Monthly Archives: September 2012

Parents and Bullying

So far this year, I’ve had an unusual problem with my middle child.  While he is the most loving of all of my kids, he has always been the biggest pain in the ass ever.  Immediately after conception, I felt it would be different with this child.  He fought me every single step of the way during pregnancy and after birth, it’s not been any different.  Everyday life with him has been an adventure and there is never a dull moment, EVER.

Paris’s first year in school was a nightmare.  Because of his name and feminine nature, he was an easy target for bullies.  His days at school were filled with ridicule and torment, his evenings on the bus ride home were even worse.  Nearly every day Paris would get off of the bus crying.  One day, Paris even asked me if he was gay.  When I asked him why he would ask such a thing, he said that he was kind of thinking that he was gay because everyone always told him that he was.  Eventually, Paris even started to refer to himself as gay.  Once you are told something enough times, it’s hard not to come to believe it, however untrue it may be.  Because I suffered from bullying myself, I knew just what he was going through and how horrible bullying could make him feel.  While I understood what he suffered, I think I also handled it more personally than I should have.  Maybe, I should have just been more assertive in calling the school and the bus lot.  Maybe, I should have been more like other parents.

That year was tough.  The verbal degradation turned to physical acts of bullying and Paris was constantly hit, pushed and even beaten up.  Forcing him to wake up and push on every day was a chore, especially when I was so emotionally vested in what was happening.  Not only was this happening to my child but it was like it was happening to me all over again.  I got on a first name basis with the principal, the bus lot, teachers, counselors and other students.  I rallied to stand up for Paris as much as I could but nothing really changed.  Kindergarten year passed and the new school season brought with it the same asshole kids who bullied Paris before.  1st grade was another year of hell and so was 2nd.  I worked with Paris and I explained to him how I thought he should handle a bully.  From my experience, tears were what bullies wanted so I learned to cope with my personal hell in other ways.  I told Paris that sometimes when kids would pick on me that I would just smile and say, “Thanks”.  Most of the time, I would just pretend I was too busy to notice what they said or what they did.  One day Paris got off the bus and he was smiling through his tears.  He said, “Mom, you would be really proud of me.  The kids on the bus were being really mean and saying bad stuff and I just smiled at them and then I looked away and outside of the bus window as I cried.  I don’t think they saw me crying.  I did good, right?”.

We are now months into 3rd grade and what I am seeing is pretty shocking.  My child has now become a bully himself.  He has poked kids, made fun of their names and he’s stood in the bathroom and thrown water on them.  What was once my bullied child  has now been replaced by this cocky jerk.  What happened?  How could this be?  I sit and think back and I am reminded of my years in school… and the people who I bullied.  Yes, I too, was a bully.  While the torment I experienced was absolutely horrible, I still picked on other kids.  What the hell was I thinking?  The only way that I can explain it is that we are all a product of our environment.  After someone is bullied and put down so much, eventually they want to feel like they have gained some power back.  The quickest way for that to happen is sadly, by destroying someone else.  I can’t explain why this works or why we do it, but we do.

I was talking to my mom about Paris a few nights ago and she said (as she often does), “He is so much like you.  At least you didn’t do anything bad except for that time you took alcohol on the school bus.  You weren’t a bad kid.”  I laughed to myself and I told my mom that there was a lot that she didn’t know.  She wanted an explanation and so I laid it out to her for the first time ever, over 16 years after it happened.

