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first grade

This morning my oldest daughter started First Grade.*Swoon* & *Sigh* My stomach was nervous all last night for her. I’m no stranger to this phenomenon.It’s been happening to me since MY own first day of kindergarten. I didn’t think I’d be this nervous before my babies started school. I guess it’s better me than them. Ella woke up this morning excited and ready to hit the ground running. I’m so proud of her. This is her third school in three years.

First grade

The First Day Of First Grade

This morning was slightly reminiscent of last year’s first day. But this year my little girl was more excited and less nervous. I watched her jump out of bed and her eyes were smiling. She woke up her sister and headed to the kitchen for the annual first day of school breakfast; this years was pancakes, bacon, fruit and milk. Gotta feed that little brain. I watched her flit around like a little caterpillar turning into a butterfly before my very eyes. It really is quite hard to actually see the letting go happen.

She was dressed and ready to hit the road in record time this morning. I was glad. I was afraid she was going to be overcome with trepidation being in a new school, in a new city with new kids and no one she knows. But we were sure to take her to the school a couple times over the summer and she met her teacher last week. She knew where her desk, hook and mailbox would be before she ever got to school this morning. I explained the lunch line and pick up. She knew she was going to be the first Star of the Week VIP, we spent the weekend working on her VIP poster board for class. She seemed fine. I was the nervous one.


first grade

The First Cut is the Deepest

Then we drove to school, after taking my usual 100 photos or so of her getting ready for her first day of school. I reminded her that I put lunch money in her pocket, in case there was a mix up with her lunch account. I reminded her that she was having grapes in her lunch today and that she needed to take little bites and not talk while eating ( *Laugh if you will at my helicoptering but this is the same child who I was almost robbed of by a raisin). I reminded her to raise her hand when they took a head count for lunch (this is her first year of all day school). Then we rode in silence.

As we walked into the school, I had to pass the Kindergarten Mom’s. They were all melting into their pools of snot and tears in the hallway. Oh how I remember that moment, it was just last year. It will be me again next year. It hurt my heart a bit. I knew in moments, my own hurt was coming down like a hammer. We walked her into her classroom. As I handed her the backpack and pointed her in the direction of her hook, I could see the trepidation rearing its head again. I know that look. It’s a mix of glazed over and about to cry. But she never does. My girl is a suck it up kind of girl. She is the bravest kid I know (until it comes to shots but that’s an entirely different post). She asked me to walk her to her desk, of course, I obliged. The Big Guy was already busy setting all of her supply list items on her desk and unveiling that Star of the Week poster that tells her story. Abbi was running amuck checking out all the other kids to make sure it was safe to leave her big sister. She doesn’t leave her sister with just anyone.

first grade

I was in my head. She was in hers. Her eyes were glassy. My eyes were glassy. She knew I would ONLY leave her in capable hands. She sucked it up and gave me her nervous smile. I gave her a thousand and one kisses and told her to have a great day. I told her that I was so excited for her and proud of her. The Big Guy gave her a goodbye kiss and exited left. Her little sister hugged her like she was going off to war and kissed her cheek harder than I thought possible. I watched before giving her one last kiss and hug and fleeing before I could begin to cry.I told her I loved her. She told me that she did too.The commotion was growing. I swallowed the lump in my throat and told her goodbye.She smiled her nervous, toothless smile. It took all my will, I walked away. As I exited the room, I looked back and saw that same first day familiar nervous look. It broke my heart. It always breaks my heart. Leaving her, has always and will probably always break my heart into a million tiny pieces. The letting go is the hardest part of growing up.

First Grade

It’s time to focus on the fact that my  youngest starts preschool in 3 weeks. Oh what a blubbering mess I will be on that day. For now, I will fixate on those damn grapes and count the minutes til pick up time. Once she tells me that she had a wonderful day and I know that she survived the grapes at lunch. I will be exponentially happier. But right now, this very moment, my heart still hurts from….

Leaving my First Born in First Grade

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back to school, first day of school, parenting, girls, letting go

Back to school was not Xanax inducing here. Not this year anyways. Today was the first day of school for my girls. It feels much too early in the summer. It’s the first summer that I wasn’t either ecstatic or sobbing to be left alone. This morning was a peaceful, easy morning.

The girls are at the age where they can do things on their own. They were up and ready before me. They were excited. I was thrilled. Morning drop off went off without a hitch. Completely different from last year’s back to school mental breakdowns.

I walked them in, dropped off supplies and introduced myself to their teachers and left with a kiss goodbye and a hug of appreciation instead of desperation. It was bitter sweet.On one hand, my oldest “baby” is in 6th grade. That’s middle school? How did this happen? I swear I just dropped her off in the kindergarten hallway of death.

I returned home with hot coffee in hand and sat in peaceful quietness in a clean house. Then it happened. I missed my children. As much as we’ve been inseparable this summer, I didn’t think it was even possible.

Back to school is getting easier for them and harder for me.

