Saturday, June 30, 2012

Just Like Family

For my whole life, I've wanted to be surrounded and have my children surrounding by a plethora of friends who are like family.  I am lucky enough to have a best friend (okay, several friends) who will indulge me by getting our kids together once a month or so, until we remember that it's a foolish endeavor.  She has three kiddos:  one almost 7 years old, one 4 years old and one 2 1/2.  Now add in my rambunctious 3 1/2 year old and 1 year old and it's chaos in the making.  We stoopidly tried to take them all to lunch IN PUBLIC last   summer.  End of that experiment.  We now keep the chaos confined to our own homes.

Steph and her brood came over last week for a farewell visit before their annual trek to the Eastern Shores of North Carolina for the month of July.  I had the brilliant idea of capturing the friends-like-family moment with photos.  Ha.  Five children, aged one year to six and half, near bedtime.  Yes, I know what you are thinking--perfect photo-op.

*Please note Brooklyn's ever-sinking  posture & the progression of my dear Godson reaching his limit of seriousness in the pics.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Exorcism Needed?

I generally think, as every mom does, that I have the cutest, sweetest, most handsome boy around.  Not to mention smart.  I mean really.  Look at this:

I rest my case.

Only not really, because despite repeated warnings from more seasoned moms that "three is worse than two," I refused to believe that this would happen to my sweet boy.  I was wrong.  Incredibly, totally wrong.  This weekend he in turned charmed and cursed us.  Turned whining up to a new level.  Learned to selectively ignore me.  Started yelling that he wanted something "now."  Jumping on his bed after being put in bed for the night.  Beating on the wall after his father had reminded him to go to bed not once, but twice.  Refused to pick up his toys, only to then have a complete meltdown when said toys were removed from his bed because they were Mommy's now.  We've put him in his room more the past two weeks to gain his self-control than in his whole life.  Had to place the toilet paper on the high shelf in the guest/kid bath because of excessive TP abuse (Beware if you are visiting to think ahead before sitting).  Blue Blank (treasured blanket made by my aunt) moved to Mommy's room because it was just too much for him to pick up.

Chris looked at me tonight and said, "So he's just testing his boundaries, right?"  I'm wondering if I had answered no, if he might have asked to give him away to the highest bidder.  So the whole "It Gets Better" isn't just a campaign for LGBT teens--it's for parents of three year olds, too, right?

Friday, June 8, 2012

And on a Radically Different Note. . .I Stink

Pregnancy is a hormonal ride, most of the attention seems to be focused on mood swings, but I am here to tell you that I smell.  Generally not in a good way, more of a teen-aged-boy-funk kind of way.  It seems that this is true:

Courtney + Ninety-degree heat + Extreme humidity +Third trimester of pregnancy = Stank

So if you choose to sit next to me at dinner, go in for a hug or have me participate in an activity that requires me to raise my arms--Beware.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

So Now What?

I have gotten more response from my post  about my experience with bullying than any other in my little blog's history.  Not necessarily in the comment section, but some heartfelt responses on Facebook and in person.  I must say that if any post were going to garner attention, I am both quite pleased and uncomfortable.  Pleased because with a rash of suicides, I can't think of anything more important.  Uncomfortable because it is an episode that caused me much pain in shame and writing about it required quite a bit of vulnerability and openness on my part.

Someone whom I admire quite a bit, commented yesterday about how much he liked the post and felt it was important.  Important because perhaps our work as adults shouldn't be on eradicating bullying--it has existed since the dawn of time--but more about equipping our children with the support systems to weather this pain.  He cut so quickly to the heart of what I was trying to say:  that the bullying occurred because of the unfortunate choices of others, but that I survived thanks in large part to my parents and the sense of connectedness.  My parents couldn't save me from the cruelty, but had planted the seeds from my earliest days to know that they were interested in me, invested in me, and in being so, surrounded me not just with their love, but with other people who appreciated the me-ness that made me, me.

That is our challenge, not to let our youth slip down the deep hole of anonymity and be buried by dirt of pain.  Finding a voice for our own empathy so they can learn.  Finding joy in our own friends, so that the importance of being connected is modeled.  Appreciating quirks in each other, in order that they can appreciate differences in others.

Monday, June 4, 2012

A retraction.

I was wrong in my diagnostics.  Brook-Brook does not have chicken pox.  Nope, this time she has Roseola, a normal childhood virus (also a variation of the herpes virus, which I'm starting to think is responsible for all evil in the world) that starts with a high fever and ends with a rash.  And boy, does she have a rash.  But no fever.  Small victories.  I say small because now Elliott has fever.  Roseola, Round Two:  Ding-Ding.

Sunday, June 3, 2012

She is a Statistic

You know how all things medical list the possible side-effect, the things that will happen like 1:2 kajillion patients?  Well, that happened at my house this weekend.  Brook-Brook ran fever all day Friday & Saturday before this pesky rash appeared.

This is how we spent all day on Saturday.  Seriously.  All day.  

