Friday, September 27, 2013

Consequences: Removing the Sense of Entitlement in Kids

I have been reading a thread on Facebook about a little boy who had been misbehaving at school and his mom was trying to reconcile the consequences to the punishment she laid out for him if his behavior didn't improve.  There's lots I have to say about this so I decided to blog about it so I could really elaborate my opinion.  As a mom who has raised three happy, well-adjusted, polite young men I feel I have something to say on this matter.

A little background....

The little boy was getting his color changed at his know, the color system that teachers use on elementary age school kids that we as parents don't get and don't think is sometimes the fairest thing that they do? Well, his color was changed to red several days so his mom decided that he had to have further punishment if his behavior did not change.  She decided to take away something that they little boy was looking forward to...a well known children's show that travels the country.  She was trying to reconcile what she said would happen with the fact that she has already paid for his show and the fact that he was so young and would be disappointed.  She put it out there asking other parents for their opinions on what she should do.  She got varied answers, some of which had me scratching my head in disbelief.  I still do not know what she has chosen to do.

So, this is my opinion on this subject that I hope parents read and take to heart.  Some of it will be comments on what other parents advised and others will just be my opinion.

At such a young age, sometimes the consequences outweigh the bad behavior.  Some people say that kids aged 4 or 5 may not associate the bad behavior with what you have said will be the consequences if they do not change the behavior.  Is this always the case with every child?  I don't know.  But as parents when we say we will do something, we have to do it because if we don't then they learn that we don't mean what we say.  I do know that that is not a good thing.  You have to say what you mean and mean what you say.

Let me give you an example....I am not the parent who buys whatever my kids ask for.  As a matter of fact, I don't buy them much of anything they ask for unless it is necessary for school.  This includes the candy and crap at grocery stores.  I watch parents at stores all the time give in to whining kids.  In order to stop the noise they say "OK! JUST PUT IT IN THE BASKET! BUT DON'T ASK FOR ANOTHER THING!"  Do you really think that works?  No.  I see them ten minutes later saying the same thing.  What is this teaching the children?  In my opinion, not a damn thing.  They see that mom has said no but she buys it anyway if I make enough noise and begin to embarrass her too much.  We we say no, we need to mean it.

Now I know that this example is a simple one, but where do you think kids begin to learn that we will give in?  As moms, we take our kids shopping with us when they are little.  They want candy, they want toys.  Sometimes we just don't have the extra money to afford these things and kids just do not understand that.  So what is giving in to them teaching them?  It is teaching them that we don't really mean it when we say no.  Now I know we want our kids to have things...but just buying them everything they want is not the way to give it to them.  They need to earn it.  Good behavior gets you farther than bad behavior...or at least I feel it does.  Teaching kids this now is so much better in the long run for them and for the world.

I have seen what teaching kids to work for things as opposed to handing them everything does for them.   I know of kids who have been handed everything and feel like they are entitled to whatever they want without working for any of it.  So how do we break the cycle?  It's hard, but as parents, we need to break it.

When you say something, mean it.  No matter how young they are they will understand.  And, by no means, NEVER say that you feel a teacher has it out for your child...ESPECIALLY DO NOT SAY THIS TO THE CHILD.  Some of the parents who responded to this plea said take him to the show because he wouldn't understand why he wasn't going.  Does he need to understand the why?  Or does he just need to know that mommy said he wouldn't go?  I have seen some of the comments this little boys has made as she has posted them on facebook...he's a very bright little boy.  Starting now with the consequences that you set out will lay the foundation for future times you have to punish them.  If you don't start now, when do you start?  Do you keep saying he's too young to understand?  Then you've created a pattern that you cannot get out of...and you've created an entitlement in your kids that you now have to deal with.  It might hurt you when you are doling out the might hurt the child...but you have to sometimes hurt so you can grow and learn from the experience.

Kids understand more than we give them credit for and we need to stop underestimating them.  Let them hurt for not behaving.  It will be good for them in the long run....just ask my kids.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

It's Time to Create Change

I have to play devil's advocate here for just a minute.  Indulge me.

I know there are many things wrong with BISD that need to be fixed.  I know that it is going to take the entire city coming together to achieve the restoration of BISD to a solid school district.  But where do we start?  And really, I don't want to talk about ALL of BISD...I just want to talk about one thing that I think has been overlooked by some.

I live in a neighborhood that sits outside the city limits but is in the BISD boundaries.  We are sometimes seen as what we call "the stepchildren of BISD."  My neighborhood and a few other areas around us have the craziest track of schools in the district.  Our elementary school is a very good of the consistently high rating schools in the district.  We are dual zoned to two of the three high is very far from us and is the school where our area has always been zoned to go...I think that's been lost by some.  For middle school...well that's where the real problem lies.