I missed my tween sleepily walking into the room midmorning only to collapse by my side and snuggle into me as she did all summer. I missed my little one sauntering in with her bedhead and sidling up on the other side of me, kissing me good morning and laying with her feet under my hip as she read a book or watched a show on her iPod. I missed it all. I even missed the tiny voices constantly asking to go to the pool. I just need a few more days; a few more years. 18 years can’t hold all of this love.

Mostly, I missed the fact that those moments are gone for another summer and every summer is one summer closer to no more summers under the same roof. That rips my heart out. I don’t know how to not hate that. I want to consume and digest every moment in tiny bits so that it doesn’t overwhelm me but motherhood is all consuming and, for me, completely overwhelming in the best possible ways.

back to school, first day of school, parenting, girls, letting go

At pick up the car was filled with excited voices telling me how excited they were about the upcoming school year. They were thrilled to connect with old friends and excitedly told me of new ones. Both proclaiming that this is going to be the best school year ever. Both thrilled with their assigned teachers. These moments make my heart happy but I feel the pull away like the slow separation of a Band-Aid from a forgotten wound. It aches beneath the surface like a fresh bruise to my heart.

Our schedule is hectic and crazy and heads into full force next Monday so I plan to wring every single ounce of freedom and togetherness out of our last weekend before the obligatory chaos takes over. I have to believe every second counts and every day is a chance for a new beginning. That has to get me through the letting go.

As we head into this new year of school, I am full of pride. My babies are becoming such phenomenal young ladies. This only makes me want to cleave to them tighter but I loosen my grip because they are not mine at all. They are their own. I am just the blessed woman who got to bring them into the world and gets to spend a little time showing them the way to live in this crazy world. I just hope that I’m doing it right.

How do you deal with the quiet moments of letting go that come with back to school?

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mmisplaced, child safety, school

The end of the school year was last week and the unthinkable happened…the school misplaced my daughter. Errrr, how do you misplace an entire child? She’s not pocket sized. She’s an actual human being. She talks and breathes and walks and matters in the world. Uhm, she is my everything!

Has the school ever lost your child? I mean full on called your house to ask where your child was, after you knew you dropped them off? If it’s never happened to you, count yourself lucky. If it has, I am so sorry. I have never been so terrified as when the school called last week, looking for my 6–year-old. LOOKING.FOR.MY.6-YEAR-OLD!!!!!!

I always cringe when the school calls my house  anyways because I am sure someone is sick or I’ve signed up for something and forgotten all about it. Gabs has been having some allergy issues lately and been a little anxious so I figured somebody needed a hug and reassurance from her mommy. I figured, the no sleep and sneezing and drainage had finally caught up with her but no, it wasn’t that at all.

They MISPLACED my kid.

“Hi, Mrs. Gabi’s Mom we noticed that Gabi isn’t at school this morning. Why is that?”

Me: “Huh? What? Yes, she is at school. I dropped her off at the office and watched her walk in through all 3 sets of doors! What the hell do you mean she isn’t there????”

“Oh, I’m sorry. I must have missed her. Maybe they accidentally marked her absent.  I’ll call down. Do you want to hold?”

“Uh, yeah! I’m not hanging up until you have eyes on my daughter!”

“I’m sorry, Looks like the kids are still at mass. I will check on this when they get back. Do you want me to call you back?”

“No, you need to find my daughter NOW! I will hold or I can come up there!”

“Oh, looks like they are headed back right now. Hold, please.”

Exasperation, tension, sickness, must not vomit, seeing red, must not kill anyone, Fear, please don’t pass out. Cold sweats. Deep breaths! Hold your shit together, Debi. Gah, I can’t breathe.

“Mrs. Gabi’s Mom, she’s here and she’s fine. The teacher said it was an oversight, a long story and she wouldn’t tell me. She is here, safe and sound. Sorry for worrying you. I am so sorry for scaring you.”

WTF?????

Choking back tears and literally trembling, “Thank you for calling and thank you for finding her. Please don’t lose my girls again.”

I accepted her apology because she was sincerely sorry, I could hear it in her voice. The same way I am sure that she could hear my sheer panic, fright and then anger. What I did not accept is a teacher who didn’t have time to explain the “long story” so I emailed her and this is what I received in reply.

Me: Just wanted to see what happened this morning. I received a call that Gabi wasn’t at school. There were a couple minutes there where I was really freaking out. You can imagine. The secretary said that you said that the misunderstanding was a long story. I need you to explain to me what happened and why the office thought she was absent, long story and all.

Teacher who lost my kid: Yes.  She was tardy this morning.  I had already marked her absent.  I asked her if she had gotten a yellow slip.  She told me that she had been to the office and they told her not to get a yellow slip.  I assumed that they office would remember this and figure it out – but I guess in the busy-ness of the morning they did not.  Or else Gabi misunderstood.  Anyway, that’s what happened.  All is well here! 

Maybe I was just too upset but I took her reply to be very flippant. I don’t think you have the right to be flip with a parent when you “misplace” their child. For all I knew, she could have been kidnapped, hurt or dead. She may just be another student to them  but to me, her mother, she is everything.

