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A Fresh Start – my ‘parent perspective’ on bullying

October 22, 2015 - Author: Ordinary Girl
Always painting outside the lines & making beautiful things.

Always painting outside the lines & making beautiful things.

This is my tornado. Her name is Alexandria, and this is her story. She has been the target of bullies for the last several years.

She is 12 now but this has been going on since she was very young. She is 4’8″ and weighs 70lbs soaking wet if she is lucky. You would think, me being a pretty intelligent, empathetic, self-aware person and all that jazz, I’d have seen the signs sooner. Not to mention I was bullied myself. But I still missed it……trust me my friends, you are NOT alone in that guilt.

Middle School was a nightmare for me. I had just moved to the east coast at her exact age, I had a Southern accent from living in Kentucky for the past few years or so and I was definitely not the strong, confident girl I am today. Perhaps if I had been, things would have turned out differently for me there. I won’t bore you with the details, they were bad – but I made it through and when I went to HS, everything was different. It’s the age I swear…..

From the second I knew she was on her way into this world, my little girl has always marched to the beat of her own drum. She lives life out loud in the raw format version, where her older brother is very laid back and mellow. Parenting a child like her has been a challenge and we have learned as much about the world & ourselves from her, as she has from us. I can only hope like hell she keeps that clear strength and determination I see in her today. Nothing she says or does really shocks us, we know by now to expect the unexpected. She keeps us on our toes for sure! Neither of us are the parent going to school saying “my little angel couldn’t have…” – it’s more like “oh dang, well sounds like her style” and we handle it accordingly.

But NO little girl should carry shame or embarrassment because other kids act like barbarians. It isn’t her fault either, that the adults in her life that should have protected her are too busy trying to protect their own rear ends and jobs. And it is certainly NOT her fault that kids laid hands on her period!

It started out with the little things that we all tend to brush off. ‘So and so called me <insert insult>’ or ‘they pushed me in line’. She would come home bristling to let me know what happened and how she handled it. Several times it ended in upset calls to the school or the Superintendent on my part. Most of my time and attention was spent discovering the truth behind the tale and making sure Tornado was not punished for protecting herself if that was the case and she was indeed the victim…..and it often was the case. Had it not been for us keeping eyes on her at all times, they might have successfully painted her as a “troublesome” child or worse, she might have taken her life like two kids in our school system already have this year. In fact, the longer the bullying went on….the more she morphed into a child who was difficult at best and flat ‘defiant’ at worst. Did I mention she has a very low BS tolerance and somehow got the idea that life was supposed to be fair to us each equally….

She has always struck me as blunt, forthright, strong and outspoken – imagine my surprise when I realized she wasn’t handling it all as well as I thought. Or the horror when the details started flooding out.

She was assaulted multiple times, sexually molested, verbally harassed/threatened by what turns out to be over 20 children at the end of this time/story; and a group of boys would make sexually harassing comments to her, one even exposed himself to her. Three of our schools on this side of the mountain knew what was going on, the whole history and over a dozen adults who work at the schools as teachers, administrators or in other capacities have been involved at some point in the last 3-5 years – but have failed to act time & time again.One of the bus drivers involved actually took my children from my home with no intention of delivering them to the school.

The things these kids are saying to her leave me speechless. I’ve never heard such words or phrases come from the lips of my kids – little boys who already tell my daughter they will touch her when they want. Who even says things like that, let alone thinks it is okay to say to another child?!? Rather than sit taking abuse, my daughter is the type to go off on a rant and tell them off and that screechy note in her voice is what triggers the irritation in others (nails on a chalkboard some days – trust me). That becomes white noise to the adults and other kids after a short period of time and then, like the little boy who cried wolf, no one listens to her anymore. Only they never really paid attention in the first place. My little girl was screaming silently for help for way too long. Grown adults charged and trusted with the task of educating and caring for our children looked me right in the face and paid lip service then turned around and told my daughter it was “a tattle”. They clucked about how terrible it was and promised us they would take care of it but nothing ever seem to come of it. We believed them. No one helped me or intervened for me, my own mother blew me off whenever I would try to ask for help back then, I foolishly thought simply being involved and advocating for her was enough. There was never any video – for various reasons and excuses thru the last few years, or no one saw/heard anything (but they would investigate) or perhaps they already labeled her in their minds and she was simply ignored.

Whatever the reasons were, we put our foot down this year and early! Girls are especially vulnerable at this age and it shapes the way they view themselves and respond to the world for the rest of their lives. We met at the school for ‘campus court’ about her absences and I watched three grown adults act like fools. They denied the school district has any problems with bullying though it has become the focal topic of this county recently. They told me the 17 days Tornado had missed to that point were worse than any of the abuse she suffered. I laughed right in the lady’s face and told her flat out “No it’s not!!” – she was very offended and got huffy after that. The middle school resource deputy chimes in that under his careful watch there were no bullying issues and was offended we insinuated children were not safe at the school – he personally makes sure all the doors are secure…… (like that helped my daughter in this case). We attempted to explain Tornado’s story and the troubles we have faced but we were never able to finish a sentence. Of course none of the four school officials had anything to say when I mentioned Jazmine and Patrick – the two beautiful souls this same “exemplary” system has failed this year alone. The officials paused and it became quiet. then in loud intimidating tones came then you go to REAL court – where the judge will put one or both of us in jail for truancy.We said “Fine, thank you”, confident that with three years of documentation, assessments, counselors, and witnesses, we would ultimately prove school officials were being negligent in their duties to protect our children. Suddenly we will file assault charges on your daughter too….how petty and vindictive is that? We aren’t scared into submission and suddenly charges appear but you still refuse to produce the video?

I would venture to say it didn’t go well and we wound up in J.V. court, less than a week later facing truancy charges and now they are attempting to charge Tornado with assault. We narrowly avoided jail when we scraped up enough money for an Attorney who specializes in children’s law. Thank the heavens he moved his schedule around and appeared with us that day or we might have a different tale to tell right now. The school system showed up in force against my daughter and we likely would have been railroaded as so many others have before us. You wouldn’t believe the stories we have heard. They produced a video this time – 7 mins of a roughly hour long ride and it cuts out before you see the child in question kicking Tornado and her friend. If what I saw was assault, then throw every kid ever born into jail right now. In fact her little friend leans over and pinches the same kid my girl popped and he grabs her arm and lunges at her several times. All of them were laughing, none of them were hurt and yet since my daughter is “on radar” she is the only one singled out and told her fooling around was wrong. Did I mention that this was audio/video – in violation of their Constitutional rights, without parental consent/knowledge or posted notification signs on the bus? Or that I cannot find who our Title IX Coordinator is or if we even have one? I know we don’t have the cyber/bullying policy in the handbooks/agendas yet and that passed in 2012.

I even offered to have her serve a bus suspension in one case if the other children involved served the same……the superintendent and vice principal declined. It left her trapped and then the bullies started slipping under the seats to get to her without the driver noticing or sent younger siblings/friends to do it thinking (accurately) who would believe younger kids were bullying an older child? As an extremely logical child, she finds it hard to grasp the ever fluxing “social rules” in her peer group right now. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter is no loner….she tried out for and made her school basketball cheer squad for the last two years.

She will always be my little cheer girl. <3

She will always be my little cheer girl. <3

I’m sad that she lost that when we pulled her from public school because it was a major factor in repairing her confidence and it taught her so much. The value of practice and hard work, how it feels to cheer your team on from the sidelines, the camaraderie formed among your fellow cheerleaders. She however, does not, and never has bowed to popular, ‘social norms’. She doesn’t care what others think, she does what she believes is right or what she enjoys. She is likely to dress up beautiful for a girl’s day out with me as she is to throw down on Call of Duty with her brother. She doesn’t comprehend being judged on outer appearance and that makes her a target for the girls who are just getting to that point of social pressure in clothes, makeup, boys etc. I double dare you to call her short though. lol My girl is just not interested in it if doesn’t stimulate her mind or pique her curiosity. Yes, I know her coat has a few holes, no we don’t need you to donate one to us, she has THREE nice ones…..she just never wears them because that one is her favorite. It is soft and comfortable and perhaps not the height of fashion so they sneer. Most girls here won’t be caught dead without at least an hour prep work. At her first formal, she was one of the few not wearing makeup and not dressed in a ‘pageant’ dress that was far too revealing and mature for her.

I’ve spent the last few years hurting and anguished over the look I would see in those big blue eyes of hers, she was begging us for help from behind them. She wanted so bad “to be good” and “to be accepted” but couldn’t figure out how. The rules were different for her and they kept changing depending on who was involved. SHE alone was targeted and assigned a seat, after all, it is so much easier to seat Tornado separately than it would be to make all the other kids on the bus act like human beings. She didn’t understand why she got in trouble and the others did not and has drawn the conclusion it is because of some flaw/fault on her part. I’m most torn up about that fact.

You work so hard to instill rules, etiquette and personal responsibility in your children hoping they stick when you send them out into the world. Then you send them off to school to get an education, only to find out a great deal of what they are learning is so destructive, especially left unchecked and often it is too late once you figure it out. Puberty is already a mess of emotions, hormones and urges we don’t quite understand at the time and left without context or guidance kids get themselves into trouble. It’s scientific fact not moral judgement. We quite simply lack the finer points of acting civilized at that age and so tend to be lead by our emotional, chaotic side rather than our logic, critical thinking and problem solving one. As humans we crave interaction with others, acceptance, understanding, love and support. These kids are learning at a young age it is okay to abuse others and worse yet, a great majority are learning you either fall in with the bullies or you find yourself on the other side of the fence – a target yourself. Desperate for that social acknowledgement kids fall to peer pressure all the time and act out of character. They are young and most will hopefully learn from their mistakes and go on to be good adults. Many will not and still others will leave this world too soon, convinced it is an ugly, pain filled mess that will never end. The kids who are bullied face a lifetime of issues based on the destruction of their foundations – self-esteem, trust, compassion, honesty, friendships/relationship interactions. It leaves them piecing the shards of their tender hearts back together time & time again. It skews the way they see themselves and the world in more ways than we can imagine. But we can’t let the darkness win, we have to shine the light for all who are lost.

Our Family Motto/Mission Statement is: Learn your powers, then only use those powers for good not evil.

I can’t tell you how many times OrdinaryDad and I have summed up a parental session with “we are trying to teach you to use your powers for good, not evil”. LOL. It breaks the tension and reassures the child you are not trying to dismiss or censor them. It also reminds them that in this crazy, mixed-up life as long as we have each other and do our best to leave the world better than we found it, we can weather any storm. I hope they are both watching closely as we stand our ground and fight for them & what we believe in. If they learn to hold their own no matter what kind of pressure is applied I will be satisfied this lesson was worth the proverbial licks.

 

If you would like to share, learn more or help here are the links to all her sites:

 

Until we meet again, stay safe and be blessed my warrior friends.

 

No Comments - Categories: Bullying, My Children, Parenting, Things That Boggle the Mind, WTF?!?!

It was Magic

November 19, 2013 - Author: Ordinary Girl

I really enjoyed my kids today. Like REALLY enjoyed them. I am being forced to slow waaaay down and figure out how to accomplish my day and still keep her doing what she needs to do. I see things that I never knew about her, like she can do math instantly and visually in her head in a way that I admit I cannot.

My son was totally bummed because this girl he likes joined in with the crew on the bus that was hassling him today. He left the house in a freakin’ cutoff t-shirt this morning and flew under radar because he just kept his coat on. (yeah noted and I will be checking next time) Anyways he complained about being stuck wearing his coat all day because it is against dress code.

I totally talked him thru it and mentioned that wasn’t he just hanging out with this kid a while ago and ganging up with him? Maybe, just like us, they were having an off day and found something funny. If it had been someone else son, is it possible you might have joined in the laughter? You are mad, and rightfully so but think about it. He totally understood and I watched his spirits life immediately. I told him it wasn’t because you hated that person was it? No. So perhaps today you were the bug and not the windshield? 😉 Tomorrow it would be someone else unless HE made the big deal about it.

I assured him that the girl he has a crush on may very well not have any clue because he hasn’t spoken up and if she knew, she might not have joined in. Again another lift to his spirits and he smiled. I told him to relax and hit the bus like it was all good and sling back whatever was tossed and talk to her, since he knows her name now LOL.

Tornado and I did her work and hung out no issues today. She totally self started, kept focused and I held my word and did the art project even though I admit I didn’t feel like it at first. Who wants to smear peanut butter all over pinecones when it is cold and quickly getting dark out? So we do it. I lose my temper a time or two and yell but all in all it is pretty smooth. Had to refill the PB twice due to my inability to guesstimate how much you need for 6 of those stupid things and Tornado is rolling them in the birdseed all the while complaining about getting messy. Then she insists that she wants to put the twine on. Bubba had put a slipknot in all of them for us and we simply tightened it around the middle of the pinecone and then tied the free end to branches in various places in the yard. I had a little issue with a funny miscalculation of what happens to a hanging pinecone when the branch you bent way down is let go. Jeeze, you would think I would have thought that one thru a little LOL 😉 Unfortunately my oh so coordinated self managed to get these tiny little dark brown burrs all over my fuzzy Elmo pants. HEY, don’t judge me!! They are warm and comfy 😛

Tomorrow I reckon she will make me make good on the yoga deal. LOL. Yes I confess, I bribed her with an art project. And the scene in the yard with her on my shoulders, feet on my hips, standing up with her brother bracing her (after first chickening out and popping me right in the mouth with my own camera she was holding for me). It must have been hysterical to see but I didn’t care I was having some good old fashioned FUN. I might have swatted her for not paying attention but it was barely noted by her anyways. You’d have to whack that child with a sledgehammer I swear to get a reaction (and no I would never).

We took pictures of the sunset and covered her 4-H pine tree sapling with a garbage bag so the frost doesn’t kill it tonight. I sure hope those stupid chickens stay inside, they have taken to wandering down the bottom at night and it is freakin cold. If they frostbite themselves it will be ugly, like amputation ugly and this momma don’t play that. NO. Sorry, I’m not a surgeon and I’m not a vet. I have to draw the line somewhere.

We came back in and fell in love with Ravenswood and watched like three in a row up to the new one only to find out that they won’t have anything till January. *sigh* Hubby strolled in and sat and watched with us as we shuffled the kiddos off to bed. Bubba has been sleeping a LOT so we think he is hitting a growth spurt. I’m getting ready to feed him and flying high on this magical day. They don’t happen often and baby when they do, you can bet your ass this gal is smart enough to grab it with both hands!!

Peace, love and magic. Until we meet again, stay safe and be blessed my friends.

 

Comments are closed - Categories: family, kids, Life is Good, My Children, Parenting

Big Decisions ~ Tough Choices

September 29, 2013 - Author: Ordinary Girl

So I’ve been talking with y’all about a job opportunity that has come up outside of the home. I’ll be honest, I’ve been agonizing over the whole thing since it came up. My immediate response was to get excited….very excited. And that was the first thing that made me pause. Due to past circumstances, I don’t “hope” for a lot of things; not getting attached before it actually happens ~ hurts less. Those who understand that need no further explanation, and those that don’t well it’s hard to explain it in that case….

So I had to figure out why I got so excited. Done. Then I had to assess the pros and cons as some of you recommended. That is when it got complicated.

I WANT this job. I could do this job and excel at it!! I might even be able to add insight into it and make the program stronger. I would be administrating the whole thing eventually. Also, I would be able to easily finish my degree since schooling is the perk of the job. No other benefits, but even the hours are not that demanding to start. Money is good too, I won’t lie. There has been this hunger to do this for a long time. Circumstances have pulled me twice, for two different reasons and at two different times, from this exact thing. I have a burning need to prove everyone wrong and finish what I started. I was unfocused and adrift at that time in my life, struggling with burdens I no longer bear and I take back to the task some wisdom and strength I would not have had either. I believe that will make my school experience mean something more important and vital to myself. I want to prove to MYSELF that I can do this too. Doubt is a powerful prison but it can be a powerful fuel as well. So that one is about me. What I want and need.

Then I turned consideration to my children. They have paid the price with me the last 5 years. The hell of step-parenting, my being so ill, the stress of so many family members gone for one reason or another. I’d be trading the complete and now unimpeded focus of my attention for their last chunk of time as kids, lose my last chance to do what we tried to do from the start and possibly lost the chance to help my daughter tame this wildness inside herself as well as fail my son breaking my own silent promise to him. He only has 5 years left and she only has 8. Time has taught me those will be gone before I know it, even if I’m paying close attention. Don’t they finally deserve my healthy attention? My not sick, not stressed, can participate daily attention?

You bet your ass that I have fought for them. You bet I took care of them day and night since they first drew breath. But I was a single parent for the first chunk – no choice but to work though it tore me up to realize other people were in essence raising my kids. I’ve been sick as hell to the point of nearly dying the last 6 years – like literally in the hospital every other month or so till about 7 months ago and now that I have the chance I was praying and begging for, am I going to throw it away or tend to my family? God knows D and I have talked about it since the boys left and we are determined not to make the same mistakes with Bubba and Tornado. Yeah…..the scales didn’t just tip there, they slammed down hard to the other side.

After that I thought on it a while. Not the choice I want to make, but the right choice I think. I was swaying towards not thinking it was a good idea. That I was being selfish if I chose myself over parenting again. I tried to go to school again for a while when my son was a baby. Got a full scholarship. It required a minimum of 10 hours of work on the newspaper on top of a full time school load. My son was in daycare centers and homes. We had several bad run ins. Yes, some of the places were fantastic but some people should not EVER be near children. I kept a close watch and popped in at odd times. I caught it each time and it tore me up each time. How could I keep subjecting my child to this?

I quit school again, got a day job and sent him to one of the best centers in the area. He loved it, loves them and even three years ago when we went back for my nephew’s funeral he remembered them and was happy to see them. They were more family than anything and that is a rare find. I’ve also worked at daycare centers and know what can happen. Bubba is too old now, but idle hands we have discovered with the older 3 are the devils plaything. So critical timing on him. Tordado, like I said earlier, is our challenge and if I don’t help shape this, I admit that it could be, more likely than not, disastrous left unchecked into her teens.

We are planning some day trips and stuff with them, as well as gathering camping gear now that we have a permanent storage solution. Less time with other people entertaining them with what kinds of things happen in a small town with bored kids, more time learning what it means to enjoy yourself and build roots with your family.

Then something came up that would send a much needed jolt of instant life into our business and we could be up and running easily. This would require my flexibility at home. An ability to run the home office we have created now that we had an empty room. We would instantly have two people in mind for employees and I would need to handle scheduling for them as well as the increase from our other thing. It would be time to get serious and start kicking butt and taking names. This would include a slower version of finishing my degree. A few classes here and there at night. Not the immediate gratification a fast hard push would have but a battle worth fighting.

We would also be building something the kids are both interested in. My son has the programming interest and Tornado is all over advertising and stuff. It is so fun to watch them developing their different levels of interest so differently from the boys. Had the three of them not lost their minds, they would each be in charge of a division with 1 -2 employees by now. Too bad, because that looks impressive, not to mention they would be making near triple anything they are going to be able to find on their own. They could be making bank and living in nice houses and such but they chose to struggle out there instead which is still hard for us to understand. We are trying to teach Tornado and Bubba as well because it doesn’t make sense to them and they have said as much, more than once.

Building this business back after all the hits we have taken is a battle worth fighting. Ordinary Dad did not push me at all. When I told him about my decision to turn the job down, he listened quietly to all my reasons and supported me. When, and only when, I directly asked him did he express his hope about the job and my wanting to stay here. Though he was the one that put my name up in the first place and brought news of it home. He would have supported me working if that is what I had wanted. And he supports my school desire too for me and for the benefit to our work. He wants what makes me happy and is secure enough to admit he hoped I would choose this, not only for me but for what we promised and dreamed together. So at the end of it, I am sorry to miss this chance ~ I got to see what I would be missing and that the dream I do have was what makes me happy all along. I would miss that if I didn’t understand dreams can change like people do. This is still my dream, it’s just not my most important one anymore. So I feel blessed and I guess I know what needs to be done. What has always needed to be done.

I am not going to rush it either by doing an online version. I will walk the campus, help with the business but first and foremost it is my job, my desire, my humble honor to take care of my kids and my husband. It isn’t my way is right, your way is wrong – it isn’t anything but an honest assessment of what the need not the want is and what is truly important at THIS moment in our lives.

the choice only YOU can make

the choice only YOU can make

Until we meet again, stay safe and be blessed my friends.

 

Comments are closed - Categories: Life is Good, My Children, Parenting, Working