Archive for the ‘sisters’ Category


I would love it if as a mom and ally, I didn’t have to defend Autism. Little babies and children don’t need to be protected from Autism at all costs.  I would love it if society didn’t treat Autism in that way.  I hope that my Sweet Girl never has to defend Autism. She should never have to defend her very existence. I’ve been thinking about a conversation I had with her a couple of weeks ago that I drafted, and am finally sharing.

My Sweet Girl recently found out that there are people who think Autism is Very Bad and want to cure it, prevent it, stop it, and that they spread misinformation about it. When she heard a doctor and someone else who was supposed to be some expert talk about the MMR vaccine and Measles, the pros and cons, the arguing and veiled insults, she shot her head up as soon as the woman (not the doctor) brought Autism into it. She said something negative about preventing ASD, curing ASD, blaming the MMR and epidemic rates, and the usual propaganda prattle. The Doctor thankfully had his head on straight and refuted the claims this loon was making.

The look of confusion on Sweet Girl’s face would have been amusing under any other circumstance, but I knew by the quickening of her breath that she had some understanding of what that woman said, and it wasn’t something I was ready for because I worried that it wasn’t something she was ready for.

And so I was cursing the Today Show for ramming the measles/vaccine/autism discussion during school-preparation time.

“Why did they say that? What did they just say?”

“There are some people who think Autism is caused by traumas, errr, injuries to the brain. There are some people who think that vaccines cause an injury that makes Autism, and that vaccines can cause other injuries so they don’t trust vaccines. People are getting the Measles right now because a lot of people stopped giving their children shots. They think Measles is safer than the shots.”

“That is stupid, shots are medicine. You need medicine. Shots stop sick before you get sick.” ::dirty look:: “I don’t like needles.”

“I don’t like getting shots either.”

“I do not want to take away my Autism,” she said, pronounced like AWT-izm.

And then the hard part.

“Why do people want to stop my Autism? Then I would not be here,” and there was an edge of hurt in her voice mingled with disbelief.

“I don’t know the answer to that, honey, except that maybe those people just don’t understand Autism or how to look for the talents instead of the stuff in Autism that makes things hard for you and other people like you.”

“Yes, it is hard. I need my Autism. I love being… what is the word? I love being Autism?”

Tears started to well up.

“The word is ‘autistic’ sweetie. Do you love being Autistic?”

“Mmmm hmm.”

“Are you happy?”

“Mmmm HMMMM!”

“That makes me happy. I love you and your Autism.”

 

With a nod she walked away. As you can see, my daughter is kind of amazing. Just like her sisters. In her own words, at only 12 years old she let me know in no uncertain terms that she doesn’t want a cure. She thinks the idea of being injured is stupid (we’re working on reducing the ableist language like stupid and idiot, sorry it slipped in). She’s shocked at the idea that anyone would want to change who she is or prevent more people like her from being born.

She’s delighted when she finds out that other classmates or other peers are like her. There’s a sudden new understanding and behavior shift with them when she finds out, and they’re just happy to “be.” She has a compassion for difficult behaviors when she knows that they might have autism or something similar.

As I said, she’s kind of amazing.

We’ve been honest and open with her about Autism from the beginning when we realized it helped her to know. It helped her form questions when she had them. Since she’s known for so long, since she was 4 1/2 or so, she’s never “not known” that she’s Autistic. I trust her instincts.

She knows that there’s a reason she thinks differently, works things through differently, does things at a different pace, has different talents, approaches things differently, has certain obstacles and challenges that are really difficult and upsetting, but because we accept every single part of her she accepts every single part too. Behaviors that she actively dislikes, or knows that need to change because they could be dangerous because we’ve talked it out, she works hard on. She asks questions and she watches. She tries. She does a lot of watching and experimenting. She doesn’t fear herself, and I don’t fear her. If something seems impossible, we see if there’s an accommodation to make it easier. We adjust. We accept.