What would you have done if the school misplaced your child?

misplaced, child safety, throat punch thursday

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Sandy Hook Elementary School, Newton Connecticut

What happened at Sandy Hook Elementary school today? I am sad and I am mad. I am infuriated that more children have had to die to make us understand that the right to bear guns is bullshit.

I dropped my daughters off at school this morning and watched them walk hand in hand into the school, like I do every day. Every day I do that, I am thankful to be their mother and every day I leave them, I pray that they will be there when I come to pick them up. This is what every mother feels, every single time we drop our babies off in the care of someone else. It’s instinctual.

I spent the morning with my husband, Christmas shopping for our girls. It was the first chance we’ve had all season. We even decided to by the girls that puppy that they have been begging for. The entire day everything just felt right and then as I was waiting in the pick up line, I jumped on Twitter and Facebook and I saw it. My worst nightmare right there on CNN. Sandy Hook Elementary school had been under attack; one crazy asshole, Adam Lanza, with a gun, 20 small dead children and 7 more dead. My skin crawled. I’m sobbing writing this right now. I had to hold my kids and wait until my girls had gone to bed to even begin to process this horrific story. Words fail to describe this heartbreaking and savage attack.

I weep because what happened at Sandy Hook Elementary School today could have happened to any one of us and to any one of our children. How can this keep happening?

Some mother, just like me, watched her sweet child walk into school this morning and he or she will never walk out again. The mother is now childless and my heart is breaking for all the mothers and fathers of Sandy Hook Elementary school.

It’s the same story over and over again, some crazy asshole gets a hold of guns and his mommy didn’t love him or he felt castrated or chastised or whatever the fuck his excuse is for thinking it’s okay to go into a public place full of children and women and mothers and fathers and starts to spray bullets because his life sucks and so he wants the whole world to hurt too. Well, we hurt. We all hurt and there are children who won’t be tucked in tonight and mothers who arms are empty for one simple reason..guns!

How many times does a gunman have to be turned lose into a public place and must we leave our children vulnerable before we’ve had enough? Well, I’m done. I’m pissed off and I’m done listening to all the reasons you should be able to have a gun. People say this is not the time for politics. Then when? I have said this time and time again; the gun laws are not stringent enough. If they were, not so many nutjobs would be getting hold of guns and stop telling me that every person who gets a gun and kills a bunch of people got it illegally. That is bullshit. The simple fact of the matter is that guns kill people and when you give guns to people who have no respect for law or life then you are giving them a license to kill innocent children. That’s it.

You can tell me it’s your right to bear arms. I say no, it isn’t. But it was those mothers of Sandy Hook Elementary School’s right and privilege to get to kiss their babies goodnight and they have been robbed of that. Your right to bear guns does not trump their right to bear babies.

I am sad and sickened about these beautiful children who will never get to grow up and their parents who will never get to hold their children in their arms, push away a wisp of hair or tell them that they love them again because people refuse to give up their right to bear arms.  Guns kill people and it’s about time that we all take responsibility for that.

My thoughts and prayers are with the mothers and fathers of Sandy Hook Elementary school.

 

Photo: Jessica Hill AP

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sick children, bad parenting, sick kids, school

Do not send sick kids to school! I repeat, do not do it! I recently read an article in which a parent was asking that schools police children’s health and punish those parents who send their sick children to school. If you wake up and your kid has a 104 degree temperature or is actively vomiting and diarrheaing all over the house, it’s a pretty good bet that you should keep that kid home. But should the school have the right to take punitive action against the parents?

I get that parents have jobs and they can’t always get time off. Not every parent is a stay-at-home or even has the opportunity to work from home. My family is very fortunate in this way. I work from home and, if need be, my husband can work from home some days so I follow all the rules. I fully realize that most parents can’t do that and they work to pay for food, shelter and utilities. Sometimes, you just have to send your kid in and pray he doesn’t infect anyone else because, quite frankly, the electric company doesn’t care if your kid is sick and the grocery store doesn’t take I.O.U.s.

If my girls are running fevers or vomiting, I always keep them home. Furthermore, if they have to stay home, I take them to the pediatrician because we are lucky enough to have insurance. And if they ever have any continued sinus problems resulting from their illness I will take them to a pediatric ent doctor. It’s not always easy, but it’s what has to be done.

Recently, I was really sick with the flu myself. What I thought was a man cold, because I was being a whiny little girl and complaining about everything, turned out to be the real deal, pull on your big girl panties and prepare to hate your life for the next 7-10 days FLU! The one year we don’t get our flu shots and pow… Right in the kisser.

The worst part of this whole situation was that my girls were also sick so I couldn’t just rest and recoup, I had to tend to them first and then rest. It was brutal. To make it extra special, the night I felt my absolute worst from the killer headache that accompanies this death flu, 5 minutes after finally drifting off to sleep, my 8-year-old ran into my room screaming my name as she projectile vomited all over my carpeted bedroom. The last thing I wanted to do in the middle of my dying was clean up vomit but that’s what I did.

