Have The Hard Discussions


Heading into 2015/2016 school year with a 7th grader has been relatively easy for our family.  We are realists.  We watch the news and pay particular attention to the youth in our area and our children keep us advised about the youth surrounding them.  We let our children know about new illegal drugs and news about our neighborhood and throughout the world that can impact our area. Last week we decided to have a talk at the dinner table about the tough choices that tweens and teens have to make on an almost daily basis.  It started with a video that we played while spooning out mashed potatoes and passing the beans.  Parents were duping their young girls on purpose and video taping their actions when they were caught.  What were they doing you ask?

These young women, sixth and seventh graders were befriending what they thought were teenage boys online and then after chatting a few times, meeting them at a park.  Of course when they got there, the boys were adults and along with them were the parents, sometimes hidden.  A girl even got into a van where she was bombarded with hooded people, two of which were her parents.  All to teach them a lesson.

That got the table quiet.  Our youngest knew then that the next twenty minutes were probably going to be awkward, intimidating and not real “fun” even though she was having her favorite dinner.  I have provided the link so that you too could view what is happening to 1 out of 7 children right now in your neighborhood.  Given that statistic, at least one of the girls in my daughters friend group could be in trouble.  At least one.

Thankfully, I have a very open relationship with my three children and after just a few moments, the discussion was as free flowing as I’ve ever seen.  Was it topics that she was uncomfortable with?  Absolutely.  Did we quiz her?  Many times and she surprised us with answering quickly and gave us some options that we hadn’t thought of ourselves.  So for everyone who takes the time to read this, I hope you can ask your tween and teen these questions and help them create a solid plan of action.

What do you do if you are followed, asked to go with anyone while out or approached by a stranger in a car?

Answers by the table:  Scream and run to the nearest neighbor that you know.  Find a manager of a store or a teacher you trust and let them know you are afraid.  If in a mall location or movie theater, seek out a mother with small children and advise her that you are afraid.  Know where the security office is at every place you are at and if close, go there immediately.

Jordan

Here is where it gets tricky with today’s police and official confrontations or situations where you cant react quickly.

What do you do if a police officer, teacher, coach or anyone you know that isn’t in your immediate family tells you to come with them at the request of your parents or go with them because you have done something wrong?

The answer for our family was simple.  Keep space between you and the adult.  Ask for someone that you trust to go with you.  If they will not comply, be suspicious.  Ask to call your parents. (we all carry cell phones)  Be respectful until its time to make yourself safe.  I always picture Patrick Swayze in Roadhouse when he says, “Be nice until its time not to be nice.”  Most of your children can realize tension or something out of place fairly quickly.

What if anyone, even if you know them tells you that your parents have given them permission to take you home from school or the outing that you are on?

Another easy one.  Ask them for the family password.  If they don’t know it, keep that space and say no.  Very quickly we, as a family recited that if that password is not issued to you immediately, they don’t have permission.  Find a local neighbor, run, scream and while you are doing this, yell Fire, Rape or any word that would draw attention, like a simple help!  Thinking fast and kicking to the groin area can also give you time to get away.

Abductions can happen quickly, so we then asked one more question?  What can you do if you are grabbed and do not have time to use these options?

I will say that these potential life saving options weren’t the favorite of any of us, however they can be very useful.  Scream rape, urinate, induce vomiting using two fingers down your throat.

At that moment, jokes commenced and we lightened the mood for a few moments.  It was time to go the House Rules.

We spoke very frankly about what is allowed and what is not allowed during school, with friends, in the hallways and with someone you “like”. They included boyfriends, sharing drinks, taking pills, smoking, sexting, dating, kissing and all things relative.  We laid it out on the dinner table like a salty dessert.  Again the discussion was fluent and we made sure at the end the most basic need of talking was always, always welcome.

