Monday, June 27, 2022

Supporting the Lonely Child


There was a topic I meant to write about on my blog sometime last week but then came the revealing Jan 6th committee hearings and SCOTUS’ wrongfully decision to reverse Roe v. Wade.

There was an article in the Readers’ Digest newsletter I receive every day.  The article was titled “One Teacher’s Brilliant Strategy to Stop Further School Shootings”.  Ah, this would be an interesting one to read in view of the times and the lackluster gun bill just passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden.  The link to the whole article: The essay originally appeared in 2014 but then was shared again after the 2018 massacre at Parkland High School in FL.

The author met with her son’s fifth grade teacher.  During the course of the conversation, the teacher spoke of every Friday activity: she has her students take out a piece of paper.  She asks them to write down 4 classmates they’d like to sit with the following week.  She tells her students their requests might be honored or might not.  Then she asks the kids to nominate one person to receive an award they think has been an exceptional student that week.  The ballots are kept secret and handed in to her.

Over the weekend, she looks at the names and tries to find patterns.  From the article:

“Who is not getting requested by anyone else?

Who can’t think of anyone to request?

Who never gets noticed enough to be nominated?

Who had a million friends last week and none this week?”

The teacher isn’t looking to see who is the most popular or the best citizen.  She’s looking for the kids who are not.  Maybe some of those kids are being bullied.  Maybe they’re ignored because they’re “invisible” (aka as shy or passive).  Maybe a child was “popular” but is now being ostracized.  She finds not only the bullied, isolated, lonely kids but can also figure out who the bullies are.  In this way, she can help the lonely child by providing TLC in the form of support and maybe even tutoring on how to build friendships.  And she can keep an eagle eye out for the bullies, who attack when a teacher isn’t around.

So, the author-parent was amazed and impressed.  She asked how long the teacher had been doing this activity every Friday.

The teacher answered, ever since Columbine (which was in 1999).

“This brilliant woman watched Columbine knowing that all violence begins with disconnection. All outward violence begins as inner loneliness. Who are our next mass shooters and how do we stop them? She watched that tragedy knowing that children who aren’t being noticed may eventually resort to being noticed by any means necessary.

And so, she decided to start fighting violence early and often in the world within her reach. What Chase’s teacher is doing when she sits in her empty classroom studying those lists written with shaky 11-year-old hands is saving lives. I am convinced of it.”

Isn’t that something?

I was a rather lonely child in that I had family secrets to keep.  Friendships had to be kept at arm’s length.  There wasn’t any bullying except for seventh grade but I was isolated and very much alone.  There was an English teacher that recognized herself in me and spoke to me privately.  There was no way I could tell the truth about my dysfunctional family but the fact that she reached out to me meant the world. 

The fact she reached out to one who also suffered probably inspired more empathy.  One thing that was so enjoyable after I retired was reading to young children, kindergarten through second grade.  The children were not the avid readers; they tended to be behind their classmates and mostly unnoticed at home and by their fellow classmates.  I spent an hour with two kids; each got 30 minutes undivided time with me.  We chatted for a few minutes and then they would enjoy having a story read to them.  Some hadn’t ever experienced being read to as individuals.  They began the school year, hesitant and shy.  By the end of the year, you couldn’t stop their enthusiasm.  They loved receiving a book of their own as an end-of-year gift.  Some told me it was their very first book.

There were so many wonderful kids.  I remember one in particular, a sweet first grader who absolutely adored Pete-the-Cat books.  The following September, I went into the office to sign myself out from a reading session with two new students and found this little girl lying on the floor near the secretary, crying.  I asked her what was wrong and a nearby security officer rolled her eyes and indicated the little girl was a PITA (but she didn’t say that).  The little girl cried harder and thrashed around.  I knelt down and spoke to her soothingly and she calmed a little, recognizing me.

The reading teacher came into the office.  Apparently, she’d been summoned to deal with the child, who’d calmed down considerably.  After a few more minutes, the security guard escorted the child back to her classroom while I stayed and talked with the reading teacher.  The child wasn’t adjusting to second grade well.  She was having frequent bursts of temper and tantruming. 

The reading teacher asked me if I’d like to mentor the child.  My role would be to encourage and support the child, meeting with her once a week to have lunch with her.  I said yes and spoke with the school’s social worker to make all the arrangements.  The child’s classroom teacher preferred that I meet with the little girl during class time instead of lunch.  Was it to give the teacher a break?  It didn’t matter.

