Absolutely Disgusted

The title may be misleading, as a mother of three, I typically write about children’s bodily fluids. This time, I am disgusted for another reason entirely. I watched a video of a local teen being savagely beaten by a group of girls that once claimed to be her friends. My stomach turned watching this clip of video, video that was shared by the alleged assaulters on social media.

The TV station interviewed the parents of the girl, a 17-year-old, who went to a party after her “friends” invited her there. Unbeknownst to her, they were not inviting her to have a good time. They invited her so they could beat her, mercilessly. The video is hard to watch. I cannot even imagine being that poor child’s parents and having to watch that. I want to drive to my teenage daughter’s school right now, scoop her up and tell her… well, I don’t know what I would tell her. And that’s the point of this post.

One of my best friends told me about this story this morning. I was appalled. She told me I should really discuss it with my 13-year-old and even have her watch it. At first, I couldn’t understand why that would be a good idea. What could I tell her to be cautious of? What if a friend invites her to a party and they really only want her there so they can beat her? How would that help – to make her scared of her friends’ true intentions? But, my friend went on to explain that the video not only shows this group of girls beating this teenager, it shows other teens sitting by and watching. One of them even video tapes the whole assault. And they do nothing to stop it. Nothing.

THIS is something I can talk to my daughter about. We always tell our kids not to bully other people and to speak up if they’re being bullied. But what about when they witness someone bullying – or in this case – beating another child? Because that’s what this group of teens are – children! Any one of those kids could have at any moment said – wait, stop. Heck, if they were scared what the other kids would say, they could have secretly texted their mom or dad with what was going on. They obviously had their phones! So this, this will be what I talk to my daughter about tonight: being the voice of reason.

If you’ve ever taken a psychology class, you’ve read about mob mentality. According to a publication by South University, “When people are part of a group, they often experience deindividuation, or a loss of self-awareness…. they are less likely to follow normal restraints and inhibitions… which can lead to the provocation of behaviors that a person would not typically engage in if alone.” And that’s when violence enters the picture.

What’s that saying we use with our kids? “If your friends were all jumping off a bridge, would you do it, too?” Well, after watching this video, yeah, they just might. Or, if they didn’t jump – maybe they’d push the kid in front of them.

Talk to your kids. Tell them. This is not okay! Think for yourself. Know when something is just stupid. If they can’t do that, ask them how they’d excuse or explain the behavior in which they are about to take part to you or their grandma. Because speaking up could truly be a life-saving act.


Nurturing Our Little Ones

I may have mentioned my sons were both sick the last couple of weeks – taking turns, if you will – with a nasty fever/tummy bug. On the third week, I thought we’d made it through. I was wrong.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up and told my husband I felt like I had a hangover. By midday, I was achy all over – my neck hurt, my eyes, I felt exhausted and my stomach hurt. It was, essentially, a recap of what my little boys had experienced over the last couple of weeks. (They both weren’t sick that entire time. One got sick for a week and the next took his turn the following week.)

By the time I got off work (after taking my lunch break, sleeping in my car) I was ready to crawl under a rock. My husband had to work late – so I knew what was ahead of me: feed children, check homework, play with children, put children to bed. Normally, this is not that big of a deal. But, when you feel like crud – the task is equivalent to climbing Kilimanjaro.

I picked up a movie for the kids. TV time hardly ever happens at our house – so this was a big deal. Then, I begged my daughter to please, oh please, make herself and her brothers some cereal. She flipped on her “mama mode” switch and was in full swing before I knew it. She made me a bowl of chicken noodle soup while she poured her brothers Cheerios.

While the kids ate cereal and watched their movie, I lay on the couch, shivering, under two blankets. I had a fever. I hurt – everywhere. My eyes stung. My stomach felt like someone was occasionally stabbing it.

The next day, I felt about 50% better and today I’m nearly back to my normal self. Unfortunately, my husband now has it. My daughter seems to be the only one who escaped getting sick. She was so sweet, caring for me. She brought me a cool cloth for my head and kept checking on me. I bought her a little thank you gift for being such a sweetheart.

My friend was sick with the same thing and she says it was likely Norovirus, considering how rampant it’s been in the schools and community.

Have you guys been dealing with this nasty little bug? And/or have any of you experienced the tables turning and your child caring for you?

Babies and Puppies

When I was a full-time news producer, I had a task of finding what we called a “kicker” on a daily basis. You know these stories: the feel good 30 seconds of your day that ends the newscast after you’ve heard all the horribly depressing details of the world. I often jokingly called these the “cat fashion show” kinds of stories. These are the ones where the world wouldn’t come to a crashing halt if they didn’t exist, but they make you smile nonetheless.

