Friday, December 28, 2012

Crayons, Coloring books and, Bully's?

Recently, I publicly announced that my daughter (a second grader) was being bullied from a student at her school.  A lot of parents wouldn't recommend that you take something so personal into the public eye.  As a BULLY advocate, I do not have a problem with using our situation as an example as that it may help others in the future.

With that being said, here is the story that many have been waiting to hear.
And like any good story, I should hope that by the time you have read this you will have had something positive to take away from this too- should you ever be in a similar situation or know someone who might.

At this point you may be thinking, Bullying in second grade? How is that even possible?
Well, I thought the same thing.  Until one night my daughter confided in me and suddenly, it was as if all of the puzzle pieces came together.

I have not asked her many questions to the point of provoking. She does however know and understand what things are not okay for someone to do to her and what she cannot do to others.

The conversation began quite simply with us talking about dairy products. She asked if she could drink the milk at school (she hadn't been feeling well that week) and after my reply she says "Well, that's if he will let me.."

This opened up a conversation I was not at all prepared for.  Even as a BULLY advocate, I understand that it can happen to anyone. It even happened to me as a child.

She didn't call it bullying, however. "Picked on" were the words she used when she described in detail what had been happening to her.  She talked about her fingers being stepped on, her hands being smacked down or held behind her back when she raised them to tell, her hair being pulled, her papers being taken from her, being pushed out of line, food being taken from her lunch tray..

And then, it all made sense.
Why was she starving when she got off of the school bus? She had ate her snack in class and could tell me what was on her lunch tray..
Why did she have such bad headaches when she hadn't hit her head on anything and her eye checks were up to date..
Why were her fingers red and sore? She was crying at night in bed and pulling on them because they hurt and said she hadn't did anything to them.
Why did this child who when misses the bus and has to ride with me to school, suddenly started to feel sick and not want to go, but feel better once the bus was gone?

My initial reaction was most likely the same as yours, as you are reading this. Anger, hurt and afraid.
Who was this person who was making my child so miserable? After reviewing the timeline, I'd realized that this had been going on for the six weeks or more.

Two days passed and I had my appointment with the school principal.  A lot of parents may be wondering why I skipped the chain of command and went directly to him, well it's fairly simple- I was going to pass through him (because of security reasons) to get to the teacher anyway. My child was not going to be attending class again until this was resolved, and this was not a matter that I wanted to handle over a phone call with the teacher.
My best bet? Just go to the principal directly.. so I did.

The principal is a very kind man, like myself blunt and to the point. I appreciate the way he handles the students and parents involved in his facility.  When you first walk up to the school, there are signs clear enough for anyone to read saying how it is a No Bullying Zone.

We discussed the situation and he told me that my daughter was excused until he further contacted me to have a meeting with the other student, the other student's parents and the teachers involved. I was pleased with all of this and thanked him for his time.  I even took the opportunity to inform him of The BULLY Project. (Seek opportunity everywhere, for every cause!)

So, a few days later I talked with my little one about meeting with the other child and his parents and she was fine with it. I recorded one of the conversations as she and I were talking, but she hushed about it once she became uncomfortable with the idea. So we let the subject go and went on about our day.

We met with the teacher, the principal and the father of the son who was the other student, the student was there as well.  It was nerve wrecking for everyone and the father of the other child kind of reminded me of my own dad.

I went in with the mindset that this would be a positive experience for the children. They are after all, only seven and eight years old.  My target in this meeting, were the adults.

During the meeting my little one was nervous and scared, whispering to talk and the other child was in tears throughout. To see both children, so little in age sitting in this room scared, broke my heart.  They are kids.  As adults, it is our responsibility to teach them in their individual ways what was right and what was wrong in the situation.

Now is the time to stop the bad behaviors and reward the good.  They are learning from us.

As the meeting went on, I made sure to look both children directly in the eye and remind them that we could fix this as a team.  I knew that raising our voices, scaring them or being angry would only shut them down.  That is not how I wanted this to be.

Both children admitted that against the teacher's word in the beginning of the meeting, they had tried to tell multiple times on eachother- her for him picking on her and him for her fighting back.

At the end of the meeting, it was my turn to talk and I made sure to look the teacher and principal in the eye with what I had to say.

I stated that I felt it was irresponsible of the school to have this gone on as long as it had.  The fact that it had gotten to the point where we had to have the meeting, was absolutely ridiculous.  I pointed out that this school was of a small classroom size and that for both children to have had this happen, to the point where my child was hurt, the other children witnessed it and helped get him off of her, both children tried telling on eachother and nothing was done, was absolutely absurd.  I let them know, that if this were to happen again- with either child, that either one had a a problem and it was even remotely ignored that my child would no longer be a student at that school.

I reminded them that I am not a parent that uses the school system as a 'babysitter', but I don't expect something like this to go to the extent of pain- emotional or physical for six or more weeks.