“Mom, I didn’t take alcohol on the bus to be bad or because I was rebellious.  I took the alcohol because I thought that it would make the mean kids leave me alone because maybe if they thought I was cool and could break the rules, they would like me.”  In disbelief, my mom asked me how that could be.  I went on to explain to her all of the times where they ripped up my papers, made fun of my name, told me I was fat, threw spitwads in my hair and even about the time when they slipped under the bus seat and tied my shoe laces together so that when I got up to exit the bus, I would fall down.  I did fall that day and I smacked my head on the floor.  I looked up and all I saw was the faces of every kid on the bus, smiling and bursting at the seams with laughter.  My mom’s response was, “How could they make fun of you?  You had nice clothes, you modeled, you were pretty and thin and you were a good kid.”  I just laughed and I told her that none of that mattered, that kids would pick out whatever they wanted to and they would make fun of it.  It never matters if what bullies say is true, what matters to them is that they cause someone else to feel like less.  They want power.  Still in shock, my mom yelled at me for never telling her.  My explanation was that if I had told her what was happening, it would get worse.  When bullies get in trouble, it just adds fuel to the fire and the pending explosion.  You want to make a bully get worse?  Tell on them.  In the beginning when I was young I would tattle to my mom or whoever would listen but as I got older, I learned that it was best to just keep it to myself.

The fact that my son is being a huge bully is really disheartening.  I can’t quite grasp how my most loving and understanding, sympathetic and empathetic child could do something so utterly horrible.  I am ashamed and deeply saddened.  While we are a work in progress and I will NOT tolerate bullying, this all dredges up terrible thoughts and feelings.  Things that I have locked away deep in my memory are surfacing and it’s incredibly painful.  I think of the time that someone decapitated my dog and my body convulses.  The laughs of all of the kids on the bus fill my ears, just as if they are standing here beside me.  I subconsciously reach up to feel the back of my head to make sure that there isn’t gum in my hair.  Sadly, I experience it all again, as if for the very first time.

Parents, watch your kids.  Learn the signs of bullying and the right ways to cope with it.  It doesn’t matter how rich or how popular you are, how beautiful or smart your child is.  They can be bullied right under your nose and you don’t even know it.  Your child could be making another’s life miserable.  Be mindful to what happens.  Talk to your child’s teachers, their bus drivers and daycare providers.  Know what happens to and because of your child.

And if you are wondering how my bus/alcohol situation worked out… I got suspended but I also never got picked on by those kids on the bus again.  While I made a stupid decision you have to give me credit for being smart enough to acknowledge the stupidity and the weakness in those bastards.

When the World Fights You

As someone who has suffered abuse in the past, I am always one of the first people who will step in and advocate for the abused.  While it’s hard for some to understand the thinking process of someone who suffers from abuse, if you have been there, you know all too much just how it affects your life permanently.  When I was about 16, I had to have part of my face reconstructed, all thanks to my step-dad.  While I would like to say that is all that I had to deal with, it’s not.  Possibly not even the worst thing that ever happened.  Surgeons can do amazing things to reconstruct the body but there is nothing that can ever change the past or the lasting memories it leaves behind.

A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine shared a story about someone who is currently struggling due to an abusive relationship and a “bad hand” dealt out by the world.  After hearing her story, I was compelled to try to do something to help.  While I must do all that I can to protect her identity; to help make her future better, I must share some of her past.  For the sake of her safety and pride, I will give her an anonymous identity and shall deem her “Chi-Chi”.  You’ll know why here soon.

Chi-Chi was running a successful business with her fiance’ and to an outsider, Chi-Chi’s world seemed perfect.  Unfortunately, the facade of “the perfect life” began to crumble and Chi-Chi realized that she could no longer lie to herself.  The abuse she was dealing with was destroying her body, her mind and her soul.  Sacrificing everything, Chi-Chi left home on a whim, with only the clothes on her back and her 3 senior Chihuahuas (now you know why I picked the name).  She ran as fast as she could, as quietly and unnoticeably as possible.

Chi-Chi set out to make a new life and she quickly got a job in advertising and she started to settle in to a calmer and happier time.  Finally, life was turning around and again, Chi-Chi began to make a name and a life for herself.  Then out of left field, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

Chi-Chi underwent a double mastectomy and when her health allows it, Chi-Chi works from home for a nominal amount of money.  Because of the strength of her medications, which include pain killers, Chi-Chi doesn’t work frequently enough to cover her cost of living or her medical requirements.  As each day passes, Chi-Chi postpones her doctor’s appointments and chemotherapy because she just doesn’t make enough to care for herself and her three dogs.  With her rent 5 months behind and growing, Chi-Chi doesn’t know where to turn.  While her landlord is trying to work with her, she wonders just how long it will last.