I don’t feel sad for her. I don’t want anyone to feel sad for her. I don’t want anyone to think that she’s miserable or suffering. She’s not “suffering with Autism.” She’s autistic, and she’s not suffering. She’s growing into a young woman. Would anyone say she’s with femaleness? And suffering with femaleness? Or she’s suffering with blondness? She’s not. The autism is as much a part of her as her talents to make crafts, draw, paint, write stories, sing, connect with babies and toddlers and animals.

I know she’s going to have opportunities and she’s going to find her own way. I’ll encourage her talents and continue to encourage self-advocacy and education about her own disabilities. I’ll protect her and teach her, guide her, answer her questions, and hope that I’m doing this the right way while I try to learn more about her every day. She loves to learn about herself. She looks at me with impatience, though, when I ask questions to try to learn more about what’s inside her thoughts processes.

“You ask too many questions.”

Yes, honey, and it will never stop.

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A very important concept in fighting for Disability Rights is moving away from the Medical Model and towards the Social Model. Acceptance over a cure. Creating Universal Accessibility ideals that are helpful for everyone so that no one may be excluded.

To make it easier to understand I’ll give visuals:

This staircase is lovely, with a ramp built into it as an integral part of the architectural design.

The ramp is built into the architecture as art rather than an afterthought at Robson Square in Vancouver by Arthur Erickson

Robson Square in Vancouver by Arthur Erickson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This design below eliminates the staircase altogether in the form a beautiful circular, winding red ramp that everyone uses at the Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, California. It’s difficult to see from the photo below, but the doors are also wide and airy, and it’s reported that most visitors find this layout to be very warm and inviting.

Circular Ramp Ed Roberts Campus in Berkeley, Calif; example of Universal Design

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Greendale Villa near Disney World is known to be disability-friendly and uses Universal Design in its architecture. They even use it in their swimming pools.

Accessible Universal Swimming Pool at Greendale Villa in Fla.

Accessible Universal Swimming Pool at Greendale Villa in Fla.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The examples I gave are easy to understand because you can see them. They’re also easy to understand because they’re inclusive for people that have visible physical disabilities for people that use wheelchairs; parents using strollers or are holding a wobbly toddler by the hand; aging individuals or others who need a walker or a cane; people that have a cast on their leg and use crutches; a postal delivery person carrying or wheeling heavy packages; a student lugging around heavy books or an enormous art project; a caterer making a delicate delivery. The fact of the matter is that stairs are clumsy and difficult to navigate.

When it comes to the disabilities that you can’t see, the Universal Design within the Social Model is still not only an ideal, but a necessity. We’re not demanding that the world change to give disabled individuals “special treatment.” We’re hoping that the world will understand that a level playing field is the goal. We’re hoping that by showing care in being inclusive to all, people might start to figure out that disabled individuals are valuable and have as much to offer and contribute as anyone else does.

I see resistance to these ideas because I think some people believe that acceptance of disabilities means giving up, not trying, not caring, being willing to somehow not be enough of something. Human maybe? Even though disabled people are fully People, fully Human, no matter the disability. But for many people, the Social Model means that those who have disabilities have the audacity be disabled; to not hide the disabilities adequately enough to appear to have no disability at all or, worse, to not have overcome the disability or disabilities. The problem with resisting the Social Model is that the Social Model benefits EVERYONE. That’s how inclusion works. Funny, that.

Imagine these ramps that are inclusive of everyone as communication barriers that have been broken down for people that have mental health disabilities, developmental learning disorders, cognitive function disorders, traumatic brain injuries, intellectual disabilities, impaired vision, impaired hearing… and all of the other invisible disabilities that so many people forget about when it comes to universal designs.

It can be as simple as recognizing that there are multiple ways of communicating. Even a newborn baby can communicate through facial expressions, body language, different types of cries, different vocalizations, eye contact, and even how fast or slow they’re breathing. Someone that is classified as non-speaking and “incapable” of speech is still always capable of communicating.

So if you have someone that’s Autistic or has a speech delay and their parents have been told they’ll “never” speak because they seemingly aren’t verbal since they haven’t  (yet) communicated verbally, what do you think the assumption tends to be?

“My child can’t communicate and never will, and therefore they must be intellectually disabled.”

