MISSING! have you seen this boy? #findcayman

MISSING – please SHARE as widely as possible – Cayman Naib, 8th grader at the Shipley School. He left his home in Newtown Square area around 7 pm last night (3/4). He was wearing ski clothes but had no wallet and left his phone at home. If you have any information please call local police or Newtown Township Police (Delaware County) Detective Moore at 610-356-0602. 

Have you seen this boy? This is every parents’ nightmare, and he’s close enough in age to our own child that my heart is in my throat for these parents.  I do not know this boy, but he is a good friend to one of my friend Janet’s boys. He attends my alma mater, the Shipley School.

Here is a more detailed message ( and another photo) from Newtown Police (Delaware County):

**************MISSING JUVENILE******************
The Newtown Police is asking for your assistance to help locate a missing juvenile. Missing since 6:30 P.M. on Wednesday, March 4, 2015, is Cayman Naib. Cayman is 13 years-old, 5’7”, 110 lbs with brown hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing a gray down winter jacket, black ski pants, and hiking boots. He is an 8th grade student at The Shipley School in Bryn Mawr, P.A. Cayman could be in the Radnor/Wayne area or may have purchased a train ticket to Philadelphia. If anybody has any information on his whereabouts, please contact Newtown Police at 610-356-0602 or email Investigator William Moor at moorw@newtowntownship.org. Provided is a recent image of Cayman. Please share this post.

 

curt schilling takes on cyberbullies. good. for. him.



Good. For. Him. 

Seriously, I have quite a bit of respect for former Phillie and World Series winning former RedSox pitcher Curt Schilling.  Talk about good sportsmanship.

Why?

Because he took on cyberbullies  to defend the honor of his precious daughter. 

It started innocently enough. He sent a tweet out to congratulate his daughter on where she was going to college.



Even if he is a public figure he should be allowed to do that, right? 

Apparently not, and soon it was raining cyberbully trolls on Twitter.



There were a lot more than this and some were kids, but a lot were adults including a DJ somewhere and some part time person who worked for the NY Yankees.  So Curt took on cyberbullies and outed them to the world.

Good.For. Him.

As you all who read my blog know, I was cyberbullied over a period of months last year . I knew exactly who was doing it , and much like  Curt I kept a record of it. This was done to me via Facebook. Not many people “liked” the page and I found out after the page was removed that my friends reported the page daily to Facebook for months as being vile and cyberbullying. 

I had the main cyberbully, the author of the page, and then there was a person who shared the posts and obviously fed them information. I considered them a bully too. 

Then there was the handful of people out there who would chime in. Not one of them knew me, had ever had a conversation with me, had ever met me socially. They knew nothing about me.  They didn’t know the cyberbullies.  They didn’t like some of what I wrote and some cases, and that was the justification for their behavior.

Around 20 or 22 men and women, some who are members of the Chester County community and them participating with a cyberbullying effort is kind of astounding, yet they did it. They  just decided to pile on in that mob mentality that any kind of bullying often takes on. A few of these people even have school age children. 

And again, they didn’t know me, they have still never met me, they have never ever had a conversation with me, and they had nothing to judge me on other then they didn’t like some of the things I had written over the years. It sounds crazy and it is crazy. But it happened and it’s true.

Shortly before Christmas, the page disappeared. It was a wonderful Christmas gift and I have never publicly thank my friends (but I am now)  who worked so hard to get that page removed. You see Facebook, doesn’t take cyber bullying particularly seriously when it is happening to adults  , and I had gotten to the point where I was tuning it out but occasionally saving screenshots as evidence. (I was advised to do that by law-enforcement. )

Now I’m sure my critics are saying “I can’t believe she is making this all about her ” but I am not. I merely sharing my personal experience as it applies to what I am writing about. And unfortunately for me, I can now say I have personal life experience with cyberbullying. And similarly to what Curt Schilling writes about, it’s not too difficult to figure out who it is exactly who is bullying you. And it’s astounding that people think it’s okay that these things are done to you. Or that you won’t discover who it is exactly. What is even more astounding is contemplating how people who used to be part of your life in a loving and supportive manner actually do these things, let alone total strangers. A thin line between love and hate and all that.

