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Barbie As Rapunzel DVD Cover

Barbie As Rapunzel DVD Cover

Yesterday before leaving for work I was watching a segment of the Today Show with two of my daughters: eldest and youngest.  There was a segment in which a Very Irate Lady was irate over the fact that Barbie, she who is a fashion designer Monday, veterinarian on Tuesday, and an astronaut on Wednesday, would dare attempt to take on the role of Girl Scout.  Because after all, with all of her curves and various careers including rock star and actress (who could forget Rapunzel or Swan Lake?) there’s no possible way that Barbie could ever be seen as a positive role model or leader to young girls anywhere.

Very Irate Lady was simply appalled at the idea that more people weren’t choking in sputtering rage over this issue.  The worst offense? That girls who are Girl Scouts and get this particular Barbie Scout can earn a Barbie “Be anything, Do everything” Participation Patch (click here to see), which is the first ever patch that comes from a corporate sponsor.  I guess the point there is, “How dare the suggestion that all a girl has to do is purchase a doll to earn a patch even cross anyone’s minds” is made, but let’s be honest.  Two of my daughters have been Girl Scouts and one is still a Scout actively.  Not all patches are earned with hard core activities and thought processes.  Not every single activity is heavily geared towards creating a leader.  Many activities are geared towards helping girls with self-esteem.  Many, many activities encourage team building skills.  Many activities encourage caring about others and each other with community service skills and activities.  And sometimes, some Girls (Scouts) just want to have fun.  But the fact is that the girls have to do more than simply purchase the doll to earn the patch.  If a girl is a Girl Scout an she buys that doll, and if that girl wants the participation patch then she has to do the activities laid out in the Participation Patch link I shared earlier in this paragraph.  Just like real Girl Scouts have to do in their troops to begin with.

People are going to have to suck it up, anyway.  It’s a three year contract and Girl Scouts is happy with it citing their feeling that Barbie has a wholesome image, that moms and daughters associate Barbie with outdoor activities like camping, giving back to the community, good and strong careers, being a leader, and that’s what being a Girl Scout is about.    And Mattel has said that it’s a good fit because Barbie has always been intended to spark girls’ imaginations.  After all… what’s her catch phase? “You can be anything!”

I suppose that part of the rub here is that they hope that Girl Scout membership will increase dramatically with the release of this Barbie.

Oh… I suppose you want to see the controversial Barbie doll.

Girl Scout Barbie: Found on Idle Hands Blogspot

Girl Scout Barbie: Found on Idle Hands Blogspot

 

My daughters watched the segment with rapt attention.  They didn’t say much while listening to Very Irate Lady or the calm opposing viewpoint speakers.  My eldest, who is going to be 14 years old in September, and my youngest, who is 9 1/2 years old, both exclaimed,

Youngest: “I love that Barbie! I want all three! They look fun! Gracie would love them too!”

Eldest: “Mom! I haven’t played with Barbies for a long time but I want those to collect them!

In Unison: “What a cool Barbie!”


Today I am very grateful for:

 

  1. My daughters
  2. My husband
  3. My mom.  Totally my mom.
  4. My three dearest and best lifelong friends, who no matter how long it is in between talks or visits, it’s as if it was just a weekend ago; they’re the most forgiving, loving, generous people I’ve ever met
  5. The best office mate ever, who has become another one of my very best friends… and as important to me as my left leg :)
  6. My boss, who I also count as a dear friend and is one of the most inspiring and understanding people I’ve ever met, and I consider my life better for knowing her
  7. My sweet cats, who always know when I need a purry snuggle
  8. Great neighbors
  9. Box fans
  10. My daughters would want me to say “air conditioners” so: “Air Conditioners”
  11. Fresh mozzarella
  12. Avocados
  13. Iced coffee
  14. Iced tea (yes, they each have their own wonderful, separate, delicious qualities so they each deserve their own entry)
  15. Daily pain management
  16. Being able to order pretty, stylish plus sized tops and dresses on Amazon
  17. My Kindle… seriously, so many benefits I can’t even count
  18. Having a working car
  19. Having a cell phone
  20. Paper towels
  21. A working shower
  22. A working washer and dryer, especially since right now our dishwasher is dead, dead, dead
  23. A day off with my youngest girl even though I really, really need to be at work
  24. The fact that it’s beautiful and sunny today after the days of rain and terrible barometric pressure
  25. Did I say my Kindle?
  26. Common sense
  27. Kitty nail clippers
  28. Blue kitty kibble, especially since it’s helping Luna get healthier and healthier skin on her paws every day
  29. Having a good job
  30. Doctors that care about my health
  31. CHEESECAKE
  32. Volume control, especially the mute button, for the TV
  33. Chocolate
  34. Salted caramel, especially the salted caramel core from Ben & Jerry’s
  35. The camera in my phone and upload-ability to FB and when I remember, Instagram

Keep Calm And Vaccinate

Keep Calm And Vaccinate

If you haven’t read this article yet, please please please read it.  Please pass it along.  Share it on Facebook.  Get this information out there.  If you have a friend who is a Vaccine Denier print this article out and give it to them.  If you’re a Vaccine Denier, please give this a chance and read it with an open mind.  Read it as if you have a child with Autism.