For the rest of the school year, we met together in the social worker’s outer office.  Sometimes she would be happy, the same little one I’d remembered from the year before.  Other times, there were tears and anger from a recent meltdown.  Most of the time, we talked about her week at school and at home, her interests, and whatever was troubling her.  We would talk about how to deal with conflicts without tantruming.

Her favorite character was Pete-the-cat, and he had a specific quote about staying cool.  It was a great quote to focus on, and I sure wish I could remember it now.  I also read to her and when I did, she would snuggle up to me.  The teachers and even the security guard began to see some improvement with her behavior.  At the end of the school year, I gave her a stuffed Pete-the-cat doll and storybook.

The following September she would start third grade at another school on campus.  There were three schools on that campus: one for K-2, one for 3-4, and one for grade 5.  The reading teacher asked if I would continue to mentor the child at the next school and I said yes.  We tried to set me up at the next school but there was never any follow through.  I lost touch with the little girl.

She would be a junior or senior this September.  How did she fare all these years?  Did that year of extra attention and love make a difference?  I’d like to think so.

Sunday, June 26, 2022

It's Bad



So, the right-wing ultra conservative majority on the Supreme Court of Rethuglicans have overturned Roe v. Wade.  I have been boiling over all weekend.  This morning I am simmering, bubbling under the surface of calm.  The decision, to me, is not just about abortion.  It’s about a woman’s fundamental right to decide what to do with her own body.

I am a mother by choice.  I am also pro-choice.  Personally, I would not have an abortion.  With my second pregnancy, there was a false positive test and several doctors and nurses encouraged me to have amniocentesis within the time limit to have an abortion.  I think then it was at 20 weeks or so.  Anyway, I refused.  My baby was born healthy but my first husband and I were prepared to care for her whatever her situation was.

Having said that, this is a very personal decision for any woman.  It’s not my place to advise a woman against it, as my cousin (a staunch Catholic) used to do.  She would join others picketing health facilities that performed abortions.  She asked me to join her and I refused.  I thought she was wrong but she felt compelled to be “prolife”.

I put “prolife” in quotes because it’s a false claim anti-abortion protesters use as if they’re inspired by God.  These are mostly so-called Christians.  I say so-called because although they proclaim to be Christians, by their works and words they show they do not follow Christ.  Example: “Prolife” Rethuglican politicians consistently vote against any legislation that would help a parent feed or educate their children once they’re born.  They are only interested in forcing a mother to bear a child, even if it puts her life in danger.  After that baby is born, the attitude of the Rethuglican party is “you’re on your own now, honey.”

I am old enough to remember back before 1972 when a woman truly was a second-class citizen because she could not get a credit card on her own, have her tubes tied without permission from her husband, and even talk to a doctor by herself about her own health!  The husband had to be there to listen in.  As far as I’m concerned, women are still treated as second-class citizens in many ways.  We still can’t get an Equal Rights Amendment passed.

That brings me to the real danger of this decision. “Justice” Clarence Thomas said it publicly.  Overturning Roe v. Wade should also have them considering removing the right to contraception, the right to consensual sexual acts, same-sex marriage, and even interracial marriage.  With these five thugs in place as so-called justices, we may very well see rabid “Christian” and other right-wing groups bring cases before the Supreme Court arguing against these protections.

After that, who knows?  Is Affirmative Action protected?  What about the 1973 Rehabilitation Act and PL94-142?  What about civil rights?  What about our right to vote?  Now that the downward slide has begun, where does it end?

Vote blue!  That’s the answer, yes, but we have this other agenda by the Rethuglicans and that is to discredit and interfere with our elections.  Witnesses and members of the January 6th investigative hearing have warned us repeatedly that there can be more cheating and more violence if Rethuglicans lose.  The interference is already happening.  Judge Luttig wrote in a tweet that he spoke methodically and slowly, measuring each word, not because he had a stroke or other disability.  He did it to emphasize just how serious the situation is.  He spoke slowly but he said a lot about what’s really going on.

So, what happens if the Rethuglicans win either by cheating or by insurrection?  We will have a government but it won’t be democratic.  Rethuglican legislators are already discussing how they’ll punish dissenters of Almighty tRump.  They not only want to take away the rights I mentioned earlier, they’d also like to take away social safety nets like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.  They are lying when they claim these are “entitlement” programs.  I paid into Social Security with my wages for over 20 years, as did other recipients.  It is OUR money, not the Rethuglicans’.

There are a lot of issues to deal with.

Over the weekend, it came up in family conversation.  Younger members claim there’s “always been violence” in this country and that is true.  But here is the difference: it was tempered in the last 50 years and more by programs proposed by FDR, JFK, LBJ, and OB (name sign for President Obama) addressing people’s need for work, for food, for the retirement years, for civil rights, and for health care. 

