Bully

Our town had an end of summer bash today where Rowan threw some darts at balloons and for popping a red one in the left corner received a calculator.  He tossed some rings over a stack of bottles and furrowed his brows in frustration when he couldn’t get those pesky things to land where he wanted them to. He ate a snowcone, saw some cool cars, learned about being prepared in an emergency, had his first taste of cotton candy, built a sandcastle, and was pushed around by a bully.

My little boy who had worked for a half hour on his castle and was sure he was going to win the contest, was hurt. His bottom lip quivered, as he picked himself up and brushed off his knees. The mama bear in me utilized every ounce of self control as the kid then threatened to punch me for having the audacity to stand between him and my son. I looked that kid right in the eyes and VERY sternly said, “Don’t you dare put your hands on me.” He spit a few choice words at me, threw a fistful of sand in my face, kicked over Rowan’s last remaining castle wall for good measure and slunk off.  A very kind little boy who was working nearby offered to help Rowan rebuild his fortress, and they worked together for a while, chatting about drawbridges, moats, and men on horses with hatchets and spears.  All too soon the big kid was back, this time with a chip on his shoulder.  I tried my best to stand between their creation, and the kid who was trying to invade it.

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Working together to rebuild

Right as I was commenting on how I would get lost in their maze of tunnels and pathways, a hand reached around my leg and slammed down on their main entrance.  Another hand wiped away the north side of their castle, and a knee obliterated the mountain the castle was protecting.  The two boys started to protest, but were met with a very angry growl and some mean and hateful words harnessed with threats of violence.  Mercifully it started to pour, and their tormentor ran for cover.  Someone nearby handed the boys an umbrella, but it wasn’t enough to prevent the walls from crumbling and the tunnels from caving in.  I told the two little builders that I’d stay if they wanted to wait for the rain to pass and try once again to rebuild.  Rowan’s new buddy opted to stay, but Rowan expressed some apprehension about the bully returning.  Defeated, we walked home in the rain, his sandy hand cupped in mine.

I HATE this part of parenting. HATE, LOATHE, and DESPISE it. No matter what I do, I can’t stop the world from hurting my boy. *sigh*  The urge to shelter and defend my child was coupled with harsh reality of teaching him how to peacefully stand up for himself.  I was unsuccessful at locating an adult that had accompanied the big kid to the event, so I knew that simply walking away was the right thing to do.  I encouraged Rowan to try again, but didn’t argue when he wanted to go home.  

I’m harboring such mixed feelings of anger and sadness towards that boy.  For such a young kid to be so angry at the world, there’s got to be a reason.  Yeah, the whole thing upset me and ticked me off, but a part of me wants to scoop that kid up, hold him in my arms, and just tell him he’s loved.  That it WILL be okay.  HE will be okay…I can’t do that though, and I can’t fix the world.  I can’t stop the hurt and the hate.  The only thing I can do is teach my little boy that actions have consequences-both good and bad.  I can help him understand that words are powerful.  That they’re so powerful in fact, that they can change lives.  I can show him that a little kindness and love, even when you feel it’s the last thing someone deserves, is EXACTLY what they need.   The next time we see that kid around town, he’ll be getting an invitation to play.  He’ll be offered some kind words, a dish of ice cream, and the promise that if he ever needs a friend, he’ll know where to find one.   I may not be able to save Rowan from all the bullies in the world, but I can help keep him from becoming one.

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On Why I Shaved My Head.

It either takes a lot of guts or a lot of crazy for a woman to shave her head. 

So why did I, a 33 year old mom living in West Virginia shave my head?  It’s really not as extreme as everyone around me seems to think.  The reason?  I WANTED TO!  I cannot stress enough that:

  • I’m not in a cult
  • I did not do it for attention
  • I haven’t gone all “Britney Spears”
  • I did not do it on a dare
  • I did not do it for political or religious reasons
  • That I *do* love lists and any excuse to make them

You guys…CHILL!  It’s just hair.  I didn’t cut a limb off, it will grow back.  It’s not even the first time I’ve done this.  It’s not the second, or the third, or even the fourth or fifth.  For some reason this time is different and people have taken their feelings about it to an extreme.  My own mother said to me in all seriousness that, “You look like a 13 year old boy in a concentration camp.”  Ouch.  I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m a mom now.  Maybe it’s because I’ve been in a fairly predictable routine for four years.  I’ve been talking about doing it for a few months now, and as usual I got tired of talking about it and just did it.  As my friend Amanda says, “Tiffany, you just do what you want.”  It’s true, I do….now.  I haven’t always.

For the majority of my childhood I had thick, curly, long hair-long enough to sit on.  It was so much a part of me, that when people described me, it usually went something like this: “Yeah, you know, the short, shy girl with the really long hair…I think her name is Stephanie or something.” True story.  I became known for my hair, and frankly I just went with it.  If people expected a certain thing from me, and that’s what it would take to pacify them, so be it.  I’d keep my hair long and beautiful and that would be that.  Then when I was about 16 a dear friend told me, “You know Tiffany, your hair isn’t what makes you beautiful.”  It was a Sampson moment, and I realized my strength didn’t come from my hair, and I cut it a few weeks later.  I’ve never had it past my shoulders since.  