As I said before, as an adult, you often have the ability to have better coping mechanisms then the kids who experience cyberbullying , but it doesn’t mean anyone should experience it. When it happens to our kids, the cyberbullying is often just part and parcel of other real-time in-your-face bullying that kids experience.

What Curt Schilling has done is huge. He used his celebrity for good here. He is to be commended. Because of him an even brighter light now shines on cyberbullying and he has given courage and fortitude to those being bullied; through his actions and his position he has shown people how wrong this is. I also applaud him for doing this as a father for his child. That is love.

Now it would be terrific  it if other celebrities and sports figures would follow suit and just spearhead a grassroots nationwide campaign to declare war on #cyberbullying. For those who are doing the bullying out there, save your retort. Opinion is one thing, cyberbullying is something else entirely.

And it doesn’t just happen to kids. It happened to adults and not much is done  to combat adult on adult cyberbullying.

Before I link up Curt Schilling’s blog post, here is some other coverage on this:

Former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling fires back after trolls’ violent, sexual tweets about teen daughter

 NEW YORK DAILY NEWS. Published: Monday, March 2, 2015

Christian Science Monitor: Curt Schilling defends daughter from Twitter bullies with help of followers

Former Red Sox pitching star Curt Schilling named the cyber bullies on Monday who targeted his daughter online with vulgar comments.

Washington Post Early Lead 

 March 2 at 8:31 PM  

Boston.com: Schilling Throws Perfect Game With Response to Misogynist Trolls

Here is an excerpt from Curt Schilling’s blog post:

The world we live in…Man has it changed. ADDENDUM!

MARCH 1, 2015


I thank God every day that Facebook and Twitter, instagram, vine, Youtube, all of it, did not exist when I went to High School. I can’t imagine the dumb stuff I’d have been caught saying and doing.
If you are a dad this is something you well know already, if you are a dad with a daughter this is likely to get your blood going. If you are a boy, or young man, or husband, and you haven’t experienced children yet, or haven’t had a daughter, it’s next to impossible for you to understand.
My daughter, my one and only daughter, has worked her ass off playing sports the past 9-10 years. She’s loved it, and I’ve loved being able to both watch, and coach along the way.
Last week we were told she’d been accepted to college and will begin playing softball there next year.
Clearly an incredibly proud day.
tweet 1
And of course, like any dad in the modern world I said so.
Now I’ve been using computers since 1981. I was a professional baseball player for 22 years. I played 10+ years in Philadelphia. I played 5 in Boston. I shared a locker room with well over a thousand teammates and I played and lived at school a year before doing so.
That’s all to say I am absolutely aware of social media and how it works. As someone who’s said about 2.34 billion things he shouldn’t have, I get it.
….tweets with the word rape, bloody underwear and pretty much every other vulgar and defiling word you could likely fathom began to follow.
Now let me emphasize again. I was a jock my whole life. I played sports my whole life. Baseball since I was 5 until I retired at 41. I know clubhouses. I lived in a dorm. I get it. Guys will be guys. Guys will say dumb crap, often. But I can’t ever remember, drunk, in a clubhouse, with best friends, with anyone, ever speaking like this to someone…I understand this……I have a nasty habit of talking, a lot, about anything anyone asks me and totally unconcerned about giving you my opinion. You will never question where I stand, right or wrong agree or disagree on anything….The amount of vitriol I’ve heard is not an issue. I am sure I’ll hear more.
But I have to ask, is this even remotely ok? In ANY world? At ANY time?
Worse yet? No less than 7 of the clowns who sent vile or worse tweets are athletes playing college sports.
I knew every name and school, sport and position, of every one of them in less than an hour. The ones that didn’t play sports were just as easy to locate.

I’ve kept every tweet…

coming soon

So….a little news: yours truly will be an exhibiting photography artist at Christopher’s in Malvern for June 2015!  

It has been a long time since I have done any kind of a show so I will spend the next few months agonizing over what I am going to frame and mount. 

