Tag Archives: Facebook

How will I know when she’s ready?

That's me. Used to be the queen. Today, just a pawn. 'Cuz I'm the mom.

This may be the single most common question I have asked since becoming a mother. This one, and “Do you have any dirty laundry?” But, the “How will I know when she’s ready?” questions start earlier and become more complex as the stakes go up, especially with the first-born. For example:

  • How will I know when she’s ready to stop nursing?
  • How will I know when she’s ready to stop napping?
  • How will I know when she’s ready for a sleep-over?
  • How will I know when she’s ready to shave her legs–use make-up–have a FB account–go on a date–go to Mongolia–etc. (How did all of those come so closely together?!)
  • How will I know when she’s ready to leave the nest?

This morning, as I prepared to take my younger daughter to her enrichment program, her older sister, who attends a different program on Fridays, posted this status on her Facebook page:

A is about to go to school and mom has lunch at 11! I can’t wait for a little time alone!

It’s a benign status; a simple statement of fact expressed by my darling 17-year-old looking forward to some solitude. It led to a very snarky debate that played out in public, all while sitting less than 7 feet apart. I share:

Me: ¬†Ohhhhh, really? ūüôā I do what I can to be a good mom.

C:  Most of the time.

Me: Snap!!

C:¬†That’s the best you can do?

Me:¬†Oh, and no more stew until you say, “I’m the best mom–ever!!”

C: Well that is proof that you are not the best mom ever mommy dearest.


Me: Trump–I won–you laughed. Out loud!

C: It does not work that way seeing as how I was laughing at your incompetence.

Me:¬†Brought ya’ into this world… Oh, and I still control your transcripts. A mama’s gotta find power where she can.

C: This is blackmail and proof that you have no logical comeback.

Me:¬†If it comes from mama’s mouth, it doesn’t have to be logical. ‘Cuz I said so! I’ll remind you when you become a mama….just wait!

C: I do not think your father would approve of that argument any more than I do.

C: And he was the lawer so you know that it is inapplicable to this debate.

Me:¬†Bringing Grandpa into this–low! And he wasn’t a lawer–he was a lawYer– and a psychologist who clearly left me unprepared to deal with “teen logic!”

Me: And since A needs to get to school, you can Google MY spelling all you want!

Me: Oh, and SNAP!!

C:¬†If you are incapable of this degree of logic then you should not be debating with those younger than your age. And you may not blame others for your problems. You have had 17 years to learn how to debate with me and 4 to learn how to debate “teen logic”. The fact that you can not is proof that you have lost your ability to adapt.

Me:¬†I’m licking my wounds…I’ll get back to you…with a consequence of some sort…because that’s all I’ve got.

C: You can not punish me for making a good argument in a debate as long as I have a valid point.

Me:¬†Ya, I can, ‘cuz I’m the mom, the mom, the mom…Ta da!

C: If you intend to use quotes please site the original author as to avoid plagiarism.

Me:¬†I’m sure Anita Renfroe would understand. She’s a mom!

Now one thing you need to know about me is that in all my years as a mother, I have rarely used the “Because I said so” card. ¬†It’s not that I’m Super-mom. (Far from!) It’s something I picked up when I was a nanny; explain your decison once (maybe twice, rarely more than three times) and move on. Prior to the teen years, discussions rarely went beyond three retorts when I had made an “executive decision.”

Enter the teen years. After only 4 years in this arena, I’ve been reduced to “‘cuz I said so” and “‘cuz I’m the mom.” And, both came in the same morning. She had outplayed me. Placed in check-mate by my little grasshopper, even after 2 cups of coffee. In public. On Facebook. I could have claimed I was distracted. (I had been checking blog stats, and email, and maybe blog stats, again.) I could have crafted a rebuttal post. I could have challenged her to a verbal duel. But, that wouldn’t change the fact my final argument was, “‘cuz I’m the mom.”

Just as she always has, ¬†she gave me the answer to the “How will I know…”question that’s been gnawing at my heart this year.¬†¬†Through a fun snarky debate, she showed me she is ready–or at least¬†getting ready– to leave the nest. “She’ll be OK,” I thought, “She knows how to think.”

Followed by my mature, “But, I’m still the mom!” I chuckled as I walked away, because laughter is what keeps this mama’s head from exploding.

What made you laugh today, or at least kept your head from exploding?

Is there a monster in your mirror? (Wednesday’s Wisdom)

I am a cluster of emotions right now. I’m confused. I’m shocked. I’m disgusted. I’m scared. I’m appalled. I’m angry. No, “angry” seems far too civilized for what I am feeling in this moment, but the language I really want to use is not appropriate for this forum. Most of all, I am profoundly sad.

At the end of a long day, and knowing that I am likely to be asleep before 10, I read the headline news stories online. Though I try to stay current, I am also selective in the stories I “click on”–especially right before I head up to bed. ¬†I don’t need to read all the “ugly details” of a story to know what is going on. The Penn State scandal is a perfect example; I have read enough to know the circumstances, but feel no need (nor desire) to read every salacious detail that comes out.

Nonetheless, as I scanned the headlines last night, I came across 2 stories that pulled at my “mama heartstrings.” Both were bullying stories. The first was about a girl in Illinois–a 10 year old little girl–so distraught and broken by the emotional bullying suffered at the hands of classmates, she hanged herself in her closet. The second detailed the absolutely inexcusable treatment of a 14 year-old special-needs student bullied by her teacher and the teacher’s assistant. Exacerbating the situation, the (contacted) school superintendent refused to believe the claims of the student or her parents. Eventually, a concealed recorder captured the proof. Ridiculous that’s what the family had to do to get the school to take action, but for that young teen, her family and the other students under that teacher’s charge, I’m sure glad they did it.

