The Bully Behind The Bully

I took my children, and two girls I babysit, to the library the other day. While I was standing at the desk helping Beth and the older girl check out their items, I heard a woman hissing/yelling a few feet away. I turned around to see this woman scolding her child. I personally cannot imagine any child doing something worthy of such ugly words.

Almost immediately following the interaction, the child singled out Anne and the younger girl. She first approached the girl I babysit and got very close to her face saying something. I could not hear the words, but I saw the mean expression on her face, and the combative body language. Thankfully, I was close and the little one just side-stepped her to get closer to Anne. Anne was sitting at a computer playing a game, and the girl approached her in the same confrontational manner, while towering over her.

I simply said: “Is there a problem?” The girl stood up and looked at me with surprise. She then proceeded to tell me she was sitting at that computer. I said: “Well, when she sat down at the computer no one was around, so she did not know someone was using it.” She started to repeat what she had already said, while inching even closer to Anne and getting loud. I cut her off and said: “There is no reason for you to be in her personal space like that, it is very rude. We are leaving anyway, so you can have the computer.” I then looked at the girls and said: “Let’s finishing checking out, so we can go home and have our snacks.”

I turned around to find the child’s mother watching everything transpire. The girl did not even want the computer; as soon as Anne got up, she went back by her mother and got her coat on. As they were walking out, I could tell by the mother’s tone that she was not happy, and my heart truly went out to the child.

I can honestly say, had I not seen the incident between mother and daughter, I would have assumed the girl was just another bully, picking on children smaller than her. In all honesty, that is exactly what happened, but I saw the reason for the attack, which most times we (the public) miss. That poor girl had been verbally abused by her mother, and had no tools to process the feelings that came along with that incident, so she did what she knew, and that was find someone else to abuse. It is a sad cycle that is perpetuated through the disrespectful treatment children receive at home, in school, socially, etc…

If we truly want a better world for our children, then we must treat them with respect and kindness. We must show them how to be good people, not just discipline the things we think they do wrong. We must always presume competence in our children, and not assume they have bad intentions. We need to look at what is the root cause of a behavior. If we take the time to help them with whatever they are struggling with, instead of punishing and humiliating them to make a point, we will provide them with amazing tools for the journey in life.

As hard as it can be to do, we must try to approach these situations with quiet kindness, instead of deafening judgement. We don’t know the circumstances, and we don’t always see the bully behind the bully. Sadly, most of these kids are acting out their experiences, and further mistreatment will only perpetuate the cycle more.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Sad, Not Mad

The girls learned (or more accurately relearned) a tough lesson today. They learned that Mommy follows through on her promises.

I have been very disturbed by the recent lack of respect, and diminishing kindness, with which they treat each other. The root of almost all of their issues are toys, books, dress-up clothes, etc.. The fact that my children cannot treat each other with respect and kindness because of material things, is extremely upsetting to me.

They have also started to speak to me with words and tones that are unacceptable. To be honest, they are often using the words or tone I previously used with them, and that is a BIG problem.  Often times my reaction is based on my expectations, not their actions. As we say in program: “Expectations are predetermined resentments.” Regardless of the situation, it is NEVER okay for me to talk to them without respect, and I know I have been remiss in this area; hence their new-found level of disrespect.

I sat them down the other day, and explained that yelling makes me sad. That I do NOT want to be a Mommy who has to yell, in order for them to listen, and behave with respect. I reminded them that we homeschool, so they are not bullied, but treated with kindness. I told them that since they are always fighting over objects, that any object they cannot share, will go in the garbage. I further explained that any object that seemed to be the root of any disrespect, or lack of kindness, would also go in the garbage. I reminded them that we must always use RESPECT and KINDNESS with our words, hands and actions.

Today, while down in the laundry room, I heard the screams and crying up here. I came up to find Anne sobbing and Beth very upset. I ordered them both to the table, where they had to put their heads down until they calmed down. Once they calmed down, I asked what happened, and why they were fighting instead of cleaning the room. The answer was basically that they were fighting over toys; Anne was teasing Beth, and she put her hands on Anne. They remained at the table (crying and screaming), while I “cleaned” their room.

I threw out almost a full garbage bag of items from the bins in their room. I chose things they no longer played with, things that were not working right, etc… I did not throw away any of their favorite items, but the point was made. After I went outside and put the bag in the dumpster, I came upstairs and cried with them. I now FULLY understand all those times my father told me he was sad (or disappointed) and not mad.