I am quite sure there will be drinking, drugs and sex at her middle school and I am not someone who would think otherwise.  To be jaded now in our society is just irresponsible. It is a world we live in and children, even very young are succumbing to the easy market of getting off the path of straight and narrow.  There are water bottles filled with vodka, cigarettes and joints brought on campus, even sold there and lets not forget the quick dress change girls do to emphasize their young bodies, in school, cyber bullying, shaming on so many levels from gender to weight, cool kids, nerds and the list goes on and on.  Teacher respect and good citizenship should be a daily verbal share.  See something, say something.  You could talk to your children and teens every day and still not cover everything that could happen on their sidewalk of life.

Saying Goodbye

Sibling support

But talk.  Talk a lot.  Give your children very specific rules that YOU have laid out.  Never compromise and hopefully your child will be one of the lucky ones who are never approached, pressured or attacked. Maybe their middle school years will be laden with great memories and that’s it.  Not likely. Let them know that other families may not share our rules, but these are still our rules and they must abide by them. Lying to us will also inevitably make your situation much worse and the consequences heavier.

I wont tolerate my children being the “mean girl or boy” and hopefully these open discussions will help them realize that we care and love them and there really is a reason to have them.  Having said this, our children also know not to induce or start a fight, but if provoked or hit, never just take it.  Fight back.  Walking away was great in my day.  Now you are cornered, knives are drawn and other children entice the dangerous situation.

One day soon there will be a GoPro on some child’s body that will film hundreds of hours of the truth behind the walls.  That day is coming. Only then will we see the real pressures and issues that surround our kids.  I cant even go into how some of our teachers are letting down the students by showing up late to class every day, texting, promoting their own agenda for testing and not being prepared to even teach what they are being paid to teach. That is another blog for another day.

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Let me also say that no child is perfect, mine included.  We all make mistakes.  With mistakes comes lessons, punishment and growth.  There have been some mistakes and growth in our household over the past few years as I am sure are in many households.  Its natural, but not a pattern I would want to encourage or ignore. Do they tell us everything? I’m not stupid enough to say of course, but I do know more about them and what children their age are doing.  Its very scary.  I choose to be proactive, not reactive.

If there is one last thing that my husband and I tell our children every week, it is this:

If you are ever in trouble, make a mistake and need any kind of help, call us.  Come to us. Come to your siblings.  We will never ever stop loving you.  We are in this together.  If you see something, say something.  Always.

Be safe out there.  We need each other to keep our kids safe and surrounded in a healthy environment.

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Stormy Weather


It’s inevitable to have rough waves on a cruise or bad weather on the one day a year that a barbecue is planned.  The weather that we feel in the brain, when we think we are covered and protected from the potential disaster that rushes over you without warning is something completely different.

We go to sleep the night before lost in the aftermath of the day and hopeful that tomorrow will be just tolerable.  Then this happens.

  • Good morning brain
  • Misfire
  • Word Jumble
  • Pain
  • Keppra
  • Weather Forecast
  • Storms
  • Tylenol
  • Depression

Living with epilepsy is a daily storm of uncertainty, frustration and reality that only we can understand.  There is no shelter, rubber or underground box that can shield us from what we might or might not face any particular day.  It is the invisible tornado that fears no one.

The weather box is still closed.

2015 Sue Note 4 024

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Then They Do


Yesterday while I was driving to Boston, I heard a song I had never heard before. Now before you click Google and look up the title, read on.

I was on way to Boston from New York for the third time in as many days. I had my youngest child enrolled in Vet School for a few weeks and she had taken ill with what would be a very serious Coxsackie Herpangina A virus.

As a parent, I wasn’t allowed to see her for that is a major rule for resident students and stood in the wings of RA’s, nurses and time to just wait it out. I didn’t know just how bad she was and if she would make it through the course. Dee had been waiting to attend this college experience for five months.

I never listen to the radio, but this day I needed to drown out the worry that was clouding my mind.  Then as quick as that, the song was playing.

Then They Do

Its about a husband’s perspective regarding his wife and mother of his children and how she was devastated by their children moving on. The quiet house. The lack of need for their mother.

