teenage consequences

By now if you live in the greater Philadelphia region you have heard about the latest thing out of Conestoga High School. Two very white girls vaping, out of it, saying the N-word. Repeatedly.

This is unacceptable.  There is no other way to couch it.

It’s racist. It’s ignorant.

And then there is the whole vaping thing with what looks like that Juuling contraption I read about in The Philadelphia Inquirer.

The article written by Mari Schaefer says (and I quote):

Social media is a window into the growing use of Juuls. In June, there were 10,000 Juul-related posts on Twitter. By December that number had climbed to 150,000, Dobbins said.

Locally, a video of two Conestoga High School students that has made the rounds on social media, more for the use of racial slurs, also shows one of the girls using a Juul.

In an email, officials at the Tredyffrin/Eastown School District in Chester County stated that using a Juul “would be considered a code of conduct violation, which would be enforced.”

Calls to local school districts, including Philadelphia, about Juuling on campus went largely unanswered — though two Montgomery County districts acknowledged the use of the product in their schools.

On Tuesday, wellness counselors in the Lower Merion School District sent a letter to middle and high school parents about the Juuling trend, suggesting parents talk “openly and honestly” with children about not only Juuling but also drugs and alcohol.

 

Ok now two excerpts from articles on the whole N-word situation:

Video of teens using racial slur sparks outrage at Conestoga
By Linda Stein, lstein@21st-centurymedia.com, @lsteinreporter on Twitter
POSTED: 03/10/18, 4:45 PM EST | UPDATED: 2 DAYS AGO

DEVON >> A video featuring some Conestoga High School students casually using the N-word is now the focus of a school board investigation.

The video, which was not made during school, is going viral – and not in a good way.

The video shows two white, teenage girls who are apparently vaping, using the N-word and laughing. The video has been widely shared on social media like Facebook and Twitter. The two girls have not been identified.

 

Community Matters: The “N”-Word has No Place in T/E Schools — Or in Any Schools!
March 9, 2018

I received several copies of the recent live social media post by two Conestoga High School girls with racial slurs. The ‘white’ girls use the “N”-word multiple times in the racially offensive video which has since gone viral.

For African-American students living in some parts of the country, the use of the N-word by their white peers may be routine. But I admit that in 2018, living in the T/E School District, I found the racial vitriol  of the video shocking and extremely disturbing. Am I naive to think that this video by a couple of Conestoga High School students is an isolated situation or … is it symptomatic of a bigger problem in the school district?

Following the video going viral, the T/E School District families received a letter from Superintendent Gusick which contained the following message, “T/E School District strongly condemns this and all forms of racist language. Although this video was not made during school, it has hurt and offended many in our school community. This is unacceptable behavior, and it will not be tolerated. The school will investigate fully and apply consequences as appropriate. T/E School District will continue to stand for respect and inclusion, with schools where all are welcomed to learn and grow.”

 

Now one of the girls was identified.  And her father posted a public apology. One has to feel his pain as a parent.

The actions of two teenage girls are going to have very extended consequences.  As I peered into the social media of it all, I was struck by something profound that a friend said to me:

I’m not saying in any way that what these girls did was OK – but the level of hate towards them is close to a lynching mob.

I have to agree.  Hate begets hate but somewhere we all as a society need to pause and think, don’t we?

Someone else said:

A number of problems have surfaced in this district but schools generally reflect the norms of their community rather than form them in a vacuum.

Also somewhat true.

I feel I have to ask why is it that only the girl who was the field hockey phenom on a fast track to UNC as an early field hockey commit was named by name?  Two girls are in that video.

And let’s step back and look at the other lesson here: two teenagers have learned that actions indeed have consequences and words do wound.

Teenagers never want to listen when you caution them about social media.  Even after the nationwide news in June 2017 when Harvard University revoked acceptances on students over…wait for it…offensive social media posts.

Words wound. Actions have consequences.  Teenagers are of the invincible age.  They imagine they are like teflon and nothing bad can happen.

Uhhh d’oh. Just because you think it’s cool to be an ass on social media, it doesn’t mean it won’t follow you.

Kids today live in a different kind of scrutiny filled world.  Instant communication is great, but now look at two teenage girls who have in essence, tanked their cozy little worlds for transmitting ignorance.

Someone else said to me today:

These girls were probably at home when they posted this video, not at school. So I don’t quite understand how it is the fault of the school district and not the parents. …There are so many good things that happen at Conestoga and so many amazing kids that go there. Just hate to see them all affected by the foolish actions of 2 students…please do not throw all the kids into one bucket. Take it from me, there are a lot of good things happening at Conestoga, You just don’t hear about them!

 

So we are back to the power of the Internet. Which, incidentally, is why we all hear about the negative things so often at Conestoga. And we have heard about a lot of negative incidents coming out of this school and the corresponding school district over the past couple of years, haven’t we? And while not indicative of every student, every teacher, every coach, and all parents it certainly does make one pause and wonder about an unpleasant culture that pops up every now and again, doesn’t it?

Expressions of hate aren’t cute little things to be tossed around while giggling with your friends.  Words wound and these are words that are just a big bag of wrong.

People speak of social media boot camps.  I think they should develop them for middle school and high schools everywhere. Make parents, educators, and students attend.

And as for the parents who will say things like they didn’t know.  Ok look, I am the step-parent of a teenager.  They are the secret society.  They communicate by text and various social media platforms and via their gaming systems .  But we are the adults.  And while we should resist the urge to be prison wardens, we need to be present.

