Teens Cyber Bullying…(sigh)

The week before last, I was dealing with my teen daughter being bullied by a classmate that thought it was ok to tell her she was a “negative zero” on a scale of one to ten, then went on to tell her to kill herself when my daughter inquired as to why she’d said that about her.  While I can understand that this classmate is only a child, I have a hard time understanding that she is permitted to use the foul language and be such a bully to my child and others.  Her behavior is toxic to those around her and she is a virus spreading negativity and passing it along to other people making them fear her wrath if they oppose her.

The teen years are hard for most everyone no matter the social class or ethnicity.  They are different levels of difficult, but teens start having new and different feelings that make them feel it much stronger than we do as we get older and more accustomed to deal with these emotions.

I reported this girl to the social network, Facebook, for “encouraging self harm,” which against their terms.  Facebook returned my concern stating that none of their terms were violated and they would do nothing to remove the post.  After I printed the post to a PDF file and saved it, my daughter deleted it herself.  I decided to hang on to it in case she made another attempt to contact my daughter for the purpose of harassing her.

Yesterday, my daughter told me her friend was being picked on the same way as she had been.  I went into Facebook and there it was.  The same girl, we’ll call her Phoebe, was picking on my daughter’s friend, we’ll call her Ally.  I couldn’t see what she had said to Ally, but a new post was on Phoebe’s page with many comments against Ally.  Ally’s mom intervened and asked them to stop.  The kids respectfully apologized and quit.  Just kidding.  The little jerks started in on Ally’s mom telling her to “butt out” and “act grown”.  They started name calling and addressing Ally’s mom in the most inappropriate ways.

I sent a private message to Ally’s mom and asked her if we could talk.  She was polite, kind, and wanted to find a way to resolve the issues with Phoebe as well.  She said she’d already talked to the school about the issues with this girl and one other that has been harassing my daughter, Ally, and another girl in that social circle.  The school doesn’t appear to have spoken to the girl or her parents about this problem.

I still plan to take the issue with my daughter to the school.  I plan to stay on the administrators and ask whether they’ve contacted the girls parents.  I want the school to take the issue of bullying more seriously.  It seems like this is a much bigger problem at her school than some others and that the kids are especially eager to threaten physical violence.  This is unacceptable.  I’ve been doing some research on http://www.meganmeierfoundation.org/   about cyber bullying and it is unsettling.

Are parents really doing enough to prevent their kids from being a cyber bully or being the victim of it?  Will people please watch what their kids do and say online and take personal responsibility for helping them make good choices when it comes to the internet?  I have a contract with my daughter about internet use.  She is to disclose her username on all accounts and give me access as requested.  It also outlines responsibility to avoid hate speech, profanity, and other things that may hurt her online persona.  While I don’t read everything she does every day, she knows I’m instilling good habits and won’t always be lurking in the shadows.

Please, when thinking about letting your kid get online, remember that they need guidance.  This is a scary place where people aren’t usually what they seem to be.  People are less likely to use discretion with their words because they can  hide behind a keyboard, blame a hacker, and/or they don’t think anybody is watching.

If you’re a teen and someone is saying terrible things about you or to you, please tell someone you trust.  It can be your parents, another relative, a teacher, school counselor, or even a friend’s parent.  They care more than you think.  You aren’t alone.  You aren’t the words they’re trying to hurt you with.  There are more people who love you than that small group of people who are being nasty.

If you’re a witness to bullying, report it.

This is a very real problem.  It isn’t just a hot button topic that just came along.  Bullying is worse now than it was before because it is much harder to escape than before the digital age.  Now the bullies are at school, on the phone, and the computer.  They don’t go away.

Formerly a St. Louisan

If someone asks or it pertains to the conversation, I tell them I’m from Saint Louis, Missouri.  The city is surrounded by a county that bears the same name with so many different municipalities, it’s hard to keep track of which city you’re in as you drive on a major road or highway.

I moved to Bloomington, Illinois from about 30 miles outside of Saint Louis in a neighboring county (St. Charles) that is still included in the description of the “St. Louis Metropolitan Area”.   I grew up in Overland, which isn’t even part of the descriptions people give about St. Louis County.