After I finished reading the 2 stories, I was flooded with many emotions, but only one question: How did we get to this point as a society?

Yes, I know bullying dates back to the dawn of kids, but not like this. It’s different today. It’s more incessant than when I was a kid. When I was in the 3rd or 4th grade, I remember being teased by a group of classmates because I messed up the words to “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. They taunted me on the playground one day, not even the whole lunch period, but I can still feel the humiliation. In the 5th grade, the girls that I had been friends with since the 1st grade randomly decided that another girl and I could no longer be a part of “the group.” It was the start of my “mean girl” years, ¬†those years that girls seem to be particularly nasty to each other. The girls teased, spread rumors, and flashed many a dirty look. They made a couple of rough years even rougher. ¬†In the 6th grade, I was “beat up” by another classmate when the teacher caught her trying to cheat off my paper. After school that day, I remember the fear I felt when she cornered me. She only pushed me down, but I truthfully thought she was going to pummel me. In middle school and high school, I heard the teasing comments about my acne or the size of my chest. Thankfully, by that time, I had found “my group”–which made the emotionally rough waters of high school a lot easier to survive. However and obviously, if I can recall details 30-40 years later, it’s clear that bullying leaves scars.

In response to the story of the 10 year-old, one reader commented, “Not that I condone bullying, but kids have always been bullied – why are so many now committing suicide?”

First and foremost, I think we, as a society, need to examine this problem and start calling it by its real name. People DON’T commit suicide because they’ve had a bad day, or two, or 20. Adults don’t. Teens don’t. Children don’t. I know; I lost a brother to suicide. As parents, we teach our kids to be resilient beginning in the sandbox. ¬†We dry their tears. We boost them up. ¬†We teach them to “shake it off.”¬†Resiliency¬†is one of life’s most essential survival skills. People break when they can no longer bounce back, when they believe there’s no other way out. I believe there is something “bigger” than bullying going on in these cases and in even more that go unreported. In my day, it was usually called teasing if it was verbal, bullying if it was physical. Kids were teased, rumors and names slung, lunch money stolen and occasional fights were broken up, or not. What is going on in schools, on playgrounds, and on buses is beyond what I saw or experienced growing up. And, in today’s world, it seems inescapable for the victims, which is why what these kids experience is not “just” bullying; it is harassment.

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines harassment as:

a : exhaust, fatigueb (1) : to annoy persistently (2) : to create an unpleasant or hostile situation for especially by uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical conduct
: to worry and impede by repeated raids <harassed the enemy>

In the “adult world” of business, there are laws to protect and avenues of recourse for the harassed. Schools set forth policies with the same intention. However, the continual accessibility to our kids via texting, Facebook, cell phones, Twitter, Formspring, etc. leaves them vulnerable both outside and inside the school gates. It goes beyond leaving the front door unlocked; it leaves it wide open for any and all to enter. No longer can a child (or adult) escape to the privacy of their own home, or even their bedroom for a respite. Modern technology spreads rumors wider and faster than ever before. Long ago, bullies had to wait until they could reach a phone to spread a rumor outside of school. Today, they need only reach for their back pocket, anytime, anywhere. Click and send– a picture secretly taken in the locker room, a text laced with cruel names, a Facebook post filled with lies. Yes, kids have always bullied and been bullied, but never before with 24/7 access. There is no “off button” in today’s world. No escape. No relief for some. Could, and should, a parent “unplug” their child? Sure, but unplugging the victim doesn’t stop the perpetrators. Often acting as a pack, the bullies have already cornered their prey and have left them weakened.

Additionally, and perhaps most insidious, are the parents and other adults that participate in bullying. The teacher and her assistant’s verbally abusive comments nauseate me, but I’m sure they would anyone who watches¬†Teachers caught on tape bullying special-needs girl – parenting – TODAY.com. ¬†Any adult– parent, teacher, coach, passing bystander, etc., that looks the other way, make excuses, condones or demonstrates bullying behavior is the very root of the problem.¬†Sadly, it often starts at home with the parents as communicated in yesterday’s excellent post by DEBCB, I bet you use that same mouth to kiss your kid too‚Ķ.¬†Adults lead by example, and children are always watching, absorbing and emulating. Gossip, and children learn to gossip. Lie to a boss, a neighbor, a child and children learn to¬†deceive. Tease maliciously and children learn to bully. We are training our next generation with every curse, flip of the finger, and nasty comment we utter. Children who have learned to bully as children grow up to be the jerk in the car or cubicle next to you. And, when we stand silent because it is “not our problem,” children learn to ignore the pleas of victims.

Author Rick Riordan wrote, “Sometimes mortals can be more horrible than monsters.” Last night, I read about the mortal monsters that prey on the weak. Do children tease? Yes, children tease. Will they likely always tease? Certainly. Kids, as they say, will be kids. And yes, we must raise children capable of walking away, shaking it off, and moving forward. But, more importantly, we must first raise decent human beings that respect each other. I am a naturally optimistic person, always have been, and it has served me well when the road was bumpy. But, I know what it is to feel knocked down by life and the cruelty of others. I know the sadness of feeling isolated and discarded. I know what “cornered” feels like. And, I also know what it feels like to have someone in that corner with me, helping me get back up.

I still believe there are far more “good mortals” than monsters in this world, starting with the person I see in the mirror.¬†I’ve tried to raise children that are willing to defend the underdog, but like me, they can become weary and apathetic, almost immune to the stories of cruelty seen in the world. Last night, I was moved by the stories I read, and I remembered the advice I often give my children in times of conflict, “You have a voice. Use it.” No longer can I look away and think, “not mine.” ¬†I have a voice, and I will use it.

Won’t you join me? Please, add your voice to the discussion.