The middle school is consistently low rated.  Along with our area, the students come from the north side of town.  I don't know when things got to the point they are now nor do I know how the middle school we are zoned to became to be so low rated.  When I was in middle school, this was the better school to attend...or so we thought in the north end of Beaumont.  Now, no one in my neighborhood wants to send their children there.  Parents camp out at administration early in February to request a transfer to the west end schools.  Other, like me, have their children test into the Pegasus program at another middle school...that program is incredibly successful and several of the kids that went with David will be graduating a year early because of it.

Why are we allowing that to happen?  Aren't we, by choosing to send our students to other schools, only adding to the problem?  Wouldn't our highly successful students help the lower ranking school with their attendance and test scores?  Why have we become so fearful of sending our students to that school?

Someone needs to be brave enough to start enacting change.  Sitting back waiting for a dysfunctional school board to make a change for a small segment of the district is getting us nowhere.  So why not be proactive instead of reactive?  Just voting in a different school board member will not change the situation.  We have seen that one or two votes on that board make no difference.  As long as we are not actively trying to make the school we are zoned to better we are part of the problem.  It's time we become part of the solution.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Government Shut-downs, Senate Lunatics, and Texas Politicians

Last week, the Republican controlled House of Representatives passed a bill that would keep the government running until mid-December.  The catch is, it de-funds the Affordable Care Act.  This was the brainstorm of the likes of Rand Paul and Ted Cruz (R Senator).

This was the 40th voted to try to undo the ACA, and it will be no more successful than the other 39.  For it to work, the Democratic controlled Senate would have to pass the bill in it's present state and then President Obama would have to sign the that is going to happen.  So why are these lunatic Senators wasting time trying to get a bill passed that will never be signed in to law?

Their hope is that if the bill fails, the government will shut down and then the blame can be put on the Democrats.  They must think the American public is really stupid.  Ted Cruz has no way to get the GOP out of this mess when it implodes on him - and the party brass know that.  They know it so well that they threw him under the bus when he was announced as a guest on Chris Wallace's show on faux news Sunday.

Wallace said that he received numerous emails from GOP members who gave him opposition research to nail Cruz to the wall.  He used the information very well.  I watched the can watch it HERE.  Cruz said that the Senate should pass the bill with a 60 vote majority instead of the 51 votes that are needed according to Senate Rule 22.  Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid will never agree to change the votes needed for this.  Cruz has backed himself into a corner and has no way to get out. He still thinks he will though and he still thinks he can put the blame on the Democrats.

Of course this is the same man who believes that his ACTUAL Canadian birth should not rule him out of running for President, but that President Obama's ACTUAL Hawaiian birth should get him kicked out of office.  This is what Texas sends to Congress.  Of course, we also elected Perry governor 4 times....well I didn't. 

I need to move to a blue state.  Quickly.

Friday, September 20, 2013

We Need To Do Better Than This

I feel like I am about to go back to the origin of this blog...BISD.  It amazes me the kind of crap that comes out of the school board meetings.  It seems it never stops...never will stop.

Last night, the news stations reported that the school board meeting went on until midnight.  This seemed to many to be an apparent attempt to keep the public from speaking by making them wait.  The scheduled time for public comments was after all other business was finished.  The picture below was taken sometime around 11:30 last night.  As you can see, what was described as a packed house at the beginning of the meeting had become stragglers by the time the public comment portion of the meeting started.  Board president Woodrow Reece has publicly stated that maybe the public should not be able to comment at the board seems he is trying to get this achieved without making a policy change.

At last night's meeting the subject of the upcoming election was on the agenda.  For those of you who may not know, the board was supposed to hold elections in May; but because of their resistance to the change from seven single member districts to five single member and two at large, the board was able to effectively put off the election until November.  This is a problem though because Texas law states that school board elections must be held in the spring of odd number years in conjunction with municipal elections.  There are no other elections being held this November.  This makes this election illegal.  (Texas Election Code Sections 11.053 and 11.0581)  The Jefferson County Voter Registrar Shane Howard attempted to speak at last night's meeting about the election...he was denied the right to speak because he supposedly has no interest in this issue.  Except that he does.

