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The nightmares are starting again. I go through these phases when the little spark of fear lights itself underneath all my senses. Usually if I stay away from the news they go away, but with social media shoving headlines down my throat, sometimes it is hard to escape.
Just this week, two 18 year old boys my daughter has attended school with have been arrested. One for murder and the other rape. The calm mother inside of me tries to assure me everything will be alright but the panicked mother is feeling the fear. I felt safe at school while I was growing up. Sure, bad things happened. There were drugs and accidents and even suicides but rape and murder? Growing up in a small town, someone was always watching. Everyone knew everyone else and if my parents weren’t watching me, you can bet someone else’s parents were. I didn’t have to deal with the severity of what these teens do today. It’s hard as a parent to push the worry aside and pretend a normal day at school is still a normal day at school.
I think about the parents of these two boys. How must they feel knowing their children are in jail? Geez, they are 18 and considered an adult but to me they are still babies trying their best to grow up. This should be an exciting year. The end of their high school chapter and the beginning of who they might have been. I think about the parents of the girls. One girl dead and the other girls emotionally and physically raped. Those parents must lie awake too. My heart hurts for all of them and for our kids too. It hurts for our communities and our world as a whole. Poor impulse control, lack of supervision and a surprising lack of fear toward authorities and consequences. I’ve sat quietly by and watched the transformation. I’ve watched schools protect the wrong kids and not follow through on consequences others really needed. I’ve watched kids become apathetic when it comes to their behavior and reputation because they are so hell bent on living in the moment with little regard or thought for the future. YOLO, isn’t that the theme they live by? I watch parents paying less and less attention because they are struggling in their own bad relationships or just too busy with the demands of their job. What can I possible do? I can’t carry the burden and I cannot change what the world has become. What I can do is make sure that I communicate with my kids. Make sure they can come to me about anything going on knowing I will always be here trying to protect them. This is one of the reasons it is so important to me that home be a soft place to fall. I’m passionate about home being a place they feel loved and safe and protected for a little while each and every day. I pray I am doing all I can to help them through these difficult years and to help them make sense of the chaos around them.
I hope the nightmares stop but deep down I know the truth. When I wake up they are still there and are very much true. They aren’t nightmares at all but the reality of everyday life and I admit, my feathers are ruffled.
This past week so many things have come to light. It’s hard to believe that anything can surprise me anymore but these two events are both disappointing and shocking at the same time.
A week ago my daughter received an email from her religious education teacher. Her class of 17 had just finished up an eight hour retreat and it seems that there were kids who were being disruptive. Some were talking and others were using their cell phones. Yes, their behavior was less than desirable but the email from her teacher who wasn’t even present that day was disturbing at the very least. The email referred to the kids as disgusting. That is the word he used. I read it over and over and my heart began to sink. If this man really feels this way about the class and these children does he really belong teaching them? No wonder my daughter is questioning her religion lately. Here is a man who represents the church who is demeaning the entire class because of a few bad apples. The worse part? He didn’t even try and get the kids story.
I think the important thing to remember is just because someone is 15 years old, does not make them an adult. Teens, more than any other group, need discipline and mentoring more than anyone else. They stand in adult bodies and try and act like adults but their thinking and experiences are still childlike. They are learning and challenging and second guessing everything they have ever been told. They are learning the world is not exactly a happy trip to Disney World. They are confused and their beliefs are being challenged one day at a time. I was happy to see that many parents were equally offended by the email and even the priest found his words extremely inappropriate. Who is leading our children? What is the message they are sending to our kids. You’re disgusting is one that will never sit right with me.
This past week I became aware of several alleged rapes that have occurred by a particular boy at my daughters school. One alleged rape actually happened in the bathroom at school. Can you imagine being a parent like me and learning kids are having sex in the school bathroom on a regular basis. Where the hell are the adults? How can this be happening? I recently read an article where they interviewed the parents and girls who were allegedly raped And I couldn’t believe my eyes. If their stories hold true, I have to ask the question who in the hell do these schools protect? All three girls have had to drop out of school after being bullied to the point they were too afraid to return. Do I believe it? Do I believe a school would turn a child who is being bullied and victimized into the very child who gets the harshest consequences while the bully’s walk around without consequence? You bet I do because it was three short years ago that I had to transfer my daughter to another school because of the inaction of a middle school during a time she was being bullied.
I feel so bad for kids today. Adults and administrators look the other way and often times they do not take the situation serious enough. I watched a little girls grades start to drop. I watched my own daughter retreat to her room and start to withdraw. I watched a school do nothing but tell me the bully had a tough life and needed love and my daughter was one of the lucky ones who came from a good home. What? Huh? What does that mean? I watched these same girls who were loved instead of disciplined by the school system overdose and now find themselves in the middle of a rape/bully situation. Maybe there should have been consequences and education when these kids were in middle school so we wouldn’t be having a student walk out tomorrow because students feel the school looked the other way and did not protect the victims. Maybe my small town wouldn’t be making head lines all the way in NY. Maybe, just maybe our kids need adults who lead them when they need to be led, discipline them when they need to be punished and love them when they’ve been raped or bullied. I just don’t know. It makes sense to me. It pains to me to sit back and watch the total disarray that I have personally witnessed in my own school system. I don’t know how these kids survive. It is really tough on them and I wonder if we are forcing them to grow up long before they are really ready. What I do know is my heart hurts. It hurts for every child who looks to their school for help and finds none. It hurts for every kid who needed the school to see them but made the choice to keep things hush, hush and look the other way. I hurt for every kid who was not protected because a school would not admit they made a mistake. My heart hurts for any parent who really believes a school will act in their kids best interest. I had no choice to give up that hope a long time ago and it makes me sad.