The Brock Turner Conversation

brockturner_rockinrandommom

This post is about the two latest tragedies to hit my Facebook feed. Brock Turner and the Orlando Shooting. This is how I used these tragedies to teach my boys valuable lessons.

Brock Turner

Now you wouldn’t think that this would be something that I would actually talk to my boys about. Most parents do their damnedest to shield their children from the news and any negative stories that come on. However, my children are in school and they hear it all. So over this past year I have come to see these stories as opportunities to educate my kids on things they won’t learn in school and teach them very important life skills that many of us really don’t think about. Like teaching our boys NOT TO RAPE!

Now here is where I’m going to get the most personal I’ve ever gotten on my blog: I am a survivor of childhood rape. I am one of the many statistics in this country. What is it?

brockturner1in4_rockinrandommomLet that sink in for a minute…

I don’t talk about it much on here because even though I have healed from my past hurts and trauma, it’s still not a subject I broach with very many people without having a damn good reason. Brock Turner is a damn good reason. Being a mother of two boys is a damn good reason for my writing this.

As a survivor, I bring a unique perspective to the table. I raise them to respect all living things but to also understand that not every person in this world is worthy of their trust. That may sound biased and pessimistic but that is the world we live in and I have to know my boys are aware of that fact.

Right now, I want to talk about the conversation I had with Conner. The letter that the father wrote to the court and the lenient sentence the judge rendered was appalling. I told Conner that a young man violated a young woman while she was passed out and not able to defend herself or even consent. His first words were, “Why would someone do that?” Out of the mouths of babes!

brockturnerrape_rockinrandommomI talked to him about the letter the father wrote, excusing his son’s behavior.  Before I could “teach” him anything, he said, “How can his dad think what his son did was okay?  Why didn’t he take care of her? Why did he have to hurt her?” Obviously I’m doing something right.

I talked to him and let him know that neither myself nor his father would ever condone that kind of behavior and he said, “Don’t worry mommy, I won’t do anything like that ever! Besides, I know women can kick my butt.” Then of course he laughs and I laugh with him.

He may not know the power of hormones (which is not excuse) but he does know right from wrong. He does know that forcing anyone to do something against their will is wrong! I have talked to him about this before. As a survivor I feel very strongly that my boys need to understand what consent means and how important it is.

We parents believe that as long as we teach our children right from wrong and do our best to live good lives, our children will follow suit. Sometimes though, we need to have conversations. It’s important that our boys know how to be men. They won’t learn it on their own, despite popular belief. All of our children need guidance and nowadays, teaching our boys NOT TO RAPE is one of them!

Orlando Shooting

The second tragedy was the Orlando shooting. It is a horrible thing to know that despite teaching our kids to accept one another, they are still bombarded with pictures of hate in this world. The news today makes me wonder if Adam’s Autism may actually shield him from certain things because none of this influences his behavior towards others. Of course, he doesn’t watch the news but this will still be a conversation that I will have with him.

Conner, on the other hand, always asks me why people are so mean to each other. I wish I had a straight answer for him. He knows that the victims were gay. His response: “So what if they’re gay! That doesn’t give anyone the right to kill them! Mommy, I just don’t understand people sometimes!”

I teach my boys to treat others with kindness, understanding, and respect. We aren’t meant to be one size fits all. That would be boring. It’s important for me to teach them tolerance in the face of hatred and that is how they see the world. “After all” says Conner, “We all have to live on this one planet so let’s live on it together.” If only the adults in this world saw it that way.

Thanks so much for reading,

 

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50 Life Lessons For My Sons

lessons

I saw an article recently that was about a mom teaching her daughter all these values and it got me to thinking, boys need values too. These life lessons will be learned along the way but it’s important for me to start teaching them now. It’s important to teach our girls to value themselves and never to let anyone take advantage of them but it’s equally important to teach our boys many of the same values, if not all of them.  We live in a harsh world and today, people seem to be getting more selfish and showing less compassion and understanding than in my generation.  So here are 50 Life Lessons, or values (with a few more tips in between) that I strive to teach my boys.

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To my sons,

As your mom, my love for you is incomparable to any love I’ve ever felt for anyone, including my sister (you know how much I love your aunt Jen).  As your mom though, it is also my honor and my responsibility to guide you, protect you, and when necessary, to discipline you.  I hope that when you venture out into the world one day, you will bring with you these values that I work hard to instill you:

  1. Never settle for less than you deserve, but…
  2. Always be humble, not entitled
  3. Follow your dreams, but…
  4. Remember to work hard for said dreams
  5. Be fearless but not reckless
  6. NEVER, EVER HIT A WOMAN! But…
  7. NEVER TAKE ABUSE FROM ANYONE, MAN OR WOMAN!