Many people would be bitter and resentful if they dealt with what Chi-Chi has but instead of ask “Why me”, Chi-Chi wakes each day with a smile on her face, an armful of hugs to hand out and a positive attitude, of which I am very jealous.  She never complains and never asks for help.

It’s in those moments of life where I think that certain people cross our path for a reason.  To go through each day and ignore what is presented before us is ignorant.  Life’s a lesson, whether for ourselves or for another.  Sometimes we are here to listen, to learn and to be healed and other times we are the teacher or the healer.  It’s my turn to heal, myself and Chi-Chi.

A ChipIn has been created to assist Chi-Chi with “everyday” expenses and to help her catch up with her rent.  While I do not personally manage this ChipIn, I do completely trust who is.  You can find the link by clicking here.  If you aren’t comfortable donating money, we are also collecting items.  Below is just a small sample of some of the things needed to help her.

  • household and personal items
  • gas cards or gift cards
  • flea treatment for small-breed dogs (3 dogs)
  • generic Rimadyl for the male Chihuahua
  • “Wellness”Vegetarian dog food for the 2 female dogs
  • grain-free dog food for the male dog
  • fruits and vegetables (she prefers a mostly “Vegan” diet and will not eat red meat or pork)
  • food/pantry items

Items will be collected throughout the Kansas City area.  If you think you may be able to help Chi-Chi in other ways, please email me at darathrene@gmail.com and let me know what you can do.  She is residing in the Kansas City, Missouri area.  We are open to any suggestions or recommendations.  If you’d like to send her a card, let me know and we can collect them and deliver them with any other items donated.

Thank you!

 

Yup, People Suck

Well, after over 4 months… I have confirmation that people SUCK.  If you follow my blogs, you would have seen one in the past few weeks about a situation that I got myself involved in and just how much it has taken a toll on my life (and my finances).

Back in May, I was made aware of a family that was going from shelter to shelter and rescue to rescue, asking for assistance with their 2 dogs.  The problem was that the family had lost their home and in an attempt to get back on their feet, they were going to go through 90 days of “transitional housing”.  While in transitional housing, the family could not take their pets with them and because no one in the family was working, they couldn’t afford to care for them properly.  When I heard of the families’ plight and hopes for a temporary foster home, I jumped in with both feet and took over communications for them.  Time was not on my side and I was told that I only had a few days to find a foster or the dogs would have to go to the shelter.  After finding out that they were senior dogs, I was even more convinced that I could save these dogs.

When no foster home appeared, I talked to the family about boarding them at a kennel.  The idea was pretty well received even though it wasn’t their original plan or hope.  I told the family that I would try to get donations and that I would help cover some of the expense as long as they were paying, too.  As documentation of the ordeal and because of a feeling to not trust anyone, I kept the text messages that were exchanged.  On May 24th, the dogs were taken to a local kennel.  The family text me that evening “We just dropped the dogs off at the boarding” and next “we all cried an still crying”.

The next day, I got a message from the boarding facility in which they advised me that the family stated that I would be the person responsible for the bill and I would be paying everything.  At 6:24 pm that evening, while at a race track in LaMonte, Missouri, I text the family with “I just talked to (name deleted for privacy) and she said that you had told her that I was paying for everything.  I said that I would help.  I am concerned.” to which I received “No, I said that you and other people were helping pay for the boarding.  Was I incorrect when I said that?”.  Ugh, really?  After numerous texts back and forth, the family claimed that they were going to help pay, that they never said that I was responsible and that they missed their dogs and couldn’t wait to get them back.

On the 26th of May, the boarding facility told me just how much of a problem that one of the dogs was having with obvious arthritis, which I never knew about.  The response was “Nellie has arthritis in her back legs.  It might be getting worse.”  There was no real concern for the dogs comfort or well-being.

