Forgotten

If you follow me on twitter, yesterday you saw a barrage of negativity. And yeah, sorry about that. I try not to do that, but yesterday kind of kicked my ass. And I was going to tweet something positive since I was Debbie Downer all day, but upon further reflection I decided this warranted a whole entire blog post. And since I rarely have the time + inclination to write here anymore, I thought I would take advantage of my kids fighting playing outside to write a few things down for posterity.

I’m not sure I’ve ever talked about this here before, but at the end of Arwyn’s kindergarten year we had a bit of a problem. With another student. Let me pre-face that whole sinister story with this: Before she started kindy, I’d heard that the school she was supposed to go to was a little “rough”, but I chalked it up to over-protective parents who weren’t willing to give it a chance. And while it wasn’t the school of my dreams, it wasn’t that bad for the most part. Her teacher, while young and inexperienced, was very sweet and kind to the children and Arwyn adored her. I communicated with her weekly, if not daily, and she took all of my “my baby is going to school!” freaking out in stride. Parental involvement of any sort was low in pretty much all aspects of the school, but we soldiered on and had a decent year. Looking back now, of course there were a few red flags, but nothing that I felt overly uncomfortable with at the time.

There was a boy in her class who was a “trouble maker”, for lack of a better term. I’d observed his behavior first-hand plenty of times on field trips and while having lunch with Arwyn. I would find out later that the teacher was frustrated with the school administration’s lack of support when it came to reigning in his behavioral problems. I did not know much about his situation or home life, I’d only met his parents briefly during a school program. He “liked” Arwyn, and did the things young boys do to show their feelings: he made fun of her, he picked on her, he teased her. This had gone all the whole school year, but none of it seemed serious enough to warrant complaining to the teacher. I didn’t want to be one of those parents. The ones who think their child does no wrong. The ones who complain to the teacher at every little thing. The ones everyone rolls their eyes at, you know the ones. So I said nothing. After all, it was just kids being kids. My sweet little buttercup was going to have to learn how to toughen up a bit.

Or so I thought, until about a month before school was out. Arwyn, Bubby and I were on a trip to the grocery, peacefully riding along in the van when she suddenly blurted out from the backseat that TroubleMaker had stuck his hand down her pants during story time and then asked her to do the same to him in return, to which she politely responded “No, thank you.” Incredulous, I asked her if she’d told the teacher. No, because there was a substitute that day. I then had a tearful conversation on the phone with her sick teacher at home, in the soup aisle of the grocery. Her teacher was rightfully upset, and when I warned her that I would be calling the principal in the morning, she encouraged me to do so.

I then spent the rest of the evening alternately praising Arwyn for being forth-coming with this troublesome news and talking to me about it, trying not to cry in front of her, having long conversations about proper and improper touching, and promising her that he would get in some sort of “trouble” for his actions because I couldn’t imagine that he wouldn’t. When I told her that he would probably get in trouble and that it was ok because he did a bad thing to her, she seemed relieved.

The following morning I phoned the principal’s office before school started. I was put through to her voice mail and left a brief message outlining the reason for my call and asking her to call me back. I then anxiously went to work and checked my phone every 1.7 seconds for the rest of the day, to no avail. She did not return my call. At the end of the school day, Bubby and I decided to go to school and request to see the principal in person. Surely the lack of return phone call had been an unfortunate oversight.

After stating our request to the school secretary, we were ushered into the principal’s office, where we nervously waited for her to finish her end of school day duties and speak with us. She apologized for the incident, she assured as that the boy was in therapy and would serve a 1 day suspension as his punishment. I asked her what could be done about the remainder of the school year, not wanting my daughter to be forced into proximity with the boy for the next month. I was told that they would be put in different classes the following school year. That’s super, but that’s not what I asked. I asked what could be done now. I was told that school staff would be alerted of the situation and would keep the children separated as much as possible. We reluctantly left the meeting with the principal’s apologies and assurances ringing in our ears.

Two days later Arwyn came home from school, complaining about something TroubleMaker had said to her during lunch. I didn’t understand at first. How was he talking to her during lunch? They were supposed to be separated. But they weren’t. He was sitting right next to her. I sent an email to the teacher and the principal, stating that my expectations were not being met. I was told he would be kept away from her as much as possible. Sitting right next to her at lunch was not “as much as possible” in my book. The teacher responded, stating that she wasn’t with them in the cafeteria at lunch (this was true, although they did line up for lunch in the classroom). Again, no response from the principal.

