Examples That Surprise

Little kid examples surprised me.  Big kid examples surprised some of the bigger kids.  These are not the kind of examples that inspire or motivate, well they did motivate me but not in the normal sense of drawing in goodness, rather in a defensive motivation, Typically I am very much on the offense here at school, and especially in this blog.  Nevertheless the value of defense came ringing through in the examples.

OK quit beating around the bush, and get to the point of the defense.  It’s Lori’s fault, she started it, ever so gently with her son pulling the fire alarm.  She tells it better, hang in there at least until the part about the dogs, that’s what convicted me of the importance of defense.  Here’s her note.

Friends,

Happy Sunday Morning to you! I’d like to extend a warm welcome to the newcomers on this email list.

I love my life so much. I love coffee. I love my people. I love writing.

A little warning: we will be going deep today.

First, I’d like to share a story with you.

About twenty years ago, I was at the YMCA with my (then little) family and all of a sudden the fire alarm went off. It was loud and caused my heart rate to skyrocket. I clutched my baby Mitch and grabbed the hand of toddler Rachel.

I looked around. I could not find four-year old Eric. Mommy Panic.

Then I saw him. My boy was standing in front of the pulled fire alarm, hands on his ears, with a look of sheer surprise and terror on his face.

My child, a new reader, had sounded out the words, “Pull Here,” and had complied.

The fire trucks came. THE FIRE TRUCKS CAME.

The manager stood near our family as the fully-decked out firemen came into the YMCA.

Words were exchanged. Fingers were pointed.

A fireman knelt down by my son and explained to him about fire alarms.

Oh.My.Stars.

What a deep, defining moment for me.

I realized, clearly, that there was more to this parenting gig than I had first anticipated.

I realized that I needed to step into my role as MOTHER, which meant I needed to ACTIVELY guide and teach and prepare my children to live in our world.

I share that with you because it’s easy to think that our only role as parents is to more or less fulfill the Corporal Works of Mercy:

  • Clothe the naked
  • Feed the hungry
  • Give drink to the thirsty
  • Shelter the homeless
  • Comfort the sick

Think about that. That’s where we spend the majority of our time!

But we also have to “Instruct the Ignorant.” And our babies were born ignorant. They need to know things.

That being said, there are about one zillion things we could TEACH our children. We live in this Beautiful World of Information.

There are many shiny lights vying for our attention.

It’s hard to figure out what is Most Important.

Today I’d like to invite you to a crucial teaching moment with your young child. If you don’t have a young child, please forward this email to your sister or neighbor with small children.

Okay, I am now going into the deep. Grab another cup of coffee.

You know that the internet has brought much GOOD into our lives; it has also brought the CRAZY to us.

You know that pornography is part of that crazy. It is a supernatural stimulus; the modern day kryptonite.

When someone, even a good someone, starts consuming pornography, they will need more and more of the crazy to reach the “feel good” hit.

No matter the age, once someone begins this addictive behavior, they are now walking on a brand new road.

Kids that have seen porn can become naturally curious and want to act out what they’ve seen.

Yes. That is the world we now live in.

The cold hard fact, more and more kids are being molested. This is happening by people they know and trust.

What does that mean for my young children? How can I protect them?

Oh my goodness, what do I need to do to protect them?

My first reaction: avoidance.

I mean, GROSS. I don’t want to think about this and I certainly don’t want to talk to my innocent little kid about this topic.

HEAR ME. WE ALL WANT TO AVOID THIS.

Or, we can do this together.

I can imagine your reaction. You are thinking that I have lost my mind. Maybe. Maybe not.

I think of my young Eric. I had not educated him about a fire alarm. I could have simply spent five minutes explaining what it was and then every time we walked by a fire alarm, I could have asked him good questions about it, allowing him to truly UNDERSTAND it.

In the same way, we can educate our children about their bodies and how no one is to touch them. And we can do it with ease and confidence.

Does it feel scary?

I guess so. But I think of the alternative. I’d rather prep my 9-year old David and give him tools than be on the other side of this thing.

Okay, now let’s talk tools.

This is a simple yet thorough video:

My Body Belongs to Me – Spanish – Si prefieres español, aquí tienes!

I also highly recommend this book:

It’s the one we use with our kids. I read it to David about a year ago but it’s time for another inoculation.

I know you are busy. But if you have a son or a daughter under the age of ten, join me today. Create a time when you can sit down with each child (this is not a group project) and watch the video together.

Afterwards, ask him or her, “Have you ever been touched inappropriately?” Or “Has anyone ever touched your privates?”

Don’t freak if the answer is yes. Quietly get more information. Assess the situation. I know people that have had to press charges, I know people that have had to confront others.

You are your child’s advocate. Step into the role. You can do this.

If your child says no, they have never been touched, then do a cartwheel in your mind. Smile. Reassure them that you love them always and that if anything like that should ever happen, they must tell a trusted adult right away.

Finally, it’s powerful if you can role-play the situation. This doesn’t happen in a dark alley. It happens with people they know, like and trust, which is probably the most confusing thing EVER.