A part of me realizes that the reason I took clippers to my hair in the dead of night was stress.  No big catastrophe happened.  The little things all sort of added up, and it was a physical response to an emotional build-up.  Some people have crying fits, some eat, some exercise, I shave my head. It was an effective release, and I don’t regret it(except for those two little bald spots on the back….ooops!).  

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Five

I think it’s bad blog etiquette to start a post off with how much you’ve neglected your blog, how sorry you are for being gone so long, yadda….yadda….yadda.  I won’t do that.  I know I haven’t posted in a long time, and I don’t really care.   Between caring for my 93 year old grandmother, my son, the stack of books by my bed, my garden, school,  and eating cupcakes(what?), and homeschooling Rowan, there is simply no time for this.  Well, obviously there’s time NOW because I’m writing this.  *sigh* Ok! So our neighbor is having a tree cut down and Rowan is riveted to that scene and already completed his school for the day, Grandma is at lunch, the house is a mess and staying that way, there are weeds in my garden, a Tupperware of untouched cupcakes on my kitchen table, I’m between semesters, and the stack of books is patiently waiting to be read.  In other words, I’m being lazy today.

My fall semester is about to start, and after acing my summer semester full of science and labs, I’m going into this with all the confidence in the world.  After getting the biology and math and stuff I’m horrible at out of the way, I’m ready to read and write and write and write for the next four months.  It will mean painfully late nights, reading novel after novel instead of post after post on Facebook.  The upside to that is my brain will no longer feel like it’s sagging.

For anyone that knew me as a child the thought of me having any sort of predilection towards learning is actually laughable.  I mean, I’ve always had a appetite for learning, but it had to be on *my* terms.  That taken into account, I was a poor student.  I wasn’t stupid by any means; I was actually quite bright.  The problem was that all I wanted to do was read.  That in itself was a good thing, but I never wanted to take the time to read what was assigned to me.  I also had the gift of daydream.  I could read an entire section of my history book *OUT LOUD* and not have heard a word of it because my brain was somewhere else-probably thinking about climbing trees and fishing with my best buddy, Tyler.  I wasn’t your typical pre-teen.  I wasn’t into boys (other than hanging out with Ty, who I didn’t even see as a boy until one summer when he decided he’d rather learn how to use the backhoe, and I decided I’d rather travel than spend our days by the pond and in the woods. It was never quite the same after that summer, but he will always hold some of my most favorite childhood memories. So many fish….so many forts….so many frogs…it was magnificent.) I didn’t care what my hair looked like, or makeup.  I didn’t really have a desire to be popular.  I didn’t want to be disliked, of course, but I didn’t have the drive to include myself in things.  I would have much rather be curled up in the hammock, or in the safe haven of my bedroom with a story that could become my reality.  I was intensely shy, and an introvert in every sense of the word.  I was home-schooled from third grade on, and the idea of sitting in a classroom being compared to other students was the embodiment of all that I feared.

As I grew older, I started to outgrow those traits a little, and I attended a semester in New Hampshire, and then again in California.  I never quite had the avidity to continue though.  I did well enough, but I just didn’t….care.  Then I had a child.  At first our needs were met, and I still didn’t have the ambition to tackle my continued education.  THEN came the turning point in my life: I became a single parent.  Every single one of my son’s needs were placed on my shoulders.  I had enough work experience and positive recommendations that I could probably get a decent job making just enough to live on, but nothing more.  That was not what I desired for my son, or for myself.  It was time to get serious.  My tenacious demeanor started coming in handy at this stage of my life.  I made the commitment to my little family that I would finish school, and that I would finish well.  My  son deserved that at least.

So while my son is busy turning 5, I’m busy laying a foundation for his future.  Yes, mine too, but it’s mostly for him.  He’s the cutest little motivator.  🙂

That whole Rowan turning five thing…I’m not ok with it.  Let me rephrase that: I’m glad he’s healthy and happy, and has made it five years without falling off one of the numerous items he’s climbed, and broken his neck, but his babyhood is over and I will always ache for that time.  He’s all boy in the sense that he’s a rough and tumble, tackle, high energy guy.  In other ways he’s a very unique child, a fact I can relate to.  He’s shy until he gets to know you, and then he never stops talking.  He loves reading and singing and playing instruments in the loudest and most chaotic way imaginable.  He loves being outdoors and riding his gator.  He’s obsessed with tools and building and fixing.  His birthday wishlist is as follows:

  • A ladder(which he’s getting)
  • A hatchet(still under consideration)
  • A hand cart(which he’s getting)
  • A stud finder(which he’s getting)
  • Every single item at Lowes(He’s getting some tools, but not everything in the joint)
  • Duct tape(which he’s getting)
  • And the only toy he’s consistently asked for: a cheap-o helicopter(which I haven’t gotten yet, but plan to)

He’s also getting a toolbox and some other random items, but sometimes I feel like I’m shopping for a twenty-five year old, not a five year old.  There are other people I love, but none seem to sweep me off my feet quite like him.  He’s my world.

Every year for Row’s birthday, I put together a “highlights” video of Rowan’s babyhood and past year, so here is that video: