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Archive for January, 2011

My son, Alex, started kindergarten this fall, and in October he informed me that there was a mean boy in his class.  Alex would come home with daily stories about how this boy (we’ll call him Tom) pushed him, hit him and, at one point, physically forced him to wipe up a spill with his sleeve.  I thought my heart might break as my husband and I coached him to use words, seek out the teacher and told him about other anti-bullying tips we’d heard.  Alex, bless his heart, tried them all, but nothing seemed to work.  So, at parent-teacher conferences I addressed it with the teacher. 

And my whole perspective got turned on its head.

Tom is a foster child.  He’s with a good family now, but his past is dark and he’s angry and he’s fighting to keep from losing his little self.  Upon hearing this, my heart did break.  I took this new information to my husband (who had previously, wisely commented to me, “I wonder what his home life is like?”).  We decided to take a new approach.  I told Alex that, though he didn’t have to tolerate bullying and should keep his teacher in the loop, he might consider trying to befriend Tom if he felt comfortable.  I also told him he should keep Tom in his prayers, to which he responded, “why would I do that?”  I told him that, more than anything else, Tom needed our prayers and our love.

Full disclosure:  I never thought Alex would actually try to befriend Tom, and I am ashamed to admit that until I learned about Tom’s past it had not occurred to me to suggest that Alex pray for him.   

A week later, Alex came home and stunned me by asking if Tom could come over to play.  After asking him, “are you sure?” seventeen times, their teacher put me in touch with Tom’s foster mom, and that week he came over for movie night.  It went quite well; Tom is bright and spunky, and we learned afterward that it had been his first play date.  Ever.   

Since then, Alex and Tom have become buddies, much to my amazement.  I had been so caught up with protecting Alex and coaching him to “stand up for himself” (and because I unfortunately have grown a little jaded and world-weary) that I completely missed an opportunity to help a child who needs helping.  Lucky for me, Alex was on the ball.  We took his lead and now we get to be a part of Tom’s life. 

By the way, Tom is now adopted 🙂

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One of my favorite weeknight meals is the Chilaquiles Casserole from EatingWell.com.  It’s fabulous and the whole family loves it.  My only issue was that this potentiall frugal meal calls for 19 oz of canned enchilada sauce, which cost around $6.    Then I found this Ten Minute Enchilada Sauce on Allrecipes.com.  Bingo!  The flavor is great and it came together in a snap.  Just thought I’d share!

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We’ve never been a video game family (although my hubby and I did have a months-long adventure via World of Warcraft, but that’s ancient history).  But, given all the hype with the new Kinetic/Wii/Playstation Move systems, we bit the bullet and got the family a Wii for Christmas.  We made it clear to our five year-old son that game time would be limited because it can “make your brain weak.”  He agreed emphatically, but now that he’s getting good at one of the games, it’s all Wii – er, we – hear about.  Things boiled over today when I told him, after an hour of play time, that it was time to move on to something else.  He got uncharacteristically nasty with me, and even told me he wished I wasn’t his mom. 

Ouch.

My own mother told me many times that one should simply let these comments roll off one’s shoulders, given that they’re coming from the mouth of a young child who doesn’t understand the weight of the words.  And I tried.  But it stung more than I thought it would.  He is currently in his room until Dad gets home, and he’s grounded from all forms of electronic media until at least tomorrow.  By then my hubby and I will have hopefully figured out a plan.  We’ll work through this, of course, but admittedly I’m wondering if I shouldn’t have just continued to opt out of the video gaming world.  We were perfectly happy without it.

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For perspective, let me begin by stating the obvious – that Saturday’s Tucson shooting was reprehensible and a tragedy. 

The responsibility of the shooting, however, lies solely with the shooter.    Not with republicans or democrats, not with Sarah Palin.  Were we really calling to amend free speech as a result of this?  The crime was horrific, and right now we need level heads and healing.  Instead, we are a nation of people shouting and finger-pointing. 

Scum…violence-tinged…temper political discourse…blame

We have free speech all the time.  Even when we choose to speak irresponsibly.  I will step off my soap-box the moment someone can prove to me that some politician’s words forced – or even caused – that boy-man to pull the trigger.  No.  The blood is on his hands, and his hands alone. 

The rest of us need to remember that our government merely represents us, and is not responsible for our level of happiness, wealth, health, and certainly not for Saturday.  So let’s all just calm down, grieve, and return our focus to fixing this near-broken nation.  Perhaps we can start with turning our gaze inward.   

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families of the victims.

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