Thursday, October 28, 2010

Let Me Set You Straight...

Dear Principals, Teachers, and other concerned adults,

You wanna prevent bullying in schools? Really? Want me to tell you how? Okay, stop with all the "Oh, let's build up self-esteem and tell the bulliessocially awkward and overly enthusiastic children that bullying is wrong and hurts people!!" crap, because y'all have been doing that for about, what, ten years now? Is it working?

NO. It's NOT.

Let me elucidate for you. The BULLIES already know that bullying is wrong. They already know it hurts people. That's why they do it.

They don't do it because they have low self esteem.

They don't do it because they're unaware of their own strength.

They have a sense of entitlement, and they know their own strength and have no trouble at all using it.


Well, maybe they're being abused at home, and they're acting out. Maybe one or the other of their parents is a bully at work, and has given their child the impression that the best way to get what they want, to get things done, is to bully people. Because if you think bullying stops when the bullies graduate, you are living in a dream world.

But the main reason bullies do it? Because... they can get away with it. They know that you, the principals, teachers, administrators, counselors, etc, will only do so much when one of their victims is brave enough, or desperate enough, to report them to you. They know you will take them into your office, sit them down in chair, and talk gravely to them about bullying. You'll ask them if they understand what they've done, and they'll say and do whatever they need to in order to get you to leave them alone. They know you will nod, and frown, and speak firmly to them, that you'll say something about calling their parents, and then let them go back to class. You'll send them to the counselor for a few weeks, who will also talk gravely to them, maybe make them watch a video or two full of those "happy, happy, cheerful, cheerful, don't be a naughty bully!" crap that does nothing at all whatsoever, maybe have them draw a few pictures, and then release them back into the population of the school. A few weeks will pass where the bully will do nothing. Then, when everyone's breathed a sigh of relief that the bully has been magically cured...

... it will start all over again

You might go a little farther if the victim's parents throw a hissy fit and mention the words, "lawyer," "lawsuit," and "police involvement" when they call you or storm into your nice, quiet, clean offices. You might give the bully an "in-school suspension."

Or you might send the bully home for a few days with a mild suggestion to his/her parents to see a therapist, or even to just "communicate effectively to your child that bullying is wrong!"

All you've done is give that kid a three day vacation from school work.

Wanna know how to stop it? Really, really stop it?

For one thing, tell your teachers when they're on playground duty to stop gathering in little clumps and getting so involved in conversations with each other that they only notice bullying when it's reached the point that someone is either bleeding or has a broken bone. If they're on playground duty, they need to separate and walk around the playground. They need to pay attention when they see a group of girls around one single girl, and need to notice the expression on her face. If she's crying, looks angry, or terrified, she's being bullied, you nitwits, not playing a game!! If a boy is being pushed down to the ground and two other boys are kicking him, it's bullying!!

Shit, people, this isn't rocket science!!!

And so help me, if you come back at me with, "What, you mean I'm supposed to actually watch the kids like they're in jail??" I am going to kick you so hard, your grandchildren will feel it! Yes. You are supposed to watch the children. You are supposed to walk around, keeping your ears and your eyes open. You're supposed to intervene before fists fly, before words that are worse than sticks and stones hit, before that one kid who stutters, who is smaller than the others, who wears weird, hand-me-down clothes, who has unusually colored hair, who wears glasses, who has braces, or whatever other fucking stupid reason bullies use to justify why they torment their victims is hurt again. That's your job.

That means at junior high level, you not only patrol the halls, you walk into the restrooms. What, you don't want to intimidate the kids? Why the hell not??? Isn't that your job, too?? What the hell else do you think is going to work?? Don't you remember junior high? Where did most of the worst bullying happen? IN THE RESTROOM!!!

And high school, same thing. PAY ATTENTION!! It isn't that hard. You did it every time you took your own kids out to play at a park, or at a family gathering, or any place where there were other kids, some of them older and bigger. You watched your kids like a hawk, and swooped in like a fury when they were threatened, and gods, if you didn't, I feel so sorry for your kids.

Well, you know what? For eight hours a day, my kids are your kids. And you better damn sure watch them like a hawk, because if you aren't, then you shouldn't be teaching. Or a principal. Or a counselor. Or anything to do with kids.