For the next four days of my crippling flu journey, the little one feverish and clingy spent every waking and sleeping moment draped over my body, attached to me like some adorable little parasite; killing me softly as I stayed silent; comforting her when all I wanted was solitude and sleep. I didn’t want to be touched or looked at but I had to suck it up.

To make things worse, when she’s sick she’s kind of mean. She was short and irritable. So was I but I’m the mom. So not only did I get to feel absolutely dreadful, I got to be her punching bag (because who can yell at a sick kid) avoid sleep because of worry and go quietly insane.

So at the end of last week, just as the antibiotics started to kick in from the compounding situation of walking pneumonia, the Big Guy got sick. Fevers, coughing and achy soreness for everyone.

By Saturday morning, the oldest had 104-degree temperature. None of us wanted to move and all of us wanted to die. Still, I had not one second to be sick in peace. No moment to curl up under the blankets and wallow to the hum of the humidifier. Not even one lone moment to nurse my scratchy throat in peace.

Essentially, we had almost 3 weeks of children home. 10 of those days, I was extremely sick myself. I kept my girls home because that is what school policy dictates, that’s what their sick little bodies demanded and it had to be done. None of us liked it. We were all just trying to survive it.

Then I got a carefully worded letter in the mail, “warning” me about my daughters’ absences. The ones they had missed due to the flu they caught at school. The same absences, which I had taken them to the pediatrician for and called daily to let the school know. I felt threatened and appalled because if the other parents had kept their kids home when they were running the fevers, maybe my entire family could have avoided 3 weeks worth of missed school, ballet, gymnastics, violin and tumbling. Maybe I could have saved all that money I had to waste on OTC drugs, doctors visits, prescriptions, Kleenex, and takeout because no one felt up to cooking.

Instead, I got the reprimand for doing the right thing and the parents who knowingly send their kids in sick with fevers, stomach flus and lice are left to go on about their merry ways. I call bullshit.

I’m Bitter. I did all the right things and I am the one being policed. How is this fair? We need a better system.

Parents, I know that its not easy and sometimes it might not even be possible but if your child is sick and you knowingly send them in to school, you know better and you should be the one being given the threatening letters, not me.

What do you think about parents knowingly sending sick kids to school?

 

 

 

 

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Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

School is back in session and it’s in person this year. Let’s be honest, it is exhausting peopling these days, even for kids (especially those old enough to know better). My girls are back in school after the longest 17 months in the history of their world; pandemic problems even in the first world suck. They come home hungry and in need of a pick-me-up. I want to give them comfort and listen over a healthy snack. One of my girls’ favorites is my back to school brain food homemade granola bar recipe.

I’ve been making this recipe for almost as long as my girls have been alive. They’ve requested it more times than I can count and I’m not mad at them about it. I love them too. This granola bar recipe is quick, easy and 100% customizable and goes great in breakfast parfaits too.

There is something reassuring and organic about making food with love for your children and knowing what’s in it, no preservatives.  In fact, I just made a big batch earlier this week for their first week back to school! It’s Gabi’s first week in high school so I needed to give her all the comfort I could.

I used to make this recipe with the girls and we’d have a blast making it together and enjoying it as a snack with a huge glass of organic milk (wouldn’t do the hormones for my girls..but that is an entirely different post about precocious puberty). These granola bars also make a super awesome topping on French Vanilla yogurt.

Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

  • 2 cups rolled oats
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 3/4 cut shredded coconut
  • 1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 3/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips or raisins or other dried fruit of your choice!

Mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl.

Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Line 9×13 pan with foil and spread mixture.

Granola Bars Goodness

Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes, let cool a bit and then cut into squares.

Back to School Brain Food Homemade Granola Bar Recipe

Wrap in cling wrap and eat within about a week. They are still good after a week, but dry out a bit and become crumbly.

The best part is that it’s so customizable to your family’s taste by simply switching the nuts, dried fruits or adding peanut butter ( or whatever chips you’d prefer) into these delicious granola bars. I promise your kids will be begging you to make this back-to-school brain food homemade granola bar recipe. Eat it alone, with milk, in a parfait or with some fruit as part of a bowl; perfect for breakfast, on the go or an after-school or late-night snack.

What is your favorite back to school brain food recipe?

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parental survival tips, back-to-school, first day of school, nerves, moody judy

The first day back-to-school is today and yesterday my girls lost their minds. I never noticed this phenomenon before. Nerves are to be expected at back-to-school but full-on crazy was never part of the deal! Maybe it’s a tween thing or maybe I’m just noticing it but yesterday was the worst. Forget about my worries of avoiding the kindergarten hallway of death with mother’s strewn on the floor collapsed in puddles of snot and tears. Today, back-to-school can kiss my grits! Now, I know why all the parents in the 3rd-5th-grade hall just carry in paper goods like pack mules and never look back. No photos, no kisses or have a good day, just lots of knowing nods and exhaustion.

The tween has gone completely bipolar on me (and you know I don’t use this term lightly, takes one to know one and wow! She’s making my head spin) one second she’s smiling and hugging on me, cuddling in for dear life and the next, she is rolling her eyes so hard that I think she might have sprained something and crying, sobbing over boots that she begged for….that I bought. I thought that was a good thing. NO! I was dead freaking wrong because in tween brain that means I bought her stupid boots that she can’t even wear over her pants, with her skirts or until NOVEMBER! I’m such a horrible mom.

