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

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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

local biz shout out: uhler’s seed and feed

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Supporting local small businesses is important in any community. It is often difficult to do that along parts of the Route 30 (Lancaster Ave/Lincoln Highway) corridor because of a lack of town centers. So often, unless you know the stores are there you spend years just driving by.

Such was the case with us until recently when we discovered Uhler’s Seed and Feed. Uhler’s Seed and Feed is at 160 Lancaster Avenue, Malvern, PA 19355. (610) 644-1945 is the phone number.

Traditional feed and seed stores barely exist anymore even out here in Chester County. A lot of it has to do with how hard it is for these types of businesses and plant nurseries to compete with big box stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot and Walmart.

Uhler’s is family owned and operated still and it’s wonderful! We started going to them because we feed our birds in the winter and they have the best selection of seed at the best prices and are so knowledgeable. They also have an amazing selection of very good birdfeeders. You can get a custom mix of birdseed if you choose as well, which you can’t find a lot of places anymore.

I have been noticing them the past couple of years because of the plants and things I see outside during the growing season. They are going to be one of my go to places the spring because this is old school. I am a person who does her own gardening. I know what I need, I know what I like, I know what I want to buy. And an old-school seed and feed store it like this is terrific. I can’t wait!

They also sell Deer Out which I have been buying online until now – it’s a deer repellent that is made up of natural things and has a minty scent that isn’t too offensive, and it works!

Another thing about this business I like is it is currently run by three generations of women. They are awesome to every customer who walks through the door.

You can like them on Facebook but they are pretty busy in their store so you won’t see them on social media much. But go in person to check them out! They are awesome and their pricing is terrific!

Uhler’s is right on Route 30 down across Lancaster from where Lincoln Court is. They are on the stretch of Route 30 between Route 352 and 401. They are on the same side of the road as McKenzie Brew House.

So we are crystal-clear I am not receiving anything for writing this review, I am paying it forward because they are a local small business and they deserve the recognition.

Check them out!

“teachable moments”

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The first Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition occurred the year I was born, 1964. Babette Beatty was the model. The photo there above? That is her last year during the 50th anniversary of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit edition. And that photo was considered scandalous back then.

However, the first woman to appear in a bathing suit on the cover of Sports Illustrated was named Pamela Nelson in 1954

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So 2015 bought a new interpretation of the bikini shot on the cover. I’m sorry but who cares? The magazine does this every year, and either you subscribe to the magazine or you don’t, buy a copy or you don’t. But this year apparently the Puritans are coming so look out.

This cover shot this year is being described as a “teachable moment”. No they don’t mean “wear sunscreen”.

Once again Sports Illustrated has done what they do every year, almost every year: create a controversial cover. It’s what they strive for all year long , and that’s how they sell magazines. And I have to be honest and say that I have seen skimpier bathing suits and skimpier while being more covered up outfits on girls starting as young as 12 in the real world. And that’s the point isn’t it? This isn’t the real world it’s a freaking magazine.

This morning I thought I was entering Censorship USA when I peeked in on a Facebook group. There was this mom declaring a mother’s jihad on Sports Illustrated. She said (and I quote):

Ok Mommies of Girls! I have a job for you! Every time you see the new Sports Illustrated in a grocery store checkout line or anywhere else your daughter may see this – – – PLEASE turn it around! Your daughter, your sons, and the kids behind you should not have to see this unrealistic image that object defies girls. Thank you. Rant over……Oh course this is a teachable moment. I’m not saying that you shouldnt seize this opportunity. However, a journey starts with one step. We may not be changing the world when we simply turn a magazine around but it’s something that we can actually DO. Sure we can complain aimlessly about these faults in our society but there are simple everyday things we can DO, like have a convo, turn the TV off and again- simply turn a magazine around. Don’t underestimate the power of a small action.

Ummmm…..I had visions of when strollers attack.

Of course this will throw me out of the mommy club but I don’t really care I think they are being ridiculous.

Seriously? Teachable moment? Give me a break! I don’t buy Sports Illustrated, I have no interest in the swimsuit issue, can’t see it from my window when I wake up and who cares? Turn on the TV you see far worse. Frankly kids can learn far worse from their friends and the Internet and even other parents. Go to your local beach or swim club in the summer and you often see far worse.

