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Archive for June, 2013

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The older girls planned an entire meeting for the younger girls. This helped both troops earn their bridging patches!! The older girls did a fabulous job. It is so nice to see them grow up and become leaders.

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It is our cousins!! It is hard to entertain ourselves while we wait to see the doctor. Today was a little easier. We found our cousins after looking at all the pictures on our doctor’s door. It is nice to see a familiar face while waiting.

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Ben’s new chair

Ben has been looking for a new chair since his birthday. We have been going online and looked in stores and still . . nothing.

Ben is very particular about what kind of chair he wanted. He had to try out each chair individually and nothing seemed to work.

Last month we finally found a chair that Ben liked. And that he could afford! He is so proud of this chair. He drags it everywhere to sit in.

It is his chilling out chair!!

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Writing is a constant in the life of an elementary school child.  But how many adults continue using this skill after their schooling is over.  Each one of my children come home at the end of the year with a journal that they have kept at school and have written in each day.  Most of it is not the “Dear Diary” kind of stuff that we assume journaling is, but most of it is a free writing kind of style where they write about whatever is on their mind.  But everyone should have a place where they can share their deepest emotions without judgement.  A place to get out all of the thoughts and ideas rolling around in their head out.  My children are coming to an age where they will be dealing with so much emotionally (growing up and becoming their future self) that finding an effective and expressive way to deal with it is good.

Since my kids were little (like age 2), they have been keeping a journal about their days.  In those days, it was just a daily picture with a sentence underneath it that they would dictate to an adult.  But they are all bound in a notebook for posterity.   When they transitioned into regular school, those journals became less picture and more written word.  We have even been keeping journals during the summer months.  I love looking back at some of those entries. But now the kids are starting to keep journals that are for their eyes only.  A place to put their deepest thoughts.  Even my non-writer Ben has requested a journal that locks like the girls. He is ready to move to that next level.

Journals are safe places. They don’t judge. They don’t “accidentally” share the information with someone else. They don’t remind you of all of your previous failures.  Each one of us needs that “soft place to land.” Family is the first place where that can happen.  But even there . . . humans aren’t perfect (even if they are family).  I used to keep a journal all of the time.  I look back at some of my entries and marvel how much I’ve grown or how much I worried about the little things.  The best part is to read and see how I’ve become the person I’ve become today.  But over the last several years, I haven’t written.  I don’t know why.  Possibly because my husband is my best friend and a wonderful person to share everything with. (I pray for all of my children that they can find a life partner like I have.) But I’ve lost something by not writing.  So this summer, we are going to go back to our roots. Journaling has always been a part of our summer routine, but the purpose was always to maintain their writing skills. Instead of daily writing assignments, where they journal and I read them, they are going to write and only have to show me that they did it (a flash of the page to prove they wrote something.).   And I will too.

All of my children are good writers and story tellers (they get it from their father).  So I hope my fostering the skill of keeping of a journal and writing every day in it that they will hone that skill.  It may be antiquated.  But it is just as important today as it was 100 years ago and my children will be better people because of it.

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I have never had such a tumultuous year before. At least when it comes to the emotional welfare of my child.  Young girls who I have known forever are behaving in such a way that I never thought they would.  I’ve read and seen movies about middle school girls who act like that but I always thought that these young girls would be different.  Most of these girls come from good families with parents who are active and involved in their lives.  Parents who have set good boundaries and have high expectations on how young ladies should behave.  Then why do they do it?  Where are we, as parents, going wrong?  Or are we the problem?

I don’t know. Perhaps in 20 years, I can look back and find a good solution to deal with these girls.  But right now it is a daily battle to keep my daughter from imploding.  These girls know exactly how to attack each others weaknesses and to bring them to their knees.  This is guerrilla warfare.  They attack and then quickly retreat.  We parents who are standing guard rarely witness such an attack.  It is done and over with before we know it.  Then we spend the rest of the time trying to heal the wounds that these attacks have created.

When I have witnessed some of these attacks, I do not stand idly by.  I stop it.  I will use the moment to model better behavior.  By talking to the girls about how different words, different body language and different tones of voice can convey the same message but without the emotional damage.  Because I am a volunteer at school, Girl Scout leader, Sunday School teacher, and youth volunteer, I feel like I know these girls and can have that kind of conversation with them.  But I never have a conversation with them without then calling their parents to let them know what happened.   I can’t tell you how many times that this is how the conversation goes, “I am surprised that my daughter behaved that way. She knows better and I expect better behavior from her.”   And yet . . . they still make poor decisions to bring each other down in order to build themselves up.

