  I have intervened.  I was also amused by the school representative telling me that I should take her off-line.  Dear friends, that won't end it.  That just means I won't see it.

Schools used to expel or suspend students.  But with that action in today's day and age you find that there isn't a 'place' for those kids to be housed during the day.  Our schools are too small with too many kids to find a special in-school suspension location and forget about out-of-school suspension.  What is learned when the children can be left home with countless stimuli including the family computer.  Sure, take the computer away and what is a child left with?  A cell phone....a game system linked to the phone....and so on.  They are still armed with today's in-a-instant bullying aids.  Send a mean text.  Send an embarrassing picture to others.  Post an insult on someone's on-line "wall".  Bullying has only evolved with our evolving society.  We have given the bullies and the bullied an instant form of pain and torture.  It isn't real or truly mean when typed out.  They never verbalized the words so they must have less power.  Let's ask the victims that took the most permanent way to escape their pain.  Oh, wait.

It's easy to say what is right and wrong in hindsight or in theory but harder yet in practice.  The benefit of the doubt is given more freely than you would think.  Kids being kids; children need to work it out themselves; [that child] must have a bad home more excuse means one more child lost.

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Sunday, March 6, 2011

Beware the Ides of March...

"Beware the Ides of March," sound advice if you are Julius Caesar.  In my world, the Ides have come early and mean different things...although, I will be on the look out for those with daggers (just in case).

My Ides: my daughter has turned 13 this day.  I know, I know....The Cupcake Mommy is far too young and glamorous to be a parent to a teenager.  Yes, yes that of course is all true.  It is a modern marvel that I am so young while my children continue to age.  I credit that to the halting of my birthdays at the age of 29 and a good moisturizer.  I'm pretty sure that there is a math formula that gives X a value, carries numbers over, has integers, cotangents and medians that can explain this miracle but damn it I'm young I tell ya....YOUNG!

So my husband and I have finally welcomed a teenager into our lives.  This means that I will be able to officially attribute all that drives us crazy as parents to the phenomenon known as the American teenager.  The wacky, fluctuating drama of a teenager!  I now get to say I have one in my household and for that I know I will be forever changed.

They really should have told us during the 9 months of pregnancy or during 20+ hours of labor what was in store for us.  There was ample time and as a first-time parent I was ready and eager to heed any and all advice bestowed upon us.  I'm thinking that while I was prone and getting my epidural (happy-maker) that someone could have mentioned that these cute, pink, mewing, screaming little babies turn into teenagers full of angst and wild abandon to all things parental.  I was there, unable to move.  I was unable to feel anything from the waist down.  I was yours!  I was yours to convey all this to.  They gave me an ashen colored and muck covered wailing ball of life.  They don't come to you all pink and smelling sweet but they give you this colorful mush of baby and ick and you know in an instant that it was all worth it and that you would be forever in love with them as you kiss their slimy little foreheads and cheeks.  They gave us something far more amazing than those Gerber-like babies that are falsely angelic and pristine...they gave us our future teenager.  A sassy, smart, beautiful and kind kid that will forever hold my heart even when she won't hold my hand.

I love you Haley.

One more thing....

Go clean your room.

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