So use a realistic example of two kids playing together, or a slightly older kid saying something like,

“Hey, let’s play dogs. I’ll touch your privates and you can sniff mine.”

Clearly teach your child to say, “NO.”

And then teach them what it means to go find a trusted adult.

They can also say something like “I feel like puking, please call my parents,” which gets attention quickly.

Practice this several times.

Finally, admit your feelings. “Honey, I’m sorry that we even have to go over this. It makes me feel yucky.”

That will normalize their own feelings of yucky feelings.

HOWEVER, let them know that teaching this skill is part of your job. You have taught them to dial 9-1-1 in case of an emergency. It’s the same sort of skill. It’s part of life.

This next part is so simple, but HUGE. I’ve found that after a conversation like this, I need my child close to me so we make pizza dough or cookies or we play a game together, something ordinary to get our balance back.

You can do this. I can do this.

I, Lori Doerneman, commit to talking with my 9-year old today, Sunday, April 15, 2018. I will talk to David about his private parts and how no one should ever touch his private parts. They are part of HIS BODY.

The Steps:

  1. Commit to talking to your child and put a time boundary on it.
  2. Watch the video My Body Belongs to Me first. If you like the message, then watch it with your child.
    1. If you don’t want to use the video, just use the concepts from the video. Your body is yours. You have parts that are private. No one should ever touch those parts.
  3. Ask the question, “Has anyone ever touched your privates?”
  4. Listen. Respond appropriately.
  5. Create an action plan so they KNOW what to do if they are ever in this situation.
  6. Role play.
  7. Admit that this topic makes you feel sad BUT it’s part of your job and you love them SO MUCH.
  8. Do something fun to get the balance back.

OR you can use any other technique. The point: Your Child Deserves to Know How to Handle This.

There is a lot to this parenting gig. YOU are your child’s educator. Step into your role.

Commit!

And I’d love love love to hear how it went.

Let me know!

Better together, Lori

lorianderic@theparentingdare.com

SMMi back now……to conclude the longest blog ever posted here:

The same enlightenment based on example occurred in our upper grades too!  This shared with permission from Mr. VanDyke:

“The students were a little surprised by some of the tactics that are used by a potential predator but I think they see now how many different ways someone can go about doing that.  I feel like they have a pretty good grasp on what to do if a situation like that were to occur, and also make sure they are assertive and non-aggressive.  I reminded them of what Jeff Veley said in that if you become aggressive with an attacker, the attacker will only escalate the situation more, which (often) makes it more dangerous. ”

If you want to know exactly what the Safe Environment lessons include, here’s the diocesan link, grade level lessons are well marked. http://www.lincolndiocese.org/protection-of-youth/safe-environment-childrens-curriculum

May the Good Lord who is community and communion par excellence guide you in deepening your family bonds.

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A Convergence of ‘Yeses’

 

Our average lay teacher has been here roughly 18 years.  It seems odd that although we have not necessarily chosen to work with each other, but we have all chosen to work here, and for a good long time.  When you share the same faith and concern for the children, along with some of the same challenges in reaching them, after a short period of time it becomes clear that we have a lot in common.  Over time we have become familiar with one another’s families, hopes, dreams and crosses.  When we said “yes” to becoming part of the St. Peter’s School family, we said “yes” to caring for one another.  The death of Mr. Richter has reminded me of how much care and love thrives here in our parish school, and how much you, the parents of our children, also care about our community here.

In addition to Mr. Richter’s death, Mrs. Colson’s daughter, Valerie, is also very sick, and may not be long for life on this side of heaven.  I hear many times a day, “Have you heard anything new from Rox today?” or, “Are there any updates on Valerie?”  Father Townsend just returned from visiting both families, and is assuring us of their well-being during these difficult times, offering his and our support to them.

As a school, your children are our primary concern as educators.  I see that being true every day in many ways in the service and sacrifice of our teachers for the young ones.  I also see beautiful concern for one another among the teachers and parents, whether it is stopping by to drop off food, offering a warm hug and a prayer or donating some scrip to help.  Some of you have had kids here for longer than the average teacher has been on board!  That too is a blessing!  In addition, I am seeing and hearing support for these families in need from our new families as well as the established ones.

What a blessing to see and hear the convergence of “yesses” which has drawn us together.  It is Jesus’ “yes’ to the Father in all things that enables ours to grow and thrive together.  Even – and maybe especially – in the face of the cross, we continue on and grow and even thrive.  God is our loving Father and He knows what He is about.

Thank you for your abundant/amazing prayer and support.  I feel the care of our Catholic community, which makes me grateful that we are far more than an educational institution – we are a family in Christ.  May the Good Lord continue to bless us all, especially where the need is the greatest.

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Cute Little Horse

How that cute little horse ended up in Lost and Found, I’m not quite sure.

He sat there for quite some time, then went on the table to be claimed for a week or so, then to the Thrift Shop Box as the course of unclaimed property goes.  When just about to be deported, Sister Edith Marie thought he might be of use in preschool, so she rode brought him to school.  SIMULTANEOUSLY, Mrs. Moser was looking for a donkey to ride in their Palm Sunday procession.  Okay, Mrs. Moser wasn’t going to ride the donkey, the kids were.  She added six inches to the horse’s ears and what do you know…..a donkey emerged.