In that moment and for how long I really don’t know, my lifelong 30 years of being a parent flashed before me in  waves. I saw that I’ve spent over two physical years in a hospital room taking care of my oldest child.  I saw my joy and excitement as I loaded a plane to Washington state to see my son and just seconds later  the sobs in that same plane on the way back to New York after just spending 28 hours with him.

Lastly I saw my youngest in pain, laying on my stomach crying because she couldn’t swallow and wailing that she couldn’t miss Vet School. I remember then listening to the history of the song as told by the singer and thought of how the power of your children can make and break you.

I wasn’t sure why I thought of sad times rather than happy until I was unpacking my suitcase in my third hotel. The very best thing I’ve ever done in my life were the three children I had to let go. My house will too be empty of noise, name calling and the giggle of my kids soon enough.

I will be lost.

Each one of my children have taught me that they too have been lost and I was there to try and get them in a place where they felt “found” .  I am a better care giver, and still learning every day about my kids. Just maybe they will help me find myself again when they fly.

Darien, by the way, is on the mend and in Vet School and I’m letting her go a little at a time. This one is my hardest because she is my last.

Next year she will most likely be gone the entire summer exploring her dreams and as sad as I will be, I will always be her mother.

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Into The Jungle…


Most days for me right now are consumed with items going on in my personal life and very deep feelings about our country.  I thought I would address some of those concerns that I have regarding many of my thoughts as of late.  Consider this a mild rant and a way that I can remember how I felt right now and how I might feel a year from now.  If you keep reading and disagree with me, I would love to know your thoughts, but for the love of God (who I also have issues with) don’t turn me away.

1.  Political Views Should Not Affect A Friendship.

If they do, your friendship isn’t what you thought it was before the discussion.  There are people that will “yes” you to death when you input your views on religion, politics, county officials, city laws and education.   No matter what you think, someone will think otherwise and those who respect your views and respond with theirs, deserve the same.  For those that know me well, (yes I have said this before) I like to play the devils advocate on subjects that need a look at from both sides of an issue.  I am a woman who will not just listen to someone who is respected in the community or country and trust it, but instead, will read many views and research and make or state my own opinion, view or decision on a board or in a discussion.  Personal experience also plays a large role here. A large role. Presenting a view of a strategy, observance or a “like” on Facebook can certainly make you noticed, but I believe at the very least all sides should be looked at equally and respected. Even if you disagree.

2.  Teachers Should Teach At School and More

Several times this year, I have been informed by my children that teachers in both middle schools and even collegiate level institutions present their opinions to their students regarding education “reform” using such pressuring verbiage that made some younger children come home crying about a state test and others wanting to themselves be heard, but not allowed in class time.  Hmmmm.  At many different times this year I have also been told by said students that on both levels, teachers show up late to class, and use cellphones before lessons on a regular basis, even stopping classes to “check” a missed call or text.  Hmmmm.  How about our teachers and professors just teach.  There is a time and place for your opinions and personal life and its NOT in my child’s or college students classroom.  Save your agenda for teachers meetings.  Since when have we been allowed to refuse a test?  The start of this practice was a certain disaster in the making.  When did we start allowing the last six days of school to be kickball tournaments and game days? Do we really need to make changes to our schedules to send our students there for THAT?  Plan a school year calendar with actual work and tests that run through the whole year.  Knowing that we live in an area where there are already school closings for weather, I have a hard time digesting this calendar.

Another touchy subject, are we really that afraid of how our children will be seen from a state test, local test, reading competition or win/lose competitions?  I truly believe, and realized this is a serious problem just last night when I attended a local baseball game. We are doing a disservice to our children to let them “win” at everything when they are younger.  There were seven contests last night at said game and in each one, the participant who “won” really lost.  They either cheated, didn’t get the right answer, the correct flip of the large coin or finished a task NOT in the time that should have to win. What are we telling our children?  By the way, some were even adults, who won for the sake of entertainment.  Unbelievable.  We all get trophies.  We all get medals. We are all the greatest.  We don’t want to see their flaws, the teachers flaws, the education systems flaws or our own parenting flaws.