Many months have passed, way more than the 90 days originally promised.  Not once has the family paid anything.  Only on one occasion did I receive a donation towards their care (and that was just in the last few weeks due to my previous blog and the fact that someone felt sorry for me).  And who has paid and is still paying?  My dumb ass.  If you do the math, I am sure you can figure out how much it costs to board 2 dogs for 120+ days.  Don’t make me do it because I don’t even want to think about it.

When the original 90 days were up last August, the boarding facility contacted the owner and told them that the time was up and that the dogs needed to be picked up.  As of today, the dogs are still there.  Yesterday the owners contacted the boarding facility and let them know that they would be picking up the dogs and taking them to Wayside Waifs, a shelter here in KC.  Just exactly what I had tried to avoid.  So, how am I supposed to feel?  I paid (and still am) for 120 days (and counting) of boarding, just so I could postpone the probable euthanization by 120+ days?  What the hell was I thinking?

I am filled with so much despair, disappointment and heartbreak.  For months I have struggled with my own finances, stopped filling my prescriptions, limited my special events with my kids and eventually, I even stepped back from rescue, all so I could take care of 2 dogs for someone else.  All because of one gesture, one simple gesture and thought that I could make a positive impact in someone’s life and that I could indeed, save 2 dogs from the shelter.  The tears well up as I think of how I let these dogs down and even more importantly, how I let myself down.  I always try to believe the best about people but this time, the damage has been done and I don’t know if I can recover.

People just suck.

*If you are interested in adopting or fostering Nellie and Dakota, please contact me.  Both are senior dogs that are 12 years old.  Nellie suffers from arthritis.  Dakota is not recommended to be around other dogs, kids or cats.*

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“The Talk”

While driving the boys (8 & 7 years old) home from school today, we happened upon a conversation that started innocently, just to pass the time, but it ended up to be a serious conversation that I think all parents should have with their children if they own a pet.

Our initial topic was the fact that we are going to a horse show tomorrow.  Paris (the 8-year-old) was excited but Bristol (the 7-year-old) wasn’t really interested.  When Paris asked Bristol why he didn’t want to go, Bristol said that he would rather go to the animal shelter and help the animals.  For those of you who know me personally, you know that volunteer work, especially for the shelters and animals, is extremely important to me.  I’ve tried to raise my children to respect and understand the full realm and responsibilities of pet ownership.  I’ve shown them the great moments and sadly, the really depressing outcome of bad decisions.  Anyway, while Bristol lamented, somehow the conversation went to Biscuit, a dog that Paris found at the shelter in January and who he deemed “Biscuit”.  The name came from a book about a dog, one of my child’s favorites.  Paris said that he wanted to go back to the shelter so he could see Biscuit and because he really hoped that the dog was still there.  I explained to Paris that he really didn’t want Biscuit to still be at the shelter because that would mean that he hadn’t found his “forever home” and that he had no family to call his own.  (I didn’t dare tell him that dogs don’t live that long at the shelter)  Paris just responded with, “Well, someday Bowser will die and then we will get a new dog and we can save Biscuit then.  We can be his family.”  I told the boys that yes, someday we would have to deal with Bowser dying and that eventually, we would get another dog but that I didn’t know how long it would take me to get over the loss of Bowser.  Then the conversation took another turn…

Paris said that when Bowser died, he would still be with us, he’d just be in the yard all the time.  This is when I brought up the subject of cremation.  At first, Paris was outraged and offended and he screamed at me.  He said that he wanted Bowser to be in the back yard so that he could give him kisses and talk to him every day.  I asked Paris what would happen if we moved and he said that he had never thought of that.  Then I told Paris about “Rainbow Bridge” and the fact that when Bowz dies, he will leave his body and go to the heavens and there he will wait for us.  Without hesitation, Paris said, “”Okay, we can do that. As long as I have my good memories, it doesn’t matter. You aren’t supposed to think of the bad memories anyway. I will remember him as he lived and not as he died.”.