Parents need to be clear that actions have consequences. Parents need to set boundaries. Have difficult or awkward discussions at times.

Teenagers need to realize that social media can and will follow them.  Even adults are turned down for jobs and even relationships because of what people see on social media.

Trust me, I know. I am a blogger.

I have the video the girls posted.  I was going to include it on this post, but decided NOT to include it.

I want to have a different conversation, and that is the conversation of how we can all work together as an extended community wherever we live to strive towards ending this crap.  

We as the adults in the equation need to set a better example for the future generations. We live in a crazy volatile world, as well as a crazy politically volatile country.

We need to teach our children well.

We need to appreciate differences in other.

And from the Lord’s Prayer:

And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive them that trespass against us.
 

I don’t know what else to say except, this whole situation saddens me. I feel like this country is spiraling out of control and it is reflected on every level of society and age group.

I am going to sign off now.  I have struggled with this post for hours.  I felt I had to write, but even now I wonder if in this situation are any words the right words?

Pax.

No automatic alt text available.

 

 

on strike

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I love my stepson.  I do, He is awesome. But like many other kids those manners you have been teaching since embryo stage applies most often when you child is a guest in OTHER people’s homes. It’s so not cool to use those manners where you live! It simply is not done!

“Oh he is so helpful!”

“How do I get a child who helps me clean up the kitchen, set the table, walk the dog, and helps make the salad?”

“He is the PERFECT guest! And so articulate and conversational!”

Yes, I love hearing all this nice things….but here I sit laughing to myself that I wish I knew that person inside the four walls of our home!

Perfect manners. Outside the house.

Here?

Here I have a mutant ninja teenager.  He loves the inner sanctum of the bat cave, err his room.  Enter at your own risk.

Or the gaming palace, errr I mean the FAMILY room.

Want to make a teenager twitch? Have the temerity to actually sit in the FAMILY room and use it for anything OTHER than video games. Or hide their phone for a few minutes.

And when said beloved teenager is in the FAMILY room, you see him practicing to be a future corporate mogul and reclining like Julius Ceasar.  He has the head set on to communicate with his friends (and sometimes I swear they are more on the head sets to communicate than game). Then he has the super battery charger thingy in case he needs to plug in, text messaging/snap chatting/whatever on the phone, and for the technology trifecta, the tablet….with another game going on.

Teenagers contrary to popular belief can actually multitask VERY well and ever so efficiently….it just has to be something that interests them.  (Which aren’t parental units, naturally.)

When a certain someone was a little boy he loved hanging out with us.  He even showed interest in the kitchen.  When he was 10 he used to make me his world class favorite snack: he would cut up an apple, put it on the plate and carefully like he was mortaring bricks, would spread on peanut butter and even drizzle a little honey. And we would make hot cocoa together.

But at 17, you do not get that.  It is about friends, school, girl friend, gaming and not necessarily in that order.  Parental units are to be tolerated and used for rides to get places or buy stuff.  It’s not cool to hang out with the parental units, I do actually remember that much from being a teenager myself back in the olden days of yore.

Living as the only female human in the house I have resigned myself to a couple of things. One is socks form their own strange colonies along with random piles of dirty clothes.  The second is laundry looks much better when artfully displayed on the floor around the laundry hamper.

Another thing is the male of the human species have their own special, often somewhat primal non-verbal language.  They can move about the house  essentially grunting to each other and well sometimes the female feels somewhat invisible….until you cook or bake something that smells REALLY REALLY good.

One thing that doesn’t seem to happen very much in my house anymore are family dinners.  Teenager might turn into a pillar of salt or something if he couldn’t spend his time after homework on his games with his friends.  So I have pretty much given up on that ideal.  Which saddens me, but too many instances of teenager face (that special they are-bored-don’t-want-to-be-here-face), made me give it up.

But there is one thing I won’t give up on.  If teenager wants to be master of his own universe after homework, fine, but it is not my job to be the maid.  Yet somehow, I end up being the maid because teenagers never seem to know where the dishwasher is where they live…you are the maid and dishwasher.

Last night I cooked a lovely dinner.  Teenager did not join us.  But when he got off of his games and brought up his dinner plate (which was fixed and delivered to him by his father), it once again got deposited in the sink for the fairies or someone to take care of.

Proverbial straw meet camel’s back.  Time to go on strike.  I am not the maid.

So I decided to do to him what we once did to a summer beach house roommate who was a supreme kitchen slob: deposit his plate back in his room on a towel with a note (as seen above). Mind you I am being much kinder to him than I was to this woman once upon a time – we took a BIG beach towel and put it on her bed and onto the towel went a week’s worth of dirty dishes and glasses and detritus she had left trailing around for an entire week.  We had thought if we let her stuff pile up, she would take care of it but when that didn’t work, it was time for towel on bed. That worked and the rest of the summer she didn’t leave a mess in the kitchen.

Whether this leaving the plate back for my teenager to find will work or just be perceived as another parental unit nuisance remains to be seen.  I suspect I will have to go on strike a few more times.  Sorry not sorry but when I was his age I could not only cook, my sister and I were expected to clean up or help clean up.

Parents of teenagers are reading this and laughing, because you have to have one to truly get this new parenthood club.  I don’t ask for much, I just want a little help and cooperation once in a while.  And I am waiting for the feedback from some of my friends who do NOT have teenagers.  They feel free to liberally sprinkle parenting advice and while I appreciate their efforts, telling me what to do when they do NOT have a single teenager in residence is not helpful…and I will be sitting there with popcorn gleefully on the sidelines when their kids who “would never do that” become teenagers.

And I might get them the book by Dr. Peter Marshall titled  Now I Know Why Tigers Eat Their Young

Thanks for stopping by!

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life today and our children

  

This photo (which has been shown publicly on NBC10 ) started making the rounds on social media locally almost two days before the Great Valley School  District released the following statement:

(NOTE: This is the text of email  sent out last evening by GVSD and parents are all starting to chatter about how it happened two days ago and GVSD is just sending this out:)

(Below is text of district email)


“This School Messenger is to inform you of an incident that occurred on our campus yesterday. I want to make sure you have accurate information and dispel any rumors you may have heard about the incident.

There was an altercation between two male students in our high school. A single punch was thrown and one of those students was seriously hurt. The student was taken to the hospital by ambulance and was in serious condition. Today, the student’s  condition has improved and he was receptive to a visit by Mr. Flick, our high school principal. Our prayers are with the student and his family.

The health and safety of our students and staff is our top priority. The proper procedures and protocol were followed as outlined by School Board Policy 218. To dispel some rumors that have emerged, this was not a gang related situation nor was it a group beating of an individual. 

We ask your support in the following ways:

•    Talk frequently with your children about what they are hearing and seeing on the news, at school or on social media. 

•    Discuss with them the seriousness of spreading rumors or false information.

•    Encourage them to report any suspicious activity to a trusted adult at school, or to you. You may call your school administration directly.  

In the true spirit of Great Valley, students and faculty raised $450 today for the family of the student.

If you have any further questions, please feel free to call my office or Mr. Flick at the High School. Thank you for your support and assistance in keeping our campus safe for everyone.”
Respectfully,

Dr. Alan J. Lonoconus
Superintendent of Schools
Great Valley School District



Ok. Deep breath.

This poor boy is 16. I am told that he and his family are new to this country? Is this how we, born of the land of the free, welcome new immigrants to our shores? Whose American Dream is this?

I find extraordinarily troublesome that Great Valley went around in circles and didn’t address this within hours of the incident happening. This is something that you need to as a district get out in front of . That gives the appearance of trying to deny this incident even happened for two days and this boy no matter how it happened could have died couldn’t he have?

On other Facebook pages there are parents talking about this quite a bit. Apparently this fight landed this boy into a coma and although he seems to be awake he’s on an oxygen tank and they’re waiting to see if there is brain damage and how would you like to be the mother? Sitting by your child’s bedside new to this country, and wondering what was going to happen?

Here is what NBC10 reported:

Chester County Teen Falls Into Coma After Punch in the Face Over Headphones

By Vince Lattanzio

….Selvin Cartagena was with a cousin and friend inside Great Valley High School around 8:30 a.m. Wednesday when the 17-year-old and his buddy got into an argument over headphones, the teen’s family said. The headphones, which belong to the friend, were supposedly damaged causing the argument.
Cartagena’s mother said the argument escalated to violence with her son being punched in the face. The boy fell unconscious after the assault and could not be waked. He was taken to Paoli Hospital and placed on a ventilator.

The teen, who arrived in the U.S. from Guatemala last year and speaks little English, remained in the coma until Thursday afternoon when he was able to open his eyes and talk some. It’s not clear if he suffered permanent brain damage.



I am hoping that a group like Latino Luncheon which meets in West Chester monthly will start a Go Fund Me page or something to raise funds for the family. This counts as a traumatic brain injury and as I have a friend who’s daughter is still recovering from one, I know that it takes a lot of therapy and a lot of doctors which equals a lot of money.

I think you can safely say that there are a lot of parents out there in the school district who are upset that this was kept from them for two days, then there are the other parents who were upset because they’ve been aware of this along with their children for two days and no action was taken immediately by the district publicly. And then (sadly) there are the parents who said what did eveyone expect from Great Valley School District. I totally understand that it might take a bit to get a proper statement out, but this should have been at least acknowledged to the families of the district more quickly.

Have they offered counseling at the high school? Can you imagine how upsetting this was for any teenager that witnessed it?


So the early media reports and parents say East Whiteland Police are investigating and so on? What does the Chester county District Attorney’s Office have to say about this? See that’s the other thing, there is another child involved – the one who I would say probably accidentally caused this. Unless it is proven that this other child has a history of fighting in school this is a horrible accident and how do we deal with that as a society?

If this was just a horrible accident, then I think we have to look to the mental health of the boy who threw  the punch. I would guess the child is horribly upset and he might be 16 but that  is still a child, so do you treat him like an adult or do you treat him like the kid that is? And how do you treat him? Do you get him into therapy and anger management or do you just lock kids up who do these things and throw away the key?  


I think you have to consider therapy and anger management and compassion all the way around. As a stepparent I can tell you I honestly would struggle with this if this happened to my child on either side of the incident. But as an adult I don’t want the lives of two kids ruined before they have lived their lives do you? 


Undoubtedly this is an isolated incident unless there are histories of fights going on in the high school that no one is aware of.  But that doesn’t mean as a community we shouldn’t discuss this and be proactive so it doesn’t happen again.