Seriously, people. You want bullying to stop, you don't try to make them feel good about themselves. You don't show them flowery, happy videos, and you don't treat them like victims who are mislabeled, or misunderstood. You stop them. You make them know, in a way they cannot ignore, that they are being watched. You get in their faces and confront them. You tell them it won't be tolerated, and then you don't tolerate it. You call the police and file charges on the behalf of the school and the victim. You fine the parents. You do whatever you have to do to make it damn hard for them to get away with it. You give the damn bullies consequences. Remember those? You stopped teaching about those a few years back, right about when you stopped teaching logic and critical thinking.

Until you do this, it won't stop. It will keep going. You can't wish it away. You can't close your eyes and pretend.

You're just as responsible as they are for what they do, what they get away with, and the damage they leave behind.

Well? I'm waiting...

Thursday, October 21, 2010

When Ketchup Meets Impertinent Force

Dear Bill Nye the Science Guy,

Thank you so much for teaching my children, especially the Impertinent Daughter, all about physics. You made learning science so much fun, and you also made it easy to apply what they learned.

In fact, my daughter learned a whole new way to apply the physics of centrifugal force! She learned that if you're running low on ketchup and want to get all that ketchup at the bottom of the jar to the top quickly, you can apply centrifugal force and this is what happens!!

Ketchup Meets Impertinent Centrifugal Force 1

Oh, and this, too!

Ketchup Meets Impertinent Centrifugal Force 2

As you can see, it made quite a splatter pattern. What you can't see is the ketchup that was on the floor, up the utility room door (and window), and, as I discovered later, across Calcifer's back! It was very impressive!!

She thought she had pushed the lid closed. As you can see, it wasn't.

I am sure that sometime, when the Husbandly One and I are about sixty, and ready for the kitchen remodel, we'll finally get rid of the ketchup on the ceiling. Why not now?

That stipple on the ceiling? It's called a "Popcorn" ceiling. And let me tell you something. That stuff is a BITCH to clean! You can't even vacuum spider webs off a popcorn ceiling without knocking the little white "popcorns" off, and if you're not careful, you'll end up with a big blank hole.

I hate the damn popcorn ceilings in this house.

Well, anyway, Mr. Nye, thanks for teaching my daughter all about centrifugal force. I can't wait until she remembers your lessons on particle physics!!



Because I like them fun-sized...

Somewhere around the beginning of September, I read a letter in Dear Abby written by a woman in Hawaii who was concerned about her vertically challenged male friend. He was handsome, outgoing, fit, lights up the room when he walks in, wonderful person, friends everywhere... but not married. This bothered her, as she wondered if it was because he was 5' 7", rather than say... 6 feet or more.

She wondered if it mattered, if height was really that important to women.

You know I had to answer, don't you?


So, though I am not in the habit of writing to Dear Abby, though I enjoy reading her column... I wrote a letter, and promptly forgot about it. It's not surprising, really, considering everything that's been happening around here, and how busy things have been.

This morning, I got myself a bowl of cereal and sat down to my morning perusal of the internet, and read Dear Abby as is my habit. And... that first letter seemed oddly familiar. I read it a couple of times before it occurred to me.

"A Very, Very Happy Wife In Texas"... is me.

The Husbandly One is 5' 6" and I am 5' 3". And that makes him just right. No crick in the neck trying to look up at him. No cramping feet and calves from standing on tip-toe just for a kiss, though he can tuck my head under his chin when he holds me. No reaching up to hold his hand and feeling like a five year old walking with her dad. We're not exactly eye to eye, but pretty darn close! And that's just all superficial stuff, because really, even if he'd been taller than me, I still would have fallen head over heels in love with him. Or if he'd been shorter than me. Are you kidding? I struck gold when I met the Husbandly One; I knew it then, and I know it now!

We fit perfectly together, and that, my friends, is all that really matters.

Monday, October 18, 2010

When Nieces Get Married...

It was a lovely wedding.

My niece looked radiantly beautiful, and her groom looked stunned and joyful, and though there were some bobbles here and there, mostly... it went well.

The Impossible Son looked very handsome in his tuxedo...

The name's Bond... James Bond...

The Impertinent Daughter looked very pretty in her dress and the two of them did not fight...

Playing nice for the camera...

My mother looked absolutely gorgeous in her dress, and had her hair done, and was happy to have all her kids together again...

Still Got It...

And when I saw the way my niece and her new husband looked at each other on the dance floor during their first dance, I stopped worrying...

Animated and happy...

And as an extra special treat, here is the cutest couple on the dance floor. See you again in twenty years when it's their turn to get married!

Wee Bop...

That's all I have time for at the moment, since the Impossible Son has caught something and is now coughing and running a fever. The full report will have to wait. So for now, enjoy!