Death is not something that we want to talk about with our kids.  But shouldn’t we?  Shouldn’t they understand that when someone or something passes, that it’s never truly gone as long as we let it live on in our hearts?  Shouldn’t our children understand and have a say in what happens to them when they are gone?  At my boy’s age, they only understand 2 things.  When you die, you get buried.  Unless you are a fish, then you get flushed.  But is burial always the right answer?  When I think of Bowser leaving us, all I can think about is that memories will not be enough for me and that I always want him by my side (I do have a tattoo as a living memorial in his honor).  I had decided years ago to cremate his remains but what I still haven’t figured out is exactly what I want to do with them.  As macabre as it is, I really think I want to carry his ashes around with me until I am gone and then, I want to be cremated and reunited with my best friend.  Yes, the Rainbow Bridge and thoughts of heaven are great but I want to be back with him, body and spirit.  My strangeness factor is through the roof.  I better not talk about the other thought that I had of using his ashes to create a diamond…

Regardless, my kids now know of another option and I think they understand the meaning behind why someone would cremate vs bury.  The biggest thing for them to know is that although those we lose are not here in body, they live in our hearts and through our memories of them.

Amazing to think that even though I am supposed to be teaching them, I still have a thing or two to learn myself.  The love of a child knows no bounds.

Stereotypical Nonsense at Wal-Mart

*I originally wrote this 9/24/10.  Yes, it’s quite offensive but I needed a good laugh at myself.  If you haven’t read or seen this side of me, beware!  I did name my blog appropriately, as a reader, you just haven’t seen how completely ridiculous and uncouth I am.  Most of you only know the sad, depressing dog stories.  Oh, just wait!*

*Disclaimer… I’m sorry.*

 

Konnichiwa!  It’s Friday night and I just had the joy of making the “Payday Wal-Mart Run”.  It’s like a white- trash holiday every other week.  For only two nights a month, I get to join the crowd that makes up People Of Wal-Mart.  I get to let my mullet down, find my shortest shirt that shows a hint of nipple and saggy breasts, put on my tightest stretch pants that make my crotch look like a moose-knuckle and go stick some crap in my buggy that I don’t have money for.  Yee haw!

So on this fine cool evening, I manage to make my trip to Wally World just in time to see everyone else in Missouri.  Liberty Wal-Mart’s parking lot is like the game Mouse Trap.  Around every corner you risk falling in a hole or getting stuck in a trap.  While most of you already know that Wal-Mart is the trap and not the cheese, I must point out that this particular store has decided it would be fun to see a redneck in a 4×4 have to back most of the length of the lot when he realizes that there is a random chain link fence and no place to turn around.  And of course, I am stuck behind said idiot and there is another idiot behind me that does not understand what those bright white lights are on the back of my car.  I sit for what feels like an eternity while the redneck is growing impatient and just starts backing up anyway, I guess thinking he can just Monster Truck Jam his way over my G6.  Lightbulb flickers on in the mind of driver #3 of the gang bang and he starts to back that ass up.  Finally.

I hate mass chain stores, despise of them.  I’m in a hurry and there are fifty million people walking like constipated turtles (which I believe would walk very slowly) and there are about 10 million that are unqualified scooter operators.  I want to jump on the handicapped’s lap and tell them to drive me around because I’m going to have to wait on them anyway.  Yes, I am sure I offended you.  Let me rephrase that last statement.  I want to jump on the chubby people that can’t get their cankles and thighs moving in the same direction for fear of the great Missouri forest fire.  I want to jump on the people that do not have a Hover-round license to drive.  So, due to the extreme scooter traffic in the bunion and foot fungus aisle, it took another 5 minutes to get vitamins.

The clearance aisle is the Blue Light special of Wal-Mart.  It’s where they stick all the stuff that no one wants. I will refer to it as the Island of Misfit Toys.  The Island cost me ten minutes while I was lodged between an old lady doing some placemat shopping and Atilla the Hun who has her cart turned sideways as she scurries through the shelves like a rat running from a cat.  Atilla is opening every bottle of lotion and smelling it but I can’t for the life of me understand why.  Next to Atilla was what I can only describe to you as a Wookie.  The Wookie starts smelling the lotions and texting on her Tracfone so I started freaking out and feeling trapped and started backing over the old bag behind me.  I did apologize.  Sorta.  Sorry Grandma.