But she asked for them. Tough shit lady, you should have known better. Then she begins sobbing uncontrollably in the middle of the Target. As I’m ready to check out and on the cell phone with my sister, like one of those assholes who doesn’t give a shit about other people’s hearing space, talking her off a ledge about the details of her upcoming wedding, the 10-year-old is throwing a full-on tantrum because I’m not buying all of the volleyball shorts and athletic t-shirts.

Why am I being so evil? Because I don’t think its pertinent to buy these things when 1) she hasn’t made the team yet 2) we are still trying to figure out how she is going to fit 5 ballet classes, 2 robotics team meetings, violin, cheerleading practice and games and MAYBE volleyball into the schedule. Did I mention that 5th grade is a clusterf*ck? Be afraid, be very afraid. It’s the year of everything and ballet has decided that this is the year that my kid needs to decide to dedicate her life to it. She’s 10!!!!!! But more about that later.

The 8-year-old has been sneaking into my bed every night for the past 5 days under the guise of a “stomach ache” that mysteriously disappears the moment her head hits my pillow. It’s all  nerves induced by back-to-school. I give her this because I get it but it’s school, not war! And in the past week, I have gotten next to zero accomplished because of making all the moments of summer count and all that jazz. It’s like every year the week before back-to-school, my girls try to climb back into the womb and at 4’8″ and 5’1″, they just don’t fit anymore but that doesn’t stop them from trying.

Between my children going completely insane, recovering from travel and impending travel, planning a bridal shower, a bachelorette party, being the maid of honor, while squeezing in a press trip, deadlines and oh yeah, did I mention trying to coordinate the most insane extracurricular schedule ever…I am feeling less crying about missing my babies today and more hell, yeah, finally some quiet time to work…in my house…alone…without the white noise of constant girl bickering.

Don’t get me wrong, I left drop off this year, just like every year before, missing my little girls. But this year, we all need some quiet alone time. The years are rushing by at warp speed and we just need some time to decompress from all the excitement and growing up. It’s stressful but at the same time, it’s exciting for all of us.

back-to-school, first day of school, nerves, moody judy, parental survival tips

Is it wrong that I want to throw a one woman dance party followed by complete silence to celebrate back-to-school?

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racism, racism at school, students, Donald Trump

What do you do when your child comes home from school and tells you about all the blatant racism she experienced at school that day? Racism is nothing new but I’ve never had it directed so closely at my children. Wait, let me clarify, no one called my daughter a “Beaner”, “Wetback” or “Spic”; none of the common slurs you get when you are a little Mexican kid. No, my daughters, like myself, are very fair skinned and they actually look more Nordic than South American. They have blondish hair and blue eyes. Nothing about them screams, “I am Mexican hear me roar.” But they will tell you, in no uncertain terms, “Yo soy Mexicana, escuchame…..ROAR!!!!”

The thing is when you look Caucasian, people don’t worry about what they say around you. They think that you shouldn’t be offended because when they are insulting your culture and your race, they are not actually insulting “YOU” because to them, you are different (you get a pass) because you look the same as them. Let me tell you what, that’s even worse. Casual racism where you tell me that I shouldn’t be offended because you weren’t referring to “my kind of Mexican” is beyond insulting. People always expect Latinos to be “more Latino” or, in my case, more obviously Latino.

I’ve experienced this kind of attitude my entire life due to my white skin. My mom is Caucasian, so technically I am half European Caucasian (with a twist of Cherokee) but I am also half Mexican. And, as anyone of color will tell you because we know this firsthand, if you are brown or black in any amount, to most Caucasians, you are “other” because you’re not 100% Caucasian so I’ve always just embraced it. I refuse to deny who I am, where I come from or the fact that on my dad’s side, I am first generation Mexican-American. That makes my daughters with their alabaster skin, blue eyes and blonde hair, second generation Mexican-American. We are proud of this, as we should be but then, every once in a while, especially in today’s politically charged, infused with extra hatred and bigotry environment, we are slapped across the face with the feeling of others trying to make us feel small and less than. Yes, even today in 2016.

racism, racism at school, students, Donald Trump

Not to bring Donald Trump into this but honestly, he has broken the dam of the shame of racism that most polite societies had been adhering to. He has come in like a hurricane and ripped all politically correct walls down and made it not only acceptable but in some cases even applaudable to be prejudiced. Racism, xenophobia, and bigotry are running rampant under the guise of national pride and patriotism. I’m here to tell you that it’s not acceptable and never will be. It’s still just as disgusting as it ever was and now that the Trump trickle-down effect has directly involved my children, we have a problem and I’m ready to fight.