I'll eat yogurt, but that may be it for the day, Mommy.

Sunday morning, I started noticing the dots. . . and started connecting them, figuratively.

A few more on the trunk. . .

Sunday afternoon,I could see the rash for a while before it would show up in a pic, but here it is by around 5:00.  

I'm sure everyone has it figured out, it just took Mommy a while to piece it all together--she has the chicken pox.  One of the "very rare" cases developed after receiving the vaccine.  I read conflicting information on if she is contagious, so we'll be venturing to the pediatrician on Monday morning--after 3 straight days of fussiness and fever, I'm so over this, especially since she's not really eating much. . . or drinking much for that  matter.  Ugh.  

I'm trying not to let my neurotic-self freak out that tomorrow is the all-important First Monday at my job, meaning that I'm crunched at work.  This is even more stressful since Chris is in a class this week for work that has been rescheduled twice now.  Read:  he can't miss work.  These things never happen at a convenient time, or so I hear.  

Where do the Bullies Go?

Last night's post on bullying was thanks to a story of a teen suicide I read on Twitter recently.  I realized how I had sequestered my own experience of being bullied to the nether regions of my mind when some of the comments I received indicated the people who know me best had no idea this had ever taken place.

So my question of today is where do all the bullies go as adults?  Most people I know can clearly recount their own experiences of being bullied, but I don't know that I've heard any adult say, "Oh, I was quite the bully, never the victim."  It makes me wonder if perhaps there is more shame in admitting to being the Bully (capitalized on purpose) than being the victim?  It must take a lot of courage to admit to purposefully hurting others.  I think that an adult that can admit their part in hurting others must have done quite a bit of soul-searching.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

My Own Bullying Experience

I was bullied.  I can openly admit it.  It wasn't one isolated incident. Nope, I was what my mom called an "easy target."  She coached me on every possible response to ward off these attacks, to no avail.  My young age (I was a year younger than my classmates), combined with rule-following, know-it-all, teacher's pet, crybaby tendencies just made me that easy target.  The incident that could make headlines today occurred was when I was in eighth grade--just 12 years old.  My family acted on what we felt was the right thing over cheerleader try-outs, trying to act in the spirit of integrity.  I was horribly uncoordinated (still am), but wanted nothing more than to be a cheerleader, for in a small town this was the penultimate accomplishment.  Finally, I would be liked.  When the score sheets showed evidence of changed numbers, my mom acted in good faith.  It is quite easy to look back in hindsight and for either of us to second-guess that decision, but it happened and second-guessing doesn't change that.

The outcry in the school was over the top.  People I had previously considered friends stopped speaking to me on a dime.  Someone I didn't know took the liberty of handing out our family phone number at the high school, with instructions to either hang-up or make foul comments.  Trust me, people followed directions well.  We shared a phone line with my grandparents--a party-line, which is truly an archaic concept these 20 years later.  The prank callers said mean, vile things to my grandfather, a man with more integrity in his pinky finger than these kids would ever know.  I distinctly remember running laps in gym class, only to look up and see 'friends' using their hands to mimic a hand-gun, and aiming it at ME.  At me.  The message was that my life was worth nothing over a complaint about cheerleading? It made no sense to me.  I withdrew into myself, my self-confidence taking a hit beyond belief.  The entirety of my high school career, I looked sideways at my classmates when they were unexpectedly kind.  I no longer socialized with people with whom I had spent hours on the phone, going to the movies, spending the night at each others' houses.

Painful is an understatement, but I didn't kill myself.  I never even considered it, to my recollection.  What made me different than these kids of today's headlines, bullied until suicide seemed the only option?  I can think of several possibilities, but 22 years has dulled me saying for certain.  Some things seem to be quite obvious and must play a part.  My parents were, and remain, married.  My parents, both of them, were what some might call intrusively active in my life--they knew my friends, knew my school assignments, knew my teachers.  I heard daily how proud my family was of me.  My grandparents and aunt, uncle and cousins lived down the road from us.  We were active in our church, members of which couldn't have cared less about the insults being hurled from small-minded peers.  I maintained my participation in softball (I wasn't very good at that, either).  I had several friends who remained by my side, not caring about the hullabaloo at school.  All of this is to say that my parents had made my village quite strong.  Interwoven in many directions, my pain was buoyed by support in many directions.

That bullying left its impact on my psyche, I can't say that the impact is erased, even now.  BUT I know my parents taught me integrity, demonstrated it, and acted in best faith.  I went on to make other friends, participate in other activities, earn a Master's Degree, get married and parent my own children.  Even with age I don't understand the mind of a bully--I don't understand finding joy in causing someone else's pain.  My parents may have made mistakes along the way, but somehow it all worked to keep my sister and me going, persevering and succeeding.  It is overwhelming to take on the challenge of doing the same for my children.  I read the devastating stories of these children who see no option but to end their lives and hope with all my heart that the village my husband and I are constructing for our children will be enough--enough to see the worth in their lives and carry-on no matter the disappointments they may face.