Over the next few days I had several conversations, online and in person, with the teacher. I found out that the boy’s behavior at school had been a progressively worsening problem throughout the school year. He’d been banned from riding the school bus. He’d been suspended. She felt that support on the part of the school administration was lacking. She was doing everything she knew to do with him and it wasn’t working. She was asking them to help her and they were, in fact, doing very little.

It made me sick to my stomach every single morning to send my baby back to that school. I could not wait for the school year to end. I started researching our options. We found a school that was just as close that I very much wanted my daughter to attend. I contacted the new school and the difference in the immediate help I received was astounding. The new principal called me back himself within minutes, and was helpful and polite. I was told I had to go to her current school to fill out a form in order to transfer. When I went to fill out the transfer form, the old principal touchily asked me if it was because of “the incident”. I truthfully answered her, yes, that was definitely part of the reason. I left the transfer form as vague as possible, hoping I wouldn’t have to explain in detail exactly why we were requesting the transfer.

We spent an anxious summer, waiting to hear back from the school corporation. We had no guarantees that she would be transferred. I didn’t know where else she would go, but I knew she wasn’t going back to that school. Two weeks before school started, we finally got the news we’d been waiting for. Her transfer was approved.

Maybe I should have filed a formal complaint. Maybe I should have put up more of a fuss, but I didn’t want our previous experience to follow us to her new school. I just wanted to put it all behind us. I didn’t want to ever think about it again (not likely). I wanted it to be over. I spoke with a therapist friend of ours and she thought we had handled the situation well.

Last weekend, on a quick trip to the grocery with the girls we saw the boy and his dad. The boy immediately came up to Arwyn and said hi, calling her by name. She looked at him like she had no idea who he was. He walked away and she asked me who he was. I explained that he went to her old school. She said, “Oh, kindergarten? I don’t remember him.” I couldn’t have been happier to hear it.

Confidential

Arwyn had a school assignment for a project where she had to build a miniature float that represented our state. She chose Abraham Lincoln as her subject and we crafted up a storm all week. We spent several hours working on it, cutting and gluing. I even busted out the hot glue gun (no injuries!). She took the float to school on Friday and after I got to work that morning, Bubby sent me a chat saying that she hadn’t wanted anyone to see her float at school drop-off. I couldn’t understand this. She’d seemed happy with her work. I had repeatedly asked her if there was anything else she wanted to do or change before we declared the float finished.

This whole little episode spawned a discussion between Bubby and I about her self-confidence. We feel like she has attitude (especially with us, or other people she feels very comfortable with) but her confidence is often lacking. I turned to my trusty buddies on twitter and asked, how do you promote self-confidence in kids?

My awesome friends inside the computer responded, mostly in the same way. Praise, love, set them up for success. This set off a flurry of self-doubt in my parenting skills. I love them more than pancakes, but do I praise them enough? I honestly don’t know. I’ve never been the over-effusive type, at least not when it comes to that. I’ll admit, I cringe a little when I hear other people “over-praising” their kids (in my opinion, obviously). Do kids really need to hear “good job jumping” or whatever other ridiculous thing in order to feel good about themselves? I don’t know if I can do that. I’m not good at faking it. But maybe I’ve got it all wrong. I certainly want my girls to grow up with healthy self-esteem and I do feel that Bubby and I are paving the way for their future self-worth, whether we want to admit it or not.

And so I’ve found myself trying to nag less often, trying not to use “that tone”, which I hate to hear coming from my mouth seemingly on its own anyway, looking for the positives more often, thanking her for her help more sincerely, trying my damnedest to control my temper and my tongue. And I will continue to do these things. I will read more books and ask more friends and search for guidance. That’s all I know to do as we reluctantly stick our toes into these murky waters.

I Always Feel Like Somebody’s Watching Me

On the days that I work, my morning tends to go much more smoothly if I can get Lokie dressed as soon as she gets up. She would prefer to stay in her pj’s; I prefer not to chase her around the house trying to stick her flailing limbs into clean clothes. So most mornings it is either a knock-down-drag-out fight to the death or me sweet-talking/distracting/bribing her until I can’t stand it anymore. Why is it so difficult to get a 2 3/4 yr old dressed?!! I would love it if someone would lay out coordinating clothes for me and then put them on me every morning… (Bubby?)

