Monday, August 8, 2016

Personal Space Training Time

I have been trying to teach the kids about personal space, which is tricky, of course, since they want to share so much of their space in the first place.  I don't mean personal body space, but more the areas of one's property... I think that is the right word.  We probably didn't help ourselves any by having them shower or bathe in our Master bath for years.  And now, they pretty much share a bedroom.  But it is becoming time, and I have come up with 3 scenarios in which I need to get cracking.
1. An en suite bath is private unless it is in the bedroom where you are sleeping.  We don't want them to grow up and become people who think it is acceptable to enter another person's home or space and just decide they should use the Master bath instead of a guest bathroom.  Can you imagine doing that?  Just walking in to a friend's house and instead of going down the hall to a bathroom, strolling into the Master bath uninvited to do your business?  LOL  Guest and hall baths were built for a reason, just as a Master bath is internal to a Master bedroom for a reason - PRIVACY.

2.  A shut door (or drawer, medicine cabinet, etc) means keep out.  Of course, you can knock, and see if admittance is allowed, but otherwise, consider it a big - fat - NO.  We definitely need to work on this one!  The only time the kids knock is if the door is locked.  It isn't like anything funny is going on behind the closed door, but perhaps knowing a shut door means not without permission is in order.  Right?  Again, I don't want them strolling through a friend's house and just opening any door they please.  I don't know what is going on behind that door (insert horror face here), and in my own home perhaps it will ruin some surprise.

3. Helping out does not mean changing someone's space.  Sometimes as a guest, you are asked or perhaps you volunteer to help with say - putting away the dishes or laundry.  Maybe I am being silly, but I have rules about this as it is ones personal space I will be getting into to "help".  To me, it is the guest's responsibility to ask where things should be placed if no other direction is provided.  You can't simply rearrange things to your liking or in a way you think things fit better.  Chances are likely that they have it set up a certain way for a reason.  It might be simply that they like it that way, and guess what, you don't get to say they don't.  If you don't know, ask or leave it for them to do.

I am sure there are many more, but I have to start somewhere so that my kids grow into adults respectful of other peoples' personal spaces.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Social Media Politics

Today is a very scary place.  A man that has bankrupted numerous companies, and pretty much denounced every minority has been given the Republican nomination for the upcoming Presidential Election.  I am sad to say that I know lots of intelligent people that are planning to vote for him as well.  He uses the catch phrase - Make America Great Again.  And to borrow my cousin's statement from the social media site, Facebook... 

"Maybe it's just me, but I never really thought America WASN'T great. Not bad enough that we need an evil cartoon character to fix it, anyway"

I have to agree whole-heartedly, but I say very little on Facebook.  Throughout my life, I have been friends with lots of people that have varying political views than myself, and I made a point that it not interfere with our friendship.  I don't have to agree with everything a friend thinks to be friends.  I am smart enough to make my decisions, and I respect that my friends are also.  They aren't going to change my mind, and I can't change theirs.  

For some reason though, everyone thinks that if they post that ONE thing on FB, it might sway someone another direction.  I think all it really does is enforce one's views.  I rarely look at a pro-Trump statement and think "YES!  They are right!  Why didn't I think of that?"  Although, I admit I will look at questioning Clinton statements and verify their "truths".

At this very moment, I can definitively say that I can't and will never vote for Trump.  But I am still gathering intelligence on the other side, and as of yet, they haven't OFFICIALLY announced their candidate.

For those that choose to read this today, why am I definitively not voting for Trump?  Well, there are so so many reasons, I have a hard time of choosing the most important, but let's start here:

Flip-flopping.  In the day and age of digital media, it is very simple to go and read a person's statements from let's say 1990 to 2016.  And if it was in print before that, chances are that it has been digitally reproduced by now.  Google and use reputable sources, articles, interviews.  Just pick a topic.  Trump changes his tune according to his audience.  Since it is near and dear to my heart, I will start with Coal Mining

As quoted in a 1990 interview in Playboy, Trump was asked:

What satisfaction, exactly, do you get out of doing a deal?
I love the creative process. I do what I do out of pure enjoyment. Hopefully, nobody does it better. There's a beauty to making a great deal. It's my canvas. And I like painting it.

