-A mostly true journey of a girl, her man and their three kids; all trying to live harmoniously in a house somewhere in Utah. Names and exact locations may be changed in order to protect the grouchy.

Monday, May 6, 2013

I didn't know my child was a loser until the PTA told me....

Trophy Triumph!!

I received this cute little trophy from Karen@Baking in a Tornado. She created this award with her friend Kristy over at Black Sheep Mom. It represents making it through the everyday things that might otherwise break us down. Karen wrote me a message before giving it to me, asking if it would be okay. OK? Are you kidding me? It's a trophy of a woman ready to pull her hair out! How does that NOT scream, "Here you go Michele, enjoy your moment with a trophy of a woman that could be your twin."? Nope. She gave it to me because she is awesome and because with the trophy you are allowed to vent. Mmmhmm. If you live in "Blog Land" you're probably thinking, "Shellybean venting? Oh this is going to be fun!" If you live in my real world and know how I can be, you're scooting up really close to the screen hoping this is not about you. (Don't worry, it's probably not.)


In accepting this award awesome trophy, we must do the following:

1. Display the Trophy in your post.
2. Write a short piece that starts with this: "I didn't kill beat up____________today. It doesn't have to be a person; it can be an appliance, a business or anything else you choose.
3. Nominate a few people to pass the trophy on to and let them know it is THEIR turn to vent.

As usual, this is my story to tell. Please do not take offense to the following vent (unless it was you):

I didn't beat-up  a few of the "ridunkulously tunnel-visioned"adults  at my son's school today. Not that I would, I'm not a violent person. I've had just about enough of the "Haves/Have Nots" business going on in our elementary school right now. Here is one of 3,567 things I'm venting about...

The thing is, I actually taught at this school. For a good chunk of time.  I don't know how else to explain it. I was the first teacher that many of the students at the school encountered (I taught Kindergarten.) For the first month, all we practiced were procedures. How to sit in a chair, how to share pencils, how to work as teams, how to enjoy books, how to be kind. That last one was a doosy. I wasn't a strict teacher, but I always felt that my students deserved to feel safe, loved and accepted. I demanded this from each person I met and I demanded it of myself. The reasoning behind this has to do with my childhood and the fact that school was a safe-haven for me. I knew that I wasn't ever going to let a student slip through my fingers without knowing that they mattered; that they were important and respected. If you made someone else feel like less of a person because they didn't have as much money, if you mentioned someone was wearing the same clothes two days in a row, If you made fun of anyone that didn't meet your standards, we would spend another day practicing. "You can't say, You can't play." It was our cheesy mantra, but we lived by it. Teachers after me kept that attitude going. We were a school of equals. Every student was valued.

So you might understand my anger when I say that my son came home last week from school crying. When I asked what was wrong, he didn't want to talk about it. "Did you get hurt? Did someone hurt your feelings? Did you get into trouble? What did you do?" As a teacher, that last question usually gets asked first. Through the sobs he finally told me. "We were in last place. Our class was in last place!"

"Last place for what?" I couldn't think of what he could possibly be talking about.
"Our class didn't raise enough money for the pizza party." he continued.
This is when I figured we'd be having the talk about how it was OK to not win all the time; to take defeat by congratulating the other teams. But then came this:
"Mom! We came in LAST place. Our class walked the track just as hard as everyone! Every class brought enough money for the walk-a-thon except for us!"

All right. "Enough money?" He was definitely exaggerating now. Who would be unkind enough to infer that there was a last place? I'm sure he was just upset that he missed out on a pizza party. This wasn't about how much money an 8 year old child could give, right?  We wouldn't embarrass children for not collecting enough money from their parents. No.

Yes, people. That is exactly what happened. I wouldn't have believed it myself until our school newsletter came home. On page 3 (of 4) was a list of every single teacher's name along side an exact amount down to the cent of what their contributions were. My friend's class collected $935.59. My old coworker was slipping at her job. She collected $552.52. It went on and freaking on. Every teacher. and at the bottom of this money tree was my son's class with a meager $139.02.  Here's my issue. Did they really need to list the amounts? The classes were also placed in order of the parties they won. Pizza parties to 8 classes. Ice Cream Parties to 13 classes! Pizza and Ice Cream party AND a 1 hour recess to 5 classes. The big winner, who collected $1, 472.23 gets a party at a gymnastics center. I'm pretty sure it was the 23 cents that put them over the top. My son's class and one other class were under the "Thanks" column.