If women want to give their daughters weird self body image issues keep turning around magazines. And I’m sorry if that sounds mean or uncaring or even careless, but I think the whole premise is ridiculous. It is what it is and we don’t have to bring it into our homes as a matter of personal choice.

But that doesn’t mean that we go all censorship on things and start turning around magazines we personally find objectionable in a store. In my humble opinion but also teaches a poor lesson, does it not? Why not just ignore it? Why do you have to create some false premise of a teachable moment because you don’t like it?

The world is made up with a lot of different people, different tastes, different religions, different styles, and while we want to set the best example possible for our children we not only need to be realistic but we also need to teach them that the world is a very diverse place right, wrong, or indifferent.

Journeys do start with small steps and teachable moments but it is how you teach and how you present that makes the world of difference.

This whole thing reminds me of a story a friend of mine who is a grandmother told me a year or so ago. She knows someone who has a grandchild living with a parent and female stepparent. The child is a teenage girl and she is a lovely girl. A truly good girl. Yet the stepparent prefers that this cute teenage girl dress basically like a refugee from a weird polygamist cult. All covered up at all times, not at all like a teenager.

So maybe this stepparent is trying to teach a teenage girl modesty but the message I’m seeing loud and clear is that the teenage girl should be ashamed of her figure, and that the adult here trying to “teach” the child has serious self body issues. And that is the message I am seeing if mommies go on the rampage turning around copies of the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated in the grocery store checkout line.

Should women be objectified? Of course not. However and let us not forget that these models chose to be in this magazine for this issue. It’s good for their careers and they make a lot of money. That is their choice. I know this is a contrary opinion for me who is a New Age Victorian times, but the truth is I just don’t care. I don’t know anyone with daughters who have to worry about their daughters running away to become a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model. Kids aren’t that dumb and even they realize this is somewhat of a fantasy and unrealistic issue of the magazine.

If kids male or female ask about the issue why can’t we just say it’s just a magazine it’s not the real world? Why do we have to go into all the drama and angst of turning the magazine around in grocery store aisles and check out lines ? Are we all supposed to start running around with a pile of the “Glamour Don’t” black bars in our purses to slap on things we find objectionable in magazines in the grocery aisle? Doesn’t that make more of a big deal of these magazine, make it more of a forbidden fruit?

Okay I know the Puritans with their pitchforks and brooms will be at me now for my opinion it’s just I’m so tired of hearing about the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and the fact that the model is basically showing off her Brazilian and need for sunscreen. And I laugh because a lot of the people complaining about this are the ones that don’t check out the outfits on some of the tween and teen girls on even the Disney Channel, Nickelodeon or ABC Family….or reruns of Gossip Girl and the original 90210.

I just don’t think we should teach girls to be ashamed of their figures and their bodies. You can teach them about appropriate behavior and how to dress more appropriately and how to behave… and at some point as I’m learning you have to let go a little bit or they will go where you don’t want them to. They are after all, teenagers, and once upon a time we were too.

Happy Valentine’s Day thanks for stopping by.

stop the crazy

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Brian Williams, now a suspended NBC national news anchor lied. Is it awful? Yes. Can I see it from my window? No. But this whole giant example of ego and stupidity is making as much news around this country as that poor girl Kayla Mueller who was killed by Isis and isn’t that truly almost criminally sad?

So, it is when I read things like the SECOND article linked below from ConservativeHQ.com I am astounded because it just reads crazy, full on crazy. And when we are facing so many things that are so much more important in the world today, why is it that a news anchor losing his job has so much importance in the news? Should this guy who reads the news really be the news?

Someone sent me this ConservativeHQ web article today and I think it is cuckoo for cocoa puffs for lack of a better description.

The whole hypothesis is Brian Williams a national newscaster who lied on an anchor desk is responsible for things like Enron. Or a symbol of those responsible for things like Enron. Either way, I love a good dose of pretzel logic on a hump day don’t you?

Brian Williams screwed up. In a glorious career-fatal way. But Brian Williams on or off and anchor desk for NBC news is not going to affect my quality of life.

Brian Williams has a giant contract has been been put on suspension as I suspect they are trying to undo that contract because he’s not going to be credible on air any longer.

I don’t mean to be rude, but somewhere somehow we all have to stop and take a freaking breath and get out of the extremes. Once again I will say that the politics of extremism are ruining this country.