I like the challenge and tell the story of the coal miner’s son. The coal miner gets black-lung disease, his son gets it, then his son . If I had been the son of a coal miner, I would have left the damn mines. But most people don’t have the imagination–or whatever–to leave their mine. They don’t have “it."

Or maybe just maybe they don't have a silver spoon shoved up their... Well, as a great granddaughter, a granddaughter and a daughter of a coal miner, as well as a short stint as an engineer in the mines, I am here because my ancestors chose to stay in those mines and doing just fine for it. What "it" do they not have? The willingness to provide for their families, hard work ethic, toughness? Yes, I can see where a coal miner is the perfect example of a person who he is "better" than. Can't you? Or I am reading this incorrectly? He is not trying to say he is better than a coal miner because he has chosen business?

Flash forward to May 2016 after Trump won the GOP Primary in Indiana: 

… And West Virginia. And we’re going to get those miners back to work. I’ll tell you what. We’re going to get those miners back to work … 

So now, we will get those guys back out there to get black lung.  Awesome.  Can anyone else see that he is saying this simply to get the votes of these working class people, but he has no real plan?!  They aren't out of work because of the government, but more likely for a couple of other reasons.  One, they are tapped out of coal that is clean enough to mine, let alone use.  And two, there are cheaper or cleaner forms of energy available with less damage to the earth.  

Of course, I understand there is a contingency that doesn't care about the cleaner coal, but maybe they don't have an 8 year old and 5 year old that have to live with the air for much longer than the 20-30 years that Trump voters I know have left.  Oh, and the sometimes cheaper or sometimes cleaner energy available has allowed my family to be viable for the last 10 years.  Yes, renewable energy (GASP).  I love that my ancestors worked in the mines and am a proud West Virginia native, but would I want my kids or my husband to have to work in conditions that my dad or grandparents did to support us?  Not if there was a better option for everyone including the earth.  I can't be certain, but I would bet my mom isn't sad my dad is retired from underground mining.  It can be dangerous in many more ways than damage to one's lungs.  PS: None of my family succumbed to black lung.  

The second reason I won't be voting for Trump is simple - HATE.

WOW, I have not heard so much hate spewed/instigated all over the place, as during this election year.  I blame the media outlets who choose snippets of things to share without context.  But let's be real, the candidate himself is literally spitting it out himself.

Borrowing again from a response to my cousin's FB post.  Tell me when was America great... The timeframe they point out should be telling to one's values.  If someone says the 50's - do they mean we were great when homosexuality was illegal, segregation was alive and where women were only supposed to cook clean and have babies?

Think about how many people that discludes from the population of America!  I am not willing to go back to a time of hate.  When all those various factions have to fight for their right to be considered someone, let alone all those that aren't mentioned in that statement because immigrants weren't a consideration then.  Why is it that this reality TV "star" is allowed to set up divides within America?

How about this?  Let's just let America be one again.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Easter Bunny Fail

So disappointed this morning.  After searching for all the perfect Easter basket items, coming up with the clues, and leaving a note for the oldest who reads - "Come get us at 7am, and we will start the hunt.  Don't look without us!"  They arrived in our room at 7 on the nose with a proclamation from the 4 year old, "We had jelly beans in our room and found our baskets.  They were in my room!"

What do you say to that?  Well, thanks, you just ruined Easter?  That is sort of how I feel.  I know it is ridiculous, after all, I chose the 4 year old's bottom bunk for the hiding spot - completely hidden mind you, but still...  I knew she was the wild card, gambled and lost.

Now how do you go back to the exciting whirlwind basket hunt when they have already inspected every inch of their baskets.  I suppose they will still be excited for what's in them, but I hate that I totally missed seeing the joy for what they got.