Which brings me to a couple recent situations that happened to my daughters at school recently. I’m pretty tolerant. I know that children sometimes regurgitate things they’ve heard at home without knowing what it really means. I also am painfully aware that hatred is taught not born. My girls know this as well and they readily afford their fellow students the benefit of the doubt but when they hear a prejudiced joke or comment made they also readily volunteer the information that they are Mexican and that those particular comments are offensive to them. In my house, we always think to ourselves, what would we allow someone to say to Grandpa Manny? If it would hurt him, it hurts us.

Last Wednesday, my daughter came home from a field trip, that my husband attended with her, and told me that the other kids in our car were telling her and one another that they were “voting for Donald Trump” and “Hillary Clinton wants to kill babies.” They went on to say that they wanted Trump to win so he could build a wall and “keep the Mexicans out!” Before my husband had the chance to say a word, my 9-year-old informed the children, “You know that I’m a girl and I’m Mexican.” (My 9-year-old doesn’t understand why anyone would vote for a racist misogynist, especially other women.) To which the kids answered, “Well, I knew you were a girl but I didn’t know you were MEXICAN!” My daughter’s answer, “Well, now you do.”

I don’t know about you but I find it very disturbing that parents are at home telling their kids that Hillary Clinton wants to kill babies and I’m personally offended that these children want to keep Mexicans out like we are some kind of criminal, lower life forms. It also disturbs me that my children are surrounded by such blatant racist every day.

On Friday, my daughter jumped in the car at pick-up and told me another disturbing tale of fourth-grade racism.

A group of children was talking and said that they hope Trump wins so he can keep the Mexicans out because they (Meaning Mexicans) are part of ISIS and the part of the reason the Twin Towers were attacked. What? Has the world gone mad?

racism, racism at school, students, Donald Trump, Ann Coulter

Take a moment to soak that last statement in. Does it disturb you to your core too? Because the sheer magnitude of the ignorance of that statement frightened me. If these children think Mexicans are terrorists couldn’t that prejudice them against the Latino children at the school? I know there is only a handful of but still. My point is this, the entire discussion was inappropriate and factually incorrect. Mexicans are not Islamic terrorists. All Muslims are not terrorists. And it was Al Qaeda and Osama Bin Laden who were responsible for the twin towers and 9/11, not the Mexicans; not a race or a culture but a group of terrorist extremist. Why are these parents teaching their children to hate people who don’t look, act, and talk exactly like they do?

Apparently, these children have confused Mexicans and Islamic terrorists. I know the skin tones can be a little confusing if you are not exposed to a diverse group of people but either way, these children are regurgitating racism and xenophobia; neither of which I feel are appropriate or should be tolerated in life and certainly not at the school.

I’m not normally one to email the school with every single infraction or indiscretion. I am an active parent volunteer at the school and I support their mission, that’s why I enrolled my daughters in the school, but this kind of behavior cannot stand. I had to say something. There has to be a zero-tolerance policy for this sort of behavior. These situations warrant a discussion with the children and they need to know in no uncertain terms that prejudice and hatred are not okay on any level. We need to teach the children tolerance and acceptance of differences, not persecution and prejudice.

This election has given people a false belief that it is their right to be judgmental and a false sense of justification in racial profiling and it’s become uncomfortable on a very personal and basic level. I don’t want my daughters thinking there is something fundamentally wrong with being Latino nor do I want them to feel ashamed or like they are being judged or put in danger simply for being born with Latino blood in their body.

I realize that my daughters look Caucasian and may not experience blatant racism as frequently as some other children who have more obvious Latino features but it is sometimes just as uncomfortable being the whitest Mexican in the room, especially when racist comments are being thrown around and you know all the people that you love most in the world are being denigrated. I don’t want my children feeling ashamed of who they are because other children are being taught racism and hatred at home.

I don’t know about you but I have a pretty thick skin when it comes to myself but if you insult or injure my children, you will have me to contend with and I won’t let it go because it is my job to protect my children. If that means I have to hurt someone’s feeling by pointing out that their bad behavior will not be tolerated, then so be it.

What would you have done if your child was experiencing racism at school?

 

 

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tweens, teens, Teen Girls Rebel when Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, Teen Boys Rated Female Classmates on Looks, teen girls rebel, girls fight rape culture, #MeToo, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School

You’ve heard of burn books? We all have. I remember in high school they were called slam books; same difference. Same jerky idea, different decade. Well, a group of high school boys at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School Maryland are bringing it back. But in the wake of the #MeToo movement, the girls are refusing to stand for it. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the teen girls rebel. They will no longer stay quiet. Like teenage superheroes, these girls fight rape culture.

Teen boys rating girls on their looks is a practice as old as time. For as long as men have been objectifying women, girls have been getting rated by their looks in burn books, slam books, bathroom walls and in guy group texts. It’s a national pastime for men and boys. The undiscriminating discriminatory act of objectifying the part of the population born with girl parts. It’s sickening.

This time the list is in an iPhone Notes app. It included the names of 18 girls in the Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School’s International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme, ranked and rated on the basis of their looks, from 5.5 to 9.4, with decimal points to the hundredth place. There, with a number beside it.