If we needed a kicker, you could always count on a story that contained one of two things: babies or puppies. Okay, fine, kittens count too. Heck, any small creature works well there. Oh, and if you can somehow combine babies with small animals, even better.

You can trust me on this. Don’t believe me? Go scroll your Facebook feed for a moment. I’ll wait.

Did you check? I was right, wasn’t I? Your feed had at least one baby, kid or animal picture in it, didn’t it?

So… imagine my surprise when I tried to share a video of my youngest with two of my coworkers. They actually walked away. Briskly. WITHOUT EVEN WATCHING IT! And, I’m not trying to brag, but this was one darn cute video. (My son’s rendition of the ABCs, which now contains the letter ‘J’… and a lot of it.)

These coworkers do not have kids. And while I can understand them not wanting to delve into that world… COME ON! I look at pictures of their pets and stuff!

Folks… are we asking too much of our non-parent friends to look at pictures of our kids?

Are You Happy?

I heard an interesting story this morning on NPR. It was basically refuting a decade-old study that found parenting leads to unhappiness. New research suggests it is the mundane daily tasks that make us unhappy – not the overall parenting. For example, changing a diaper may not peak your happiness scale – but spending quality time with your baby will.

That story got me thinking about the last four days I have spent with my kids. They didn’t have school Friday or Monday, so we took off from work and headed out to the cabin. Our family was joined by my best friend, her husband and their four kids. Collectively, that meant seven kids running around at all times.

The weekend was – in a word – great. It made me happy. But, if I go back and think about the 47 times my toddler threw a fit that he didn’t get to ride the snowmachine or the times my older kids were arguing over petty little things – I might be drawn to say I was unhappy in those moments. However, overall, the trip was fun. A lot of fun. The kids had a blast and made a lot of memories.

My own favorite childhood memories mostly involve camping in our trailer in Ninilchik. We’d go fishing, clamming or just play. It was a blast. I want my kids to have cherished memories like that. Our cabin offers that – a respite away from the day-to-day stuff. All we do is play, eat and sleep. Yes, all those things make me happy.

Are you happy? What leads to your happiness? What have you done today that has made you happy?


Kids Can Be SO Mean

By now, you’ve probably seen the video of the bus monitor being bullied by kids. It’s awful. They make her cry. While I think it must be horribly embarrassing to be Karen Huff Klein, the woman being bullied, I also wonder what it’s like for the parents of the kids who were bullying her.

Do you think these kids behave at home for mom and dad and then act like this on the bus? Or, do you think these kids are just as big of jerks to their folks as they were to this bus monitor?

How can you ensure your kids are behaving respectfully, when you’re not around to watch?

Digital Disconnect

My daughter’s 10th birthday is exactly two weeks from today. Not that anyone’s counting. Okay, she is. Every minute of every day. She told me she wants a laptop, “the kind with the apple on it!” When I told her that’s not going to happen, she asked for a cell phone. No. Then, she asked for an iPod. Why must everything be electronic?

A friend sent me an article today, “Why Cell Phones are Bad for Parenting,” and I’m interested to see what you all think about it. The author suggests we put our phones/iPods/laptops down and be with our kids. Just be. Read the article and tell me: Are cell phones making us bad parents?

Crash and Tan

So, we start here. My minivan had an unfortunate collision with a Jeep Monday night. Thank God, my children were not in the car at the time. A woman drove into the back of me on the evening commute, before I had a chance to pick up the kids. Went to the ER. “Minor Head Injury” was the official diagnosis. It had an accompanying drawing that totally cracked me up: a sketch of a head slamming into something. Lovely. Yeah, that’s about right. Brain/Mind feels like mush today.

My ex picked up our children from day care after I called him in a panic, while waiting for the cops to show up. (They arrived really quickly, by the way!) Later, when talking to the kids on the phone, they asked if I was okay. I told them about my face hitting the steering wheel and my fat lip.

“Can I see?” they asked.

“The car?” I asked.

“No, your face,” they answered.

Nice. Gotta love the morbid curiosity of children. It actually didn’t look too bad. A tad like Angelina Jolie lips- but only on my left side.

Of course, after being involved in an accident myself and reading the tragic story of the mother who ran over her child, I dreamed about my toddler running out into traffic. Terrifying. I hate those dreams.

In other mom news, did you all see the story about the mom arrested for allegedly taking her five-year old daughter tanning? A good friend of mine’s sister takes her daughter tanning too. It seems all too “Toddlers and Tiaras” for me. Having made my Judgey McJudgerson comment there, what do you guys think? Is it okay to take your kid tanning? At what age do you reach the tanning threshold? My kids and I are all pale. Tanning would be a bad, bad idea.


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