I seriously don't know how to recapture the morning. :(

Monday, February 22, 2016

Winter Break

In the Northeast, they do this crazy thing called "winter break" in February.  I get the concept that people want to escape the winter, but the reality is it has created an expensive time to travel to warmer climates.  Have you ever looked at the flight costs or hotel prices in, let's say, Florida for the week of Presidents' Day?  Trust me, it is appalling.  So your alternative is driving, but hope there is no snow south of New Jersey because if there is, you may never reach your destination.  Having lived in the south for nearly 10 years, I say with love and affection that they have no concept of dealing with the snow.  Heaven forbid there be ice!

Of course, the final problem is that if you stay in town, EVERY place that is child friendly - museums, play places, etc - are P-A-C-K-E-D.  Knowing that staying home every single day with my children for the week may wind up with me in a nuthouse or drinking to excess, I typically opt to taking a trip with them.  With the strange snow storms that have been blowing about, and yet somehow missing upstate New York, I was limited on my options.  Then the hubby threw me a curveball with being off on Monday for President's Day.  I felt kind of bad taking off before Tuesday since he would be home and could spend it with us.

I would have really liked to head to WV, but with the weather and the limited time, 16 hours roundtrip seemed a little too much to take.  That limited me to the northeast preferably within 3-4 hours drive.  We have been to NYC, and lately they have been getting the snow... too tricky.  We have family in Boston, so been there, and they have also gotten heavy doses of snow.  We did Rochester in the fall, so the last major metropolis yet to hit in that range was Montreal, Canada.

In typical Susan fashion, I over-researched, over studied and finally just booked a place on a whim.  Le Square Phillips was a great choice and I would totally return there.  It is an old warehouse building that has been transformed into a hotel with suites.  For starters, when we arrived, they wheeled out a wagon full of toys and let each kid pick one item to keep.  Shocking as it might be, the Mini-Me chose a stuffed animal LOL.  And of course, the K-man is into collector cards, he chose hockey cards.  I didn't even know they did this, so it was a welcome surprise.

Surprise number 2 was that the room was actually the size it said it was, around ~700 square feet!  Seriously, I am certain my first apartment in Monroeville, PA was less than that.  We had a full kitchen, dining area, living room, separate bedroom, and the bath that was thankfully NOT off the bedroom.  It was perfectly designed for a family.  They have 2 BR units too, but we didn't see them.  I know that they were over 200+ square feet bigger though.  Because I knew we would have a kitchen, I was able to take lunch stuff and dinner for the kids.  That way, I wouldn't be dragging them from the indoor rooftop pool to get ready for dinner.  We indulged instead on the sights and souvenirs.

It really ended up being a nice trip despite the white-knuckle drive to get there.  (I forgot to mention that a snowstorm hit later than expected just in time for our arrival).  We walked all over the city, spent hours at the Montreal Science Center, enjoyed the Biodome and then the butterflies at the Botanical Gardens.  I am sure that the summer provides lots more fun, with waterfront activities, but for this trip, we had just the right amount of fun.  And this mom didn't lose her mind with 2 cooped up kids at the house.  Now they just say "Le" in front of all the words LOL.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Can a Child be Bullied by an Adult?

It has been quite some time since I have written, but now I feel a purpose again - to protect my children.

Everyone likes to throw the word "bully" around these days.  No one simply gets teased these days, they are "bullied".  Kids don't get to be kids anymore.  They can't horse around because if someone gets hurt, we have to have a place to place the blame.  It is unfortunate.  Instead of saying to 2 kids, "Well, that's what happens when you horse around", parents are asking "who did this?!"

I guess I have always thought of bullying as a malicious act, not a simple "John is a dodo head" comment.  Yes, I am dating myself with that, but trying to keep it clean.  Bullying is when someone physically or mentally tries to hurt you physically or mentally - at least in my mind.  This is the actual definition: use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.  I would assume most of us think of bullying between people of the same age - peers.

So I am asking the masses... What happens when an adult repeatedly uses their influence or strength to affect a child, who is not their own?  Is that not also bullying?  What am I referring to?  Let's use an example.  Billy and Sally*** are not friends, but they are in the same grade and their parents sort of are friendly.  Sally reports everything Billy does to her mother.  We are uncertain whether Sally is prompted to do so, or shares her knowledge willingly.  How do we know it is reported then?  Because Billy's mom started getting phone calls about Billy's behavior from Sally's mom - because wouldn't she want to know?  At first, yes, it seemed harmless and a way to keep tabs on Billy.  But then Billy's mom recognized that she was starting to question Billy's answers.  Was he telling her the truth or was Sally's mom, who had gotten the story from Sally?  She was disciplining her own kid based on the validity of knowledge from another (at that time) 6 year old.  Something didn't feel right.  As her husband always said, the 6 or 7 year old isn't always the most credible witness.  She didn't want to have this knowledge anymore because it was making her relationship with her son strained.  Contact with Sally's mom stopped.

That's where it ends right?  Mom tells Billy, stay away from Sally.  She is not a friend.  Any time you are around her, what happens?  Billy acknowledges that he ends up in trouble.  So Billy keeps his distance.  Mom keeps her distance, and the world continues to turn with a little more tension.

Flash forward a year, yep, a whole year.  Billy's family has cut off contact with Sally's family all together.  They move on, develop other healthier friendships with more likeminded parents.  Billy's mom rests easy again.  Until one day, she asks how things are on the bus.  Billy then shares that he happened to be in trouble from the bus and sitting in the front.  The thought, "Here we go again" comes to mind, but luckily she stays calm.  She contacts the school to see what the infraction was exactly.  Billy tells Mom it was horseplay between he and his seat mate (punching each other in the nuts, I believe was the term.  Why do boys do that?), but she still want the download from school, and to contact the other parent to apologize.  Ironically, when she contacts that parent, they have no knowledge of it.  So, Mom is confused.  Billy said that the school administration said "an angry mom" called.  Who else would have called to tell about 2 boys horse playing in their own seat?

Lightbulbs go off!  Did the seat mate also get in trouble too?  No.  Did he even get talked to?  No.  Lights are now FLASHING, along with the anger.  So "an angry mom called" to say that Billy had been horse playing on the bus and discipline was meted out against him without mom's knowledge and based on the word of another child who was NOT involved in the situation. Huh?!  Mom has to visit the school, meet with administration, finds out she is right.  While Sally's mom is never mentioned by name.  It is clear that Sally's mom was in play through easy deduction.

So here is where I become UNCLEAN, and take it personal because well, I am Billy's mom in this story.  What the FUCK is wrong with this woman?!  Who does that?  Who goes to such lengths to control another child's behavior that she is contacting the school and demanding action?!  It didn't even involve precious Sally.

School should be a peaceful, safe place for public students to be educated, and for their parents to feel confident in that education.  (Kudos to a sweet friend for that verbiage).  I shouldn't have to be on eggshells daily wondering whether a school is going to label my child as a bad seed because Sally's mom feels the need to call the school daily with her latest report!  How can I fight back though?  What can I do to stop the hypersensitive busy body from making these calls?  Sadly, pretty much nothing.

So right now, I write and I wait, until the next event, and the next... Because with Sally's mom, there is always a next.  Oh, and I will also document every move that is made.  I will make sure I am rock solid should it come to the point of filing a case against an adult for defamation of a CHILD.  Let's hope it doesn't get to that, or one of us moves.

***Names were changed because I am not like Sally's mom, who uses my son's name in a derogatory manner every chance she gets.  She is a mean person and is raising a mean girl.  I refuse to do that.  But I unfortunately have to teach my child at a much too early age that there are bad people out there, even at age 7.