Our children will SUCK at things during their life.  If we don’t expose them to loss, disappointment and not being the best, we are damaging them for later lessons in life.  Just today my son asked me why he had to have money taken out of his paycheck to pay for federal programs that might not be there in the future.  I told him that because if you don’t, you can guarantee they wont be there when you need them.  I also told him to research the status of many who don’t contribute to the programs, but use the system to their financial, medical and personal gain and write to his congress and elect someone who he “believes” will help fix the problem.  The fact that he is almost 22 and doesn’t already realize this, is a failure on  my part.

By the way, ADMIT when your wrong.  Take responsibility when you make a bad decision or a complete jack ass out of yourself.  It goes a long way to respect.

If you are an administrator, teacher or anyone who is on a board of your school district, please see this aggressive statement:  Rules mean Rules.  For everyone.  No short shorts means no short shorts for EVERYONE.  IF you cannot enforce a rule, get it out of the rule book.  Do you know how many pictures I have of girls wearing inappropriate clothing to school just from this year?  They bend over and you can see their thong or cheeks?  Walk the walk or stop “talking” about it in a rule book.  One rule out of a hundred.

If you are a non-profit institution, everyone should receive the same treatment.  Collusion to exclude members, recipients of services, or vague communication to a joined member or grantee is just inexcusable.  ADMIT your mistakes, take care of the problem and frankly get your shit together.  If you do not address a problem that has been submitted to your institution other than mere words of objection, and you do not fix the problem, guess what you are still doing the wrong thing.  Make it right. For the public to see.  Do not charge one member or person, and give a free pass to another.  Treat your sponsors the same, no matter the dollar or service they donate.  Friends and NFP’s can work together. I have seen it happen.

Case and Point:  Ask me anytime to provide you documentation on my NP, The Forever Jordan Foundation, you got it.  If you had a problem, it went to the Board and got resolved.  If we didn’t know the answer to a question by a supporter, we admitted it and found the answer. If you are stressed, leave the room and treat your staff with respect. Finally, if you are growing and need extra help, find it.  If you cannot run it without all of the above, close it. I did, regretfully and I let my Board and volunteers know it.  Do the right thing.

3.     POTUS and SCOTUS (read on at your discretion…I get opinionated here)

Both have been making some choices that are changing our country, which I agree and disagree with and will change and define our country in many ways.  If you are reading this, Mr. President and Judges, please stop making one or two decisions a year.  Please create and pass legislation that helps the citizens of the United States such as NOT allowing medical services for illegal immigrants forcing the burden on those that are legal, paying taxes and monthly health insurance premiums.  Help each one of us by providing meaningful legislation to help our hungry and homeless.  Stop the red tape for those who need grants and loans to fix their homes from natural destruction from years ago.  Stop sending billions of aid to other countries who never would do the same for The United States.  Just stop.  And please don’t tell me, its just not that simple.  Yes it is.

and…

If you didn’t vote, please just sit down now and shut up because when my mother in-law was traveling to another country and fell ill, her husband had to put up $10,000 in CASH in order to receive treatment.  If my family couldn’t, she would not be helped.  Why? Because they smartly realize that her illness multiplied by possible hundreds of thousands would help cripple their economy.   A woman on board a ship in a foreign country, and yet another visiting Germany gave birth to their child early.  That’s right, no citizenship for the baby just because they were physically born there.  Kudos to them.  America should follow.  I agree that we are a melting pot of people.  I also believe that if you are here illegally, you are NOT an ingredient in our soup.  Do the right thing or go home.  No excuses.  I know we have better life possibilities here and your country is probably not treating you very well. However, we, The United States of America and its citizens and programs are being financially devastated by undocumented citizens receiving aid here.  Please, if you come here, do it the correct way.

