Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The recent shootings at Chardon High School in Ohio....

This news has hit me especially hard given that my half sister (the good one) and my half bro both went there and graduated not so long ago as well as because I've walked those halls and almost was a student there myself years ago. Equally disturbing to me though are those who are crying for the (suspected) shooter - 17 year old T.J. Lane - to be put to death for his crimes before he's even been tried and found guilty. 

This isn't some monster we're talking about here, it's a 17 year old CHILD who, according to reports, was bullied relentlessly at school and was an outcast and a loner. As if that wasn't bad enough, his home life was in total shambles too. His dad has a rap sheet a mile long for charges including spousal abuse - T.J. apparently witnessed his dad beat his mom on many occasions - as well as attempted murder. I don't feel it's such a stretch to believe his dad probably abused T.J. as well given that the boy was removed from his family home and placed with his grandparents who he was currently residing with at the time of his arrest. Then we also find out that T.J. had been posting cryptic poems and messages on Facebook shortly before allegedly opening fire in Chardon's cafeteria a few days ago.

Of COURSE my heart weeps for the victims of this tragedy as well as for their families and friends but I also feel so badly for the kid accused of this crime. YES, what he did was so very, very wrong and YES he needs to be held accountable and punished in some way. But I just can't help but feel that sending this kid away to prison for life or, worse, putting him to death just is NOT the answer. Would it not be far better to put him into a place where he can serve out his punishment (if found guilty) and ALSO get the psychological help he so obviously seems to need?

So many involved in this have said, "We never saw this coming." Really? I find that hard to believe given the reports that this kid's appearance and behavior did a sudden 180, that the school KNEW there were issues at home and that he'd begun acting out to the point that they'd put him into a special program for kids with behavior problems and that several people had seen his cryptic (and eventually prophetic) posts on Facebook that alluded to the chaos going on inside of this poor kid. More to the point though, how many times have we seen this same scenario play out before and yet, in each instance, the same statement is made that no one ever saw this coming.

Just my opinion but I feel we, as a nation, SERIOUSLY need to crack down HARD on the issue of bullying. Simply stating that your school has a "zero tolerance" policy isn't enough. Do they honestly think that getting in trouble - IF caught - is enough to discourage these bullies from picking on their victims? It isn't. Just a few weeks ago I was walking my son into school and witnessed two kids picking on another kid. There were teachers standing a few feet away and, for the record, this school also has a zero tolerance policy and yet, bullying obviously still occurs. I made sure to report what I'd seen and followed up to make sure the issue had been handled but the point I'm trying to make here is that simply having a policy in place doesn't work. We need to do more. I think that if it takes having metal detectors in all our schools and police officers standing watch in every hallway, then that is what we need to do. 

Of course I also think that the solution starts at home. We as parents need to get involved. We need to have good communication with our kids, we need to be in touch with what's going on in their lives and teach them - by example - how to be kind, caring, empathetic people. We need to teach them that doing anything to cause another pain or discomfort is wrong, particularly when done in the name of "fun" or "laughs". I cannot tell you how many times I've heard parents say, when told about bullying, that "that's just how kids are" or who advise "just ignore it". I've also heard many say that it's "not their business" when they witness someone being abused or bullied. I couldn't disagree more.

Bottom line, bullying IS a real issue and can have devastating effects. Unless we start taking a stand against bullying and abuse and start getting involved and speaking out, tragedies like this will continue to occur.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

It's NOT just me, right?

Sorry I've been MIA for so long. Things have been crazy busy around here lately what with having the house on the market. I've also had several orders for the hand-painted signs I do. While the money is definitely nice, it's very time consuming. Anyhoo, been having some issues with MIL again and wanted your opinion on the situation.

It's to the point I am seriously considering unfriending MIL on Facebook and going LC with her as her behavior - that is to say, her OBSESSION with DN(ephew) - is driving me nuts. She talks and acts like she is the child's MOTHER rather than his grandmother. 

Exhibit A - MIL's current FB profile pic is a pic of the baby, as were her last couple pics.
Exhibit B - Multiple comments that, to me, seem as if they were written by the child's mother. For example...

1) Dh's cousin and her partner just had a baby right around the same time DN was born. Dh's cousin's status the other day read: "‎9 month photo shoot didn't go so well. It ended with (baby's name) peeing on the dog bed. Trying again this weekend." MIL commented, "I hope you are keeping a journal.Make a great gift for him later in life."

2) The same person posted "I kinda feel sorry for the dogs when (baby's name) is cruising about the house in his walker." later that same day in another status. MIL's response to that one was, "My feet have to move real fast when (DN's name) drives his around !!!!"

3) BIL and SIL's had a professional photographer take some family pics. This photographer recently had a contest which was carried out on FB and involved people having to vote for the pic they liked the best by commenting and/or liking said pic. The way MIL was promoting the pic of DN, you'd think it was SHE that would win if his pic was chosen. Every day there was no less than a dozen posts to "Don't forget to vote for (DN's name)!". Dh and I never had any pics of DS in any contests but, regardless, MIL has NEVER gone to such great lengths with DS' pics, nor has she EVER had one of his pics as her profile pic. (Though if she did ever, we'd ask her to take it down.)

Exhibit C - DS recently borrowed a digital picture frame from MIL. As he was excitedly showing us the frame and how it worked, all I was able to notice was that of the two dozen or so pictures on there, only TWO were of MY son and, even then, they were of DS HOLDING DN! Evidence of favoritism much?