I am not a law-enforcement or educational professional so they will have to decide this. But I caution people that the court of public opinion is very important here. And have the responsibility as adults to show our kids the best paths in life possible. After all something like this could spark a stupid and  an ill advised  response from friends of these teens and their families so let’s come together and be proactive as a community, not reactive. Cool and thoughtful heads must prevail. 

So in my humble opinion that means you have to show them there are solutions to things in life other than using your fists or a weapon. And games and materialistic items shouldn’t have such a value that they translate into threatening human life. I don’t know how else to describe it. 

Violence only begets violence and somewhere along the way we have to hit the pause button as a society. And we also have to pay more attention, perhaps better attention to our kids. Being a teen or tween in today’s world is not easy. Emotions run high hormonally to begin with, setting any other influences aside.

I have been thinking about tweens and teens a lot recently. It wasn’t prompted by this incident it was prompted by the untimely death of a young woman who had battled depression and addiction issues. This girl had a family who was totally behind her recovery and supportive and yet the unthinkable happened. Then earlier this year there was the suicide  of the boy named Cayman.

It’s not easy being a kid today. I’m not saying it was all easy and no problems with any of us were growing up, but it seems today it’s a lot more intense for lack of a better description.

I see a lot of programs out there for very little kids to teach them not to bully and how to get along and how to talk to people, but once the kids hit tween and teen years I don’t hear about these things as much.  

Look I have a teenager I know it is like banging your head against the wall some days. They aren’t necessarily communicative and they think they know everything. But they don’t know everything and neither do we.  But we are all on this bus called life together, and I think we all need to make more of an effort to figure it out. 

And I think we need to do a little more than the school district (Great Valley) has done thus far. Like it or not I think there need to be more programs in the schools, and sponsored by school districts, churches, YMCAS and so on.  

Call them teen summits or whatever you want, but the organizations that have the ability to put these programs together with mental health professionals, law-enforcement, and someone need to get on the ball around here. And parents and kids should be required to go.  We need to facilitate more community conversations on this. We need to make sure that our kids have safe places to go to discuss problems. Maybe local PTAs and school booster associations could turn the focus to something like this. To me it has more value than pom-poms and  school spirit buttons.

From fist fights to cyber bullying to depression, additction, abuse, we need to talk about it and deal with it. TOGETHER.

If any go fund me or similar pages pop-up to help this boy and his family with his upcoming medical costs please feel free to leave the link in a comment below this post.

Thanks for stopping by and stay cool today it’s hot out there.

quiche with ham, broccoli, and spinach….and a side of teenager

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Yes….how to get more vegetables into your teenager. Of course my teenager has just decreed that he’s not eating any quiche.

(Deep breath…..deep breath…..)

As parents is incredibly frustrating when you are going out of your way to try to make things that will be appealing to them, and then they won’t even try things if they are in a teenage mood. Well the teen can try it, right? Not everything can be of the favorite teenage boy food group of starch sugar and more starch. He was much easier to feed when he was 10, and he was actually open to trying new things and allowing things that were green and vegetable like to pass his lips regularly.

Of course if I had a show on Food Network like Nancy Fuller or Martha Stewart or Ree Drummond or Ina Garten everybody would sit magically around the table which would be set beautifully to perfection every night and eat everything that I made and rave….LOL reality is far different!

Okay enough venting my frustration over the eating habits and mercurial moods of the teenage male! I just have to keep repeating “I love my teenager I love my teenager I love my teenager I love my teenager“.

I think out there somewhere there must be a 12 step program for surviving the teenage years. They really aren’t mutant ninja secret agent super gamer teenage cave dwellers who have taken a vow of silence. My brother-in-law humorously noted recently that the average teenage boy doesn’t really start conversing with adults again until they hit 18 or 19.

Anyway I know this quiche will be delicious. The wine depicted in the photo is for adults in the house.

So how this recipe came about: I had ham leftover from New Year’s. I had frozen the bone for an upcoming lentil soup, but decided to go quiche with the remaining ham meat.

First I made my crust – I am into these herbs and savory crusts these days, so the recipe for this particular crust is below the rest of the quiche recipe.

Once I had rolled out my crust and fit it into my 9 1/2 inch vintage glass dish pie plate, put that in the refrigerator to keep cool well I got to work on the rest of the quiche.

Somewhere during the crust making process I preheated my oven to 375°.

My next step involves the ingredients below:

1 1/2 cups cubed ham
1/2 cup grape tomatoes sliced thin
1 medium onion chopped small
1 cup fresh broccoli diced
Dash of salt fresh cracked pepper
Dash of Cumin

For all those ingredients listed above, sauté with 2 tablespoons of unsalted butter over medium heat for about 10 minutes, maybe 15. Turn off heat and set-aside.

Okay now that that part was complete and the crust was chilling, comes the next step before assembly. It involves the ingredients below:

1 3/4 cups shredded Swiss and Gruyere cheese
5 eggs
1 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dry ground mustard
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon tarragon
1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika
Dash sriracha sauce

1/2 cup fresh baby spinach stems removed

In a mixing bowl whisk together the eggs milk salt, pepper herbs and spices. Add your dash of sriracha sauce.

Fold in the cheese. Take your piecrust out of the refrigerator and place in the center of a rimmed baking sheet – I use a professional jellyroll pan. First layer in the ham mixture from your sauté pan, then add baby spinach – the leaves are so small I don’t bother to chop up. Finally add your shredded cheese.

Place quiche on your baking sheet and your preheated 375° oven. Bake 35 to 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Let sit at least 10 minutes before serving. I don’t like eating boiling hot quiche so I will let mine sit 20 to 25 minutes.