4.     THE MEDIA

What a shame how the left wing and the right wing and the middle feathers and spines of our culture purposefully mislead and over embellish story lines to help their agendas and ratings.  Free speech will come at a cost people.  Saying that, we all realize this or at the very least, we SHOULD.  So why do we tune in to such garbage?  Why do we post the garbage or talk about it?  Why cant we all just say no?  For a change.  TV today? This amazing creation that has become sad.  Family Feud Celebrity Feud has begun.  Do you all know that?  If you have seen it, it is made up of mostly explicit topics and words that should never be used in the 8 o’clock hour…..even the 9 o’clock hour.  Where is our dignity?  Where is any intelligent programming lately for families? Who is making the decisions to put this crap on air?  Why are we watching?  Why are we letting our children watch?

Where is a Sunday Disney movie, Wild Kingdom and shows at 8 o’clock that we can actually watch with our families that aren’t completely stupid (Dance Moms) or just non view-able (Zoey 101) where teens go to a private high school and drive Ferrari’s and have story lines that are just too ridiculous to sit through.  Even Animal Planet you have to screen first to make sure you aren’t going to be seeing abused animal shows that will give you nightmares, much less a child.

5.  Equality, Gun Control, Big Brother, Small Business, Large Business, Obamacare, The Bible, No Child Left Behind and how many more subjects….

Everyone in the world will interpret words in a law, book, writing, research and everything else printed or spoken and with that comes strong opinions regarding the same.  We have to agree that we all cant agree and the people who go to the polls and elect the officials that we “think” and I say that lightly, will represent what we believe we need for change are the people that will define where we go.  If only a small percentage of the people speak through our processes as failed as they are sometimes, only a small amount of work will get done.

Most importantly, if you post or speak a view to me, you need to back it up with responsible actions. Don’t post about a change that you will never do.  A position that you will rescind when it is convenient for you.  Why give a business a 5 star review, when you complain about the company and its practices to others in your friendship circle.  Do the right thing and give them a 3.5 and state why!  If the business only receives what they want to hear, there will be no change.  Stand up for what you believe, speak about it, write to the editor and have deep conversations with your friends.  Respect another persons view and yours at the same time.  We are all different.  Stand up for your support of something and why you have changed your view.

By all goodness out there, (I just couldn’t use God more than once)  stop YESSING your friends, co-workers, husbands, wives and children.  I will always thank Mr. Mitchell Kunik who during an interview to work for him told me explicitly, “Never ever Yes me.”  “If you don’t finish something that I need, say it’s not finished.  Tell me when you are overwhelmed.  Yes’ing me does not help me or my company.”  The best lesson I have ever learned.  I never yes’ed him.  I became his Office Manager and learned everything about business and strong support from a team of great bosses.  They came to New York for my wedding after I left their company to find happiness in my personal life.  All of the partners.  They never Yes’d me either.

Take criticism and give it RESPONSIBLY with empathy and sincerity.  Love your neighbor and realize that we all have limits and sometimes those limits are different with every person.  I may not text you the same day, return a call or even answer it for a day or so, but there is a reason.  It doesn’t mean I don’t love you, respect you or am not thinking of you. This is a reminder to all of my friends, near and far that I love you all immensely.  Right now and for the next many months, I have a full plate and cant respond every day to the new culture of immediate satisfaction.  I will do my best and I’m sure it will suck for awhile.  Please bear with me.

I do promise to never YES anyone.  To speak my mind clearly if I have something to say and to do it respectfully.  I also promise myself to try and be a better parent.  Encourage my child to say something if they see something.  Someone told my child last week that you should sometimes just remain quiet and watch from the sidelines if you see someone doing something wrong to someone else or property to protect your existing friendships, or instead be ready to lose friendships.  What?  How is that teaching our children to be strong individuals and strong women to boot.  There are mean girls, boys and people in general.  Stop giving them the power.  The ability to educate administrators about said people in school is up to us and our children.  We tell them to stop the bullies.  Well, do it! Please do not tell them to step aside. Mean what you say and walk the walk.  Don’t penalize your child for standing up for a victim, possible victim or themselves of another student.   I will continue to teach my youngest how to lose with grace, which needs working on and teach my oldest the rules of the world more than I have in the past.  I will become more active in my community to my ability and will continue to vote for change I believe needs to happen.  I encourage everyone to do the same.