Although the rest of the day went very well, we rehashed the incident MANY times. Anne wanted me to promise not to throw out anymore dresses. Beth wanted to talk about the kids who don’t have food or toys. I explained to Anne that I could not promise her anything in regards to the dresses, because whether they stayed or went, was up to her and her sister. I explained to Beth that there are many children that can only dream of having what they have. I told her that countless children go to bed hungry and have no toys to play with. I told her that she and her sister need to start being more grateful for what they have, and acting the way God knows they can.

I felt horrible most of the day, in all honesty I still feel bad. THIS is not the mom I want to be either. I want to be a mom who inspires her children to act with respect and kindness, because they are following my example. I find that I am repeating patterns, which I had thought I was breaking. As I work my Fourth Step, I see deeper inside myself, and KNOW that I can do better (MUCH better).

Tomorrow is a new day, and although today was FAR from perfection, there was a bit of progress, and that is how the girls and I will continue to grow into the women God knows we can be.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Different NOT Less

The first time I read the words by Temple Grandin: “I am different, not less” they resonated with me on many levels. Her words have been turned into countless memes, usually in shortened version: “Different not Less.” Those words have become one of my mantras.

The majority of my friends live in my computer, so I tend to spend a good part of my free-time online. I am in several groups on FaceBook spanning weight loss to homeschool. On any given day, I can usually site several posts, in any one of the groups, that cause me immense sadness. Why do people feel the need to be so cruel to others who see the world differently than them?

I tell my girls almost every day:

Different is NOT Less, but it is not more either, it is simply different. God loves diversity and that is why He created such unique souls, to add more vibrant color to the world.”

I want them to know this with every fiber in their being. I pray for them to grow into women who accept everyone as they are. I pray for them to respect people, because they know every person and every thing has value in this world. I want them to be part of the change, I so desperately pray for in this world.

In Al-Anon one of our many tools are slogans, my favorite is THINK:

The “T” stands for Thoughtful! Truthful!
The “H” stands for HelpfulHonest!
The “I”  stands for Intelligent! Inspiring!
The “N” stands for Necessary!
The “K” stands for Kind!

I wish people would THINK, before they speak, or type online. We all have different pasts, which make our perceptions in the present extremely varied. Instead of attacking those who have different view points, perhaps we could embrace the diversity, and maybe even learn something. The bullying has to stop!!

Prior to finding Al-Anon, I could only feel good about myself when I “proved” that my way was better than others. I am deeply saddened when I think of all the people I belittled, just to make myself appear more confident and knowledgeable. All those years I wasted attacking others, because we didn’t agree on things, were missed opportunities to learn, and be the change I wanted to see in the world.

Today I know better, so I try to do better. I am not perfect and sometimes still say (or do) things that I am not proud of. Thankfully, when I am working my program, I can see where I am wrong, and make amends for my words or actions. Of the many things I pray for my children to learn, responsibility and accountability are at the top of the list. I want them to be able to admit when they behaved poorly, apologize and learn from it. We will never be perfect, but we can practice Respect and Kindness in all that we do. We can be the change we want to see in the world, just be treating others in the same manner we would like to be treated.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Why We Started Homeschooling, Part Two

A few weeks ago, I shared the emotional reason why we began homeschooling. Now, I would like to share the logical reasons.

Once I worked through the emotions of our situation, I started doing my research to see what would be best for Beth. Should I fight for change at our public school, or should I homeschool?

Our district is all-inclusive, which means it does not have any self-contained classrooms past preschool. This was something I was thrilled about when Beth first started school in 2012, but now saw as a negative, given our situation. Beth thrived in the self-contained classroom; but appeared to have had more bad than good experiences in the blended one. From kindergarten and on, she would be in a “pod classroom,” which would have 8-11 students with IEPs blended with 10-15 neurotypical  students. The students with IEPs would be given 30 minutes a day with a Special Education teacher for “extra help,” but would spend the other 4.5 hours with one teacher and one aide in the pod.

Having taught 4yr pre-k, and substituted in kindergarten, I could not see this ratio working for any of the kids. Being neurotypical, and without an IEP, does not mean those children will not need additional help. How could two adults possibly fulfill the needs of 18-27 students, and still provide a positive educational environment?

With that question in mind, I started examining the benchmarks and kindergarten readiness skills on different sites. I realized that Beth barely had 50% of the skills suggested to start kindergarten. Although, her IEP was in place because she learned at a different rate, than her typical peers, I also realized that her achievement of IEP goals had been overstated. Perhaps they could get her to “perform” one-on-one, but overall she did not possess the skills to utilize in the classroom (or other non-school) setting.