A number rating system for girls like they’re cattle being rated for purchase. A group of male students created the list over a year ago and it’s been recirculated. Spreading like a plague through text messages and whispers during class. One male student saw the name of his friend, Nicky Schmidt, on the list and told her about it. Within 24 hours, most of the senior girls knew about the list. Teen boys rated female classmates on looks and the girls are not having it.

READ ALSO: The Problem with Little Boys

In the past, tween and teen girls would see the list, hang their head in shame and pray no one brought it up again. It’s shameful. It’s one thing to feel ugly ( as we all do in those awkward years) but it’s quite another to have everyone at school to see your national ugly average rating in notes, much less hear it whispered as you walk through the halls. The thing about these sorts of lists is that it shakes even the most confident young women to their core. Even if you’ve always thought you were pretty, these books have a way of crawling into your psyche and taking root; growing, twisting and digging in.

As someone who suffered from eating disorders and was never sure of herself, at least in the looks department, finding myself in a burn book would have made me feel so isolated, unsure and depressed. As a grown woman, it would make me rage because of two things, 1) I know I’m attractive enough 2) I don’t care what anyone else thinks about how I look or think or exist. But this is as a grown woman, it took years to have this confidence.

Yasmin Behbehani, a student at Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School, found herself ranked on this list after her friend, Nicky Schmidt, let her know about the list, as a heads up. But Behbehani didn’t want to know about this list. She was trying to stay in her lane; just trying to survive high school is hard enough without extracurricular  humiliation. She’d spent her entire high school tenure recovering from eating disorders and trying to avoid this kind of triggering comparison to her classmates but there is was in a text message with a screenshot of the list, typed out in the damn notes app.

These kinds of lists are not new. And they will never not exist. As long as boys are raised to objectify women with no real consequences they will continue to do so. But today is not yesterday, or last year, or the last decade. Today, we live in the world of #MeToo.

We are raising ours girls to not take this kind of treatment. Raising our girls to know there are more important things to be than beautiful and to speak up, no to scream, when we need to be heard. We’re empowering our little girls. We are not afraid of you any longer. You can’t demean us with your stupidity and objectification because we know we are more than our parts.

READ ALSO: Raising Girls to Survive Misogyny, Sexting and Slut Shaming

The girls of Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School felt violated, objectified by classmates they thought were their friends. They felt uncomfortable getting up to go to the bathroom, worried that the boys were taking notes and editing their scores.Objectification feels horrible; judged at your very existence.

The things that no one counted on in this “boys will be boys” rape culture that we live in is that  there is power in numbers. Dozens of senior girls spoke to the school administration and to the boys, demanding not only disciplinary action in response to the list but a school-wide discussion about the toxic culture that allowed the list to happen in the first place. This resulted in one male student being given an in-school detention for one day. It wouldn’t even be on his record.

Not happy with the disciplinary action, Schmidt texted 15 friends and told them to tell all of their friends to show up at the school’s office the next day during lunch, “to tell them we feel unsafe in this environment and we are tired of this toxicity,” Schmidt wrote in her text. 40 senior girls showed up, packing into the assistant principal’s office where Schmidt read a statement she had written.

We want to know what the school is doing to ensure our safety and security,” Schmidt said. “We should be able to learn in an environment without the constant presence of objectification and misogyny.”

READ ALSO: The Reality of Being Born a Woman

The girls and administration agreed that to have a meeting with the male students in the program, including the assholes who created and circulated the list. On International Women’s Day, almost all of the students in the IB program — about 80 students — met in a large conference room for what was supposed to be a 45-minute meeting during fifth period. It lasted over 2.5 hours.

The girls shared personal stories and impassioned speeches about how the list made them feel. They shared their stories of sexual abuse, harassment and the lasting effects objectification has had on them. And something miraculous happened, the boys heard them. In fact, the boy who created the list stood up, took responsibility for the list and apologized for the hurt the list caused. I am so proud of the girls for uniting and standing up and demanding that their voices be heard. Silence is the enemy of equality.

The thing this isn’t new and the kid who made the list and the ones who passed it around are not the minority. The girls who spoke up and refused to be treated like this, they are the minority in our culture. We need to make doing the right thing easier and more common. It shouldn’t be this hard for women to be treated like humans. We shouldn’t have to fight for a basic human right like being treated like people and not objects.

What will we do next time we find out teen boys rated female classmates on looks? Where will we be when our teen girls rebel?

To be honest, since the #MeToo movement began, I have shared my own stories. I shared them before but I never realized that men don’t actually understand what it feels like to be a woman and be objectified. They have always been bigger, stronger and more privileged than women. They’ve always lived in a boys will be boys culture and they’ve watched, from the time they were little boys, the world apply different rules for women and girls. Boys assault women in so many ways and all they get is a slap on the wrist, even from women. But no more.

Since the day they were born, we’ve been raising our girls to respect themselves and to value no one’s opinion over their own. I’ve taught them that no means no and if they have to scream that, then do so. We’re raising our girls to be brave and determined. They know that they are as good as any man and in some instances, even better.

This generation of moms is raising an army of feminists ready to do battle for their human respect, equality and dignity. If you can’t get on board with that, that’s your problem. It’s happening. Be ready for it. Don’t stand in their way. This is their future and their worth is more than any ranking a man could ever give them.