This past month David Campli has had his photography hanging in the restaurant. It’s marvelous and wow what a tough act to follow! I am in particular enamored of the giant photo he has mounted on the rear brick wall of the restaurant that is of two little old Italian ladies sitting outside. One is dressed to the nines and one is wearing sneakers. I just love it! 

Anyway, I hope when the time comes you’ll go in and have a meal at Christopher’s and take a look at my photography. What I frame and mount for the show will be for sale in the restaurant at that time. 

I’m really excited to do this and can’t wait for June!!!!

Thanks for stopping by!



girl power

childhood

If only childhood and girlhood was as simple and idyllic as the photo above depicts.

A friend of mine and I were speaking yesterday of a pint sized terrorist in one of her daughters’ classes at school.  This is a kid, who as an elementary school student decides that when she wants her friends to come over, she (as in the child) is the one who emails and texts the other child’s parents. As in she decides and initiates without going to her parents and saying “mom can Annabelle come over and play?”  And no matter how often the parents are asked to be the ones to connect since it could be considered wildly inappropriate for an adult to make plans with a 10 or 11 year old they aren’t related to…it never happens.

This child is also a bit of a bully.  When she goes to birthday parties of other children, the parties become about her and not the birthday kid of honor. This kid has this drive to be leader of the pack, but not in a positive way.

But this is mild compared to often what other kids experience.  People often immediately think of boys when it comes to younger and middle school age bullying, but the girls are often worse.

A woman in a parenting group posted about the heartbreaking situation her daughter is in.  The girl is either 10 or 11 and finally in a pool of tears broke down to her mother to tell her what was going on in school. This girl is being teased, bullied, ignored, and ostracized all at one time.  She tries to eat with other kids her age and play at recess and they tease her, laugh at her, whisper about her right in front of her.  She is so tormented by some of these kids that for months she has not only been eating all by herself, but she takes recess in the library. Why? Because in the library she can escape into a book to get away from these kids.

The worst part of this is the teacher knows there is a problem and has been aware there is a problem for a very long time.

Someone wisely said to her  “with girls at this age, the Queen Bee mob mentality is really difficult. I hope the situation improves. As a parent, it is heartbreaking.”

I agree. It is.  As parents we want to protect our kids and slay their dragons, but it’s so darn hard when the dragons are part of their peer group, isn’t it?

This mother is going to the school and going to the guidance counselor. I think she should add principal to the mix and if that doesn’t work, the school board.

Bullying in all forms is in my opinion even more pervasive than it was when we were all growing up.  A lot of that has to do with social media and the political correctness police. No one wants to upset the little bullies and their parents. And then there is the age-old dilemma of the parents of the little bullies are often bullies themselves and/or  might write lovely supportive checks to the school and so on.

But where do we draw the line? All schools have some form of anti-bullying policies for cyber issues and real time, but getting them to keep policies updated and to even act on them often takes almost an act of Congress doesn’t it?

This particular child being bullied is outgoing and pleasant by nature. It’s like some mean girls are jealous and want to break her spirit because of it, but when you are that age, it just hurts.  There is no adult capability of looking at the situation and assessing it for what it is.  That is our job.

But the thing about bullying in our schools today, sometimes the only solution is to switch schools. And is that fair to the child? Sometimes the only alternative is to give your child a fresh start and they deserve as much, don’t they?

The reality is a lot of schools do not hold children who bully or their parents accountable for anything. They are afraid to a lot of the time and they also don’t really look at why the kid is bullying.  I have noticed that a lot of the kids who bully might very well just be acting out because of whatever is going on in their homes. Schools talk a good game, they all have a purported “policy” in place, but when push comes to shove not much happens.

If changing schools ends up being a viable alternative I don’t think any of us should discourage a parent from seeking what is best for their child in their home. However, not everyone has that luxury, so why shouldn’t we as parents do whatever we have to do to encourage our schools, to demand our schools do better? After all whether private, parochial, charter, or public we are paying for our kids’ education.