This article, right here in red. Click it.

It Took Studying 25,782,500 Kids To Begin To Undo The Damage Caused By 1 Doctor.

Read it as if your child has the Measles and you didn’t find out in time what it was, because doctors of our time don’t know the symptoms to look for in real life since the great majority don’t know what they’d actually be looking at.  They would be thinking it’s just a spotty rash, maybe sun spots from overheating.  Your child would be at risk for blindness and other serious complications.

Yes, Measles is serious.  It’s not a “mild childhood disease.”  This is a misguided belief, and needs to be reconsidered.  Measles isn’t mild.  Measles is more than just uncomfortable.  Measles kills children.  It causes severe complications in pregnancies that can cause serious lasting problems for the babies.

/But I can show you what I’m talking about.What I wonder is that in spite of knowing the very real dangers of the disease, which are far, far greater than the false belief that it causes or contributes to Autism Spectrum Disorder, is why people still insist that it’s “mild” in its symptoms.  People who let their children go to “measles parties” (and for that matter chicken pox parties) have children that didn’t and don’t appreciate contracting the disease their parent forced upon them.   Before the chicken pox vaccine, for instance, I have a relative who contracted it (naturally) and ended up with a pock on her eye.  She has a small hole in her eye because of it.  As I recall when she had the chicken pox, it was beyond terrible.  I remember having the chicken pox.  I felt like I was dying.  I had pocks in my throat, and I have scarring all over me including my face.

I’ve spoken with people who had the measles.  It was more than uncomfortable, and it wasn’t “mild” but nearly every instance had each of their parents making urgent calls to the pediatricians and trips to the ER.  Anecdotal evidence, I know, meaning nothing to those who wish to make a point that they “must” be an exception, but research backs it up.  Science, even.  Right now I’m talking children.  It’s no picnic for adults either.

But I can show you what I’m talking about.

From the World Health Organization:

Who is at risk?

Unvaccinated young children are at highest risk of measles and its complications, including death. Unvaccinated pregnant women are also at risk.
Any non-immune person (who has not been vaccinated or was vaccinated but did not develop immunity) can become infected.

People die of complications from Measles.  Those most susceptible aren’t just children 5 and under, but people OVER 20 years old.  Yes, healthy adults die from the Measles and complications from the Measles.  Many of the complications themselves don’t have treatments.  And what people don’t realize is that Measles can lead to babies and young children and elders having to suffer with multiple diseases in addition to the Measles, at the same time as the Measles, with long lasting consequences due to negligence.  Complications include:

  • Acute Encephalitis
  • Subacute Sclerosing Pan Encephalitis (SSPE)
  • Viral Pneumonia (Hecht’s GC) or Bronchial Pneumonia
  • Severe Diarrhea
  • Dehydration
  • Death
  • Premature birth
  • Miscarriage
  • Severe Conjunctivitis/Eye Infection that can result in Blindness – indicated by pus draining from the eyes
  • Mouth ulcers
  • High Fever
  • Scarring rashes
  • Severe Ear Infections that can result in Deafness
  • Bronchopneumonia
  • Croup aka Pertussis aka Whooping Cough which is a full on killer… and should have its own vaccine: this can cause its own complications, such as lifelong asthma and other lung problems; vomiting, choking, breathing problems, damage to vocal cords would be immediate complications that could have lasting effects
  • I just found this little gem:  http://www.docstoc.com/docs/69029290/Measles-Rubeola-(PowerPoint)

From the World Health Organization:

Key facts

Measles is one of the leading causes of death among young children even though a safe and cost-effective vaccine is available.
In 2012, there were 122,000 measles deaths globally – about 330 deaths every day or 14 deaths every hour.
Measles vaccination resulted in a 78% drop in measles deaths between 2000 and 2012 worldwide.
In 2012, about 84% of the world’s children received one dose of measles vaccine by their first birthday through routine health services – up from 72% in 2000.
Since 2000, more than 1 billion children in high risk countries were vaccinated against the disease through mass vaccination campaigns ― about 145 million of them in 2012.

 

Here’s the kicker.  There is no specific treatment that exists for the measles virus.  Antibiotics do nothing.  Antivirals do nothing.  That means you can’t just go to your doctor to get an antiviral or antibiotic for it once you contract it, period full stop.  Once your child gets it, they have it and have to suffer through it and you have to be responsible for the fact that you didn’t get your previously healthy child the vaccine that could have helped prevent it or at least reduced the severity of it.  And you’ve risked other children and people who are immune-compromised that are unable to get vaccinated for legitimate medical reasons, or because they’re too young to get it.  Please remember I’m not talking about babies, children, and adult that are not medically able to be vaccinated because they’re too young or they have an allergy to the ingredients (like egg whites) or some other medical reason.  I’m talking about people that are able to get the vaccine and choose not to because of paranoia and the lingering thought of “What if Wakefield was right? That poor man, people thinking he hoaxed the world, he was on to something!” No, no he wasn’t.  He was scum.  I’ve written about him too.

The best thing you can do for the most communicable diseases that can actually kill your children at worst and cause severe complications like blindness and preventable disabilities, such as Measles, Chicken Pox, Mumps, Rubella, Polio, at best is prevention.  Vaccination.

You can not prevent measles or other communicable diseases with diet, products from self-proclaimed health product companies, vitamin supplements, exercise, prayer, or wishful thinking.

The “poisons” you think that make up vaccines? Trace amounts.  Look it up.  I’ve even explained what it means before.  Do you know what trace amount means? It means so minute, so minuscule, such tiny, tiny, tiny amounts that it can’t even be measured and that even if you took that trace amount and multiplied it by a million you still couldn’t measure it and it wouldn’t be toxic.

Here’s a thought.

We avoid arsenic because it’s a poison, right? Remember the arsenic-in-apple-juice scare a couple of years back that’s coming around again? Well… arsenic is present in the apple itself.  That’s just nature.  You could eat a hundred apples in a week (I wouldn’t recommend it for your intestines sake) and it wouldn’t give you enough arsenic to kill you because it’s trace amounts.

Potatoes.  We all love potatoes, tomatoes, hot peppers, eggplants, paprika, and cayenne peppers.  We put those in many, many recipes around the globe, don’t we.  But we wouldn’t dream of eating Belladonna, or Nightshade.  Belladonna is a deadly poison.  And yet potatoes, tomatoes, hot peppers, eggplants, paprika, and cayenne peppers all have alkaloids in them, the same substance that affects nerve and joint function.  They don’t affect us because they don’t have nearly the amount of the toxin in them as Belladonna does, and we would have to eat large amounts at one time in order to have an adverse reaction unless we have a sensitivity or allergy in particular to the fruit or vegetable or to nightshades in general.

I’d like to introduce you to Dihydrogen Monoxide:

Dihydrogen monoxide:

Despite the danger, dihydrogen monoxide is often used:

*as an industrial solvent and coolant.
*in nuclear power plants.
*in the production of Styrofoam.
*as a fire retardant.
*in many forms of cruel animal research.
*in the distribution of pesticides. Even after washing, produce remains contaminated by this chemical.
*as an additive in certain “junk-foods” and other food products.

 

It’s water, people.  Simple water.

Some chemicals are actually good for you.  Aloe from aloe plants.  Lemon juice.  Orange juice.  We hear the word chemical and we panic.  It must mean that scientists mixed some naturally derived ingredients and made a chemical or that scientists figured out how to synthesize ingredients to create a medicine… a chemical.  And we all know that scientists and BIG PHARMA have it out for us.  They’re just OUT FOR THE MONEY.  They want to PUMP US FULL OF CHEMICALS FOR THE MONEY.  They couldn’t possibly want to, you know, keep children from dying from terrible diseases or cure people from stuff.

We’ve been trained to think that chemicals are bad by what I like to call the Big “Natural” Movement.  “Chemicals” must be evil.  This is when I like to remind people that blood is a chemical.  Beer.  Wine.   Marijuana grown in your backyard.  Tears.  Those are all chemicals.  Bile is a poison.  Poop is a poison.   All natural, yet.  Words are not always what they seem when there’s an agenda and talking points and rhetoric is involved.  So the fear based thinking regarding vaccines because of the CHEMICALS is thanks to the “All Natural” and “Clean Living” movements.  They’re manipulations in order to get you to buy what they want you to buy… but in order to do that they have to also demonize what they want you think of as the opposite of what they’re selling.

We’re told to get our vitamins, and certain compounds, to help make sure our health is at its peak.  Certain vitamins and minerals are illness fighters, cancer busters, immunity boosters.  The best way to get those healthful vitamins and minerals is through our natural diets in fruits, veggies, grains, and for those who eat meat, eggs, milk, for us to get out in the sunshine, etc.  However, so-called health companies have their agenda.  Money.  “Let’s sell you products that our very own scientists have figured out have The Very Best Combination of The Very Best Nutrients Ever and if you buy these products regardless of their cost you might get sick less often so that your disorder or disease no longer even exists AND you won’t even have to take medication any more”.

Even though the claims can never be backed by the FDA because these products are not medicinal health products.  They very well may help you, but they’re not health products.  Not even vitamins can make claims other than what strict FDA regulations say they can.  And what they never tell you is that they (vitamins AND self-proclaimed health food and health product companies) can still interact with necessary meds, the ones you don’t get to stop taking.  They mislead people into thinking they don’t need something vital and can end up killing someone.  It’s not because doctors aren’t involved… it’s because people are lazy and don’t open up communications.  They would rather take something that can’t ever be proven with facts and statistics scientifically for certain from a company that calls itself a health company than trust their own doctors.  People don’t even trust Registered Dietitians to help them because they’re part of the medical field.  They’d rather trust nutritionists and people without certification or backgrounds in scientific training.

Jarred vitamins are great as supplements, but no matter what the label tells you it’s not “natural” if it’s in pill form.  They’re a modern miracle, sure.  Difficult to really absorb, as they’re not very soluble.  Again though… people don’t think to tell their doctors what they’re taking or why they think they’re taking it. People think that they’re their own doctors, that they have to be, due to paranoia.  And the Big Natural Movement is fostering that feeling, that belief, that fear of doctors, in order to cash in.

The only way real way to get the best nutrition you can is with a diet full of fresh foods that can spoil, not sitting on your shelf in a wrapper.   Something wrapped or bottled and slapped with a label that says “diet” or “natural” or “all natural” is actually not health food.  It’s not prevention or medicine to take supplements or have a great diet.  Because again:  You can not prevent measles or other communicable diseases with diet, products from self-proclaimed health product companies, vitamin supplements, exercise, prayer, or wishful thinking.

We survive longer and are healthier than a century ago, than 75 years ago, because we have medicines.  Because we have vaccines.  Babies, children, adults are living longer because of the vaccines.  Booster shots are available for those who ask for them.  There are ways to get them inexpensively.

We survive longer because we have vitamin supplements and better variety of fresh foods available for everyone.  We survive longer because we have better knowledge of germs and cleanliness, sewer systems, food preparation safety.  We have more doctors, who have better medical equipment and more knowledge at their disposal than ever before.  We live longer because of all of these things put together.  We have the power to eradicate terrible diseases like Measles, Chicken Pox (varicella), Polio, Rubella.

So that said.  Let’s move on.  I spent enough time on that thought.

People think that every ingredient that’s in vaccines is poison because it’s a “chemical” at this point, including the vaccine itself ie. the dead virus or germ that is being vaccinated against.  People don’t understand how vaccines actually work, how the body works.  How things weren’t perfect with our health 50 years ago, 75 years ago, 100+ years ago… thousands of years ago.  People stopped eating bark off of trees for a reason.

People died from urinary tract infections, for crying out loud.  People still die from pneumonia.  And children ARE dying from Measles.  And people afraid to get the vaccines but then are afraid to let even other family members who have been vaccinated around their children for fear of their child contracting these terrible diseases? That’s your better sense taking over.  Listen to it.

This is on a good-to-know-basis for those still worried about that dangerous, dangerous Thimerosal that isn’t actually Mercury but people think is pure Mercury (I’ve blogged about this before too in more detail):  Thimerosal  is no longer used in childrens’ shots except in some types of flu shots.  You can ask for a flu shot that doesn’t have thimerosal in it.  Let the doctors know ahead of time so that they can order it for you.

If you care for my opinion on Autism outside of this particular post, just put Autism in my search bar or check recent posts.

I’ve exhausted myself with this post.  I’m sure I’ve offended some people.  It’s ok.  Facts sometimes do that.


geneThose of you who follow my blog and those of you who know me know that my Sweet Girl, my middle daughter, is Autistic.  You know that the sun rises and sets around her as it does with my other daughters.  I am not just her advocate, I am also her ally. I’ve written about raising her up to be proud of every part of herself. I’ve written about teaching her to be a self-advocate. I’ve written about experiences in public, and how various individuals have responded to her various behaviors and comments we’ve received. I’ve written about and shared news articles about Autistic teens and young adults who have had interactions with law enforcement that had no training or care about being in the presence of disabled individuals and the abuse and deaths that have occurred as a result. I’ve written about the high rates of abuse and bullying that occur among Autistic individuals and other individuals with disabilities, how it’s much higher among neuro-diverse individuals than among non-disabled and non-autistic peers. I’ve written about my disdain for Autism Speaks.

Now, I’m writing about Google and its collaboration with the project Aut10K created by Autism Speaks.  What is it, you ask?

Here.

Nature World News: Introducing The World’s Largest Autism Genome Database (click)

 

Autism Speaks announced a collaboration with data supergiant Google Cloud Platforms to make the world’s largest database of genomic sequence information on individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), creating an invaluable autism research tool that can be used anywhere in the world.

Book Wright, the co-founder of Autism Speaks, announced Tuesday that the organization would be collaborating with Google to launch the Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K) – a project that intends to make the world’s largest private collection of DNA samples open to the public.

We already know through reputable research for the past couple of decades that Autism Spectrum Disorders are genetically based.  Yes, it’s suspected that in some instances environmental factors can trigger or exacerbate symptoms but there’s really very little doubt among legitimate scientists that ASD is genetic, is typically hereditary, blah blah blah.  Why this seems to be news to the world, I don’t know.  Why it’s news to Autism Speaks, I really don’t know.  Except instead of Autism Speaks embracing this news in order to embrace the community and start including Autistic individuals in making decisions about themselves, in making proclamations about themselves, AUT10K is happening.

Autism Speaks is still trying to portray themselves as Autism Advocates, as allies, but this project is going to do far more harm than good.  It’s because the goal of Autism Speaks is to continue to portray autism as a tragedy, something separate from the individual, something to be cured, and as an illness.  They continue to portray the belief that autism should be cured, eliminated, reduced because autistic individuals are too “expensive” in their medical care costs and education costs.  Michael Rosanoff, associate director of public health for Autism Speaks has been quoted as saying about a cost study,

“This study shows us what we’ve all known but never had the data to support — that autism is alarmingly expensive.”

They also have an info-graphic about it.I didn’t doctor this, I just took it directly from their site (I think it was Facebook).  It’s used to illustrate the idea that Autistic individuals are a burden on society, a COST to society.  Do we understand the implications of that language?  Let’s reduce the cost, is the implication.  How do we reduce the cost? Cure, eradicate, eliminate.  Sounds an awful lot like encouraging society to endorse eugenics.  COST TO SOCIETY via Autism SpeaksEugenics is scary, people.  It’s something many have applied to their belief systems in order to explain their despicable attitudes towards individuals that have various disabilities.  Click on this link to see:  Bad Cripple: A Reply to “What Should We Do About Severely Impaired Babies”.  People really believe this stuff.

Autism Speaks launched the AUT10K project in collaboration with the Hospital for Sick Children’s Centre for Applied Genomics in Toronto.  This is a fact.  They view Autistic children, teens, and adults as sick individuals that need to be cured.  This is a repeated theme in their info-graphics and on their web site.

So, you want to know how this project will be harmful?  Check out these reliable links.  They’re not propaganda sites, they’re Autism Advocacy pages.  They’re pages run by Autistic individuals.  THEY are the people that you want to listen to.

Autism Women’s Advocacy: Dear Google, Do No Harm.

Autistic Self Advocacy Network: Community Concerns Regarding the Google-Autism Speaks Ten Thousand Genomes Program (AUT10K)

Google – Stop supporting Autism Speaks and AUT10K (with petition at Change.org)

As always, I could go on but today I’m not really feeling well.  I’m home sick and having trouble concentrating.


Source:  Goista.com

Turks and Caicos Islands, Mommy’s Vacation

It’s official; I have a high school student, a brand new middle schooler, and a fourth grader.  Wow.  I’m so proud of all of them.  Today is the first day of their summer vacation, and as it happens it’s the first day of summer.  Cool.

I’m having my first real weekend day of having nothing to do or worry about.  My Darling Girl is playing on my cell phone, trying to find as many promo clips as possible for “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”  The Princess is upstairs relaxing, playing Mario something or other on her DS.  Sweet Girl is at a birthday party for a good friend at school, her first one since kindergarten.

It’s quiet, as it should be on this beautifully sunny and not-too-hot day.

I might even get a nap later.

HA HA HA HA HA!

No, really, I’m aiming for a nap.  In spite of the current seeming calm, I was rudely awakened too early this morning.  Sweet Girl was upset about something her Daddy said about her skirt and washing it.  Chocolate chip pancakes fixed all that, along with a suggestion to, you know, wear a clean skirt.

A nap will help me process just how old my girls are getting.  Yeah, that’s it.

So the girls’ vacation starts today, but mine doesn’t start until August.  I can barely stand it.  I need that beach.  If I fall asleep on it, see… my children won’t wake me up while I’m on it.  I’m going on a Momcation with a few friends in a month and a half.  It’s our 40th Birthday Year celebration.  More on that later.  I’m hoping if I get a nap later, my Momcation will be in my dreams.

Of course I’d love to take the girls somewhere this summer too.  The Husband wants to go to the Cape.  I want somewhere less… boring for the girls.  This may take some research, especially since we have to keep the drive manageable.  It may end up being near the holidays, though, to give us more time to save some money.  I’d love to bring the girls back to New Hampshire after it snows and Christmas lights are up everywhere.  Maybe it’s not too late to find a place to go camping for the weekend and we can get a decent tent with a decent air mattress.  Or rent a cabin, ha ha.  That would be awesome for “camping.”  They could use a tent, and I’ll use a cabin that has electricity.

Eh, or we do the Cape.  They’ve got beaches and hotel rooms there.


Veruca SaltWhen I got home from work I had to go have a talk with one of my neighbors because of a situation with another neighbor’s out-of-control daughter.  The girl is in 2nd grade, a year behind my daughter and in the same grade as my friend’s daughter. Veruca moved into the rental house across the street from us at the beginning of the school year, and while she was a bit abrasive in the beginning, I thought that maybe she just needed to settle into getting to know the girls on the street and in her school.  She needed a chance.

I don’t typically blame children, especially young children like this in second grade, for inappropriate behaviors when I suspect that there are parenting issues and/or surrounding family issues at home.  By inappropriate behaviors, I mean going beyond being coarse and abrasive and an overly strong personality.  I’m the mom who teaches ALL of my daughters to try to determine if someone just has a strong personality and maybe social differences as opposed to outright being a bully.  I’m the mom who listens to her daughters while gently coaching them to remain sensitive souls, but to try not to take harsh personalities and attitudes personally.  I NEVER use the words “toughen up” or “develop a thicker skin” with them because that implies something is wrong with my girls.  I don’t want them to lose their own sense of worth and I think that their sensitivity is important.  It makes them sensitive to when other children are bullied and they step in and stand up for those children.  They stand up for their own sisters.

So we gave this girl a chance, the entire time letting my youngest know that playing with this girl was entirely her choice and I would never force her.  I told her that if she chose not to play with her at any time she would be allowed to tell the girl why.  Giving Veruca the benefit of the doubt hasn’t worked, I’m sad to say.  She has gotten worse instead of better.

I’ve learned that Veruca comes from a split family, and she’s often upset that her father lives several states away seeing her rarely.  I’ve learned that Veruca dislikes her stepfather, especially now that she has a 3 year old little brother and a nearly 1 year old baby brother (both of whom she adores).  She’s jealous of the obvious love and positive attention that they get, and the lack of attention she and her older brother get.  She and her older brother are very close, and he’s protective of her, and they’re disciplined more harshly and unfairly than their younger siblings.  They are not, however, parented.  We live on a busy street and the one and three year olds are allowed outside alone.  It takes at least half an hour before she notices the three year old is gone.  Veruca’s mom relies on the hope that other families are outside and watching out for her children.  Her little ones tend to run straight for the road unless they think my friend’s children are in their pool and then they’re sent over in their bathing suits and floaties without waiting for an invitation.  These are things I’ve witnessed firsthand or things that Verucal has told me.  I’ve caught her in several lies too and called her on them.  Whenever I call her out, I’m firm but gentle… I’m parental.  :-)  I don’t play games.  And I’m teaching my daughters not to play games because I want them to be mindful of how their actions and words affect other people.  I want them to be kind, but also to know how to defend themselves and each other.

Veruca is, simply put, not nice to any of my daughters.  She says some outright mean things, things I don’t care to repeat, but they’re clearly intended to be hurtful and she knows they’re hurtful… she waits until adults aren’t around.  She waits until the adults that she knows will chastize her because she’s bullying those children.  When my eldest is outside with her sisters keeping an eye on them, Veruca sasses her and is fresh.  Again making sure that no adult is present when it happens and tries to act innocent and as if she was misunderstood when she gets caught and overheard by an adult.  She offers to let Sweet Girl ride her scooter and then shoves her off of it.  She pushes Sweet Girl off of my other daughter’s bike.  She insinuates that she thinks Sweet Girl is dumb and stupid.  She has asked me what’s wrong with Sweet Girl, why is she behaving “wrong.”  She’ll ask my youngest to come out to play or come over when she sees her, and then when my friend’s daughter comes outside she’ll just run off and leave or say, “I don’t really want to play with you.  G is outside now.”

Luckily my other daughters stick up for Sweet Girl and tell Veruca she’s out of line and it needs to stop.  If my daughters get fed up enough to tell her straight out, “You’re being mean and I don’t feel like playing with you.  If you don’t leave I’m going in the house,” or “you haven’t been treating me nicely when we play, and you’re not nice to my sister, so I’m not going to play with you,” or when she knocks on the door tell her, “No, I’m not coming outside with you.  I don’t feel like playing with you any more,” she runs home to tell her mother how mean my girls are.

AND YET not once has her mother come to my door to find out why this happens, why my daughters tell her they don’t want to play with her, or anything.  She never comes banging on my door to tell me how mean my girls are for, well, anything.  Why not? Your daughter is upset with mine, don’t you care? You wave to me every day and expect me to watch your child at the bus stop when I help my friend and watch her child at the bus stop, but you won’t come to my house to find out why your daughter is upset?

So the situation with my friend.  Since I’ve been responsible for helping her get her daughter on the bus before my own girls’ bus comes, I’ve been able to witness up close some inappropriate behavior.  I’ve witnessed her outright say rude and mean things to my friend’s daughter… just vicious things… and saw that sweet little girl’s face crumble at hearing someone who was supposed to be her friend say vile things.  Namecalling.  Commenting on her appearance and her hair.  Calling her ugly.  Commenting on whatever she thinks will land a torpedo.  I called her out immediately telling her how inappropriate and mean it was, and how hurtful she was being to my friend’s daughter.  Instead of apologizing she first said that she had NOT said anything, that I heard wrong.  I corrected that business right away.  She then said that I misunderstood and she was joking, and as an adult I should have realized she was joking.  I told her that you never say cruel things like that even as a joke.  This happened three times on separate occasions and I finally told her that if it didn’t stop I’d be telling my friend.

From then on, she has made sure not to do it in my presence but she does do it.  Yesterday all of the girls were in my friend’s pool.  When my friend briefly went in the house, Veruca told my friend’s daughter to look under the water with her goggles and then full fledged mooned her.  She also flashed her privates.  Ok, kids may be kids but my friend’s daughter was upset and told my daughter, knowing my daughter would tell me.  She’s afraid of retaliation.  I found out last night and since you don’t really text this sort of thing, I told my friend face to face after work.  I introduced it as “this is my experience” and “my daughters had the choice to play with her but a situation at your house yesterday has escalated it to my daughters no longer being allowed to be around her and here’s why.”  I told her about how just minutes earlier when I was waiting for her to come out of the house, Veruca invited my daughters into the pool to play with them, and I said no to her.  Three times.  At the same time we said, “Obviously my/your girls don’t need an invitation because it’s open invitation even when we/you aren’t home but…” the fact was that this girl made the invitation when she had no idea if it was ok and it wasn’t her pool to begin with.

I then found out that she and her husband are aware of the inappropriate behavior and they’ve witnessed a lot too.  They’ve been debating cutting off play time with their daughter but they didn’t know about the bus stop incidents I mentioned.  We compared notes and some of the things I heard… curls my toes.  Most of what we compared matched.

We witnessed some gutsy behavior right then and there.  Some of what we already discussed about both Veruca and one of her little brothers.  Later when I walked home, their mother was only just coming outside wondering where her son was not even knowing Veruca had gone to get him and put floaties on him and tried to sneak him into the pool.  We had mutual concerns as to why we let things go on so long… we each didn’t know the full extent of the ridiculousness.  I know I’m being vague, but trust me, there are some issues.

I found out bullies other kids on the bus and in school and is in constant trouble for it.  My daughters were feeling like they were being targeting specifically, not knowing that they weren’t really “special” and Veruca essentially behaves this way all the time.  In fact, she’s worse when she’s not around my girls and my friend’s daughter.  Veruca doesn’t have many, if any, friends at school because she’s known as a bully and the children are either afraid of her or don’t like her.  My friend’s daughter and until yesterday, my daughters, have been her only playmates… her longest running playmates… because our daughters and we moms felt bad for her.  We also feel bad that there aren’t more young girls on our street for them to play with.  Not any more.  My friend stated that she’s going to tell her husband, and he’s going to say it’s the last straw and they’re going to do what he wanted to do since the first month the girl’s family moved in: not allowed to play with Veruca.  I’ll be honest now… I felt within the first two meetings that this is how it would turn out and debated pulling the plug right away.  I wanted to give her a chance and teach my daughters the value of giving someone the chance, of second chances, and prayed that Veruca would take those chances.  I hoped that if she was told directly enough times, and if when she was nice the reward was being played with, she would change her behavior and attitude.

I’m really sad that didn’t happen.  I’m proud of my girls.  I’m sad that they put up with it so long, but I think we all felt trapped having her live across the street and banging on our door constantly.  And we really are the type to give everyone a chance or six and the benefit of the doubt.  Until my girls get hurt.  Until my friends’ children get hurt.  Then I feel guilty that I let it go on so long.

I love my friend and her family, and I love her daughter.  My daughters and my husband love their family and especially their daughter.  It had to be done, and I know if it were my daughters, I would need to know so I could make an informed decision.  I feel bad for Veruca because I think that there’s a lapse in parenting and discipline that tells her that her parents care. My daughters have viewed this all along as a teaching moment, thankfully, and knew that I was open to them saying they never wanted to play with Veruca ever again.  I took the burden away.  They were relieved to finally have the fallback of, “We’re not allowed to hang out with you/spend time with you/play with you.  It’s time for you to leave.”  They have scripts in place for whatever her responses may be.  I’ve told them that first time or two she comes banging on the door, I’ll handle it if they feel too nervous to handle it because after all, I’m the mom.

I think they’ve all handled themselves really well so far.  I’m raising some great little self-advocates.  And I’m sad that Veruca turns out to be Sweet Girl’s first bully and whenever it happens I’m not there.  Never again.


Today’s post is inspired by this blog entry on another blog I follow:  i like being autistic | a diary of a mom.  I had this in my head for a while, but as usual Jessie over at Diary of a Mom seems to read my mind, heh heh.

A couple of weeks ago, we were out at a barbeque.  It was a gorgeous day; sunny with a few clouds and a breeze; hot but not unbearable in the sun; completely perfect in the shade.  All of my daughters were enjoying their day playing with their friends and having fun.  Sweet Girl was having a great day interacting and self-advocating and even finding foods to eat. I sat for a while talking with someoneat the party and we got to talking about Autism as frequently happens. She asked me some questions eager to learn about ASD in general and some questions specific to Sweet Girl, and she became thoughtful.

Then the Big Question that I dread more than any other, and am inevitably asked.

“Do you ever wish she didn’t have Autism?”

I tried to explain that I love her, that her ASD makes her unique, and I wouldn’t change her.  The questions came about along the lines of,

“What about the difficult moments”

because obviously, I white wash those moments for people when she’s having a great day… because I want her and our family and friends to enjoy those days.  When they see her, she’s on her best behavior most of the time.  She’s “on.”  She’s at an age now where she’s self-conscious about melt-downs, and it’s not something that I ingrained into her.  She’s never much liked anyone even seeing her cry.

I give them glimpses into her behaviors and the rough moments and hours and days if it seems they really want to know… most people who know her, though, have seen it firsthaStillnd.

Still, it’s exhausting to talk about.  I also realize that it contributes to the negative down-talk about Autism.  It perpetuates the belief that Autism is more negative than positive.  It perpetuates the belief that as a parent, I must want my “real child” rather than the autistic one.  I’ve blogged about her, and still do, about the bad days.  It’s partly what the blog is for.  It is, after all, my blog and yes, as a parent, I need support but I need it as a parent to three children.

“I would not change her, even for the most difficult moments.  I won’t lie, it’s hard.  But she’s wonderful.  I couldn’t change her.  I couldn’t take away such an important part of her.”

I tried to explain all of the positive up-talk that we’ve spent years doing, how she’s not the only one working hard to cope with a world not made for her… we’re working hard to live in that world WITH her.  We’re working hard to understand her.  We’re working hard to make sure that she knows that our efforts are never to change her, but to help her learn new things and use her knowledge to be more independent.

We’re working hard to try to allow her to become the best self-advocate she can become, and prepare her for future relationships and jobs and life and we maintain a negative outlook and view her ASD as a negative thing… it does no good. If we view the ASD as our obstacle, then we’re bound to struggle harder and grow to resent it.  Instead, the obstacles are better viewed as things that we and she need to educate ourselves on and learn to cope with.  Her personal obstacles and difficulties are things we help her with every step of the way.

Some days are great, some are bad.  Some of the concepts she gets eventually, and some are much harder. I always have to go into something with her assuming that she understands what I’m teaching and encourage her to ask questions.  I assume intellect and willingness to learn.  I want her to always assume that I love her in spite of her most difficult traits, the same as her sisters and her daddy and other family and friends.  She’s no different that way. But suddenly I could tell I was losing this person I was talking to.

I was “teaching” too much.  Sometimes I lecture without meaning it to come out that way.

I decided to try a different tack. I did something that I usually only do in private, a game that we play that has helped reinforce just how valuable her entire self is.  I knew I was taking a risk in asking her at all, at having her response be to tell me,

“SHUT UP! MAY YOU NOT SAY THAT TO ME?!!??”

I called Sweet Girl over to us and got her engaged.  I asked her the question I’ve asked before:

“Hi Honey.  I was wondering, would you like me to hold onto your Autism for a while? Maybe put it in my pocket and keep it safe?” (other variations have been asking if I might borrow her Autism)

“NO! You may not have my Autism! It is MINE! I need it!”

“Okay! Just checking!”

We had a smile over her response, I gave her a hug, and she skipped away.  I counted myself lucky that she didn’t scream at me for asking a clearly stupid question.  She would have been justified.  I felt Sweet Girl had made the point herself very firmly and more succinctly than I ever could.  My dear 11 year old self-advocate.

I’ve been catching her on my Kindle recently going through the photo album, which is directly connected to my Facebook photos.  She’ll pore through those photos for hours.  Sometimes she’s looking at the cats’ pictures; sometimes her little cousin; sometimes when she and her sisters were little.  But sometimes… sometimes she’s looking at the Autism Info-Graphics and inspirational quotes and images.  She touches them and caresses them, smiling.  Sometimes she asks me why I found them and shared them on Facebook so that she can hear me say,

“I saved them and shared them because you’re special to me, and that means your Autism is special to me too.  It’s part of you and I love every single bit of you.”

::nodding:: waiting for more:: “Yes, that is good.”

“I’m happy you think so, honey.  I love you just the way you are, just as much as I love your sisters, always, and the things that make them special too.”

::nodding:: wanting more::  “Yes, mmm hmmm.”

“I want to teach people that don’t know about Autism that Autism might be hard for you sometimes, but it has lots of great things about it too.”

“Yes, I have my Autism.  Do not take my Autism.  No one can have it, no one can take it away.” ::frowns:: “No one should take it away.” (this was after a discussion when she asked about an info-graphic that talked about ‘cures’ and the thought of curing her ASD made her angry) “These are MY pictures, Mommy.  You saved these for ME.”  ::soft smile::

And there you go.

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