People tend to define the areas of the county into compass directions, so you can be from North, South, or West County and the people near St. Louis in IL are on the “East Side”.  That doesn’t cover all of the areas, but includes the most common.  Overland, along with the neighboring cities of St. Ann, St. John, and Breckenridge Hills,  is defined by its residents as “North County.  People who live north of Lambert International Airport will tell you that they are truly in North County and Overland is closer to being in West County.  Those who live in West County, west of I-270 and South of Page Avenue will tell you that Overland is definitely not part of West County.  This is because West County is believed to be a more upscale area of the county and North County is considered to be a lower to lower middle class area.  This is especially true for the parts where North County joins the City of St. Louis.  There are people who define themselves as being in West County when by a map, they live in South County.  The people in South County don’t seem to be hip on being defined as St. Louisans from the ones that I’ve met.  A native St. Louis resident may ask another St. Louisan where they went to high school to gauge their social class and/or where they grew up.

There is no real map or solid geographical way to define any of these areas.  The residents will argue specific landmarks or roads are the unofficial dividers, which would leave some people who live in the same city living in different directional definitions of the county.  The city of Berkeley, for example, is on both sides of I-170 and both sides of Lambert Airport.  The city of Chesterfield is pretty far south on the map, but also borders the Missouri River, which is geographically the western border of the county.

Two years ago, I moved to Bloomington, Illinois.  I’m about halfway between St. Louis and Chicago.  These two midwest cities are rivals in most cases.  I am a fan of the St. Louis Blues hockey team, who is the rival team of the Chicago Blackhawks.  The Blues have not yet won a Stanley Cup (since their formation in 1967) and the Blackhawks are the current champions.  I’m a fan of the St. Louis Cardinals, who enjoy picking on the cursed Chicago Cubs for going more than 100 years without a World Series Championship win.  I’m not a fan of the St. Louis football team.  Mostly because when I was a kid, the team was the Cardinals, who were moved to Arizona.  The Rams weren’t a thing until after I was a Kansas City Chiefs fan.  So while I will root for the Rams against other teams, my heart is with KC (and Joe Montana).

Since I live at the midway point off of I-55, the division of the fans for hockey and baseball are about even.  The strangest thing is going to a restaurant or bar and seeing all of the Chicago sports team items hanging with the Cardinals baseball stuff.  I’m mostly a hockey fan and there is very little Blues hockey decor on the walls.  Perhaps a Stanley Cup would make some Blues items begin to decorate the walls of some places.

I call Bloomington my home now.  I’m not even sure how to describe what part of town I live in.  I know that west Bloomington is not a very safe place to reside and that isn’t where I live.  Other than that, I have no way of describing where I live without giving locals my exact street or subdivision.  I tolerate my neighbors being fans of Chicago without giving them too much grief.  You can’t fault me for cheering for the teams I grew up loving, even if I had moved more than a couple hours from where I grew up.

Side note:  The Blues name is not after a color.  If you look at the team logo, you’ll see a musical note.  This is a Bluenote.  Now you know.

Thanks for reading this post.  I’m going to try to keep it up once a week at the least.  If the mood strikes me, I might do a bonus once in awhile.  If you like my posts, please feel free to share and link back to my blog.


Shopping with Pre Schoolers

I took my two youngest kids shopping today.  Since I ordered a movie to be shipped to the store and my grocery list has been growing, I decided I should make the trip.  I considered waiting until my husband was home and leaving the kids with him, but I feel a little sorry for the kids being stuck indoors so much lately because of winter.

People who don’t have young children seem to have an issue with them being in public.  I admit, there are times and places where it is inappropriate to bring kids.  A department or grocery store is not one of those places.

My son, Conor, is 3.  He is impatient and sensitive.  So, if he does something wrong and gets reprimanded, he screams and cries as if I’ve taken his favorite toy and melted it right in front of him.  I cannot predict when he’ll behave this way or what will set him off.