WALKAWAY8.  Stand up for yourself but…

9.  Know when to walk away

10. Stay away from toxic people, even if they are family

11. Family isn’t always who is related to you. Family are the ones who stand by you and accept you for who you are.

shinebright12. Learn who your true friends are then hold onto them – they will bring out the best in you.

13. Forget what the fairytales say about “True Love”. Real love is much better.

14. Be a leader, not a follower.

15. Follow your own path, not someone else’s.

16. Don’t worry about what others think of you. You won’t be able to please everyone, so just do you.

17. YOU ARE UNIQUE!! Embrace it!

weirdness18. Trust, honesty, compassion, and communication are the keys to any relationship.

19. Never Stop Learning!

20. Stand up to Diversity!

21. NEVER COMPROMISE WHO YOU ARE!

22. Take the time to recognize the incredible beauty this world has to offer.

23. KNOW YOUR WORTH!

24. Be your best self

25. Don’t regret your mistakes – Learn from them.

26. Take responsibility for your actions…

27. Never be too proud to apologize

28. Embrace change – It can be hard but you can do it

29. Face your fears

30. Don’t forget to forgive.  If you don’t, it will invite darkness in.

31. Be strong, resilient, and smart

32. Take time for self-reflection

learn33. Remember that NO MEANS NO!  No exceptions.  I don’t care if she means it or not.  Walk away my boys… Just walk away.

34. Always be kind but…

35. Never let anyone take advantage of you or someone you love.

36. You are allowed your own opinions but remember…

37. So if everyone else

38. People come from all walks of life, from all over the world, respect their differences.

39. Be a law abiding citizen but…

40. Don’t be afraid to QUESTION AUTORITY when the need arises.

41. Remember that money isn’t everything.  It can’t buy you love.  It can’t buy you happiness, and you certainly can’t take it with you when you die.

life42. Life is too short to hold grudges. Forgiving doesn’t mean forgetting.

43. Trust has to be earned! Be kind, be generous but be cautious.

44. Stand up for what you believe in

45. Learn to accept criticism. While some may not be very nice, most of it will be constructive and you can learn from it.

47. Learn to give constructive criticism.  Don’t let your emotions allow you to say things you don’t mean.

48. If a woman is drunk, DO NOT TAKE ADVANTAGE OF HER!

49. Always have your friends’ backs! If they are true friends, they will return the favor.

50. CAPRE DIEM!!  SEIZE THE DAY!!

conflict

There are many, many more that I’m sure I am forgetting but we will learn together which ones are the most valuable.  You will learn much along the way.  Above all, I wish you health, happiness, and love my boys!

Love,

Your mom

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Parenting Frustrations: Discipline

parentingfrustrations

Side note: This happened several months ago

So this past weekend my boys spent the night at their grandparents’ house and all was well.  They don’t get to go over there often but when they do, they have fun and that’s great.  What’s not so great is it was Saturday to Sunday and my youngest, Conner, decided to stay up until almost 3am playing on his iPad.  His grandparents are asleep by 11pm and we have a routine with him that he is allowed to play on the iPad for an hour before bed.  His grandparents didn’t know the time frame, which is my fault, and since he didn’t have his melatonin (a natural sleep supplement), well, you get the idea.

These are the Parenting Frustrations!

He slept in on Sunday until almost noon.  Big mistake!  When you have a kid with ADHD, never underestimate the amount of energy they have, not just in their little bodies, but in their heads.  He literally can’t turn off his brain.  Because he slept until noon on Sunday, even giving the melatonin didn’t work.

When he handed the iPad over, as per usual, asked for a glass of water. Of course he can. This is part of his routine and usually, he goes to sleep soon after.  Not this time.

stupidipad

He tossed and turned for another hour, asking for more water.  “No!”  He tossed and turned until 2am because he didn’t get any more water!  WTF???  He finally fell asleep after his second glass of water but it is now Monday morning and I am trying to figure out how to handle this situation moving forward.