All of these extremists conservative or liberal give a bad name to American politics. And allowing their voices to continue to grow means the bulk of us who are somewhere in the middle lose again and again and again.

This article actually has some points to consider which get completely lost in the hyperbole of crazy. They aren’t necessarily wrong about Comcast and NBC and how networks produce the “news”, but they go so far off the rails with the rest of it that THAT thought which is actually important, gets lost.

(And speaking of how networks produce the news who has seen the commercial the Comcast has produced for the local NBC 10 News? What’s up with the female reporters and female anchors and the dresses chosen for them for the commercial ? Are they being dressed for a new season of Breaking Amish or Conservative Barbie has an adventure or something? I really wish HBO series The Newsroom had not been ended. I would love to see their take on all of this.)

Brian Williams is NOT a symbol of anything other then how lying and stupidity can tank a career. Wow can’t wait to see what these people do with Colonel Mustard in the library can you?

But again , and seriously, somewhere people in this country need to stop and hit the pause button. The two major political parties are essentially controlled by forms of extremism, and that trickle down effect is running this country into a constantly and consistently angry hole.

Before you read crazy, read the student journalist editorial I have posted before it. At least the future of journalism is not completely bleak.

Williams’ drama doesn’t belong in the newsroom Katherine Waller, Staff Columnist | Posted: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 12:23 am

This week posed a threat to NBC Nightly News’ Brian Williams’ career. Reports testified that he had falsely accounted being on board a military helicopter in Iraq during 2003 that was hit with an RPG and had to make an emergency landing. He is under additional scrutiny about false statements regarding events he witnessed while covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina….It looks like that handsome face and perfect TV voice can no longer disguise who he really is: a liar…..I’m not saying that trustworthy news sources do not exist. After all, I am a student journalist myself…..News organizations need to value why they can’t just tell people what they want to hear….Seeing everyone get so upset over Brian Williams’ questionable truths makes me wonder why everyone is so surprised. In a business that has become about selling information, selling an ideology and selling people, why are watchers shocked

Brian Williams: Symbol Of The Corruption Of America’s Establishment Institutions George Rasley, CHQ Editor | 2/10/2015

Monday, two more examples of NBC News anchor Brian Williams’ despicable stolen valor lies about his experiences covering the Iraq war in 2003 surfaced, but Williams was not fired.

It was announced late Tuesday he was being put on six months unpaid leave and, most astonishingly, that Steve Burke, the Chief Executive Officer of Comcast, which owns NBC said Williams “deserves a second chance and we are rooting for him.”.

…..In our view it is not because some guy in the personnel department of NBC is going over Williams’ contract with a fine-toothed comb before handing him his pink slip six months from now.

It is because the establishment institutions of America, the media like Comcast and NBC, business, and especially politics, have become so mired in a culture of lies and corruption….This is the “anything to win” culture that led to the ENRON scandal….

just so darn funny

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I saw this on the Today Show this morning and as a blogger I can relate. What do you do with all those essentially “hate” comments? Well I am thinking I should send them to the Holderness family to turn into songs!

Watch the Holderness Parody Video “Comments of Love” (based on Rent song “Seasons of Love”) by clicking on this sentence which is a hyperlink.

You can find Clan Holderness on Facebook and their website/blog.

Anyway enjoy the video of these people crack me up! It’s all in good fun so what’s the harm?

good morning sports fans!

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Good morning sports fans! How is your day in the neighborhood so far? Mine is terrific!

So listen, I have something I have not felt the need to say in forever, but I think the time has come to remind my “fans” who love to leave the nastygrams that no one is forcing you to read my blog anymore than anyone forces you to read any other website out there.

And while I might appreciate a difference in opinion, it doesn’t mean I’m going to post comments I feel are abusive or harassing or just offensive. Although I will post some of the comments just because they are quite humorous in their ridiculousness. And I do have to laugh at those who think that their comments can’t be traced back to them that they are shielded by some cloak of invisibility. They aren’t.

The latest post to lather up the masses is the post I posted before the media on the iconic Devon Horse Show sign all smashed up. Apparently my comment has some with their knickers in a twist.

Yawn.

I appreciate my readers greatly, don’t misunderstand me. But I have to wonder at those who don’t like my writing because I have to ask if what I say is so objectionable, why are you still reading ?

Have a great Saturday all!