He and my youngest daughter, Sydney, were riding in one of the carts that will accommodate 2 children side by side on the front.  She was buckled in and he was not.  He decided to sit in front of where Sydney’s feet were dangling.  She saw this as an opportunity to emphatically kick her feet, occasionally making contact with Conor.  This made him scream.  I picked him up and placed him in the seat and I told him that if he didn’t sit at her feet, she couldn’t kick him.  He declined to heed my advice and plopped back down at her feet.  The kicking continued.  After trying to reason with the nearly two-year old Sydney, I again placed Conor into the seat beside her.  Conor did not want to sit there and he made sure his protest was loud and tearful as he melted from the seat back to the bottom of the cart.  As I went to scoop him up, I met the eyes of a disapproving older woman.  I tried to muster a reassuring smile, but I wanted to ask her why she had to look at me that way.  I got a few more stares as I traversed the aisles needed to check all of the items off of my list.

I found a check lane and I waited with the kids, while they begged for crackers, cookies, and candy lining the nearby shelves.  The woman with the disapproving look pulled her cart next to mine to use a nearby lane and started talking to the kids.  She told them that she had seen them earlier and that they were behaving so well.  I added “now,” then I thanked her.  She offered to let me go to the shorter line she was about to enter and I declined.  I made small talk with her and I think I may have previously read her wrong .  As she was talking to me, I noticed a woman start to come to the check lane the older woman was going to use, then decide to instead take advantage and pull in front of her while she wasn’t looking.  What a sweet human.

Eventually, I made it to the clerk.  She was probably around 60, no makeup, with long greasy salt and pepper colored hair.  She was sure to audibly mumble “great, now I don’t get a break today.”  I replied to her, “I’m sorry to hear that.”  I handed her my reusable bags and went back to wrangling the kids.

When it was all said and done, I pulled the cart away from the regular traffic.  I unbagged and reorganized my groceries the way I wanted them and put Sydney’s coat on her.  Conor ran from me and went to the driving video game, but I finally talked him into coming back to me.  I got both of them into their coats and started to head out the door.  Before making it fully out the door, the alarms went off.  I backed through the sensors again (mainly to prove I wasn’t stealing anything) only to hear the lovely alarm sounding once more.  A door greeter approached, so I pulled the movie I picked up from my online order and handed it to her saying “It was probably this.”  Even though it was in an envelope, she asked if I had a receipt.  I showed her the receipt and she replied “I don’t even know what this is.”  I watched as she unfolded it, then seemed satisfied with my explanation and told me to have a nice day.

This is pretty much at least twice a month in my life.  Kids testing me, strangers judging me, me trying to figure out people, and feeling like I had to access the most primal of survival skills to complete something commonplace.

Oh, you’re still here.  Thanks!


What am I doing here?

I’m glad you kept reading even after my cheesy title line.  Thank you!

In case you missed my info, I am a 33 year old mother of 3 kids.  My daily struggles involve trying to be a good wife and mom, getting fit and healthy, while also keeping order and cleanliness in my house.  Some days, I wouldn’t have it any other way.  Other days, I just want to run away from home or retreat to my bed and stay there.  Those other days become more frequent when my depression resurfaces.  I proceed forward even when I don’t feel like it.

I’m not a perfect example of motherhood, marriage,  fitness, or organization.  I’m not open to criticism about who I am or how I spend my time.  That is mainly because I’ve found that there is nobody who is going to be an expert on what someone else should do in his or her own life.  Additionally, most people who are critical have a shortcoming he or she is compensating for by pointing out mine.   What I am is a person who makes mistakes, says things I don’t mean when I’m angry, is sometimes too lazy to take control of situations, and is completely uncomfortable in social settings.  I go back and forth on decisions and what kind of person I want to be.

What I am is a stay at home mom with a 13 year old, a 3.5 year old, and an almost 2 year old.   I love my husband, who I have been with since 2005 and married to since 2009.

I am not a social person, but I will talk to anyone if they talk to me first.  There is a sign on my forehead that tells strangers to open up to me about things most people wouldn’t share.  I will fully listen to these stories and respond with genuine empathy.  I don’t like to lie and I don’t lie (even by omission) to my husband.  I’m sure he would occasionally prefer I would omit things from our dialogue.  I like to laugh, read, and write.  I’m banned from internet self diagnosis.  I fix my laptop with new parts instead of replacing it.  I’ll come up with more stuff…just wait.

So, here I am, at the end of writing the first entry on my blog.  You read this far, so why not stick around and read the next one?  We can hope I’ll get better at this.