Serve with a green salad.

Oops, I almost forgot, here is how I made the crust:

1/2 teaspoon each rosemary, marjoram, tarragon
1 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
8 Tbs. (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
3 Tbs. very cold buttermilk

Directions:
To make the dough by hand, in a large bowl, stir together the flour, sugar and salt. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives or yes your fingers, cut the butter into the flour mixture until the texture resembles coarse cornmeal, with butter pieces no larger than small peas. Add the water and mix with a fork just until the dough pulls together. Form dough into a ball and flatten slightly on a floured surface roll out. Put in your pie plate crimp the edges, and refrigerate why you assemble the rest of your quiche.

pen & pencil

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It started innocently enough. I wanted an answer to a question I had.

As a parent, I am newer to the game that a lot of people out there. And I am a step-parent. My instincts are good, but I simply haven’t been at it as long as other parents.

I had noticed even last year with our child that I didn’t feel the teachers had kids using a pen enough. Of course, the only basis for comparison I have are what I see my friends’ and family’s children doing, or my own personal experience. And my personal experience is different because I spent most of my life going to private school. I was using pens in fourth grade to learn calligraphy – of course I am dating myself here because that was back when there was actual penmanship still!

I asked my child what the deal with pens versus pencils was and he said “all the kids his pencil.”

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I asked a mom I know who had a child in my child’s class and she shared with me that even her child who was older and farther along in high school still basically used pencil for everything.

do parents have the right to parent?

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Really,dear?  Is that all?

When you are the parent of a teenager, unusual stories about teenagers make you sit up and listen.  I am the step-parent of a teenage boy.  I haven’t been at this for that many years, so as opposed to parents with more time logged under their belts, I might think about things more in some cases just because I don’t have that many years of life experience doing this.

And life experience is key here.  Kids have life experience, and no one said they were dumb or without rights, but where do you draw the line between kids and adults? Adults do have more life experience, right? And we are supporting these kids emotionally, financially, and literally, so what if one kid really throws a curve ball? Do we wrap kids in cotton batting and keep them insulated from the world and reality, or do we let them experience life and make mistakes?

And then there is the battle of the sexes.  My friends with teen girls always tell me boys are easier.  I don’t have enough experience to know, but after something caught my eye on the news this morning, I might be rethinking that.

My experience with teenagers is limited personally to my friends’ kids, my nephew, and my stepson. I am learning to speak teenage boy…..slowly.  It involves lots of patience, occasional piles of clothes on the floor, mono-syllabic conversations, fear of green vegetables, video games, things are never “cute”, and girls (although girls are not discussed).

Immediate family-wise, I am lucky.  I have an amazing kid, and my nephew is an amazing kid. (Please note: My niece is not being deliberately left out here, she is just not a teenager yet even if she is the best fashion stylist in the family.)  But how would any of us be if we were the parents of one Rachel Canning of New Jersey? This is what caught my eye this morning on the Today Show : the story of this girl suing her parents.  Only this isn’t some cute ’80s move starring Drew Barrymore.

This is the story of a teenager who didn’t like the house rules and basically ran away, went to live with and be supported by a friend’s parents and is now 18 and suing her parents for money.

New Jersey honor student sues parents for school fees after they cut her off at age 18

Rachel Canning, 18, claims her parents, Sean and Elizabeth Canning, threw her out of their Lincoln Park, N.J., home last year and stopped paying for her private high school, where she excelled as a cheerleader and lacrosse player. But Sean Canning says Rachel left voluntarily after she refused to abide by simple rules of the house.

By      / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Published: Monday, March 3, 2014, 5:07 PM
Updated: Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 9:40 AM

But Sean and Elizabeth Canning say their “spoiled” college-bound daughter doesn’t live by their house rules and left the home because she didn’t like the law of the land — overseen by her father, a former Lincoln Park police chief.

The Morris Catholic High School senior and lacrosse player instead has lived at the Rockaway, N.J., home of a classmate, whose father, John Inglesino, has foot the bill for the suit.

“My parents have rationalized their actions by blaming me for not following their rules,” Rachel said in her court papers, according to The Daily Record of Morristown, N.J. “They stopped paying my high school tuition to punish the school and me and have redirected my college fund, indicating their refusal to afford me an education as a punishment.”

“I want money but I don’t want to live with you?”

It sounds like a bad Lifetime TV movie, doesn’t it?  Only it’s not and it is happening up in Northern New Jersey. This girl, Rachel Canning is a senior it looks like at Morris Catholic High School. It also looks like she has two Facebook Pages. This one and this brand new one she has been posting on for a few hours. She has been posting comments she has been receiving.  (For the record: no matter what she is trying to do she does not deserve to be called all sorts of vile and crude four letter words as that accomplishes nothing .)

So she isn’t getting along with her parents.  Sounds like a teenager.

So the parents say they don’t want her partying, hanging out with a certain boy, and there are house rules.  Sounds like parents.

So she runs away to a friend’s house.  Sounds like teenage girl d-r-a-m-a.

So friend’s parents take up her cause, including living expenses and court costs? Ok, that sounds like over-stepping a bit?  And the father of the best friend where she is living is according to media reports Former Morris County Freeholder John Inglesino? A politician and a lawyer? Why would he take this on? Does he have something against the parents? Does that sound normal to you? We’re not talking about the  cool parents you can talk to once in a while, we are talking about the parents that call me crazy seem to want to take over someone else’s child?