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back to school, must have supplies for college

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Kids are getting ready to go back to school in person again soon. I don’t know about the rest of you but we are ecstatic. I loved the bonus pandemic year home with my girls (I truly did) but it was challenging and it was hard on everyone involved. The girls deserve a normal high school experience and I can’t wait to watch them have it together.

All that being said, last year was long and the kids got cheated and moms never got a day off, not even an hour in the day because thanks to pandemic hyper anxiety and depression, moms were on call ( if not actively tending to meltdowns) every minute of every day. Who am I telling? You know. If I wasn’t worrying they would contract coronavirus, I was terrified they were getting suicidal and that might have been the worst part of everything. I wasn’t just meeting needs, I was anticipating spiritual, psychological and physical needs. I was a damned mom medium and I am exhausted.

My girls are not the only ones going back to school. Kids all over the world are making the leap from virtual to in-person over the next few weeks from kindergarten to university and moms everywhere are having high impact, stop you in your tracks panic attacks predecessed by elation and followed by extreme mom guilt because how can we put our own comfort above our children’s safety and send them back to school but really it’s all about everyone’s mental health.

Here is a definitive list of what college kids need this year before returning to school:

Therapy appointment

I am serious, all kids from 4-24 ( and all the adults) need regularly scheduled therapy appointments for re-entry into the real world and out of the zoom world and the best way to do that is by taking an hour every other week and meeting with their therapist over ZOOM. Baby steps and it works. The girls have been in therapy since the pandemic started.

Ergonomic Office Chair

Thanks to Flexispot I was able to personally try out the Soutien Ergonomic Office Chair and it is amazing and I don’t say that lightly. I’ve worked from home for the past 12 years and spend a huge amount of my time sitting at a desk. The thing is that in the wrong chair that means back pain, neck pain and feeling pretty awful. I’ve been using this chair since the spring and it alleviates all of that and it is very comfortable. I love it and will be sending one with each of my girls when they head off to college in the next couple of years because if I can’t be there to make them comfortable, you better believe that I’m sending them a chair that does.

CoVid Vaccination

Not to be that person but if you can, please get your kids their CoVid vaccination before school start back not only to keep them safe from coronavirus and keep others safe but to give your kids peace of mind. You think the long-term effects of CoVid are worrisome ( and they are) well, the effects on everyone’s mental health, even those fortunate enough to avoid contracting the virus, are devastating. It’s too much. Kids have enough to worry about as is, as parents, we need take this off their plate and make the decision to do the responsible thing for the greater good.

Lodge Baking Ware

It’s been a minute since I’ve been in college myself but I do remember making a few meals once I had an apartment and good bakeware was (and is) always appreciated. To be honest, I always remember my mom having cast-iron skillet ware and they were her favorites because they cooked evenly and completely. Recently, through the generosity of Lodge I tried out a few basic pieces myself;

Dual Handle Grilling Basket, Pizza Pan and the Casserole Pan and they are great for grilling, cooking pizza and making my mom’s chicken broccoli casserole, three staples I’ve taught my girls for college.

Meters OV-1-B Headphones 

These headphones are perfect to buy ahead of your teens going to college. My girls are in high school and like all teenagers they love to play their music very loudly the new fashion-forward Meters OV-1-B Headphones provide a win-win solution for both parents and their children. These headphones feature cutting-edge audio quality and a trendy design with volume unit (VU) meters on each earcup, giving teens a headset they’d actually want to wear while empowering parents to monitor how loudly their child/teen is playing their music. 

Each VU meter features a customizable RGB backlight, letting young listeners alter the color and brightness of their VU meters to match any style or mood. These real, active VU meters measure the headphones’ input, replicating the meters found on professional-grade bass amplifiers used in live musical performances, and giving parents a discrete way to ensure their child is enjoying music at a safe volume.

Face Masks

As much as we all thought that the pandemic was coming to an end, Delta variant had other plans. Now, there are surges everywhere and if you are sending your kids off to university you are probably worrying about them anyways so just load them up on face masks, disposable or some cool ones

Triple-Layer X-STATIC® Mask 

has a removable filter (that you can cut and tailor to your own face shape) and the layer closest to the face is made with X-STATIC® silver yarn. Used by US Special Forces and NASA astronauts, X-STATIC® yarn is 99.9% pure silver, making it one of the most effective antimicrobial and antiviral materials for use in textiles. 

  • Antimicrobial and antiviral
  • Highly effective in hot and wet environments
  • Permanent (silver is irreversibly bound to a polymer so it becomes a physical part of the fiber) and performance does not diminish over time (X-STATIC® has been tested for more than 250 washes with virtually no reduction in performance)

The masks are reusable and washable and come in a pack of two masks (so you can wear one while the other is in the wash). 

Last but not least, send our child off to college with lots and lots of love and support. Encourage them to spread their wings, meet new people, and try new things because that’s what college is all about…growing up and learning to live life on your own terms, becoming the person you want to be with no regrets.

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