Friday, October 19, 2012

Monday, October 15, 2012

Understanding the impossible

I received a message tonight that the jury selection began in my nephew's trial.

For those who don't know, my nephew is on trial for the murder of his mother/my sister.

I've blogged before about how different my grief process is for Mary Lee and I'm still, a year later, trying to work my way through the emotions I'm feeling because my relationship with her was so different from the relationships I have with my other sisters. I can't explain it, mostly because I don't even understand it fully myself.

But for as much as I do understand, I know this: I want my nephew to be found innocent. I know how ridiculous that must sound to some of you. You're probably thinking "If somebody murdered my sister, I'd want them to pay for their crime." And until this happened, especially under these circumstances, I'd have been right there with you in that frame of mind.

But this did happen. 

Under these circumstances.

While I didn't have a close relationship with my sister, I know her heart like I know my own and John being imprisoned, or God forbid given a death sentence, is not what she would want for her son, regardless of what he did. She just wanted him to get the help he needs for the PTSD he suffers from. He can't get that if he's found guilty.

I know all the members of my family don't feel the way I do about this and that's okay. I don't expect them to. I can only speak for myself and how this is affecting me. I don't pretend to understand what is happening in my nephew's mind or what he was thinking the night this happened. I don't need to. 

I just need to forgive him for what happened and love him with a mother's heart, even if it is vicariously through my sister.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Sticks and stones

"I know why you don't wear Guess jeans," he said with a sneer on his face.

I ignored his jabs as I tried to focus on reading my chapter for 10th grade English class. It didn't matter, though. He continued his assault.

"Cuz they don't make 'em in your size, fat ass!" He erupted in laughter along with two of his friends who now high-fived his cruel sense of humor.

Don't let them see you cry, Melanie. Never let them see you cry.

And I didn't. I saved my tears for when I got home...when the lights were off and the house was quiet. I'd perfected my crying over the years. Lard butt. Thunder thighs. Fat ass. Heifer. Fat fuck. Bread n' Rolls. Miss Piggy. I'd heard every insult ever created by adolescent boys (and even a few girls).

While I struggled with my self esteem for years (and even now, I have my moments), my mother was always quick to dismiss their claims and build me up. She helped me believe in myself and my talents. She always told me I could do anything I wanted to do and be anything I wanted to be. I believed her.

I was fortunate to have never been beaten up, but I was good friends with girls who were. Kids would follow her home from the bus and throw rocks at her, trip her, call her names and punch her if she didn't give them the benefit of the response. It should be no surprise that later on in life, she married an abusive man who beat and belittled her regularly.

After years of believing I wasn't good enough, smart enough or pretty enough, I still struggle with the pain of being teased in school. The old addage, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me" is nothing but bullshit. It all hurts. All of it.

Now, I've never been one to promote violence and for many, many years, I've thought that nobody deserves to be hit. But I can't help but think that maybe if I had given that little bastard an uppercut in English class he would've left me alone.

As a parent, my biggest fear was that I wouldn't be able to build my kids self esteem enough for them to shake off the inevitable teasing that takes place in schoolyards and playgrounds. For the most part, they seem to be okay, though I know sometimes kids are meaner than they should be and my kids end up hurt as a result, but I am grateful that they've not been in any fights and there has been minimal online bullying. I know our family is one of the lucky ones, though.

I know that because every time I turned on the TV, read the newspaper or check online, there's a child who has either been bullied or they've committed suicide as a result of the former. This is absolutely inexcusable, but I don't blame the kids.

I blame the parents.

Somewhere along the lines, we've dropped the ball as role models for our kids. We've stopped being kind and we've started name-calling. We've stopped embracing differences and started pointing out flaws. I know I'm guilty of this. I'm as judgmental as anyone else and that's in the process of changing.

My mom (and I'm sure many other parents) always said "ignore them and they'll get bored and go away." I used that method all through school and even as an adult, but I'm finding out as I hear more and more about kids being bullied that I don't necessarily believe in that theory so much anymore. I say call them out.

Call those people out who are bullying. Use their names. Hold them accountable. By keeping quiet, you're silently giving them permission to treat you badly. If someone was raping you, would you just lay still until they finished? No! You'd scream and kick and scratch their eyes out. You'd fight for your life. This is no different. Kids are DYING!

This has to stop. Start scratching some eyes out because those words? They hurt as much as the sticks and stones do.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

They're good eggs

Those kids of mine? They're good eggs.

They're typical teenagers, of course - mouthy at times, argumentative, manipulative, too. But when push comes to shove, they're really pretty damn awesome.

Midget and I sat in a therapist's office yesterday to see if we can get to the bottom of her school-issues. She was tested years ago for ADHD and it came back negative, yet nobody could give us answers as to why she wasn't able to keep up in school or what we could do to help her focus better. We've ridden her hard about being more organized and getting things turned in on time. She's been grounded for the better part of five years because we were at a loss as to what else to do. We now have answers: She is, in fact, positive for ADD. She has no hyperactivity, but there's definite attention issues. We finally have answers! Now, we can move forward from here. That issue aside, I was most pleased with the counselor's analysis that she's a funny kid with a kind heart. She's got a good sense of humor and the therapist said that our bond is a strong one and a lot of moms and teens don't have that. I'm grateful. The other stuff we can work through, but given the problems my kids could have, I'll definitely take this. 

Big Man and I also have a good relationship. He, too, is hilarious and other than his potty mouth (can't fathom where he gets that from. Oops!), there's not too much I can think of that I don't like about him. Above all else, he just gets me. With Midget and even Hubs, I usually have to tell them what I need from them, but not Big Man. He just knows. I can mention something once and the kid is usually on top of it. And if he forgets, he's always quick to apologize and fix it. He's always been someone too old for his age, but as he's creeping up on 18 (holy crap!), that is a trait in him that I'm thankful for. Some days he's still a little bit buoyant in a vast ocean of aspirations - unsure of where he wants to go, but overall, he's got a good head on his shoulders and is wise beyond his years. He has no problem stating his opinion (again, can't figure out where that comes from - hehe) and doesn't hesitate to hold people accountable for their actions or let them know that he's bothered by what they've done or said.

When I look around me at what other parents are going through - teen pregnancy, drug use, alcohol abuse, delinquency, truancy, etc, I am so thankful for the morals my kids have. I can take only partial credit for it because a lot of their decisions are based on things they themselves have decided to do (or, mostly in their cases, not do), but it's a success I will happily take as their mom.

I love you, kids. Keep being awesome!