I brought my findings to her therapists (who have been with us since Beth was 2.5yrs old), and asked them for an honest opinion on  her chances of success in a pod classroom. The answer was unanimous, she would fall further behind, and would not be able to reach her God given potential, given the structure of the pod classroom. They also felt that this would only add to her anxiety, self-esteem, and confidence issues.

Henry and I discussed our options at length. Although he had several reservations, he supported my desire to attempt homeschooling.  We also debated whether to allow Anne to remain in public school, or withdraw her too. In the end we decided that if the school was not a safe, positive environment for Beth, then it was not for Anne either. Our girls deserved more respect, and a better chance of success in reaching their God given potential, than our public school could provide.

I am beyond grateful for the ugliness that stemmed from our request for help, because it opened my eyes and heart to the reality of our girls’ situation. We had put too much trust in the public school staff, and given them more power than they deserved, but that is a post for another time.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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2015 New Year

I was coming on tonight to write about my hopes and aspirations going into the New Year. Before I opened WordPress, I read a post by Diary of A Mom, on her Facebook page.  These words caught my attention, and filled my heart with a multitude of emotions:

“If you’re autistic, it’s not abuse.

If you’re autistic, it’s not neglect.

If you’re autistic, it’s not a crime for people to hurt you.”

– Lydia Brown on the recently dropped charges in the case of two autistic young men locked in a basement in unimaginable conditions for years.

http://www.autistichoya.com/…/black-lives-still-matter.html…

On a day when so many of us are declaring our resolutions, this is mine –

To do everything in my power to make Lydia’s words no longer true.

I will raise my voice, and, more importantly, amplify the voices of those who might not otherwise be heard, to say this –

Disability does not – cannot – continue to be an excuse (legal or otherwise) for our society’s wholesale dismissal of the universal right to the recognition and respect of human dignity. Not in an absolute sense and not by degree. Because there is no mystical line where severity of condition, be it the challenges of autism or otherwise, cancels out humanity. Ever.

So while losing ten (okay, twenty) pounds, getting more exercise, and getting outdoors more are all great resolutions, this one is at the top of my list.

Who’s in?

Please note: The comments are now unmoderated. Please, please remain respectful of one another and, above all, the victims of abuse in Lydia’s post. Also, there seems to be some confusion about the quote above. Lydia, who is a tireless autistic advocate for disability rights, does not believe that what she wrote *should* be the truth. She is stating, in the context of these horrific stories of abuse of autistic people, the reality of our society and our legal system as they stand.

 

I read Lydia’s blog post, Black Lives Still Matter, from the link in Diary’s Facebook status, through tears. The horrific things done to these Autistic children were too much for my heart to bear; all the sadness and outrage spilled out through my eyes. Beth has many amazing friends of different nationalities, and I could not imagine these atrocities happening to one of the children I have come to love.

Lydia’s words (describing how WRONG the system portrays things);

“If you’re autistic, it’s not abuse.

If you’re autistic, it’s not neglect.

If you’re autistic, it’s not a crime for people to hurt you.”

struck a painful chord with me, because sadly she is as right about how the world sees our children, as she is about how it NEEDS TO CHANGE.

THIS is exactly why we had to take our children out of public school, because they made it VERY clear that Beth’s feelings and safety were not important. So, I am in! I will stand with Autistic Hoya, Diary Of A Mom, and hopefully countless others to say:

Autistic Lives Matter!

Black Lives Matter!

ALL LIVES MATTER!

Will you stand with us? Will you make the world a safer place for Autistic individuals, people of color and all who are different? Will you be the change we so desperately NEED to see in the world for these individuals to receive the Respect, Kindness and Dignity these deserve? Different NOT Less! ❤

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Why We Started Homeschooling

After our Healing Touch session, it occurred to me that I never really shared the reason why we homeschool. One thing I have learned in Al-Anon is that sharing your story, helps you to heal the wounds from it. Since our homeschool story is quite lengthy, I will share it in parts. This is the emotional part of Why our journey began.

Beth was being bullied by three typical boys, in her blended class, at our public school. At first we did not know the extent of the bullying. Thankfully, when we asked the school for assistance in helping her identify the correct emotions, and understand the difference between a friend and a bully (for lack of a better word), the response was unbelievable. The Director of Special Education cut off all our communication with the staff, and became VERY defensive. Her extreme overreaction, and attempt at “handling” us, was a HUGE red flag that there was much more to the story.