Please don't get me wrong. I am not a sour grapes kind of girl. I'm thrilled that there were winning classes. I'm pretty excited that the new playground will finally be up to code. I'm also sure that there were volunteer parents who worked their butts off at the event. What makes me sick is that someone actually printed this list out, with exact numbers of money, had it go through an editing process and be okayed to print. Why not just say, "Our school raised 17,000 dollars! Thank you everyone! Our top class was.______________We will contact the winning classes!" Nope. Just that list, a calendar of going-ons, grade news, and a list of PTA Thank yous...

Here is another vent. There is never a thank you to the handful of parents who were too busy working two jobs so their child could have shoes to wear to school. There were no thank-yous to the other families who quietly donated to every other fundraiser/field trip/art project this year. I don't think I witnessed one shout-out to the single dad that walks his kid to school everyday (because they don't have a car) so that child can take advantage of the free breakfast program...Are those children less worthy because they have a different home-life? On and on it goes.

I apologized to my little boy. I had to tell him that his class didn't "lose" at anything at school. His class donated 7 dollars per student. That was wonderful! I explained that parents give what they can. That it was in some degree, a contest among them, and not the children.

I would totally give up class parties and Field Day to not have another hard-working, loving, young child humiliated. Oh, and those last place teachers of my son's? They have rocked his education this year. He loves going to class and has made all kinds of forever-friends. His teachers have loved my son and have given him all that they can. There, dear readers, are your winners.

So, no. I didn't beat-up those select few tunnel-visioned adults. I'm nicer than that. I don't know what happened in their past that would make them think that any of that was acceptable. I simply hope that they will rethink patting themselves on the back at the cost of others next time. If you can't work together, you will fail alone. Heck, I learned that in Kindergarten! Or on "LOST". I can't remember everything....

Okay. Breathe in-breathe out. Thanks for thinking of me, Karen. You know I love you. I'm passing that sexy-lady trophy to two man-bloggers! They both have salt-of-the-earth blogs and I honor each of them with this prestigious accolade. Work it, boys.

Slu from Slu's World

Jon from Speaking My Mind.

Happy "Be kind to everyone" day, friends.

-Michele

35 comments:

  1. Oh, Michele, you broke my heart.I'm to tally with you. On the first day of Kindergarten I went to my kids' teacher and told her that if anything ever came up money related and there were families that couldn't, to just let them know I had them covered.

    THANK YOU for giving this Trophy meaning, as only you could.

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    1. Thank you Karen. For the trophy and for the comments (online and off). The key word for the walk-a-thon was donation. Not requirement. My heart has been broken over the whole thing. Sadly, it's a small group that encourages the "I am better than you" attitude. Unfortunately, they're not going away.

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  2. I'm so sorry Michele. I'm right there with you. All of these kids are special and matter and they are not being taught that anymore.
    Char

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    1. I know you get it, Char. You see it every day, too. You know the LAST-place teachers? They used their own money to buy pizza for the kids. There are more good people than bad. That's why I didn't know if I should tell this story. The good people just never get their stories told.

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  3. OH NO...I am so sorry, how heart breaking for him and frustrating for you. I can't believe how cruel that school was...did they even realize how they made those kids feel, so sad.

    Makes me even more scared for when my son starts school, being in daycare is so much easier and safer.

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    1. So frustrating. I just found out this morning that there was an assembly as well announcing all of the "winners". I also found out that my son's amazing teachers brought in pizza for the two classes. It's not about winning. It was about the donations from families (no matter the amount) not being enough. When I saw the money posted down to the cent, I realized that parents weren't writing checks for $10.32. No, those amounts of change were more than likely brought in by the children; coins they thought would help. Ugh.

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  4. Wow - thats a hard pill for your boy to swallow. Not sure I could keep my cool . Done very badly, teaching all the wrong things....sounds like you handled it with dignity and grace....well done!

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    1. From one teacher to another, thank you Claire. I didn't want to seem so negative. I loathe that children were feeling like what they were doing was not enough. How dare a group of "parent helpers" hurt the souls of children? How dare the administration allow it?

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  5. That is really tacky!!! Hey, I used to run fundraisers at the elementary school and I was on the PTA for many, many years--even wrote their newsletters--and never, EVER would I print the amount of money each class made! All we did was name the top class, but everyone received SOME kind of an award just for participating. Really crappy how your son's school handled it--so sorry to hear it. On the other hand, happy to see that you chose 2 of my all time favorite male bloggers for the award--they certainly deserve the accolades!

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    1. Thanks Marcia. I know. I can't tell you how many wonderful things PTA members have done for our children over the years. Our newsletters have become nothing but "Yay you!!" notifications for the same groups of people. The "listing of money brought in" made me sick. Many parents do a lot privately for the school, for individual children who don't have enough. I was one of those kids whose parents could never have afforded any of the things asked for today. My parents were hourly workers who never were able to take off time for classroom activities. They couldn't help it. I was the kind of kid who these adults were demeaning. I would bet my bottom dollar they never gave this a second thought. It was careless. Period.
      On a completely different note, I love the guys I nominated too. Both are kind and thoughtful. I can't wait to see who/what they vent about. I also love you for commenting. You are always so supportive.

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  6. oh, you know this kind of thing both tugs at my heart strings and enrages me. As a child, I recall the great big line between those children who had money and those who did not. There is this hurt, this displacement that never quite seems to leave you, no matter where you are with money as an adult. I do not understand what this school was thinking? Every word you said was true as to what they should have been aware of and where attention should have been paid. As a mother, with a child that is in pre-school, we as parents are constantly being asked to give money here and funding there...you as a family can only do so much. I wish the system would realize that often times, just being sure your child has a warm winter coat, can set a family back for months. we all must do our part, but one person or classroom should ever be pointed out as being "last" place. To many families out there today, one hundred dollars is a small fortune. I am go glad your kids have you there to remind them of the important things, and to explain to them the big picture. You are a wonderful mother.

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    1. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for your comment, Kimmi. We were there. I go back to that place every time I feel like I'm being looked down upon. This wasn't about me or my ability to provide. One of the things I never thought my kids would have to worry about was not having "enough". There is no entitlement in our family, none in our social circles. For a place that is supposed to be deemed "safe" to make my child feel as if he wasn't good enough; all of that rage comes back. How can we teach our children to accept everyone as equals when the adults can't do it? How do I not worry about the families that were like us? For what those children carry in the back of their minds? The saddest thing is that this group of people will read this and say "What? Why are you so upset?" If they can't understand empathy of those who go without, what will they understand?

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  7. Oh, Michele, I'm so sorry. I was one of those kids, too. I wish that every teacher and every parent who volunteers in a school would have the heart you do. My kids go to school in a very affluent area, and although they so far seem indifferent, I worry about the pressure of the haves and have nots. When I first moved to this area from a very small town in rural Quebec, I was in complete culture shock. I went to a Sonic Drive-In the day after Christmas and was making conversation with the teenaged car-hop. I asked him what his favorite Christmas gift was, to which he replied, pointing, "That brand new (next year's model) yellow Mustang over there. What did you get for Christmas?" (at least he was polite enough to ask about me) "Umm...a book and some new hair clips....." Wow! While I'm still the mom that doesn't give her kids their own cars, (and my own is almost 10 years old) after ten years of being a single mom, I'm in place where I can help with needs of others, too. That's a much better feeling than being mean.

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    1. Hilarie, Thank you for your thoughtful response. Our area has as much affluence as poverty. The haves/have nots are even more apparent here because of many other factors. Our school has adopted a language immersion program the past few years. The problem is, it is only offered to half of the school. It's another reason for division. The "us vs. them"; only magnified.
      Hey, I want a brand new yellow mustang!! Not really. The man's car is pushing 300, 000 miles. He's decided to drive it into the ground! I love that you mentioned that the teen asked about you. Good manners. Everyone can have them. I'm so glad to read that you're in a position to give back. It feels so good to be able to do that.

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  8. breathe in......breathe out......ok do you really think this was such a good idea to have me read?!?!? You know my head is spinning and the thoughts that are raging might just come out....should I wait until tomorrow to share my thoughts? You are still planning on it aren't you? :) Well, to late I can't stop the flood.....my first thought would be donation? hmm what does that word mean to you? to me it means to give freely, for a good cause, you know, charitable contribution. ok now lets look up charity in the dictionary...or google it:)

    Related Words: do-gooding, do-goodism, humanism, humanitarianism; beneficence, benevolence, goodwill; alms, benefaction, contribution, donation; relief,

    Antonyms: coldheartedness, hard-heartedness, inhumanity, inhumanness, mercilessness, pitilessness, selfishness
    Now should we ask ourselves which catagory does the incident fall into? hmmmm. Let's think about this people. Wouldn't it be a correct assumption that because of the kindness of those who donated that maybe just maybe they could have celebrated this together in thankfulness for the generosity of ALL those who contributed rather it be a penny, dollar, or some other amount!!! Why would this be a competition? Let's remember all the people, don't you think!!
    Well there you have it...my opinion...whew, now we can enjoy tomorrow! Love ya girl!!


    Related Words: do-gooding, do-goodism, humanism, humanitarianism; beneficence, benevolence, goodwill; alms, benefaction, contribution, donation; relief,

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    1. R, you rock, my sister. I appreciate when a girl can rant from experience!! Thank you for your support; even if it's just the understanding that someone hurt my child's spirit. Kind of like a paid-for incentive, eh? I love how you said that the school could have celebrated all of the giving no matter the amount. According to the newsletter, the kids had to haul in $300 for that to happen. One teacher made it by 10 cents. Whew!

      Of course I'm in for tomorrow. We'll have lots to talk about. On a side note, you were an AMAZING parent helper. You already know that, don't you?
      Thanks for the vocabulary lesson. I adore you.

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    2. I have to tell you I went back and read my comment and giggled:) I was a little crazy, yes I know, but that mother bear gets a little crazy sometimes. Give him a squeeze from me! I was an amazing parent helper because my son had an AMAZING kindergarten teacher!!! A junior, in High school, and still claims that you were his favorite teacher, of all his teachers!! How about that! YOU ROCK!!!!! So from this parent, THANKS for all the love, time, and attention that you have given to so many children...you will truly always be remembered!!!

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    3. Thanks, Rox. For the fun afternoon "ice-cream-eating" and for your words of encouragement. Thanks also for being brave and throwing out your kid-love. The fact that I'm a high-schooler's favorite teacher? Well that just made my day :)

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  9. oops copied that last part twice...that's what happens when I rant:)

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    1. Twice the reason to keep rereading your rant. XOX

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  10. Double M...

    1st: Congrats on your TROPHY... It is so well deserved. I mean that sincerely.
    1st: Your TROPHY, Part 2... Not so much deserving as to Rant (although you do it well), but because you do "THIS" so well!!! I tip my Hat.

    2nd: Your RANT: Wow... In total agreement with you. I "feel" your pain/wrath/love!!!
    2nd: Your RANT: Part 2... An awesome Post, very well written (IMO), and your point is clearly made. Kudos to you!!! Your Son, as well as his "mates," have their "backs" covered. Bravo!!!

    3rd: My TROPHY from YOU: Wow (again)... Thank you for thinking of me. It means a lot. I get to RANT... Lemme see???

    Have a great week & always smile, Slu

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    1. 1. Thank you so much Slu. Your sincerity means the world to me.
      2. Dang, that girl can rant, can't she? Thanks for sticking through it to the end :) I'm glad you understood my frustration.
      3. YOU, my friend, completely deserve that trophy. I can't wait to read your rant. No hurries. You're dealing with the procrastination queen, remember?
      4. Thanks for the smiles, SS. Enjoy the rest of your week.
      -MM

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  11. With everything that kids have to worry about these days the last thing they need is to have anxiety about something that they have almost no control over. These types of contests can be a great motivator and as you said, congratulations to the classes that reached the milestones for special activities. You are right, there was absolutely no reason to publish dollar amounts and rank the classes that did not reach a milestone. It serves no purpose and just makes those children, parents and teachers feel inadequate and less inclined to participate next time. Kudos to the two teachers for throwing their own pizza party. They recognized a wrong and did what they could to make it better - an excellent example to the children in their class. And, kudos to you for "venting" on this issue. These are the types of things that should be questioned and challenged. Also, congrats on trophy! I think this calls for our own pizza and ice cream party. You pick the time and place!

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    1. Agreed. I've been contacted by a few parents who were already unwilling to donate this time because they were already tapped out. Doesn't matter. The school has so many positives without the few people who made those children feel inadequate. Those two teachers? Incredible and not at all surprising. As you know, they exemplified kindness. Every teacher would have done the same. Pizza AND ice-cream? Wow! Place and time? Um, immediately! <3

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    2. If that Mark wasn't already married . . .

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  12. This is another perfect example of why I love your blog Michele. Not because you mentioned me in your post or passed an award on to me... But because this post is so heartfelt and honest. Our kids face enough pressures from parents and peers, they don't need it from teachers and authority figures at school as well. School should be a safe-house. Kids's should feel safe, accepted, and nurtured in school. Especially the youngest students, regardless of their parent's social, professional, or financial status.
    I guess you could say I was at a deficit when I was in school. We didn't have a lot of money, we never had the latest trends in clothes, we were on the free lunch program, and after I moved in with my dad it got worse. We never got haircuts, and rarely had even appropriate clothes to wear. And I felt the pressures you speak of when I was in school. From other students yes, but also from teachers, principals, and even guidance counselors. I hated school, I dreaded it, I was ashamed to be there most of the time. And it affected my entire life. So this post post touches my heart from personal experience. Thank you.

    As far as the award... Thank you again. Sadly I have been neglecting my blog since my last award post. :) I will have to get caught up on a couple of posts before I let myself address another trophy, but I will give it the post it deserves, it actually sounds like it could be a fun award to post with. Maybe this will be just the kick in the but I needed to get back to writing.

    You ROCK Michele... Be seeing you around! :)

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    1. Jon, your response touched my heart. I'm so sorry you were made to feel unworthy of your place in school. You were anything but. This is just a perfect example (as are the other responses) of how the littlest things we do and say can affect others. Children should NEVER be treated as anything less than wonderful. Money, color of skin, behavior. None of it should affect how someone is treated. This all comes down to the Golden rule. It's that simple. I can'tt ell you how many people have contacted me privately over this. They say the same as you...the was they were treated sticks with them forever.

      You deserved this award. I hope you have fun with it. Thank you, as always for your kind words @ the blog. They mean everything to me.
      Be well :)

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  13. This made me so sad to read. I can remember when the fund-raisers at the school were as much about building school unity and pride as raising donations. Do you remember when we lined the hallways of the school with donations for the food bank? It took two trucks to haul all it away. I still remember how excited every child was to place their items on the ground. Even a single visibly moved the line forward.

    I am so glad my children have been blessed with amazing teachers and administration that know the importance of promoting self worth. I have found that when money is needed, there are always ways to raise the funds and/or individuals with the means willing to step forward if you take the time to look.

    I am sad that this was the approach these individuals took to raising monies for the playground. I hope it does not diminish the joy of utilizing the new playground for those students who weren't in the highest money raising classes.

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    1. Ann, I can not tell you how pleased I am to hear from you on this. I had many parents come to me over this and many other similar times the past few years. The morale is very low. I remember that fundraiser! The cans were so inspiring-You never knew who they were from, but instead saw that we were all trying to get to the same place. It was about doing it together for someone else.Many people didn't feel comfortable commenting on the blog (I think they don't want to be picked on. I get it). But I'm so glad you did.
      Thanks for your eloquent response. You're a good friend.

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  14. Well, shellybean.. This is a serious post. Can I just say that Jonah is one of the few children I know that genuinely has a soft heart and cares for other people. He's always been a caring, sweet boy. I remember when he came home to me and asked me to support him in his walk a thon fundraiser. I didn't think much of it; elementary school fundraisers always proved as just another event when I was a student. It has been twisted and turned from something good and beneficial, teaching children the value of raising money for other things, selfless things, to a competition between rich parents. Because that's what it is. Whoever says that this is based upon the students who worked the hardest is so sadly wrong. I'm not talking away the effort put in by the students who ACTUALLY tried to earn money for the school, rather than to have their parents' names on a plaque. And alright. There doesn't always have to be a winner. Somebody has to lose. But to go to a young child, and to tell them to their face 'you lost because you didn't raise enough money' you couldn't raise enough because your parents had to pay bills, buy food, to get by on the clothes you have... That's where you are wrong. It was not Jonah's class who lost. It was the people who determined that money determined the value of an individual; of a CHILD. A child who maybe looks forward to going to school, because it's safer than home. A child who might find more care at school than at home. And now, you're stepping this child aside to tell them that they fell so short from the line. They are losers.
    The real losers are the ones who missed the purpose of school. The ones who forgot the hearts of the students, and counted them as statistics instead. This breaks my heart, and I hope that this is a lesson for many people. School is not a race. It's training. It's for the students. Not for their parents.

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    1. You must have the best mother in the world. Seriously. Who raised you???? Hahhaa. Your words mean EVERYTHING, Alex. FOr a hundred different reasons. The most basic? You get it. You get what it means to be a child, to care for others; to see how what we do affects others. I hope you go forward in your life reminding everyone you touch with the very same lesson you taught me. Treat others kindly, with love and let them know they matter. It will come back to you ten fold. I am so proud to know you and even more proud that you're continuing on in a field I lost my soul to. It was never ever because of the children. You give me hope.

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    2. I'm going to try to type correctly, but please forgive any errors, tears cloud the eyes.

      A few good things have come of this mortifying situation. First, that the teachers showed exactly what teachers are made of by having a pizza party for their classes no matter how much they raised.

      Second, and most important, Alex proves that even when a school (of all places) exemplify a lack of values, that school is not the only (or even the primary) example for these kids. Alex was raised by a Mom with heart and soul and bravery, morals and values and love and concern (did I say bravery?). She not only gets what her Mom is trying to say, but she stands up WITH her and FOR her.

      Bravo. To both of you.

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    3. Wow. While Alex is running up and down the stairs like Rocky Balboa, I'm sitting here thanking God for my friends. Children are resilient. J. will get over this. It was me, as I look back, that couldn't push it away. I understand that the whole situation was wrong. For me, I am hopeful for the future. I see that people have held us up when we felt like crying. I could hold my youngest and his teachers helped the others who felt so let down. The inspiration given to the situation by friends and strangers has been overwhelming. I know I always say I'm surprised at who shows up during the hard times. When someone sticks up for me, I'm appreciative. When they stick up for my children, I have nothing but never-ending love....I am humbled by so many who are not willing to let this happen to any more children. Thank you for your continued love, K. I'm so lucky to know you.

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  15. These things go on in school and life all the time. No, it is not right, so as parents we have to deal with them. How we deal with it is the important thing. You dealt with it and your son will grow up to be a fine young man. It happened to my son and I had to pick up the pieces like you did. Too much importances is placed on winning at too young an age. Sports and contests at this age should be fun. Participation, not winning should be taught. Sounds like you were a really great teacher. Slu's cuz

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    1. Nana TK, aka "Slu's cuz", Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting. I really appreciate that. Participation is such an important role in growing up in those early years. Winning and losing come enough in the real world. I'm so happy to have read all of these comments; it helps to see that many, many people really do "get it". We just need reminding every once in a while. Thank you for the sweet teacher comment. It means a lot. Come back and say, "hey!" whenever you'd like :)

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