While searching for something in the garden aisle, I found a misplaced clearance aisle full of back-to-school items and it was empty except for one person!  Of course, I got to see all those nice dividers that I’ve had nightmares about since purchasing all fifty of them at $5 a piece.  Look, now they are $1!  Back to school is all a huge conspiracy to piss me off.  I spent another five minutes trying to find Paris and Bristol a notebook to draw in because I found Levi an MU one and when being a mom you always have to be fair.  What crap.  Being an only child is where it’s at.  If I could push two of my kids back in long enough to only buy something for one of them, I would totally do it.  I’m that cheap.  Okay, not that cheap, just that broke.  While in that area I did get to see a bald woman with superhuman strength and reflexes like a ninja catch a box of notebooks that fell from the top shelf, all while she was holding a handful of notebooks.  If that were me, I would have let them fall on my head and I would have made sure I sustained a spinal cord injury. I’m that cheap and just that broke.

Over an hour in to my shopping trip I finally make it to the checkout.  I jumped into the one line that had one person ahead of me and an empty cart with about twenty items left on the conveyor.  I eagerly started loading my treasures and waiting my turn.  Waiting.  Still waiting.  Trying to be patient.  Trying not to make a scene.  Losing patience.  I managed to find the one Asian on food stamps, government checks and who obviously has a subscription to a coupon group online. Oh, and she has to separate things because she only has so much on the checks and on her cards.  On her 2nd group of purchases I hear the cashier calling out totals after every ring up and I am thinking to myself, “Oh shit.”  The cashier tells her, you are getting closer…. closer… you’re almost there… it’s running down your face, I’m done.  Hurry up!  “You are at $51.35.”  “Oh no!  What can I do?  Can you take some oranges out of that bag that you just rang up?”  So, the cashier opens the plastic bag and starts taking out oranges and re-weighing the bag.  She gets under $50 and then the girl finds more money in her white Hello Kitty wallet.  Yes, Hello Kitty.  Stereotype, I know.  That’s why the blog is named what it is.  Wow!  The Asian girl that is probably forty but looks twelve then locates more COUPONS!  The total changes and so the conveyor begins a slow crawl as the cashier starts ringing up more purchases.  “Oh, that costs too much, take it out.”  As we are nearing the end there is a bag of limes left and she’s near $50 again.  The cashier tells her that she’s over and the girl tells her to start taking out the limes until she is back under $50.  I must say that this cashier was possibly the most considerate person ever.  If I were checking her out, I would have punched her in the face and maybe knocked one of her kids out of the shopping cart, just for fun.  Asian girl is finally done and the cashier is completely exhausted and leaves!  The girl tucks her Hello Kitty wallet back into her knock-off D&G purse and walks away in her Juicy sweatpants.

I called Larry and by this time it’s 8:00 and I was responsible for dinner and was still not home.  I decided to run through Steak and Shake and grab food, like I was supposed to an hour or more ago.  The place is crazy and there is a line to the street and I sat there for 5 minutes.  Another line starts forming around the side of the building and the person first in that line is trying to creep in front of me in their Toyota.  I pull forward to run a block, basically on top of  the bumper of the SUV in front of me.  I order my food, the drive through gets it wrong twice, they forget the onion rings,  I remind them, they are out of Portabella for the burgers, I order something else and pull forward trying to resign to the fact that I am spending $30 on paper thin hamburgers to feed my family.  I’m still sitting in the line, almost to the window to pay when the Toyota barrels around the corner and almost hits me.  I’m pissed and I look back in my side mirror and what do I see?  I see what may possibly be black hair on a child in the drivers seat of that tan Toyota.  I look closer and I see a white Hello Kitty wallet attached to the frail hand hanging out the window.  The Asian girl is behind me in line!  While I wanted to stop and check my food over and over and take a bite of it and hand it back and say it’s wrong, I didn’t do it.  I did remind the guy about the onion rings and I got my order and pulled forward.  Two seconds later I notice that there are 5 deals of fries and no onion rings.  It’s just another great night on the “Payday Wal-Mart Run”.

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