I must admit that I am somewhat astounded at these other parents inserting themselves here.  Are there real instances of abuse? Or are they just the type of parents of teens today more interested in being friends with their kids versus actual parenting?

rachelNow look, we were all teenagers once.  I remember one time in a fit of young teen drama like many other teens I told my mother I couldn’t stand it any more and was leaving.  I still remember my mother’s response which was “use shopping bags from the grocery store, not the good luggage.” That really pissed me off, I slammed a couple of doors….but I came down for dinner a few hours later and all was forgiven.

I did not have the acceptably “cool” parents of the day.  They didn’t throw us keg parties and they did things like called other parents before I went to a party to see if (a) parents were there (b) alcohol was being served. Needless to say, I missed a lot of parties. But at almost 50 I can say I am around to tell the tale.

Did I clash with my parents? Yes I did.  What kid doesn’t?  As a matter of fact, if I am brutally honest it has taken years to find the adult relationship with my mother I am actually comfortable with as an adult. And we still tangle on occasion.  That is the nature of parents and children.  It’s not always perfect.  It doesn’t mean I didn’t love my parents and don’t love my mother, it’s just reality.  They were parents, not my good buddies.   I loved them, I hated them, they embarrassed me, I embarrassed them.  And somehow, we all survived. They were real people, not Carol and Mike Brady.

My father has been dead a few years now and I love him and still miss him every day. I am lucky I still have my mother, and yes she is an original.  She is not your orthopedic shoes, gray hair and knitting kind of mother and grandmother. She is more like a senior fashionista who still loves her heels and dressing up.  She can be outrageous and even annoying to me because I am her kid even if I am almost 50, but would I have essentially divorced them, run, away, and sued for money?  Would I have turned them into a Bravo TV reality show?

No.  My parents weren’t perfect, but neither am I.

As a relatively new parent I am acutely aware of things like helicopter parenting.  Those are the parents that do everything including think for little Johnny and Susie….even well into purported adulthood. I have had people tell me stories of these types of parents which are truly a little crazy. I have seen things I thought was crazy.

The flip side of this, is I have seen some somewhat astounding kids here and there.  I used to live (for example) near an esteemed private school for boys. These boys used my old neighborhood as a parking lot – there wasn’t enough on-campus parking and well, that wasn’t cool anyway (you could get away with much more if you parked off campus).  I used to see two types of teenage boys: the really lovely ones who were in many cases children of my friends growing up, and the others with extreme misplaced senses of entitlement who quite frankly were brats.  Now that isn’t going to endear me to the private school set, but it is the truth.

And I saw it all I think.  For example, a lot of the kids drove mommy and daddy’s expensive cars to school and not only didn’t think twice about getting tickets (mommy and daddy would pay them natch’) , but they didn’t think twice about dinging the cars or even losing the keys. I remember finding a couple of those expensive starter keys that don’t look like regular keys for Mercedes Benzes and BMWs.  I used to always walk them back to the school, because as an adult I knew each one of these keys costs a ridiculous amount of money.  Every time I took the keys to the school I was told by the school I shouldn’t bother, the parents would just replace them anyway.

Weekends meant a lot of these boys would come back to my neighborhood as a meeting point to go to parties, mess around with their girlfriends, and dump their liquor bottles after parties.  The best story about bottles were the kids who tried to dump them in our trash.  My neighbor at the time (who was a psychologist by trade), stood there and made them take every bottle out of the trash.  They whined and protested and she kept it simple: they could deal with her or they could deal with the local police.  And yes, I still have still photos somewhere of this.  I remember one kid saying “you don’t know who my parents are”.

And all this time, through to present day I am told by parents of teenage girls that teenage boys are much easier to deal with.

After seeing this news report, I might be inclined to agree.

This girl Rachel got a bit of a smack down by a judge yesterday.  He told her no.  I am guessing that doesn’t happen very often.

N.J. judge denies teen honor student’s request for emergency funds in suit against parents 

Rachel Canning, 18, won’t get $650 weekly child support or payment of her private high school tuition from estranged parents Sean and Elizabeth Canning, a judge decided Tuesday. But a second hearing on the suit is scheduled for next month, and the Morris Catholic High School senior could still force her parents to pay up her impending college costs.

By      / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

Tuesday, March 4, 2014, 6:45 PM

A judge Tuesday ruled against New Jersey teen Rachel Canning, who sued her parents for expenses and education tuition after she says they tossed her out of their Lincoln Park home last year.

Morristown Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard appears to have agreed with an independent investigators’ assessment of the home atmosphere: that the high school cheerleader and lacrosse player is “spoiled.”…..“We love our child and miss her. This is terrible. It’s killing me and my wife. We have a child we want home,” Sean Canning told The Daily Record of Morristown, N.J. “We’re not draconian and now we’re getting hauled into court. She’s demanding that we pay her bills but she doesn’t want to live at home and she’s saying, ‘I don’t want to live under your rules.’”

Rachel Canning has lived in the Rockaway, N.J. home of classmate Jaime Inglesino. Inglesino’s father, John Inglesino, has foot the bill for the girl’s lawyer fees, more than $12,000 thus far.

