Monday, November 29, 2010

Poor Little Tree

After a few years of no Christmas decorations we decided to put up a tree this year. Alas, we are without room for a big tree anymore. Our big tree sits in it's box lonely and depressed. It's used to being the star of the show around this time of year. Can a Christmas tree be a diva? I don't have the nerve to ask it. It might just throw branches at me. Dozens and dozens of ornaments of various shapes and sizes used to adorn it. "I look great! I am the center of everything!" After all those years the ornaments sat in the boxes waiting hopefully to be released to adorn the branches of the room commanding tree. Sorry, not this year.

It just doesn't feel right without a tree in the place. One year I tried to decorate with poinsettias. They looked nice but something just wasn't right. There was a point when nearly every room had some decorations in them. But time and downsizing have taken a toll on the Christmas season of decor. Then we were out shopping one day. Our eyes met. Poor little tree... We decided to see if we could find a smaller tree which we could put on top of a chest in the living room. It would have to be inexpensive since this year has been less than what we'd hoped. We wandered over to Big Lots and there it was. A four four tall pre-lit tree. It beckoned to us, "take me home with you."

After so many years of big trees, the little tree looked so puny as it sat on the chest. It reminded me of Charlie Brown's little tree. I went upstairs and brought down a few of our many ornaments. Not boxes and boxes as in the past, but a few special, memorable ornaments. The little tree seemed to smile as I put some bows and birds and other ornaments on it. "Thank you," it seemed to say. "I know I'm not your favorite, but I will make you happy. Wait and see." As I put the decorations on it, somehow it seemed a little brighter, a little happier. No longer a poor little tree, it seemed to know that it was wearing decorations chosen with love. The poor little tree was no it is a member of the family. It even looks like it is smiling. "Ho,ho,ho. Merry Christmas!"

Monday, November 08, 2010

To Spank or Not to Spank...

I am so glad that my children were as good as they were. Sure they were not always good and the occasionally were spanked for various reasons. Most of the time it was because they would not listen and left me no choice. Yeah, I did the time out routine when they were little. I also spanked when that did not work. But right from the start I had rules for them.

I feel that in some cases spanking is not only a useful too but sometimes there is no other option. I do understand that some people don't want their child spanked. So what do you do when time out or taking away something doesn't work? Some small children do not seem to respond to time outs. This is fine for parents who have kids who listen. What happens if they don't listen and continue to misbehave even after a time out?

My children had a certain bedtime and a certain routine every day. They knew what to expect. However some children don't seem to have any ground rules. They stay up late and talk back to parents or caregivers. They don't listen to what the adults say. They are too young to understand that somethings are not safe for them to do, so the adult has to watch them closely to keep them out of harm's way. When told what to do they don't always listen. This is not good for their future education and relationships.

While I respect a parent's right to choose a non-spanking form of punishment, that does not always work. It is fine for some who have docile children or only one child. But occasionally there is a child who refuses to pay attention to anyone. Since I've been babysitting a couple of children I have run across many hurdles in childhood. I'm looking after a couple of kids all day and one after school. All of them know the rules. Occasionally they break the rules and sometimes a little spanking helps. I rarely have many serious problems. Just the "threat" of a spanking usually does the trick.

But recently there is another child in the mix. She is the same age as the two all day kids. So that makes two who are four, one three and the eldest is six and in school during the day. The newest four year old will be leaving my care soon because her mother did not like the fact that I had to spank her daughter one day. I can understand that. But personally I don't think the child is getting proper supervision at home which is creating a problem for me. I think a four year old should have a set bedtime, say eight o'clock in the evening. She has no such rule. She is often up at midnight. Then she has to be up early to go to the baby sitter (me). Since mom won't allow spanking, this little girl does what she wants when she want to do it. She often talks the other children into trouble. Then she lies about it. I've seen it all. She will go to kindergarten next year. I hope she doesnt talk to her teacher the way she talks to me.

In some ways I hate to see her go. She is a bright little girl and very smart. Unfortunately she thinks she can do what ever she wants and there will not get into trouble. She actually is the ring leader as far as getting others into trouble. I have tried to adhere to her mother's no spank rule. But this girl refuses to listen and no seems to get thru to her. I fear that the parents are not giving her the right lessons. There are always rules and dispbeying them always involves some form of punishment. But when no kind of punishment seems to phase a kid what should we do? She will soon be going to a daycare rather than this house care. I'm afraid that she will find that she is not "in charge" and she will not like their rules either. Me, I'm glad she will soon be out of my hair. Of course now I will have to remind the others that the way she has been behaving will make me call Santa. He won't be happy with her behavior either. But only time will tell. Have fun little girl, you may be able to fool your mamma but you can't fool me. Your new school will be more than you thought you would get.

Monday, November 01, 2010

Bully This!

I can't help it. I've been thinking about my childhood. Why? Because I was picked on and bullied. Also I've thought about the teens who feel they have no choice but to end their lives. I was picked on and laughed at through out my years of school. In grammar school I was small, wore glasses and my last name rhymed with "tomater" so you get the picture. I was shy and small, a perfect target. High school was not much better. My sophomore year was a nightmare because three football players in my fifth period English class made fun of me. They taunted me because I realized I'd get better book report grades if I read harder, "classic" novels. I got straight A's. The football players picked easy books to read and got very bad grades. They gave me the name "Oswald". I dreaded going to class with them so much I threw up nearly every morning. I hated my life because I felt like a misfit and nobody wanted to know the real me. I spent a lot of time alone at school and at home. I was an only child so who did I have to talk to?

My parents talked to me. I didn't really think they understood. But they listened to me. They told me things like "laugh with them, when they laugh at you." I said that would not work. I tried it. It helped. At least I thought that they would never seem me upset. I could be a good actress. After all that is what I wanted to be. Still I was different so I spent a lot of time by myself reading or listening to music. I loved Broadway music. In my mind, I could play every part and sing every song. Too bad I never really could sing. In my junior year I got up the courage to try out for the Junior Play which funded the prom. I became another person. I took the major character role and ran with it. I was at home. Suddenly those football guys saw something different. They quit taunting me.

The question still remains today. What do we do to help those who are being bullied. Where are the parents? I didn't have many of the issues that we have today. I went to segregated schools and really never heard of homosexuality or many other problems children have today. But I was still different. I even told my kids later the same things that my parents told me when they were laughed at by someone. They listened. My oldest daughter had a hard time with a girl in her glass who made fun of her. I told her how to make a joke. The two ended up becoming friends. Who is there for these "misfits" now? I admit not enjoying a lot of my childhood. But my parents were there for me. Teachers were there. Neighbors were there. Ministers were there.

We must do something to stop the bullies. We all grow up. One day the bullies may have their own children. What will they say as parents? Who is at fault? Is it the school systems? Is it the parents? The issues of today are so much more difficult than mine were. What do we say to the kids who enjoy the "power" of being the bully? Does it make them feel important? Does it make them bigger? How many will end up in a life of crime? When will they look at themselves and be ashamed of what they did? I don't have an answer. I don't know why one child becomes a bully and the other one doesn't. I remember hearing Hillary Clinton say, "It takes a village to raise a child". Our village is not doing it's job. Maybe the village idiot is running things? We must stop this now.