The voter registrar's office is charged with ensuring that voters have registration cards that prove they are eligible to vote and in which district they should vote.  This office has to do this before each election.  This is Mr. Howard's job.  If the voter registrar's office aids in the illegal election, Mr. Howard has a problem.  So as you can see, he is affected by this issue.  He was not allowed to speak on the advice from the district attorney, Melody Chappell.  When the board denied Mr. Howard the right to speak, another local attorney and City Council member, Mike Getz, again made a circus out of the board meeting.

Lest you think these antics are a one time thing, I assure you they are not.  This happens at every board meeting and in buildings all across the district.  One side argues with the other and it gets out of control.  One person doesn't like what another is doing...let's sue them and cost the taxpayers money.  A principal of a school has a disagreement with another principal...let's ruin the daughter's life because we can't get along.  The circus atmosphere needs to stop.  People need to grow up and maybe listen to what the Pope has had to say this week.

Tolerance and compassion.  We need to work on our tolerance and compassion.  We need to learn how to get along with people we may not see eye to eye with.  Whether it is because of perceived wrongs because of race or because of what you see as someone trying to one up you...we all need to get along.  The only way this city will ever heal is if we all decide to listen to each other.  The board has decided they will not listen to the public or each other.  This has caused conflict and anger.  We need to be better than this. 

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Separation of Church and State: What's in a Name?

"The word 'Messiah' is a title, and it's a title that has only been earned by one person - and that one person is Jesus Christ."   
Those words were part of a decision by Tennessee judge Lu Ann Ballew as she ruled that parents Jaleesa Martin and Jawaan McCullough had to change their son's name.  This judge was involved because the parents are unwed, they had child support issues to resolve, and they could not decide on what the baby's last name would be.  His given name was Messian DeShawn McCullough, which the judge did not think was appropriate. 

In this country, we have what is know as separation of church and state.  That is an essential foundation that was brought to this country by the earliest settlers who were escaping religious persecution.  While the U.S. Constitution provides us the right of freedom of religion we are supposed to keep church separate from the state.  Judges are not supposed to impose their religious beliefs on those who come into their courts.  So why did this judge think she was above that?

In other countries there are boundaries put on what parents can name their children.  For instance, in Germany parents are banned from naming their son Adolf Hitler, which makes sense; but they also do not allow you to name a child any name that does not indicate gender.  For example, you can't name your son Matti because that is not clearly a boy's name.  In Japan you cannot name you child Akuma, which means devil.  In Denmark you can't name your child Anus, Pluto or Monkey, but Fee is perfectly fine.  In New Zealand, you can't name your twins Fish and Chips, but Benson and Hedges would be okay.

The United States has no laws banning any names and we would not stand for them anyway...we are a country founded on individual freedoms, and that means if you want to name your child something that makes no sense, have at it.  It is your right to do so even if it will make little North West the brunt of jokes (I happen to think that is a creative name).

The parents, of course, did not stand for this ruling and appealed it to a higher court.  In that court, Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr. ruled that "the lower court violated the establishment clause of the U.S. Constitution, and added that the court's purpose was to determine the last name of the child, not his first name."  The religious beliefs of the previous judge were imposed on these parents and that is not acceptable in this country.

We each, as American citizens, have all the same rights afforded us by the Constitution.  We all have the right to choose in which way we will worship, or if we even want to worship.  We have the right to speak our minds.  We have the right to choose our children's names.  We don't like when people  impose their beliefs on us.  We want to make our own choices and we won't allow others to choose for us.  No matter what you think of my beliefs or what I may think of yours, we each have a right to have those beliefs.  The state, the court, nor the anyone else can tell us what to name our children.

My oldest son is named Brenham.  Yes, after the city where the best ice cream in the world is made...Brenham, Texas.  How did we come up with that one?  His dad closed his eyes and pointed at a map.  It could have been worse...on that map was also Cut and Shoot, Texas.  

~ Quotations from the article Tenn. judge: Parents can name their baby 'Messiah' found in USA TODAY online

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Gun Control Debate

"A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

I really don't even know where to start.  Do I start with the fact that our Constitution gives us the right to bear arms?  Do I start with the fact that there have been too many instances recently where guns have been used by persons to carry out mass murders?  Do I start by railing on the NRA for their complete lack of competence when it comes to the debate about what needs to be done?  I just do not know where to start.  So let's start with some facts.

Since 1982, there have been at least 62 mass shootings* across the country, with the killings unfolding in 30 states from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Twenty-five of these mass shootings have occurred since 2006, and seven of them took place in 2012. ~ Mother Jones, A Guide to Mass Shootings

  •  From 1982-2012 there were 63 mass shootings.
    • 49 shooters obtained their weapons illegally
    • 12 shooters obtained their weapons legally
    • 1 was unknown
  • Of the 143 weapons used in those shootings:
    • 71 were semi-automatic handguns
    • 28 were rifles
    • 23 were revolvers
    • 21 were shotguns
      • of these weapons, 48 would be outlawed by the Assault Weapons Ban of 2013
        • 42 held high capacity magazines
        • 20 were assault style weapons

These are facts.  They cannot be disputed.