Now people will argue against moving a kid to a different school. They will say without learning appropriate assertiveness skills, these problems are likely to follow from one school to the next. BUT these are kids and well they often have to grow up too quickly as it is, so if we are teaching them the emotional equivalent of defensive driving at a young age, what are we doing to the magic of childhood?

And on a personal level, the mean girls I encountered between grades six and eight generally speaking grew up to be quite miserable adult women. I actually feel sorry for them now,  but as an adult it’s a lot easier ignoring them isn’t it?

Sixth grade was a pivotal year for me. It was the first time I experienced mean girls. It  was the year that the meanest of the mean girls in my class at a private day school decided to take a shine to me and among other things chipped my front tooth (the tooth is still chipped today).

My mother went down on that school like a Valkyrie. I remember that in and of itself gave me some empowerment feeling as a girl – that someone would care enough about me to go to bat for me like that. The school took it all seriously to a point and I was able to get through the rest of the year intact. But I never, ever forgot it.

The summer between sixth and seventh grades my parents moved us from the city to suburbia.  To the Main Line and the purportedly fabulous Lower Merion School District. Seventh through ninth grades were varying degrees of hell for any girl who wasn’t a cookie cutter image of certain cliques of girls. It was the emotional equivalent of the wild, wild west. I for the most part kept my head down and my mouth shut.

I found a core group of friends, many of whom I am still connected to today. I internalized a lot of what I probably should have told my parents in retrospect. But fortunately for me, my parents decided to move my sister and I to private school.

Private school had it’s own squadron of mean girls and bullies. They were just more well spoken and better pedigreed in some cases.  But for the most part they left me alone. And in high school you have a few more coping skills if you are lucky.  I didn’t have enough apparent weaknesses for the high school mean girls to practice their perverse social Darwinism on me. But others were not so fortunate. We had girls with varying eating disorders and other issues, and even an attempted suicide.  And in those days there wasn’t any counseling for heavy issues like attempted suicide, it just was.

Some people I went to high school with were left with such a bad taste in their mouths that as 50 years old  they still don’t attend any reunion activities ever. They refuse. Part of the reason I got involved with high school reunions was to give those who often did not feel included in those days a place to feel included today and recognized for the cool men and  women they became. Bullying can leave a mark for decades and a lot of people do not realize that.

The thing that always amuses me about mean girls and bullies is how they translate into adulthood. I look at a lot of them with pity and sadness because where the rest of us have grown, a lot of them are still adult versions of the tween and teen mean girls/bullies that they were. And their behavior patterns are often just adult versions of what they were when they were growing up.  Some of them have clawed their way into marriages to wealthy men that gave them stature and plenty of expendable income and stuff, but when you see them they don’t look happy; they don’t act happy. I think that is sad. And then there are the ones whose own children are more ill behaved than they were, or even more sadly, become police headlines in local newspapers. That is a particularly cruel form of Karma.

But the nice thing about being a grown up is when you see these mean girl and bully people again as adults you realize how sad they are and you turn and walk away feeling blessed for who you are and for not being like them then, now, or ever. That is a very powerful feeling. When I finally realized how much luckier and better off I was then a lot of them on so many levels, it was very freeing. In retrospect, I wish I had had the emotional maturity to grasp that years earlier than I did.

We are responsible for the future of our children and life is a balancing act.  We want to teach our kids to stand on their own two feet and stick up for themselves but we also want for them to be happy.  For girls teen and tween years can be extraordinarily difficult, boys too. And while we are trying to instill the best ethics and values and standards into our children as much as humanly possible we have to let them grow on their own.

But I am sorry, kids that are mean and destructive need to be held accountable, and their parents as well. No one wants to punish or reprimand a child, it is simply not fun on any level. But we are the adults and we have to teach the difference between right and wrong.

And as to the teaching, that is where our schools come in.  They need to be active partners in this. They need to teach kids bullying is wrong and how to be kind. They can’t just do lip service with half-assed anti-bullying policies.

Here are some great ideas I read from a stay at home mom who also happens to be a therapist:

1) make sure she knows it’s not her fault and it’s common. It can happen to anyone. (There’s a website called “It Gets Better” (I believe) where celebrities & regular successful adults talk about being bullied in the past. ) I also think it’s important she knows that it will come to an end and that she has many great experiences to look forward to. (My parents used to say – “These are the best years of your life” about high school – well intentioned but not helpful, also not true in my case.