The tension in the room had rose at this point.  But I made my point clear.

The principal and teacher assured me that it would not happen.  I myself, talked with the children and told them that instead of picking on eachother, they could become a team and help other kids who were getting picked on.  To think of eachother as friends and team up against anyone else getting hurt, including eachother. The kids agree'd.

We all walked out shaking hands and that was it.  Now, we have winter break.

So, here I sit typing this to you my wonderful readers in hopes that you can learn from this in case you are ever faced with something similar.  Had I handled this differently if the kids were older? Of course. But for this particular situation, I handled it to the best of my mommy ability.

Now, we will see what the next few weeks have to bring.  Yup, I'll have butterflies in my stomach the first time I send her back. I'll be pacing floors and typing faster than normal.. but when she gets home, I'm sure it will all be okay.  In the meantime, it happened and the meeting is done.

Now, we just wait.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Everyone needs a sick day

Hot, cold, hot, freezing, winter coat, windows open, scrape the car windows, t-shirts and winter boots.. welcome to the Midwestern United States at winter.  This weather is not playing well with my seven year old's asthma, that is one thing I know for sure.

My poor little second grader is suffering from coughing and mild wheezing with this roller coaster ride mother nature is giving us.  Or at least, she was last night into the morning.

Now, I am not the mom that gives in easily allowing a child to stay home from school at the first sign of a cough.  However, I'm not so hardcore that I'm going to send her to school to spread germs to unsuspecting children and faculty.

Last night my little one was up and not feeling well. It made for a very rough night and morning.  So, I talked with the school and we decided it was best that she stay home for today.  I told her if she were feeling better, that I would take her in for at least half of a day. (Education is important!)

After a few hours, she started feeling better.  Playing with her little brother, I said "I think I'm going to go ahead and take you in".  She looked at me with a frown and said "Oh no I'm still not feeling too well.."  Without her knowing that I'd already talked with the school and it was "okay" she stay home anyway, I agreed to have her remain on the couch with her blanket to get rest.  Thinking this was something pretty cool, being at home, she smiled and whispered "yay" as she laid back to down to rest. (Little stinker..)

Not much longer, the questions started..

"Will you play with me? What color is this? Can I sit down with you? Let's play playdough! Will you open this for me? Catch this toy?! Want a coloring book? Are you listening to me?" said her four year old brother in one breath to the now irritated child who was rethinking her level of coolness for being home ill.

Guess who's ready to finish her other half of the day at school? ;)

Yes, she is still on the couch and will be making up her work tomorrow.

As for me, I'm just glad she's feeling better and even more so thankful that I have wonderful doctor's and school faculty that help me during the hard times when she's not. I am very much looking forward to warmer weather and with good reason.

In the meantime, we will enjoy our sick days with "Penguino" (our wonderful penguin shaped 'make us all better' breathing machine) and honey toast. Because hey, everyone needs a sick day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Singin' the homework blues..

Oh those famous words, "I don't know".. or in my case it sounds more like "I dunnow" with a small shrug and an innocent look of "please let me play instead".  Oh yes, I am faced- with the home work blues.

As a parent to a child who was previously a virtual public student, homework was a piece of cake.  I was able to login to the school website and have direct contact with the teacher via email or phone anytime of the day or week.  I was on top of the homework situation and more times than not, there was no homework because we got it done during the day.

My child is now a bricks and mortar public school student.

My access to what she is doing every day in the classroom has slimmed.  We hear lots of people say with public bricks and mortar students that they are very aware of what their child is doing educationally- but let's face it, that statement in it's entirety may not all be true.

In the midst of confusion and shrugs of  "I dunnow" from my beautiful little second grader, I have found it easier to write notes with the teacher back and forth on homework assignments so that I better understand what is needed to be done.

Homework is much easier now that I have a better system of communication with the teacher, and I can rest a bit easier at night knowing what's going on.

Oh how I will not miss the days of the contagious I dunnow's and enjoy the days of better communication and honor roll grades!

 But for one last sake, grab a mic or a cup of hot cocoa and sing the homework blues with me and this wonderful young lady (whom I don't know) in this awesome Youtube video- named, Mackenzie.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Thunderstorms and teary eyes

So this morning at 4am we heard loud crashes of thunder that sounded like we were right in the clouds with the storm.  Having just moved to a new house, this was our first night with a storm.  My four year old son wakes up and flashes his bedroom light on like it's Christmas morning.

After some pursuasion and comforting kisses, he decides it's okay to return to sleep safely.

Six o'clock I hear my alarm.. at six thirty I hear my potty training son announcing "I have to peeeee!" and so I realize, where did six o'clock go and when did I hit the snooze?  We get up with still lots of time to spare and do our normal routine.

The kiddos are talking between eachother and so we decide that we would take our little second grader into the school ourself for some extra family time instead of ride the school bus today. Yay for family time!