The debate is fierce on this issue.  On one side is the NRA lobbying Washington on behalf of the gun makers to keep any kind of legislation from being passed that limits the purchase of guns on the basis of the second amendment.  On the other side are the gun control advocates who understand that closing the loopholes at gun shows and making universal background checks the norm will do so much to keep these incidents from happening.  Gun rights activists say gun that background checks do not make a difference and point to the legally obtained weapons used in Newtown, Connecticut and just this week at the Washington Navy Yard as examples.

In Newtown, the guns were legally purchased by the mother of the shooter...fact.  Adam Lanza was allowed to live in the same home with an arsenal of weapons legally obtained by his mother when she knew that he was mentally unstable.  Lanza used his mother's guns to first kill her and then the children and teachers at Sandy Hook Elementary. 

So far, we know that Aaron Alexis, the Navy Yard shooter, was discharged from the Navy without incident and had, we are told, a concealed handgun permit (not sure if it was from Texas).  His guns were purchased legally in Virginia.  Gun rights activists say the gun laws in D.C. did not work. 

Some try to steer the conversation toward mental health issues while at the same time they are trying to tear down what healthcare legislation has been put in place.

And then this.  Miss Right Wing herself Elisabeth Hasselbeck just this morning as the newest talking head on faux news blamed the shooting on video games.  Brilliance was on display as she said "...why aren’t we looking at frequency of purchases per person?"  So we monitor and control the purchases of video games but not guns?  This is what drives me crazy.  This kind of nonsense babble that people listen to and then state as fact because someone on faux news said it.

I will end this post by saying that I have nothing against people owning guns.  I know how to shoot guns...handguns and rifles...and I am not afraid to shoot them.  I will be obtaining my concealed carry permit as soon as I possibly can.  This is not about my wanting to take anyone's guns away.  This isn't about President Obama wanting to take anyone's guns away.  Gun control is about common sense approaches to make sure that people who want to purchase weapons are legally and mentally capable of owning them and using them responsibly.


My Return to Blogging

It has been a while since I have blogged.  I felt that most people I knew were migrating to Facebook so that's where I should be - so that's where I have been.  But I think it is now time to return to blogging, and here's why.

Last night a classmate of mine observed that although I seemed to be passionate about what I was saying, sometimes it was hard to discern exactly what my thoughts were about...where was the frame of reference for what I was saying?  I get this...sometimes a post comes up on Facebook and unless you have specifically read the article or the previous post that was referenced you are lost as to why this person is saying this thing.  I get it.  Add to that the fact that facebook is so static that sometimes you have to go back what seems like forever to find what the post refers to...and then while do that Facebook refreshes and you have lost what you were trying to understand.  It gets confusing.

Blogging allows us to fully develop thoughts in a way that readers can get the entire grasp of what we are saying.  We have more room for thoughts to be spelled out and for references to be made without them getting lost in the shuffle.  So here I am, back to the blog where it all started six years ago.

When I started blogging it was purely for my own personal reflections.  I posted pictures of my kids and talked about their accomplishments.  In that I posted personal commentary on current events and political issues that are important to me, but mostly kept it family oriented.  This worked for a while.  I look at that blog and remember how I was blogging daily, sometimes several times a day; but then I found Facebook and all of that changed.  I migrated with the crowd and found myself totally intrigued by the constant updates and just everything people decided to share.  So much has changed since I first started blogging.

Back then, Facebook was still for the college set.  If you were not on one of the college campuses, you really didn't use Facebook.  Blogs were for the stay-at-home-moms and professionals who had something to say and wanted others to read it.  It was our way of communicating and coming together before Facebook.  Back then no one knew what a tweet was, and Instagram and Pinterest hadn't even been though of yet.  We are so much further along now than we were just a mere six years ago.

So why am I coming back to blogging?  Well, because I feel I have something to say and I want to share it in a way that is more informative and has a frame of reference that can be understood.  I want to talk politics and grammar and all of those things I comment on when on Facebook but I want to do it in a more open way.  I want you all to join in the discussion.  I want you to become more informed by the discussion.  I want to spark dialogue that is rational and provocative without being hateful.  If you want to participate, you are welcome to do so.