So I looked up this Rachel’s father on Facebook along with her.  I did that after Facebook, being Facebook I saw a comment by a friend of a friend talking about this Canning family. What she said prompted my further look:

“Father was police officer and chief in this town and….they still live there (he retired and now works in another town as town business admin.). Family has had personal struggles, but really nice family. Love the mother, very involved…. I think Rachel has headed down wrong path. Broke my heart to watch judge read ruling and Liz (mom) cry and Rachel not react. As hard as I remember those [teenage] years being, I cried a lot over arguments with my mom and dad…..That other man [parent of friend] is too involved. He should be siding with his peers not with children’s friends”

canning family

This person’s comments are nice and measured.  And see this is the thing: small towns always have gossip about the families of people who hold public positions so don’t you think if this girl’s parents were so awful or abusive to the point Children and Youth would have to step in or should step in that people would have heard of it?  I found this public photo of the family on Google and sorry, as a photographer you learn to pick up certain things in photos, and maybe my radar is off, but what do you see here?

This is what Rachel’s dad has to say:

father 1

father 2

father 3

father 4

teen-sues-parents
And then there are the photos of the parents and this student-sues-parentsgirl at yesterday’s court hearing.  The parents in tears, the teen smiling and showing little other than that. I am sorry, but the more I read, the more I feel for the parents.

girlsCourt testimony seems to paint a picture of parents trying to not lose a kid to partying and bad influences, so I guess I don’t get why the parents of this friend of hers has inserted themselves here? How is their business to influence someone else’s child? If this was an “at risk” teen, maybe I would feel differently but what I can’t escape is this is a teen who was told “no” and didn’t like it.

Rachel Canning has two Facebook pages.  Her new one is very much in the public eye and she is “sharing” publicly.  I wonder if she is being coached? Or does she think at 18 she knows best in the sharing/over-sharing department? Does she want to prove our case or paint herself cleverly as a victim in overpriced jeans? Or is she just a messed up kid ?

brat 1

brat 2

Is it the responsibility for every parent to reward bad behavior? Because if this girl is an honor student really being wronged, why wouldn’t she be one of these kids applying for scholarships and financial aid? Is it just me, or might that be too much work?

And I have to admit this gal needs a dose of reality because not every parent can afford to send every kid to college as much as they might want to. And I know and have known kids who had less than nothing who figured it out and got the education they wanted.

I think this girl is about to learn a very valuable life lesson of who to trust and listen to OR she will continue to hold everyone else responsible for her life and her decisions.  I hope it is the former and not the latter.

N. J. teen sues parents but loses first round in court

Rachel Canning wanted $650 in weekly child support, plus the payment of her tuition at Morris Catholic High School. But a New Jersey judge denied her initial request. “Are we going to open the gates for 12-year-olds to sue for an Xbox? For 13-year-olds to sue for an iPhone?” he asked.

By David Porter, Associated Press / March 5, 2014

A northern New Jersey honor student who has sued to get her parents to support her after she moved out of their home had her initial request denied Tuesday by a judge who cautioned that the case could lead to a “potentially slippery slope” of claims by teenagers against their parents.

Rachel Canning had sought immediate relief in the form of $650 in weekly child support and the payment of the remainder of her tuition at Morris Catholic High School, as well as attorney’s fees.

State Superior Court Judge Peter Bogaard denied those motions but ordered the parties to return to court on April 22…..Court documents show frequent causes of parent-teenage tension — boyfriends and alcohol — taken to an extreme. In the filings, there are accusations and denials, but one thing is clear: the girl left home Oct. 30, two days before she turned 18 after a tumultuous stretch during which her parents separated and reconciled and the teen began getting into uncharacteristic trouble at school.

In court filings, Canning’s parents, retired Lincoln Park police Chief Sean Canning and his wife, Elizabeth, said their daughter voluntarily left home because she didn’t want to abide by reasonable household rules, such as being respectful, keeping a curfew, doing a few chores and ending a relationship with a boyfriend her parents say is a bad influence. They say that shortly before she turned 18, she told her parents that she would be an adult and could do whatever she wanted.

She said her parents are abusive, contributed to an eating disorder…Canning wants the judge to declare that she’s non-emancipated and dependent as a student on her parents for support…

But this raises a conversation with parents.  What rights do parents have as far as discipline? Should they be more concerned about being popular with their teenagers, or about being their parents?

Now maybe these Canning parents didn’t handle every conversation well with their daughter, I have no way of knowing.  Do I believe that the relationship issues between adults affects kids? Sure it does, but does that mean every teenager should rise up and sue their parents?

If she wanted to leave, she is now 18.  But it seems to me she didn’t necessarily want out of Hotel Parents, she just wanted her own way. I mean let’s get real if you are a woman: did your parents like every boyfriend? Isn’t boy drama just a part of growing up?

Of course with girls especially, there is that whole forbidden fruit thing.  The parents say no and they work harder to get around them. However, as much as it pains me to say it, for the most part my parents were right when they said “no”. I for one just didn’t want to hear it.  Do I think they could have phrased things better and as a new parent do I try to improve on what passed for teen-parent communication back in the day? Yes to both.

I feel strongly about kids trying to respect adults.  I do not see teens as equals to adults.  I think a lot of kids are more intelligent than adults, but now that I am the adult I kind of get the other side of the dynamic.  And it’s hard.  You want to be their friend, yet you literally have to be the grown-up.  You think you are saying the right thing and half the time it falls on deaf ears….face it if it is longer than two or three sentences I think all teenagers hear is the “waah, wahh, wahh” that Charlie Brown and Peppermint Patty used to hear whenever their teacher spoke.

