Bullying wasn’t called bullying when I was a kid. It was the same thing only called teasing and it was just as hurtful with long-lasting effects.
I was a summer camp kid. For 4 weeks every summer I would pack my bags and head off to my home away from home, a sleep-away camp in northern Wisconsin.
When I think of bullying one particular summer at camp stands out. One of my favorite campers had Tourette’s syndrome. Tourette’s syndrome is a nervous system disorder that starts in childhood. It involves unusual repetitive movements or unwanted sounds that can’t be controlled (tics). For instance, you may repeatedly blink your eyes, shrug your shoulders or jerk your head. In some cases, you might unintentionally blurt out offensive words.
This sweet camper did all of the above. He would yell out offensive and non-offensive words at random times. It could have been a breeding ground for some awful bullying. But thankfully it didn’t go that far. We didn’t let it.
Join Me: Take the Pledge to Stop Bullying
The camp did something extraordinary. At the very beginning of the camp session all the campers, counselors and staff gathered together. In a very loving and non-humiliating way we had a group discussion about Tourette’s syndrome. We talked about what could happen and why it was happening. We then emphasized that there was no place for teasing. Ever. That was it. We nipped the high potential for bullying in the bud.
It’s not always so simple. As parents, many of us worry that our children will be bullied—or we have dealt with real-life situations of it happening. The scenarios are fraught with emotion, since everyone wants to protect their children from harm.
My plane landed in Boston late last night. It was my first time back in Massachusetts since the tragedies of last week.
Being away during the Boston Marathon bombings felt surreal. Yes, I was thankful that my family was far away from any danger, but while hearing the news from afar I desperately wanted to be part of the strong and resilient Boston community. Our week away consisted of constant checking in with Boston connections to make sure they were OK and hearing far too many stories of those who were not.
This was one more event to add to the growing list of tragedies for which I have no words. Trying to decide how much to share with our young children in order to preserve their innocence, yet provide them with the tools to head back to school.
Teachers and administrators have been fantastic. An email received from the superintendent of schools said:
The pride we feel for law enforcement’s coordinated efforts and for the cooperation of ordinary citizens goes a long way to patch the huge new tears in our collective sense of security, but a feeling of fragility remains.
Since school was not in session last week, the very experience of coming together tomorrow, of seeing friends, trusted adults, or colleagues may surface strong emotions for students and staff alike.
At my son’s next soccer game tribute will be paid to Martin Richard, the eight year old boy killed in the bombings at the same instant his mother and sister were severely injured.
An email received from one of my boy’s soccer coaches:
Tomorrow prior to the game we are being asked to please take a moment of silence in memory of the young boy killed at the marathon as he was a member of the Dorchester Youth Soccer Association.
Please know that we are going to respect this request but we will NOT mention that a boy was lost in this attack. When we take the moment we are going to say that we are coming together as a team to hope that those injured during the attack get well quickly and we will keep them in our hearts.
The guidance counselors are prepped and ready for children having any difficulty. Ronnie from Econesting shares resources for coping in her article, Are the Kids Alright?
I remember exactly what I was doing on 9/11. I have no doubt that this will play out much the same. I will forever remember that I was walking in the San Diego Zoo when I first heard about the Boston bombings.
In my heart I know that the spirit of Boston will prevail. It already has. As Robert Kennedy once said “Tragedy is a tool for the living to gain wisdom, not a guide by which to live.”
The Boston as we knew it before we left on vacation has changed forever.
Here in New England the school vacations keep coming. I’m not complaining, just sayin’. We kicked off the first vacation in December and practically every month since there’s another week of vacation tucked in. Life is good in New England. And here comes another vacation!
Next week is our April vacation and I don’t mind telling you that I’m in need of a few days off. I won’t be writing much (probably not at all), and I will be focusing on some fun with my family.
Before I sign off for a few days I wanted to share some noteworthy happenings.
I was interviewed by the Chicago Tribune
I was interviewed by reporter Julie Deardorff and quoted her interesting Chicago Tribune article, Re-balancing your workout to lessen likelihood of injury. For those of you who have been hanging around Groovy Green Livin for a bit you know that exercise plays a large role in my life. I’ve bounced all around from triathlons to yoga and think I’ve found a pretty good balance at the moment.My interview with Julie was a lot of fun. Wehad a great time talking about how our workouts have changed over the years as we’ve ‘matured’.
Wondering which fruits and vegetables to buy organic?
It can be cost prohibitive to buy all organic fruits and vegetables each time you’re at the market. So how do you decide which fruits and vegetables to buy organic? Head on over to Manilla to read my new post filled with tips on how to decide which fruits and vegetables to buy organic.
The Safe Chemicals Act was reintroduced
This week Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) reintroduced the Safe Chemicals Act in the Senate, which will overhaul the archaic Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976.
This bill gives the EPA the necessary tools to oversee safety testing of toxic chemicals, and would put the burden on industry to prove that chemicals are safe before being put in products we use in our homes and schools.
Join us in asking the top ten retailers to Mind the Store
As you may have read, I’m working with several other bloggers and Safer Chemicals Healthy Families on their new campaign called Mind the Store. Together we’re asking the nation’s top 10 retailers to avoid carrying what are being calling the Hazardous 100+ toxic chemicals.
Our concern is that certain chemicals could be present in some of the consumer products on the shelves in the store. Those same toxic chemicals may be found in the bodies of newborn babies, children, adults and in household dust and indoor air, in our food and really everywhere.
Most of the 10 retailers have taken some steps to move away from toxics (which is fantastic!), but don’t have an internal chemical policy. Safer Chemicals Healthy Families goal is to work with them to develop these policies.