The director told us our daughter did not need to know what a bully was, because it could not happen at this age. She told us our daughter created issues where there were none; her examples only proved that she knew nothing about Autism and the literal thinker. She told us when we spent hours trying to console Beth during her meltdowns, we were telling her, that her issue was more important than it was. I could go on for pages, but I will spare you all the other inappropriate things this “professional” had to say, except this last one. Her ultimate solution to the problem was to teach Beth not to cry, so that the children with less control (aka the bullies) would not be as compelled to target her.

As I explained to the Director in our last communication, before we withdrew the girls, her solution did nothing to help our daughter, and only served to foster more bullies. To not reprimand the bullies, and teach them to behave with respect and kindness is wrong. To teach a victim to not cry, and just accept that they are less than their peers, is WRONG. Her way of “helping” special needs students, which is sadly the same almost everywhere in the USA, is one of the reasons so many of our children are abused and tortured every day at school.

Having taught preschool myself, I know this is the age that can set the tone for a child’s future. I was disappointed and outraged by the way this situation was handled. I was also horrified by how Anne was starting to behave, after only being in that school for a few months. She was becoming disrespectful and cruel. I knew exactly what was happening to Beth at school, because I was seeing it happen at home.

We knew our daughters deserved better, as a result we withdrew our children from the public school district, and began making plans to homeschool. The socialization the school had to offer, was nothing our children needed.

You may have caught the word thankfully above. It may be hard to believe, but we are thankful for this ugliness, because it led us to something wonderful. Also, please know that if it were not for Al-Anon, this story would be very different, and not in a good way.

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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Healing Touch

Have you heard of Healing Touch? If not here is a great post that explains Healing Touch.

On Saturday, I had a Healing Touch session with Sarah, from Color My Spirit. In this session, the intention was to work on Beth, through me. I was the one on the table, while Beth was at my parents house playing the day away. Before I left for my session, I put Chakra Balancing Oils on both Beth and myself. I also put a Chakra ring on both us. I then brought a picture of Beth, for Sarah to have during the session. Since Beth loves rocks, and is always on a quest for the perfect gold one, Sarah also placed a beautiful pyrite stone (amongst others) by Beth’s picture.

We talked about what I hoped to achieve through the session. My main goal was to help Beth process, and move on from, the negative energy that resulted from bullying. She had been bullied for months in public school, and is still trying to work through all those emotions. Beth is Autistic, and for her that means her memories are sensory based. Unfortunately, many activities such as painting, eating, playing, etc… tend to bring back painful memories from her experiences at public school. Sometimes she talks about how sad she is, while other times she has massive meltdowns. I am doing my best to help her work through her emotions each time she shares an incident with me, but I was hoping Sarah and Healing Touch could help her on another level.

The session was amazing! The energy that comes from Sarah vibrates in the air when she is working on me. When we started I had a lump, that felt like a rock in the upper left side of my chest. As the session progressed, the pain and weight I felt in that spot slowly dissipated. At times I had to take a deep breath, from the power of the energy moving through me. During the session, I felt another rock-like lump manifest in my lower abdomen and slowly travel up toward the center of my chest, where it rested, before dissipating as well. There were moments, when I felt as though I would weep, and others when I smiled from immense feelings of joy. Toward the end of the session, Sarah was moving her hands from my knee to my toes in a sweeping motion. Each time her hands swept downward, I felt as though she was pulling something out of me. My arms automatically stretched toward her, and I felt as though I was fighting to keep my body flat on the table. It was as if whatever she was focusing on, was being dragged out of every fiber in my being.

I pray this helps Beth. The overwhelming feelings of peace and love that I felt at the end of our session, is something I pray my children feel countless times in their life. Today Beth and I are exhausted, despite both of us sleeping very well last night. Sarah warned that we may feel more tired in the coming days, as our bodies detox from the negative energy she attempted to remove. I will be watching Beth in the coming weeks to see what changes are apparent. I will also be paying close attention to myself, since Sarah sensed that I must heal my own (old) wounds in order to fully help Beth heal hers.

There was one new thing today. For the first time, while talking about the boys who tortured her, Beth said: “I don’t like K anymore. He said I was bad team, but he is bad team and I don’t like him anymore!” This is HUGE, because just a few days ago, she was still crying about how he broke her heart because she wanted to be his friend and he didn’t like her. This change in her dialogue is like a beacon of hope for me! It is the shining star that tells me, she will not only overcome this, but she is going to use it as a base for something wonderful.

I believe the Lord has great plans for Beth. I know she will encounter good and evil on her path. I also know that when she must endure the bad, He will help her heal, and take what she needs from those events. I am very thankful that He has blessed us with people like Sarah, to help her on her journey.

 

Have a blessed day everyone, and don’t forget to smile. ♥

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