I remember feeling isolated and bullied in school.  I ache so deeply knowing that my daughter is feeling the same way.  She has no safe place at school . . . at least emotionally.  Girls who used to be her friends now bully her.  My daughter is not perfect.  I know that she too may have made some bad decisions.  But I as a parent am doing everything possible to help make her a stronger person, so that she doesn’t have to tear someone down in order for her to feel better.  I know that she doesn’t always act in a model way, but we are trying to grow her up to be a fine young lady that brings positive to society. So why is it that we spend every moment that she is home doing damage control from what happens during the day?

Some of her friends that have been her friends since we moved here in first grade are no longer the kind of friends that she can turn to for emotional support.  Each day when she says that she has no friends, we have to figure out who at school are safe places for her to turn to when she is feeling isolated.  We sit down and list the friends that haven’t turned on her.  Not in a negative way.  More like, “Ok. So who in class can you hang with when you need to find a friend? . . . Good. See there are people there who care about you!  Even if you don’t have many friends at school, your life is full of friends.  Let’s list everyone who cares about you because you are you. . . . That’s great.”  Then we talk about the good things that happened at school.  She can list a negative, but she has to follow it with a positive.  (By the way, we have been doing highs and lows for years!  But in the last year this has become an integral part of  of our daily routine.)  We have gratitude journals. We have her in counseling. We try to find ways for her to connect with these girls outside of school so that these bonds of friendship can become stronger.  We have filled her life with strong female adults who mentor her.  It may seem like we are micromanaging her life.  We are in some ways.  These girls at school have torn her up so emotionally that she hates the very things that have brought her joy in the past.  School. Girl Scouts. Library. Life.  She doesn’t want to be a part of any of it.

“The least, the last, and the lonely.”  That phrase has been repeated in my house since the kids were little.  We have taught her that our job in life as Christians is to reach out to this group.  But now . . . she is a part of that group.  The fringes of society that many would just rather have them go away then try to bring them back into the fold.  But that is our job.  As parents. As Christians. As humans. So why is it that others don’t feel the same?  Why is it that we would rather justify the actions of our children then try to teach them to do better?  To be better.  There are days that I want to send each one of these parents back to middle school for a day to remember what it feels like.  Perhaps that will help them remember what it feels like to be on the outside of “normal”.  Odds are . . . it won’t. Because we are humans and our memories are short.  We either forget what it feels like to be ostracized or we remember so deeply that we use our children to leash the pain out on others that we ourselves felt as children or we feel it is a right of passage that all must go through in order to reach adulthood.  

But I am tired.  I desire a world that is different.  I desire a world that doesn’t put such cruel tests in front of my child in order for them to reach adulthood.  I never thought that I would even fathom the idea of withdrawing my child from school and turn to an alternative like homeschooling, private school, or a transfer to another school.  But we have been trying to deal with the drama by helping our daughter, conferencing with teachers, and talking to the parents of the other girls.  But I am discouraged by the lack of results.  It feels like too much.  I think it might be time just wave the white flag and surrender.  Maybe we should just recognize that this situation is not fixable by us and that the best choice is to retreat.  It may be time to hunker down and get her out of the current situation.  Allow her the time and distance to heal.  We can pray that a summer apart from this group of girls will  give her the chance the build up her resources so that she can once again face this group of girls again with her tank full.  I too must find some time and space to refuel my tanks.  Because right now I am ready to resort to the less mature side of myself.  The side that taps into my inner middle school girl and tears these girls and their parents up.  Vengeance. Retaliation. Salting the earth. Burning bridges. These phrases run through my mind, but my common sense says that these solutions aren’t good. But I may not be able to hold out much longer.  So I too must seek serenity. I too must fill up my resources to better handle the emotional toil on my daughter. I too must turn to God to seek wisdom on how to best to handle all of this. My most earnest prayer would be that we could skip ahead 10 years, but that is a foolish prayer.  We will get through this.  We will build our daughter up so that she becomes a strong woman able to conquer anything that she desires to do and that she contributes to society in a positive way.  We will pray that we will remember the lessons that we learn dealing with our first daughter so that we can apply them to our second daughter when she too reaches this age.  I know that many others have travelled this road ahead of us.  So I know that we can do this and that we will do this.  And with our head held high, we march forward into an uncertain future knowing that we are doing the best that we can to help our daughters be the best that they can be.

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