My job was to visit Walgreens and explain the Mind the Store campaign. I was happy to have Walgreens as my assigned store since they have already taken steps to reduce their environmental impact and improve sustainability by launching their own line of products free of parabens, pthalates, formaldehyde and other toxins. Here’s another chance for them to be an industry leader.
Here I am just before heading into Walgreens.
My visit to Walgreens
Right outside Walgreens I ran into a woman I knew from our preschool. Perfect timing. She was enlisted to take a few photos of me with the letter I was about to deliver to Walgreens. I went inside and asked to speak with the store manager. He was extremely nice and listed we had a great conversation about the Mind the Store Campaign. He explained to me that there’s not much he can do at the store level-any change really has to come from the corporate office. I asked him to send the letter on to the CEO of Walgreen and he agreed. I tried to grab a photo with him, but that’s where he drew the line.
What we’re asking
We will continue to ask Congress to pass the Safe Chemicals Act, but in the meantime we want retailers to determine if they have any of the Hazardous 100+ in the products they sell. If they do we want them to create a timeline to address these chemicals including reducing, eliminating or safely substituting the chemicals.
How you can help
Join us in telling the top 10 retailers in the US that it’s time to get tough on toxic chemicals and move away from the Hazardous 100+. Together we can really start to move the marketplace towards safer chemicals. Click HERE to add your personal message to all ten stores.
Check out some of the other amazing bloggers participating in this campaign.
People ARE all different. Such a simple phrase, but one that says so much.
Over the years I’ve witnessed children doing unsolicited random acts of kindness. Something so sweet that it takes your breath away leaving you with just a smile. Many times there aren’t words to explain the tremendous impact of their actions. Often times they’re too little to understand why what they’ve done is so powerful.
Do you know that feeling? Maybe your child or someone else’s held a door for a disabled person in a wheelchair without being asked or maybe that same child stood up for someone being bullied on the playground just because it was the right thing to do.
My nine year old drew me this picture a few days ago and when he handed it to me I just smiled. I asked if it would be OK to share and he looked a bit surprised then said “yes”.
After the artwork had been handed over I gave some thought as to why this particular picture made me smile. I think it was the realization that my child actually noticed that people are all different, yet they can all stand united together hand-in-hand. I then took it a step further and inferred from his picture that he meant to say people are all different, but we can all get along.
What’s your favorite proud kid moment as a parent, aunt, uncle or friend?
There’s something about getting together with other bloggers in real life that makes me smile. For those of you who write for a living, you know that there are times when writing can be a very lonely profession. Given that I lost my blogging buddy last week I’m finding that I need a constant distraction.
I feel very fortunate that there’s a strong community of bloggers in the Boston area, comprised of many articulate men and women sharing their words in a variety of venues. One of my favorite blogging perks is getting together with pieces of this community at really cool events.
Recently I participated in two blogger events worthy of sharing pictures (at least I think so!). Both events were just what I needed to help me smile, connect with some local friends and experience something fantastic fun.
Old Navy Blogger Fashion Show
So. Much. Fun. Our job was to showcase Old Navy’s new line of dresses for spring. Quite a few kids along with their moms were the models. My kids opted to sit in the audience and cheer loudly for their mom. I’ll take that.
I was lucky enough to walk the runway with the adorable fashion blogger, Alana from The Good Girl Gone Blog. She also happened to organize this event.
This is how bloggers and Old Navy staff looked for the ‘crazy’ photo. Pretty crazy, eh??
Whole Foods Spring Smoothie Summit
It started off with a simple Tweet and ended up being a great event at Whole Foods in Cambridge, Massachusetts. We went shopping, courtesy of Whole Foods and bought our favorite smoothie ingredients. For those of you who’ve been reading along you know that I’m a huge smoothie junkie. My Instagram feed is full of them. Exciting, I know.
Here’s what made its way into my smoothie. Yes, those are my favorite chia seeds.
It turned into a pretty mauve mix. Thus the name.
Everyone’s smoothie was very unique and super delicious.
Blogging has been on hold. It’s been a rough few days around here. My 13 year old lab decided that it was time to go. She lived well beyond what was expected and I’m so grateful for that extra time we had together.
It’s interesting how all the memories start to come to the surface after a pet’s death. At least that’s what’s happening for me. About 13 years ago we drove south to Rhode Island to pick her up from Tony, the breeder. His house was crazy and chaotic. Filled with puppies, grown dogs and his elderly mother in her pajamas. No joke. We weren’t sure what to make of it, but we knew that a little chocolate lab puppy was coming home with us.
After struggling with unexplained infertility for a few years it was nice to finally have a change of focus. She would be my first baby.
We placed her in a small box and she whimpered all the way home.
She has been by my side most days ever since. I’ll never forget the first time I took her for a run with me around the Charles River in Boston. I ended up having to carry her half way around the river.
She witnessed our family grow as we created a family through both adoption and natural childbirth. She went from being the center of attention to one of the many needing attention. This dog was able to withstand three energetic boys literally climbing all over her, tugging at her ears and pulling her tail. She was a saint.
When I decided to place my law practice on hold to raise my family she wagged her tail in support. A few years later when I started my own business I was grateful for the flexibility it gave me to be home when my kids came home from school, and it also allowed me the ability to spend time with my sweet dog during the day while I was working. She was always close by. She reminded me (by needing to go out during the day) that taking breaks to stretch and breathe fresh air is an important piece of the work day. She taught me how to live in the moment.
Lori Popkewitz Alper, Founder and Editor of Groovy Green Livin, provides eco-wellness consulting for businesses, schools, homes and individuals; and inspiration for a greener lifestyle through her Groovy Green Livin blog and website. Read more….