On top of that, MIL has been making a HUGE deal out of being a grandma lately. There are multiple quotes daily about how wonderful it is to be a grandma and how "blessed" she is to have grandchildren, etc. Again, this huge a fuss was never made - especially so publicly - when DS was born. But now that DN is here, suddenly there are posts all over FB like the one that reads, "I used to think I was too old to fall in love again but then I became a grandma." Ugh, where is a vomit smiley when you need it?

It just seems wholly inappropriate to me. If MIL isn't acting like DN's mother than she's going on and on ad nauseum that she's SO happy to be a grandma, as if it's the first time she's had the honor when my DS has been in the picture for nearly 6 years now. There is definite and blatant favoritism for the new baby and my DS has begun to pick up on it. 

I've had to deal with her favoritism for several years now ever since DSIL came into the picture. It's not that I exactly mind that MIL (every time I type that I add an N in there...coincidence? LOL) feels closer to SIL. After all, MIL and SIL are more alike. It's not that MIL is closer to SIL exactly, it's that it's done to the deliberate EXCLUSION of me. Like a few years back, MIL and FIL apparently decided they weren't going to do anything special for mine, dh's and the other adult children's bdays. At least that's what MIL told me when my birthday had came and went that year with zero acknowledgment from her. Which was fine......only when it came time for SIL and dh's bday, which falls on the same day, (and on BIL's bday as well) something WAS done. It was just ME who was left out. Okay, to be "fair", I DID get a brief acknowledgement on Facebook the following year but that was it. Dh and SIL (and I strongly suspected then and now that dh was included only because their bdays fell on the same day) got a dinner "party", cake and balloons and other stuff.

And now that the golden girl has given MIL another grandchild, MIL's favoritism is carrying over onto my son. Of course it doesn't help that MIL has free reign over BIL and SIL's baby in a way she never had with mine. *I* was DS' mother and I never let MIL forget it which clearly infuriated MIL to no end. To me, that was how it SHOULD be since, *I* was his mother that meant *I* should be the one taking care of him. MIL always seemed to have a problem with that and tried to step in and interfere whenever she saw an opportunity. Unfortunately for her, I was always quick to nip it in the bud or get dh to do something about it. But with DN, BIL and SIL are happy to hand him over every chance they get. Truly, I wonder why they went to such lengths (they had infertility issues and had to spend thousands of dollars on treatments to get pregnant) and spent so much money if they couldn't be bothered to raise the child and spend time with him. They both work full time so MIL keeps DN all day while they're at work. That part I have no issue with. But then when they are off work, MIL STILL generally has DN about 95% of the time because SIL has her church things or girls' nights out and BIL doesn't want to be saddled with watching the baby alone so he calls MIL and she walks over there to get the baby (BIL and SIL live right next door to my IL's) and keeps him for however long. Or BIL and SIL want to go shopping or go out and have MIL watch the baby. Or if SIL has to go out of town on business, which happens somewhat frequently, MIL actually either goes over there and spends the night to take care of the baby or brings him to her house until SIL is back from her trip.

As if that wasn't enough evidence of MIL's obsession with DN, this past Christmas, MIL spent the ENTIRE TIME we were there following DN around and fawning all over him while poor DS was mostly ignored. DN even got more/bigger presents from MIL. It was a disgusting spectacle to watch and I was extremely glad when it came time to leave. DS also seemed happy to leave, which was a change from crying because he didn't want to leave as he'd done in the past.

I've tried discussing things with dh and while he seems to be coming round the tiniest bit, for the most part he continues to insist that I'm seeing things that aren't there, that that's not the case and there is no favoritism or that's it's just my "past issues" clouding reality. Presently, I don't feel pushed to limit DS' time with them as he's been doing that himself. More often than not lately, when MIL calls to ask if he wants to come over, DS will say he doesn't want to go. MIL has tried to bribe him at times and DS still insists he doesn't want to go. Either that or I've noticed he'll go and then come home really early. In past years, I've gently pushed DS to go. NOT ANYMORE. Thankfully, dh at least agrees on that point with me and hasn't made any efforts to push DS to go when he doesn't want to. (If he did, I'd surely fight him on that.)

So what do you all think? Honestly, IS it just me? AM I over-reacting or is there a genuine cause for concern there? Do you see reason to unfriend MIL and go LC with her or would that also be over-reacting?

You know, I remember when DS was just born. MIL would buy DS these clothes that looked straight out of the 70's, which not so coincidentally was the time period dh was born in AND which looked a LOT like several of the outfits that I'd seen dh wearing in his baby pictures. That and other instances - like her complaining that she NEEDED time with my DS to "bond with him" - made me feel like MIL was trying to re-create her experiences with dh when he was a baby and relive her mothering days. She even took to calling DS "(dh's name) junior" for a time. (I quickly put a firm end to that crap.) She tried to set things up so she could pretend that DS was HER son and I didn't allow that to happen and now she's doing it with BIL and SIL's son only they seem perfectly happy to let her. That child spends SO much time with MIL and FIL that, mark my words, he WILL grow up to believe that THEY are his parents. Wouldn't surprise me if DN's first word was "mama" only he was talking about MIL instead of his actual mother!

Is it me or is this bitch (MIL) freaking crazy and obsessed?