We pull up in front of the school and before she gets out of the car, I see my little girl reach over and hug my son. This is quite different, because normally when I drop her off or pick her up she doesn't pay his emotions much attention.

I see my little guy sad and begin to cry saying "I miss you when you're at your school" and in return her say to him "It's okay I always come back in the afternoon".  I watched with a smile as she hugged him tight and grabbed her bookbag to go.

I watched her as she went in the school and saw that right before she went in, she wiped a tear from her cheek as she turned to look at the car one last time. My heart broke a little, but I was happy to see the love between my little roos.

Of course now they are both fine and working their way through their busy days.  But that is a little memory I will always have. That love that I will remember between the two the next time they are arguing or taking eachothers toys. It's moments like this that make me more proud than ever.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Sleep..ZZsnore.. Bus is here!

As most people know, my daughter has began attending a bricks and mortar school. It's going very well. Well, everything is except the bus schedule.

Now don't think we're just being lazy or are used to sleeping in (we used to stay on a normal school schedule even when she was home in a virtual public school), because that's not it. My daughter's bus driver clearly runs on her own schedule. But that however, was not a bad thing for us just this morning!

The paper the school gave me says 27 minutes after the hour.. I however passed the bus in a panic the first morning because it was 18 minutes after. o.O In a few minutes of thinking "No bus, stop! Come back! You need my kid!" I had decided to stop chasing the bus like a child chasing an ice cream truck, and just take her to the school myself.

And I did just that.

So I decided it would be best if I began getting us to the school bus stop early.  Maybe, too early..

Okay, so we now know that the bus driver is NOT going to be there at ten minutes after the hour. Note to self.

A week later, we now get to our stop at fifteen minutes after, and this allows us just a few minutes to wait for the bus to arrive.  Yes, this is before and after school.

However this morning, we were warm and cozy in our beds. Aaah! What a nice place to be since mother nature has decided to release her wrath of chilliness on us early this fall.

Ten more minutes, yup we can lay here ten more minutes.

Get up, wake up the kiddos. Turn on the light. Pull the blankets off of the kiddos. Flicker the light. Kiss their foreheads. Wave the blankets over their heads. Five minutes later one is out of bed.

Checks clock.. ten minutes later, the second has finally put her feet over the edge.

After many minutes of persuasion, we leave in a panic because it is now twenty two minutes after and we're all awake racing outside chanting "The bus, the bus!"  Lucky for us, she is not there yet.


One morning of panic and lesson well learned- the bus driver gets there early and we should, too. Also, sleeping in is bad- not matter how warm and cozy those beds feel!

Sleep.. ZZzzsnore... Bus is here!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Time flies when you're potty training!

In the past few months my little roos and I have made some major changes. Major, positive- changes in our lives.  We made a move to a new home in another city (that we all absolutely love) and made some changes as far as school is concerned, too.

My little girl is now a second grader in a bricks and mortar school. Yes, this is much different than the virtual public school she has been recently attending. She is doing great educationally and socially. She loves the stability and mechanism of being in the classroom.  I'm happy with her teacher. She is a young mom of two kids whos ages are the same as my own, and is very well educated.

On that note, my little girl came home this past week and I listened to her sing as she shook her butt and flung her hair side to side saying "trick or treat smell my feet, give me something good to eat! If you don't, I don't care, I'll pull down your underwear" (all the while giggling outrageously in between each verse). I asked, "Where in the world did you learn that song?"

She looked at me with the biggest smile and said "My teacher".

She smiled and continue'd to sing.

I am very proud of both of my children. I love them more than the air I breathe. They are my life.

My son however has began his first preschool year.  He loves his preschool teacher and thinks it is the coolest thing ever that he gets to "do school", too.

Because his passion is airplanes, his teacher has made lessons to customize his interests.  He gets to make paper airplanes, sing airplane songs and do many more educational things related to this passion.  It's really neat to watch him and think "Wow, it wasn't that long ago I was rocking you to sleep".

My, how time flies.

On another note, we have also been working hard on potty training.  My super amazing boyfriend has been a tremendous help with this.  My little guy is doing wonderful in the daytime, as a matter of fact he hasn't worn a diaper in months (Woohoo, way to go little man!).

But bedtime, is a whole other battle.

My boyfriend has helped remind me to cut off his liquid at night (which seems to help a lot because my son is always thirsty and I'm a huge goober that has a fear of hydration and caves by saying "Awe it's okay, just one sip..") and so I not only have cut off the drinks before bedtime, but I also recently began waking him throughout the night and walking him to the potty.
The past few nights, it seems to be working well.  I am hoping that if I continue this habit with him, that he will eventually be able to wake himself up to go potty at night, when he feels he has to go.

So until this happens with no help from us, I will continue to work with him and cheer him on. Go Steve!!

That sums up my parenting adventures for the moment.  I bid you all reading this a wonderful Fall season and may the joys of the new school year and potty training be kind to all of you!