PS:  Do you know the state of affairs with our jail system?  How many jails we currently have for violent offenders?  How many states would our offenders fit into right now?

I bet you don’t.  But you will tell me how many grammar mistakes I made in this piece.

Note:  I am a Republican, vote for who I think is best regardless of my card choice and I make mistakes.  Lots of them.  I do my very best to admit them.  I will try to be a better person and I expect no less from my family.  I will have my ear on the train track of life and not just ride on the train.  That’s just not my style.

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Looking Outward


There are many times in our lives that we look inward to find direction.  Some days are hopeless, with no answers and others are filled with promise.  Right now I’ve decided to look Outward.  Draw a path.  I don’t mean plot your direction in life, but just look into the inner you for what you need to be happy in the future on the outside.   Have I confused you yet?

Did you know that you project outwardly how you feel inside?  Remember that.  If you go through days where you are increasingly unhappy, hurt or lost, you will come across to others as pensive, quiet and not quite right, especially to those who know you well.  You may pull away from daily activities and even fall so far as to depress yourself.

I have realized recently that I need at least an hour of “me” time a day where its quiet and I can not associate myself with anything around me.  My “me” time could be anything from exercise, reading, napping or even writing.  Without distraction.  If I don’t get that time to myself, I can feel regress and mental fatigue.  So for now, my goal to outward direction is to concentrate on my “me” time.

My outward bound health needs this time to decompress, not regress or depress.  Have I mentioned Ingress?  Mental strategy and timing while “gaming” can also be a part of your self-initiated alone time.  Take more baths.  Lock the bedroom door, lay on the floor and just breathe.  Grab a handful of books and mindfully read them.  Sing.  Sing like you have never done before.

Find a Zen that will help you look outward to your future consisting of a happy and healthier life.  Grab a wet and freshly washed load of laundry and hang it on the clothesline.  Snap the sheets and pillow cases and spray a linen scent on them.  The next time you change your sheets, you will thank me.  There is nothing more relaxing than a new crispy sheet with lavender scent abounding.

There is a need of freedom in your mind.  A moment each day where you aren’t thinking about anything else.  About anything at all.   I will own my personal time and let everyone around me know that they too should take advantage of themselves and grab a moment in time for them.  Heal thy self.  Look inward and move outward.

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The Ride


Sometimes it’s just fun to embarrass your children. Today was one of those days and I was lucky enough to do it twice to two out of three of my kids.

On the ride home from a movie, Darien sat in the back seat with a long time friend and put on a song. I decided to begin what was going to be a fabulous  30 minute drive.  We were early to return her friend, so we decided to grab some icecream and stop to get gas. I spontaneously started to cabbage patch.  Darien protested loudly and I kept up my 80’s groove to All About That Bass. Apparently this was not cool even though her friend was giggling like crazy. Darien was mortified.

While we jumped from song to song, I reveled in my historic moves, pausing only momentarily to bomb some “enlightenment portals”.  The husband was showing the girls our zero to empty gas mileage and how they would have to push the car the rest of the way home. They laughed. We laughed harder and the next groove began to play and the embarrassment continued.

After stopping at a few more portals (you don’t play Ingress??) and waving to said awesome friend at drop off, Darien proclaimed that her friend was now afraid of us. We won, slapped on a high five to each other and finally went home. Her friend thought we were awesome. Continue reading

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Lucias


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Lucias: “I just have a good feeling about this one.” His eyes forced shut by the sand caught up in the last swirl of wind coming off the ocean. His tan was as deep as the holes in the side of his face. A voice drifted closer and Lucias cowered.

“But Lucias my son, why should I trust you?”

Lucias: “She would do anything to save her son. Anything.” Not far from their place on the sand sat a slight of a woman sobbing. Holding her newborn baby, she cried silently.”

“This is your last chance Lucias.” stated the voice in the wind. “If you do not succeed, you will also meet your death and visit the rest of your family in hell.”

Lucias could not think. The voice hears everything, spoken or unspoken. He raised his head to see the woman lifting the small child to her breast, concentrating on his own childhood. He could not fail. He had seven days.

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