I don’t have a lot of rules for my boys.  I was raised in a VERY STRICT home from the time I was 8 years old until I finally moved out at the age of 21. Let’s just say, it wasn’t fun living in that house, so as an adult, I rebelled a little.  Cleaning up after myself is one thing.  That is just the right thing to do.

So, I am not strict with my boys.  They don’t have many chores and since they are both pretty well behaved (the most I really have to worry about is the occasional back talk and sibling bickering), I don’t push them too hard.  Brush your teeth, rinse off your own dishes, clean up your own trash, shower (Conner fights me on this one), and go to bed on time. I have also recently started asking them to help me take out the trash and help bring the groceries in. That’s the extent of the chores they have and really, they aren’t chores but basic responsibility.

behindeverygreatkid

Conner is also usually good about giving the iPad over then turning over and going to sleep but this one little hiccup in his routine has caused an issue.  It wouldn’t be so bad if it was on the weekend.  It’s Monday though and now I have to crack down and decide, not so much what to do in this situation as I already know that, but how to handle the situation.

He will get mad and he will call me mean.  He will say he hates his life (this is his favorite thing to say when he’s mad), but I HAVE to change this.  Either I let him stay home, on the fourth day of school, or I make him go to school, which might cause him to have a bad day and thereby I would be handing the problem over to the teachers.

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Then there is the matter of the iPad.  I could ground him from the iPad altogether but since he sleeps in his room that he shares with his brother, he will fuss and cry, thereby keeping his brother awake, who has to get up earlier for school.

After much thought and discussing this with his father, here is what I WILL DO:

I am going to wake him up at a decent time this morning.  THERE WILL BE NO SLEEPING UNTIL NOON!

This afternoon I am going to take him to school to pick up his homework.

He is going to do his homework BEFORE playing any video games.

He WILL NOT ARGUE about taking a shower today.

He will ONLY have the iPad for one hour before bed.

He will put the iPad away or I will take it away!

There will be no ifs, ands, or buts about this!  This may not seem like a real punishment to anyone else but this is how I will show him that there are consequences for his actions.  I am also aware that there are other factors in play here and while I was really angry about it this morning, I have carefully and thoughtfully considered my next move.  This is what parents do after all.

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Paying it forward with my boys

random-acts-kindness-quotes-and-sayings-love-73468When I was a child, one of the things my great-aunt taught me was to give back what you get.  Whenever someone worked on her house, or she saw someone shoveling snow, she would always offer them food and drink.  In the summer, she would make iced tea for the men working on her house because as she said, “It’s hot outside and these men are working hard to help me improve my home.  It’s only fair to offer them something to drink.”   In the winter, she would make hot chocolate and we would take some over to the person or persons working, weather it was in our yard or someone else’s.

I have carried on that tradition but in a slightly different way.  Being a mother, I am always striving to raise my children the best way I can.  One day we were shopping at Target.  There were landscapers working on the parking lot.  It was 9:00 in the morning and already it was scorching hot.  I noticed that none of the men, including their supervisor, had anything to drink. I also noticed that many of the other shoppers were completely ignoring them.  To the other shoppers these men weren’t really there.   I went into Target and did my shopping.  As I got to the register, I realized that this would be a great teaching moment.  This is a chance for me to show my children how good it feels to give back.  A small random act of kindness goes along way.

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So, I grabbed six bottles from the refrigerator unit by the register.  My younger son asked me why I was buying water when I just bought a 12 pack.  I said to him, “you’ll see.”  My youngest is my curious cat.  He wants to know what is going on around him every minute of the day so his questions about the water were incessant.  I told him that I am going to do something with the water and that he and his brother are going to help me.  My oldest was curious now too.  Once we checked out and headed for the door, my little one asked, “are you going to tell us what we are doing with the water now mommy?”  I gave them each two bottles and pointed to the men outside.  I asked my boys if they thought the men were hot since it was such a hot day.  They both responded, “Yes.”  I explained the plan.

They were so excited to walk up to the landscapers and give them the water.  The men were surprised but really pleased.  Each boy took the time to explain that since it was such a hot day, they deserved a nice cold bottle of water.  I gave my two bottles to two of the men and thanked them for doing what they do.  I explained to my boys that it’s important to recognize and appreciate those who work hard for us.  By these men planting flowers, they are adding beauty to our planet.  From construction workers, to maids, to our military service members, we all have a purpose and that purpose shouldn’t be overlooked.