2) tell the guidance counselor (or someone at the school she trusts and that you trust to keep an eye on it). If she’s seemed fine to you, it’s likely none of the adults at school can even see it.

3) try to help her find somewhere she can go at lunch. (Perhaps with a teacher or volunteering to help a teacher or something (and I would add that both you and she should be proud that she was resourceful enough to think of going to the library).

4) see if she wants to talk to a therapist. Therapy can be really helpful. A lot of smart, sensitive, introspective kids are afraid to talk to their parents about these issues because they don’t want their parents to be sad.

5) Maybe have her start a new activity separate from school (a clean slate if you will) where she can meet some new people and get some evidence that she is, in fact, likeable worthy of friendship.

 

If we as parents take consistent stands against bullying behavior in as positive a way as possible I think we can make a difference. Also, when you are dealing with bullying and mean girls don’t assume that the parents of these kids will be your ally here or even behave in an adult manner.  Often they are part of the problem.

Please pay it forward and encourage anti-bullying campaigns and programs and policies no matter where your kids are in school. Check out Signe Whitson and others.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

the fortunate ones

IMG_3471

So a couple of years ago my childhood (and adult ) friend Karen sent me a copy of her sister- in – law Gayle’s then new-ish novel If I Stay. Yes, that Gayle as in Gayle Forman.

When we moved house, the book got lost. I told Karen that recently and the other day a package arrived. It contained if I stay, Where She Went, and I Was Here.

I just finished re-reading If I Stay. It was just as powerful the second time around. I was struck once again not only of the beauty of the book and it’s power, but how accurate Gayle’s teenage voice was. Reading If I Stay again puts you the reader right back there in those teenage years. It’s amazing, actually. If you haven’t read it, don’t just discount it as writing for teens and young adults because it is so much more than that.

Gayle Forman’s books got a couple of friends and I thinking how fortunate we are. You don’t really get older or even just grow up without going through stuff. You get older, you get baggage, you get the bumps of life along the way, but how lucky are we all to just be alive? We are indeed the fortunate ones.

Given the premise of the book and the accident in a winter setting it also made me think of the tragic and deadly accident on Route 100 on Valentine’s Day that tragically took the lives of two teens out with their family. What happened could have happened to any of us. But for the grace of God go we all.

There is actually a community meeting tomorrow about this. As per The Daily Local:

Calling itself the Chester County Coalition Against Driving Under the Influence, the group is scheduled to hold a town hall-style meeting at the Westtown-East Goshen Police headquarters meeting room on Old Wilmington Pike, south of West Chester.

The object of the meeting is to begin the process to create awareness, change laws, and establish solutions for the DUI issue in the county, according to one of the participants. Those speaking will include WEGO Police Chief Brenda Bernot and West Whiteland resident Kimberly Fellows, the mother of a DUI homicide victim.

Westtown East Goshen Police are located at 1041 Wilmington Pike in West Chester. The meeting starts at 7 pm tomorrow February 19 and Kim Fellows, one of the speakers, is a friend. I am very proud of her for choosing to be a speaker, she is very brave I think.

And GIANT kudos to another lady I have been fortunate to meet and start to get to know since moving to Chester County, the amazing Joy Vining-Crozier for getting this all together and for being a driving force for good here in Chester County. This new coalition is coming together thanks to her goodness and hard work.

These ladies deserve our support. They are angels among us in the flesh.

Now, back to my books. I am looking forward to reading the other two books Where She Went and I Was Here. (Hint hint hint to Chester County Book Company: get Gayle Forman to Chester County for a reading and book signing!)

Thanks for stopping by. Be safe out there. Life is precious

this weather…

My high school friend Tina lives in Spencer Massachusetts. Where she lives has the distinction of having some of the most snow or the most snow in New England. She sent me this photo today and it is the side of a 14 foot tall greenhouse – she and her husband own a large plant nursery.

Just OMG.

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