Yesterday morning was going very well. She got dressed (clothes that I had picked out, so they actually matched! even bigger score) without too much fuss and then stood still very nicely while I brushed out her hair and put it into several pigtails. I’m not really sure why I take the time to do this, because by the time I pick her up from the sitter’s, she looks like she’s spent the day with hobos. ANYWAY, after she was all done, I kissed her on the head and said, “Thank you for cooperating. That was so nice.”

On the way out of her room, she asked me to carry a giant Care Bear and a toy lunchbox for her, as her arms were full with a second giant Care Bear. I picked up the items, but I wasn’t holding them exactly how she wanted me to. “No, Mama, like this!” Grabbing the lunchbox by the handle (as instructed), I scooped everything up and continued down the hall. And Lokie said, “Thank you for co-wap-pee-ating, Mama!” And what else could I say but “You’re welcome.”

I’m Baaaack!

I miss ye olde blog. I miss dumping my thoughts here on a regular basis. I miss having a journal of what we are doing, even if it is the overly-edited, rainbows and unicorns version. I really miss the free time I used to have, and would look for ways to fill up. Sigh. Such is life.

So, what’s new? Last week my mom paid us a short visit and brought with her a gigantic stinky 30 year old bag full of tiny stinky 30 year old dresses and hats and shoes. My stinky dresses and hats and shoes. When I was a wee little Leta, I hated dresses. Haaaaaated. Words cannot adequately express the contempt and revulsion that I held solely for dresses, lace (shudder) and bows. How was I supposed to run around and climb trees and kick boys with a stupid dress on?!?!! I think some of them are cute now, but I still wouldn’t want to wear many of them.

ugly vintage dress

the worst one of the bunch

My oldest shares my disdain for dresses and I rarely force her to wear one, because I remember the UNFAIRNESS! and ITCHINESS! and lots of other horrible things that I associated with wearing them. Even though her dresses (that she never wears) are all adorable and itch-free. My youngest, however, is currently way way into all things princessy and frilly and dove headfirst into the laundry basket of ancient fabrics, begging to try on one after another. This surprised me. “Huh. I guess I should put her in a dress every now and then.” They ARE different children, not reincarnations of the same child.

 

All that being said, I do love vintage. Books and glasses and yes, even some clothes. And I might have plans for a picture of the girls in matching smocked vintage dresses. I smell a Mother’s Day gift for grandma in the making.

Quiet

This space certainly has been quiet over the past several months, though my life definitely has not. I’m amazed that I am still getting readers here. I am amazed as I look back over my old posts, that I once had so much time to devote here. That has changed dramatically since I went back to work part-time last year. I no longer have hours of the day that I am looking to fill. I no longer have the time or energy to blog about our activities. I am devoting any found time and energy to my family, loving them up, savoring the time we have together. I do miss this space. I have been a blog reader and lover for many years and I sometimes wish that I could still contribute to the world of blogs. But I am still very active on twitter, facebook, reading many (way too many) blogs and for now that is all that my schedule will allow. I still hope to pop back up here from time to time as life allows. Thank you for being here.

Things I Say to My Kids on a Regular Basis

1. I love you
2. Leave her alone
3. Stop picking (scabs, noses, embellishments on shirts, etc.)
4. Do you need a tissue?
5. We’ll see
6. Not today (mostly with the 2 yr old – goes over much better than “no”)
7. Are you ok?
8. You need to go brush your teeth
9. Do you need to go potty?
10. Good night. Sleep tight. Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

Just Do It

Just in case you live under a rock somewhere, I thought I’d let you know that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. This disease has always been important to me, but since my sister recently battled cancer and kicked it’s ass (she just had her one year PET scans and they were clear!), it has become even more important to me. I have the license plate on the Grannymobile. I donate to this cause. I don’t want anyone else to go through what she has.

Since my own risk is now higher, I have already had my first mammogram at the ripe old age of 34. And it was a piece of cake. Seriously, people, it was nothing. A tad uncomfortable for a few seconds, and that was it. I’m sure this isn’t the case for everyone, but even if it hurts like hell, get it done anyway. Do not wait. If you are suspicious, get yourself checked out. If you have a wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, grandmother, aunt, best friend encourage them to JUST DO IT ALREADY.

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