All of that is changing because tRump brought white nationalists out of the dark where they’d been lurking those years.  They are mostly white men and women, but there are mysteriously people of color supporting them as well.  So, if they overthrow an election in 2022 and 2024, what kind of world will we be left with in the formerly united USA?

I am more and more tempted to apply for dual citizenship in Ireland and getting a passport for my husband.  I don’t want to live in a country run by those evil people.

Hearing #5

 I originally wrote this post on Friday, June 24th.  I intended to add more to it, referencing newsletter posts I received from Heather Cox Richardson, Dan Rather and Robert Reich but then the horrendous news came that the Supreme Court of Thuglicans had reversed Roe v. Wade.  I was so angry I couldn't write a thing without rancor so I took two days off.  I am still boiling inside but I think I can write with a clear head again.


TB and I watched the fifth hearing of the January 6th investigation hearing.  Talk about spinning heads!  We knew much of the testimony from media articles, posts and tweets but they didn’t have the impact on us the way in-person testimony did.  On January 6th, we were watching TV when our program was interrupted to cover what was happening at the Capitol.  We recognized with horror that this was a coup attempt.  Where was the National Guard?  Why wasn’t tRump calling off his mob?

As we’ve watched each hearing and heard the gut-wrenching testimony from witnesses testifying to tRump’s plot to steal the election, it became very clear that the coup attempt had been planned far in advance.  TFG had been trumpeting fraud even before the election took place, claiming if he lost it would be because the election had been rigged.  He tried appealing to courts all the way up to the Supreme Court.  There was no evidence for the judges to look at because there was no fraud. 

When the courts failed him, tRump began harassing and bullying state election officials in swing states (GA, PA. AZ. etc.) to throw out legitimate votes or accept a new slate of electors.  When that failed, he began to smear Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss with claims they were committing fraud with the votes.  That wasn’t true but his believers also began to harass the two women, their families, and the state election officials and families.  When that failed, he began working on Vice President Pence and the Justice Department.

Yesterday’s testimony centered on tRump’s plot to keep himself in office although he’d been told daily and repeatedly he’d lost the election; there was no evidence of wide spread fraud.  When his Attorney General at the time, Jeff Rosen, refused to involve the DOJ in supporting false claims, TFG and his supporters tried to go around Rosen.  Rep. Perry introduced 45 to a DOJ environmental attorney, Jeffrey Clark, who indicated he’d do whatever tRump wanted.

Clark and another newly planted DOJ attorney named Ken Klukowski drafted a letter on DOJ letterhead informing Georgia and the other states that they had information about fraud.  The letter encouraged the legislature and officials to take another look at their election results.  They wanted Rosen and Deputy Acting AG Richard Donoghue to sign the letter.  At a meeting on January 3, the two men flat out refused.  tRump’s attorney, Pat Cippollone supported the DOJ and told tRump the letter was like a murder-suicide pact. 

The next bright idea was to replace Rosen with Clark.  Rosen and Donoghue stated they would resign if that happened.  Steven Engle, heading the DOJ’s Office of the Counsel, told tRump he would resign too and that the entire legal team would also quit.  He told tRump that Clark would be in charge of a “graveyard.”

Apparently that got through to tRump.  He was savvy enough to realize how awful it would look to have gone through 3 AGs in 2 weeks and then have the entire leadership of DOJ resign.  He backed off and didn’t replace Rosen with Clark.  What he did do, though, was up the pressure on Mike Pence and fire up his extreme base.

All of those who were pressured and refused to cave in to 45 were Republican.  Doing the right thing had a heavy cost for all of them personally.  They are vilified and defamed by tRump’s supporters and by tRump himself.  This is a political career ender for Adam Kinzinger, Lynn Cheney, and any Republican legislator that crossed tRump.  Doing the right thing and making sacrifices are painful and takes courage.  I don’t agree with their politics but I think all of the witnesses, Kinzinger, and Cheney are all very brave.

The committee is being inundated with new information and will take a break to go through it all.  They’ll reconvene in July.  We will be watching.

tRump continues to fume and to plot.  He will try again.  We have to be vigilant and stop him.

12 noon update.  So I just heard that the fascist majority Supreme Court just overturned Roe v. Wade in its entirety and now Clarence fucking Thomas would like to address contraception and same sex marriage.  I am too fucking angry to do or say anything more today.  Fuck the news, fuck the Supreme Court, fuck Rethuglicans and fuck tRump.

Supporting the Lonely Child

  There was a topic I meant to write about on my blog sometime last week but then came the revealing Jan 6 th committee hearings and SCOT...