I admire the super patient among my friends.  I will admit sometimes I don’t get it, a lot of times I don’t get it….but I try all the time to get it.  I will admit I get hurt feelings when I try to make a super awesome dinner and it gets pushed around the plate or  my teen just shows up late. I will admit I don’t get the love affair with video games and dirty socks on the floor. And I know these are little things. But as opposed to some, I am so new to this, so this is all my learning curve.

And then I read about kids like Rachel Canning. And I hate to be all judgmental and mean grown-up, but I count my lucky stars.

But I feel for these parents.

So Rachel, I know you are out there lapping up your press. I can see it on your face in video and photographs and on your Facebook page.  Maybe you see yourself as a Real Housewife of New Jersey in training, or feel your parents should just cater to your every whim, but life doesn’t work that way. I hope you go to counseling with your parents and work it out. But do I think they should pay for you as a non-emancipated teenager living elsewhere? Nope. I hate to say I think you are being a brat, and I am sure it is not that simple, but that is how I feel. I also find your behavior selfish in as far as you as a kid don’t even realize your actions could say….cost your parents their employment and then where would all of you be, including your sisters?

And little girlfriend, I wish you could see how creepy it is that your BFF’s dad has so inserted himself into your life. Sorry, but the jaded adult in me just doesn’t see this as normal or good.

Love them or hate them, we only get one set of parents.  Don’t do something you regret. There is plenty of time to be a grown-up, my dear.  Go home. Actions have consequences, and I really don’t think you have a clue…..

 

free the maid!

laundryI will fully and completely admit from jump that I am inspired to write this by mom bloggers like Jannell Burley Hoffman.  Don’t know Jannell? She wrote the inspired post To My 13-Year-Old, An iPhone Contract From Your Mom, With Love – if you haven’t read that post, you should! She is one of my mom blogger heroes!

I like to remind people that I am a relatively new parent late to the parenting game. I missed out on a lot of things fellow mom bloggers take for granted. I love my new world and parenting is wonderful, challenging, exasperating, and awesome – usually ALL at the same time every day.

My kid is awesome. Yes, I know all parents say that, but in my case it is true.  I love him to the moon and back.  But my kid is a teenager, and no one gave me an instruction manual. (What’s wrong with you people? Do you want me to be Queen Dork and not know what is going on?)

I am learning that often communication is minimal.  Girls like to chatter.  Boys seem to be strong, silent types in training.  That of course doesn’t mean anything is wrong, I think it is just not cool to be overly verbose or something.

When you ask a question generally every thing is “good”. And when you ask what they are doing a popular response is “stuff”.  And that isn’t being rude or anything, it just is.

I am learning that I have to keep my sentences short or I lose my audience.  Short as in brief in length, not terse in attitude.  This of course is next to impossible for me to do if you know me.  Hell, I talk in my sleep sometimes I have so much to say on any given day.

In this parental unit role I find things coming out of my mouth that startle me and make me run for the hills.  Why? WHEN DID I START SOUNDING LIKE MY MOTHER???????

Anything involving sweets, macaroni and cheese, spaghetti and meat sauce is approved.  Vegetables are the enemy some days and some days they are very confused because some days they are welcomed to the dinner table as a friend.

Homework is of course the mortal enemy of ALL fun.  Some days I find myself prisoner of the backpack myself.  As for video games, I don’t understand them or their allure.  Maybe it’s a girl thing but all I think they do is suck out brain cells, which is why I believe in brain rotting with limits. (I have of course noticed that video games often result in someone channelling Monty Hall and playing “Let’s Make a Deal” LOL)

And oh my. Texting is a contact sport some days and why does Face Timing always seem LOUD? And what is up with these parents that let their kids text after midnight?

And then there is the whole cleaning up thing. I think having a teenager is like trying to domesticate a hurricane some days. Stuff just appears in a trail following your child. Especially socks and sneakers.  It really is quite remarkable.  And then there is the whole asking-for-help-tidying-up-thing.

“Wut?????”

Cleaning up.  You know putting away laundry and stuff?

“Huh???? What do you mean???”

Yes, I know it is really so much more fun to leave piles of laundry decorating bits of furniture and the floor.  I was a kid once too, believe it or not. (I know no kid believes it is possible.  But then again I was the kid who asked her mother if there were any really BIG dinosaurs alive when she was little. Yes, remarkably I survived my childhood.)

Ok back to the laundry….I mean why put dirty laundry IN the basket when you can put it AROUND the basket? It’s so like a modern art installation that way, right?

But sigh…..the maid is off today so I need a little help. So my dear teenager, please humor me and neatly put away all that lovely laundry that was washed and folded for you just like magic.   You might have to re-fold some of it as it has been living on the floor and apparently learned to dance. I mean why else would all those clean clothes end up UNDER the furniture, right?

And my dear if you could also  have a brief look and tidy up that bureau drawer that is at present half-open with clothes looking like they just escaped a tornado hanging out of it.

I know, I know I am sooo not cool when I ask for help on this stuff.  I am like the hall monitor because I also want you to make your bed once in a while too, right? (You can roll your eyes like teenagers are universally wont to do – I won’t mind.)

But my darling believe it or not these little life skills will come in handy some day when the maid is off.  And way down the road in a time yet to come, this will all make you smile and laugh and shake your head ruefully when you are a parent.

So free the maid and help her out!  She loves you! (And she is not above bribing you with brownies or something if you comply.)