As with most professions of public service, the people working in these fields get ignored, are unappreciated and even treated disrespectfully at times.  To the rest of us, they have a job to do and it isn’t our place to go above and beyond to show them any appreciation for the part they play in our lives.  So, we go about our day, not thinking twice about the waitress serving our food or the maid who cleans our hotel room after we leave it a mess.  We think, “It’s their job.  They get paid to serve us.  So why should we care?”  We should care because they are human beings with lives just like you and me.  We should care because they are serving our food and making our bed.  We should appreciate the police officer directing traffic during road construction because without him or her there to do that job, accidents will occur.  Even taking the time to say a simple thank you can go a long way to improve that person’s day.  That person now feels appreciated for what he or she is doing and that will, in turn, encourage them to do a better job because they feel good.  Don’t we all want to feel good?

This is what I teach my children.  Remember to show random acts of kindness.  I don’t know if any of those men paid it forward or not but does it matter?  What matters to me, is that I taught my kids a very valuable lesson that day to be kind and not only did the men feel good but my kids felt great!

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10 Free Things to do With Your Kids

10freethings_rockinrandommomThese days I often find myself broke and unable to really do many of the things that I want to do with my kids. Every summer I make plans to take my kids camping and every summer flies by without at least one camping trip because I find myself without the money it takes to buy the tent, sleeping bags, food, and rent the camping spot. I can’t even take my kids fishing without buying a fishing license that costs $50 per person and it includes the hunting license.  So part of that $50 is purchasing a license I will never use! There isn’t much you can do these days that doesn’t cost at least a week’s pay just so we can expose our children to some of the fun things we did as kids. However, I have found that it’s not impossible. You and the kids don’t need to be stuck inside all the time because you have no money.

So, here are my top 10 free things to do with your kids this summer:

  1. THE PARK. Now this could be any park really.  I am surrounded by several different types of parks.  One park that I like to take my kids to has a variety of different activities for the whole family to enjoy.  Some activities do cost money but many activities don’t so I take my kids to the petting zoo, the two different playgrounds, and they’re favorite is the water park.
  2. RECREATIONAL CENTERS. My town has a few of these, some indoor and some outdoor, and the only thing that costs money is the community pool (though in most places the kiddie pools are free).  They have a huge playground, two baseball diamonds, basketball courts, tennis courts, and my personal favorite, the hiking trails that lead down to the gorgeous river. These trails also lead to a small water fall – beautiful!  So, if the kids get too hot and I don’t have money for the pool, I walk them down to the river and have a blast!  Just good old fashioned rivers and streams, enjoying nature.
  3. THE BEACH. Now these days a lot of beaches cost to get in or cost for parking but I have found a beach that is free to get into.  It’s a bit of a drive and they have a concession stand if you don’t want to bring your own food but this beach is a great place to take my kids on a hot summer day.  There is also a smaller one closer to home that’s fun too and it’s completely free.  It also has hiking trails.
  4. DANCING IN THE RAIN. You can’t put a price tag on that.  You don’t even have to dance.  You can play football, catch raindrops in your mouth, or just run around…IN THE RAIN!  I love summer rain.
  5. HIKING. While I enjoy my solo time hiking some of my favorite trails, I also enjoy taking my oldest son.  Last year I joined him and his class on a hiking trip and we had so much fun together that from time to time I take him with me on my trails.  It’s a great bonding experience for both of us and it gives us the one-on-one time that we don’t get often.
  6. SPORTS. Since sports in my area is too expensive, I grab a soccer ball, baseball, basketball, or football and play ball with my boys right outside.
  7. TAKING A WALK. In the evenings, as a way to relax after a long day, I take the kids and the dog for a walk with me.  Just walking gives us the opportunity to talk to each other about our day and for me, it is another bonding experience I get to have with both of them.
  8. DANCE PARTY!  Now maybe I should have included this with Dancing in the rain but to me, they are different experiences. You can dance anywhere. At the park, in your yard, or in the privacy of your own home.  Have at it!
  9. JUST DRIVE.  When I was a kid, my great aunt would take us for a long drive, just to get out of the house and enjoy the scenery.  She would take us through mountains and she would purposely get lost so we had more time to talk to each other, play the I SPY game, and just BE.
  10. BUILD A FORT. Now, I live in an apartment, so building a fort outside my place isn’t accepted but if you are up for building one in the woods (It’s what we used to do as kids), or even one in your home (my youngest is always building something in my living room), you will make long lasting memories for you and your kids.
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