That sounds so dire, doesn’t it? I would bet my left butt cheek that their child uses body language, facial expressions, other sounds, or possibly even sign language of some sort to attempt to communicate. Pointing, shaking the head, refusal of performing a request and performing a different behavior instead… that’s all communication. It doesn’t mean that the child doesn’t understand what’s being said or asked; it simply means they need another way to communicate.

Hear this well: non-verbal learning disorders and delays don’t mean someone has an intellectual disability, or that they’re incompetent. While neurological disorders and other disabilities such as Autism and Non-verbal Learning Disorder and Sensory Processing Disorder and Cognitive Delays can co-occur, they are mutually exclusive of each other.

This means that you need to assume that your child or any other disabled individual you come across should be presumed to be competent. Presume they can hear you and understand you, and maybe even read. Maybe learn to use cards with images on them. Offer a computer keyboard or a tablet. See if your loved one enjoys drawing, painting, or a craft. Art is also communication. So is music. So is math. Everything someone does or doesn’t do is communication of some sort.

Disability does not make one less. It’s not something to be ashamed of. As someone with disabilities I’m not going to sugarcoat it and say that disabilities are fun and everyone should join me and have them. I’m not going to say that the challenges aren’t incredibly difficult, and that some obstacles don’t really seem impossible to ever overcome. I’m not going to say that it isn’t discouraging at times. Being disabled often sucks, but it doesn’t mean I’m miserable.

And that’s something else.

One big assumption about individuals that have disabilities that needs to disappear forever is that “being disabled means being miserable and life isn’t worth living.” That statement is a myth and it’s offensive. It’s why I found it heartbreaking, tragic, and ridiculous when people decided that Robin Williams’ suicide was understandable when they discovered it was so he wouldn’t have to progress with his disability rather than because it was part of his lifelong depression and, thus, “selfish” of him to commit suicide.

Life is more than worth living when one has one or more disabilities and it’s no one’s place to put value on someone’s life, to measure their worth or right to live or whether someone’s life is a tragedy based on the single fact that they have disabilities or make assumptions on someone’s suffering levels. Life is still worth being part of society, part of family and friends, and having society recognize that individuals who are disabled have just as much to contribute and deserve to earn a living wage, with voices and opinions that are strong.

Part of making society acceptable, part of the Social Model needs to be dispelling myths and incorrect stereotypes about disabilities in general, and disability-specific. For instance, individuals who are autistic are not “suffering with Autism” and nor are they emotionless. They are autistic. Very often, in my personal observations, it seems that autistic individuals are more sensitive to emotions and they most definitely aren’t suffering due to their Autism. The suffering occurs from the treatment of others who may be abusive and less understanding, less accepting, and being in environments that are not disability friendly. For instance, lights that are too bright and music that’s too loud in a store that can already be disconcerting makes the experience nearly impossible for some. It’s an assault on the senses.

There are movie theaters that now offer sensory friendly screenings of movies. They will advertise a specific movie with the times, locations, and accommodations being made: raised lights; reduced level of sound for the movie; allowing wandering during the showing within the theater itself; allowing talking; providing ESL interpreters; allowing carers such as PCA’s to accompany without having to pay additional fees.  Universal acceptance, Social Model.

Assimilating universal designs into our society is an acceptance that everyone of any ability is valuable and worthy of having access to anything and everything. It’s a recognition that everyone’s needs are different. It’s difficult when much of society isn’t just afraid of acknowledging disabilities, but disgusted by them. There is a lot of fear of being seen as different, as Other, because once someone sees you as disabled, you’re also seen as weak and incompetent. There are a lot of people who try to take advantage of that perceived weakness, and there are those who use their physical intimidation to put themselves in a powerful position and misuse it. It’s called bullying.

For me to accept my disabilities relating to Fibromyalgia, depression, anxiety is not giving in or giving up. It’s not accepting a suffocating, negative label. It gives me a name for the obstacles I have to cope with, and a starting point to learn. It means that while I accept my disabilities I can still do my best to help myself feel better. I may have some cognitive issues and massive physical pain that would bring down a horse, but I am not weak nor incompetent. I have strong opinions. I’m a self-advocate and I advocate for my children and others. It’s not easy for me to accept my particular disability because it’s physically and mentally taxing. It’s scary to realize that it’s going to progressively get worse. That just makes me work even harder to take care of myself.

By the same token, by accepting my daughter’s Autism, I’m not throwing her to the wolves and giving up her, drowning her with alphabet soup letters and labels. Discipline doesn’t go out the window. Education doesn’t get tossed in the wind. I’m helping her along with her sisters learn about who they are, what they’re going through, and working out the process with them. We’re learning together how to identify their strengths, talents, interests so that they can learn how to best communicate and what their best learning methods are.

Along the way, we’ve figured out which clothing can trigger negative behaviors. We’ve learned which ingredients in particular foods and drinks to avoid. We’ve learned what weather changes can do to health. We’ve learned how to adjust our thinking, our language, our expectations. We’ve learned that these things change and are fluid and that being flexible as parents and caregivers is simply the best approach.

In doing so, I’m trying to make the world more accessible for her. I’m letting her be who she is without trying to change her. I’m not trying to make her “pass” for neuro-typical or, as those of us who are non-autistic are sometimes called by some people in the Autistic Self-Advocate Movement, Allistic. I’d like her to know that she can change her world. She does need to learn how the “Allistic” world works so that she can navigate it, but whether she ever appears to be like her non-autistic peers isn’t really on our radar.

Would you like to know why? Because I don’t want her to grow up believing that Autism is something she has to overcome or that she has to try to cover up in order to make other people feel more comfortable. She should never have to feel like she has to overcome herself or something that is such a major part of what makes her who she is at her core. Her pride in who she is should be empowering for her.

I see the discomfort people feel when they see my cane, see my pain, and they don’t know what to say. I see it in the faces of people who haven’t seen me in a long time and see me now, or those who just can’t get used to seeing me with the cane. That used to make me feel bad, and as if I had to apologize for it. Then I realized that I shouldn’t have to apologize for having a disability. The discomfort of others regarding my disability or them realizing my daughter has a disability isn’t my problem to work out. It’s up to them to figure out how to accept it and make it part of their reality. Maybe I’m not entirely comfortable with my own disabilities, and that’s okay because I’m learning and it’s a process. I go back and forth between accepting it and not… but as someone who is a do-er I tend to lean towards accepting and moving along so that I can find the new path.

It starts in the classrooms, and I’m hoping that these inclusive classrooms are encouraging children to bring their acceptance and generosity of spirit home to their families. If that happens, their parents bring it to work and it spreads.

We’ve learned that neurology is diverse and that they don’t need, or want, a cure. I’ve heard the words come from Sweet Girl’s mouth herself. She just wants to be accepted for who she is.She embraces her Autism and wants to be accepted. That’s all any of my girls want regardless of their neurology. They are not weak nor incompetent. They are not damaged.

We just need a pool that we can ease into rather than having to jump into all at once.

They Don’t Want an Autism Cure – The Daily Beast.

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Back in 2013, I posted this entry: Court Rulings DO NOT “Quietly Confirm” Autism-Vaccine Link | Ever So Gently.

The article referred to in it has been making the rounds yet again, so that particular entry deserves a comeback too.  I’m not going to devote a whole new pages-long entry about it, though.  I just hope that people realize that the supposed “court rulings” about the autism-vaccine link are complete rubbish and also have been debunked and didn’t come from a reputable source nor was the court reputable or even able to rule on it to begin with.

I just wish people who are so fearful of Autism would speak with or read blogs written by autistic self-advocates.  I’m not talking about non-autistic mommy bloggers of autistic children, youngsters or adults, but actual autistic individuals who are self-advocates.  Many communicate online with great effort or little effort even if in the physical world their social skills and verbal skills are challenged and perhaps have Non-verbal Learning Disorder or are non-verbal.

Non-verbal doesn’t mean unable to communicate effectively.  It means “communicates differently” than most people.  And what that means is that WE have to adjust our thinking.  Listen to the people who know even if the listening isn’t with your ears.  Don’t listen to the fraudulent rantings of people who have fear-based ideologies.

 

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I happen to live in the state where the Newington school that’s being criticized for curbing the Halloween celebration within its campus is being criticized.  I can’t believe this nonsense has gone national.  A few parents got their panties in a twist claiming a violation of “rights” because their children couldn’t dress up profusely and have their costumes paraded around their schools.  Because the schools didn’t want to have an entire WEEK of scholastic disruption.

Because of a common sense policy:

  • The school and administration there are getting threats of violence from all over the country .  
  • People are sending hate mail from all over the country.  
  • People are upset that Newington is caving to overly political correctness shoved onto them by evil liberals.  Like the words political correctness and liberal are bad words or bad things to be.  
  • Administrators are being accused of caving to radical Islam (say what now???)
  • Administrators are being accused of assaulting Christianity and Tradition and generally Ruining Everything

 

Yeah, no. Just… shut up.  Shut up shut up shut up shuttity up up up.

I can’t even fathom why anyone would seriously and consciously violently threaten ANYONE for setting a reasonable rule for a school.  I have no argument in favor and every argument against.  Other than that, I can’t really formulate polite words.

An Aside: Why do people say Politically Correct as if it’s a bad thing? Adjusting our language and behavior in order to be sensitive to the cultures and traditions and feelings of others is a GOOD THING.  We become enraged and make threats of violence when others don’t do the same for us…

…but I suppose it only matters and is important if we feel it’s Christianity that’s being marginalized.  I love my faith, I love Jesus, I love my God, and I love my current Pope (yo! Shout out to Pope Frankie!) and I love most of my fellow human beings but a lot of the time I don’t like many of my fellow Christians.  The Bible gets twisted to mean terrible things, and while it’s corrupted, the Ten Commandments are ignored.  In place of goodness, kindness, tolerance, love, and generosity,  I read and hear about hate, selfishness, rage, and self-entitlement.

No, Christianity is not being assaulted.  As a whole when we include all denominations, we are the majority religion in the United States and we are a major world religion.  We are not in the minority in any way.  That is a statistical fact.  We are not marginalized in America.  We tend to be catered to.  We tend to be the religious group with the greatest power.   That’s not to say that in some areas of the world, Christians aren’t persecuted, executed for being Christian, hated simply for being Christian.  I know that right here in the U.S. there are plenty of people who hate Christians for breathing and painting us all with the same extremist evangelistic brush… much the same way people of all other persuasions make broad generalizations and hate simply to hate.  Some people just hate anyone who is not exactly the same as they are.  I know Christians who hate other Christians because they’re not the same denomination.  I know Christians who hate others within their own denomination for “not being Same Denomination enough.”

Haters gonna hate.

Aw, damn it Taylor Swift.  Brain, why you gotta be like that? Toss in Taylor Swift in the middle of a thought process.  Oi.

Ok, so Halloween is, literally, All Hallow’s Eve.  That means it’s the evening before All Soul’s Day (think Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows… the Deathly Souls) or as some like to call it, All Saint’s Day.  This next part is very important:

Halloween is not a holy day for Christians.  Tomorrow is.

 

Dear fellow Christians,

All Saints Day is “our day” and no one is taking it away.  We get to recognize both Halloween and All Saints Day aka All Soul’s Day anywhere we want all we want.  We can even go to church tonight (the vigil mass) or tomorrow to honor this holy day.  Cool, huh? Costumes and candy have nothing to do with it.  Church has everything to do with it.

Love,

Jessica

 

Interestingly enough, not all Christian denominations celebrate Halloween.  I think Jehovah’s Witnesses refrain from Halloween, as well as some Evangelicals and other similar denominations.  It’s because we are to abstain from all appearances of evil… even dressing up and making fun of evil and anything that could possibly be construed as an association with evil IE. Halloween, the candy, the parties, the costumes, the make-up, the parades.  It’s way more complicated than that for those denominations but Catholics aren’t like that.  We like Halloween and we like All Saints Day.  *Please note I’m not really speaking for all Catholics regarding Halloween, but All Saints Day is a Holy Day on the Catholic Calendar.

Of course there’s a lot as to why people dress up as ghosts, goblins, ghouls, scary witches, skeletons, devils, mass murderers, zombies, etc.  There’s a reason why it’s “spooky” with a paranormal feel, why it’s creepy.  Why owls at night give us shivers and some people still think Satan lives in my black cat, Luna.

It has to do with Samhain, an actual blessed day for Wicca, Pagan, and Celtic religions, that honors the Autumn harvest and coming of Winter as it sits halfway between the autumn equinox and the winter solstice and in fact, Samhain predates All Saints Day.  It’s a really spiritual time, when the doorway between our world and the spiritual world is thinned.  A time when anything could happen and people feel vulnerable.  Even if we don’t believe the same things as those religions, we still feel the cultural effects lingering from the days when our ancestors were afraid.

Dressing up as what scares you most lets you hide in plain sight from those very scary things.

We get to hide among the creeperss, letting ourselves believe that if the evil spirits came out on Halloween then they couldn’t distinguish between us and them and therefore we must be safe out in the dark while we put our complete and utter trust in our neighbors to not put poison into the candy they pass out.  It’s a societal show of trust that we allow strangers and neighbors to give our children candy while we let our children go door to door in costumes out of arm’s reach.

We get to do that regardless of  our religious affiliation or cultural background to beg for free candy from strangers and neighbors all we like as long (as the porch lights are on at the houses… leave the houses with the porch lights off alone).  Dressing up for Halloween and begging for candy; attending Halloween parties; sending your children to schools that allow it in costumes…. as long as we remember that it has nothing to do, really, with Christianity.

Honestly, as a parent in general but also as a parent specifically to two children that don’t react well to HFCS and food dyes, with one of them being lactose intolerant to boot, I really don’t want teachers sending my kids home at the Rage Stage of the sugar rushes.

If your school has a policy of “no costumes, no candy, no overtly obnoxious Halloween” then please remember that your rights aren’t being trampled. I’ve come to realize this is actually Mom Spent Way Too Much On A Costume And Wants To Make Sure Nevaehly Is Seen Dressed Up As Pryness Elsa By As Many People As Possible And That Includes School Damn It.  If that’s your issue then throw a damn Halloween party.  Halloween falls on a Friday this year so go to three Halloween parties.  Knock yourself out.  You can let your child sleep in the costume and go on errands in it.

Your child won’t care, and won’t remember because her rights aren’t being trampled either.  It’s not that big of a deal.  Your child will remember Trick or Treating with you in the neighborhood.  Your child will cherish those memories.  Your child will grow up and have fond memories when she sees the photos of  when she was a wee one with white faced cat make-up and pink cat ears while Daddy hugged her tight.  They will show their children how they had their pictures taken year after year in their costumes at the front door of your home, how they got taller every year as they and their costumes changed.  They’ll shed a tear when they see their first Cinderella costume in the memory box and you ask if it might fit their daughter that year.  They’ll remember attending parties with you, helping pass out candy to others, drinking cocoa together, sorting through the loot on the floor looking for open wrappers and candy that might cause allergic reactions.

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Happy Friday [I forgot where I got this image, sorry... I just googled for Lemonade Happy Friday, although I know it's not lemonade ;-)  ]

Happy Friday [I forgot where I got this image, sorry… I just googled for “Lemonade Happy Friday” although I know it’s not lemonade ;-) ]

This morning, Sweet Girl had an apple for breakfast and while munching on that apple she sat on the couch with me and watched the Today Show with me… and she was just so happy.  Since she didn’t have to get up as the asscrack of dawn (aka 6:30) for extended school year bus, she got up at 7:30 with me.  Gracie had me all to herself and she took advantage of it, snuggled up next to me on the couch.

She talked my ear off.  Yes, yes she did.  Because there was no one except Daisy the cat to listen in and interrupt and tell her she was wrong, stupid, to stop talking, to interject with something or other behaving jealously…

She just had Mommy all to herself.

She talked mostly about getting her own android so that she can show me all of the talking she won’t do on it and all of the apps and texting she will do on it.

She wants my phone when I turn it in for an upgrade.

I had to explain that when I turn it in for an upgrade, it will be considered an Old Lady phone and so decrepit it will be useless.  I wait until my phones are useless, with the exception of my last phone when I gave it to my eldest so she could have one when she started middle school.

She tried her darnedest to convince me to get her a cell phone and why she deserves one over her little sister.  You’ll note by the length of the rest of our conversation that it’s about much, much more than the cell phone.  It’s about sisterly relationships.  She must have been ruminating on this for quite some time and trying to figure out how to introduce her problem with her little sister in a way that Mommy would finally Get It.

“But you will give me your phone.”

“No, honey, we talked about this.  A lot.  My phone will be broken when I upgrade.”

“I am old enough.  Anna is not old enough.  I am starting 6th grade.  Anna is not responsible.”

“I already let you use my phone when you want to at home.  What happens during the school day with cell phones?”

“Electronics are NOT ALLOWED.  I would get in trouble if I use electronics.  I would use a Chromebook.  I do not want to get in trouble.  Chromebooks are for school.”

“You’re right.”

“Yes, because it is against the rules to use your electronics in class.  The teacher will TAKE IT” quick swipe of her arms through the air “AWAY!!!”

“I think you’re right.”

“I know.  Do I get your phone when you get a new one?” with a squeal.

“Not yet.  It won’t happen for a while.”

She paused here, and her face darkened.

“What’s wrong, Sweet Girl?”

“Anna thinks she is the boss of me.  She thinks she can tell me what to do.  She thinks she knows everything.”

“Like what? Tell me.”

“She is always saying I will get hurt and, um, she yells and it hurts my ears.”

“Do you get hurt if you don’t listen to her?”

“I… sometimes.”

“Do you want to know a secret about Anna?”

PENSIVE FACE WITH FURROWED BROW… she’s preparing to hear something she doesn’t like.

“Your little sister loves you with her whole heart.  She loves you more than anyone else in the world.  That means that if she thinks you’re not safe she’s going to try to protect you.”

“Hmm.” nods

“And do you want to know why it seems like she thinks she knows more than you?”

“Hmm.” glances at me

“It’s because she remembers some things better than you do sometimes; she remembers how things work a little bit better or that doing something a certain way might get you hurt.  She doesn’t want that to happen.  Right?”

“Hmm.” scowls but nods

“What she wants is to take care of you.  She enjoys that.  She likes to know that you’re safe and happy.  She doesn’t think you’re a little baby or a little kid that she has to take care of.  She just wants to make sure that her big sister doesn’t get hurt and that she’s happy.  Does that make sense?”

“Hmm.”

“She doesn’t like to fight with you.  She hates to fight with you.  It hurts her feelings when you fight.”

“She thinks she is more grown up.  She is not more responsible, I am more responsible.  I am older.  I am going in a middle school.”

“You are definitely learning to be responsible.  You’ve been helping around the house a lot more lately.  You help me when we go shopping together.  You did a great job with the grocery list yesterday.”

“Yes, I did.”

“I think you’re both learning and growing up, and I think your little sister is trying to help you grow up so that you can do it together.”

“She is bossy.  She tells me what to do.”

“Well, do you think that maybe sometimes you tell her what to do too?”

PAUSE

“I think that she’s trying to show you how to do things safely, and you know how she likes things to be ‘just right’ but you know what else? She also wants to do things WITH you so that you’re not alone.”

“Yes.”

“And you know, she just thinks about things in a different way than you do.  Your little sister’s brain works a little differently than your does so she doesn’t always understand what you’re thinking.”

“Yes, yes.”

“It might sound bossy if she thinks that she has to talk more loudly so that you’ll pay attention.  Do you understand?”

“Hmm.”  BIG PAUSE “Juliana is bossy.”

“Well… um… but she’s your big sister and you’re supposed to think she’s bossy.  She’s a leader too.  And not for nothing, honey, but when Mommy and Daddy aren’t here, she’s the boss.”

“Mom, did you hide your Kindle?”

“No honey, it’s plugged in.  Did you want to read today?”

“I don’t know.”

 

 

Oh my gosh, I love this girl.  Dear God, I love my daughters.  Love, love, love.

 

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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.

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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.

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