Later…..Sister Mary Angela is working away at her desk and she hears children’s voices singing, “Sing Hosanna, sing Hosanna, sing Hosanna, sing Hosanna to the King of Kings…..”  They sang it once, then there was a short pause, again, again, again, and again.  Finally she thought that’s a nice song, but singing it over and over and over……something’s going on next door.

In the preschool room she found a full-fledged Palm Sunday Procession. Palm branches waving, children lining the sides of the route, music and song, and, yes, Jesus on a long eared horse donkey.

And each child had their turn being Jesus.  She asked one of the children who was on the donkey and got a resounding answer, “JESUS!”

How blessed we are, thank you Jesus!  Thank you Mrs. Moser!  Thanks to the donor of the beast!  (If it is yours feel free to claim it.)  Jesus was on a borrowed donkey too on that Palm Sunday long ago!

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It Happens to Our Kids, Too, Unfortunately

The note below came to me from one of our parents earlier this week.

 From:
Sent: Monday, March 19, 2018 10:02 AM
To: Sister Mary Michael <srmarymichael@stpeterslincoln.com>
Subject: Thank you again for your efforts to help us keep a healthy culture here.

Sr Michael-

The Lord brought some good from our interactions this past weekend and I feel I should share with you.

My son does have an Instagram account, I may have mentioned that to you. I keep a close eye on it as well as his texting, phone use etc. This past weekend I was looking through his Instagram account and I found a conversation between him and someone he follows (and who follows him). He does not know this person and should not have been following him or allowing him to follow but that is another issue. The person was clearly an adult and the conversation was inappropriate. He asked my son where he lived and if he could visit. We decided to call the Lincoln Police Department and an officer came over yesterday morning. Although there was nothing illegal, the officer felt that he was being groomed. He said he has seen things in Lincoln start off innocent like this one did, but end very badly. The officer scared us a little bit as he shared some local stories of kids and social media and the dangers that have befallen them right here in Lincoln.

My son no longer has an Instagram account and I am signing up for Covenant Eyes today, something I had on my to do list, but had not yet done. I’m not sure Covenant Eyes could have stopped something like this but I’m going to put all the safeguards into place that I can.

I am giving you permission to share this as long as you protect our identity, if you feel it could help others. I never believed something like this could happen to us. Our children are naive and innocent in so many ways, we should not take protecting them lightly.

I am so very thankful that I saw this and that God was watching over us.

A Great Mom

Our children have heard about the potential dangers repeatedly here at school, and likely repeatedly at home too.  Too often “all that applies to someone else,” until it hits home.  We are hoping to avoid a repeat in your family by publicizing this note.  I called her “A Great Mom.”  That’s not how she signed it.  I wonder, “Do you think we are putting tools in hands that are not capable of using them well?”  Is adolescent brain development behind technology capability?

May the Good Lord guide you and your family in navigating the culture on a daily basis.  We all need help, Lord!

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“Sticks and Stones…”

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.”  This old adage has been the topic of multiple bullying conversations in the last 20 years among educators, but do you know its origin?

Sticks-and-stones_825_460_80_c1

In the midst of the Civil War, a meeting of African American parents at church focused on how to protect their children if slavery was outlawed.  Even if the slaves were freed, they knew there would still be a lot of antagonism and hatred to face and their children would be the brunt of this animosity.  Parent after parent lamented the situation and expressed fear and concern for how to protect their children.  Then, one man stood up and proclaimed, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”  At first he was ridiculed, but he went on to share that the only way to “protect” their children was to empower them on the inside.  They couldn’t change society, but they could control themselves and their responses.  They made a pact that day to teach their children this phrase.  Each night at home they coached their children to say it over and over until they couldn’t get it out of their heads.  For, if they could control their response to jeers and insults, they would be able to rise above and believe in their inherent dignity.

No, we’re not going to start using this phrase at St. Peter’s.  However, we are going to reinforce the resilience aspect that it encourages.  Don’t get me wrong, I know words can hurt.  All of us have experienced it.  That’s why we reinforce kindness and respect on all levels here at school.  But, in the real world, people can be mean and we need to know how to respond.  We also need to teach our children how to respond.

Jeff-Veley-Two-Steps-to-Stop-Bullying-transparent

Jeff Veley, award-winning speaker and social skills educator, shared the above story with teachers last week.   He also spoke to students in three Catholic schools in Lincoln, including grades 3-8 at St. Peter’s.  His dynamic presentation carried a powerful message.  He himself had not only experienced bullying/aggressive behavior in his inner city school, but he also became a social worker dealing with some of the hardest cases.  Yet he and a fellow worker one day just asked themselves, “Are we really making a difference?”  So many young people they saw shared the same message, “Everybody hates me.”  No matter how many anti-bullying and zero tolerance programs were put in place, students still were not able to rise above the hate.  Jeff shared that in the best anti-bullying programs, schools would boast of a 20% decrease in bullying.  As he stated it, “A 20% is a failing grade!”

understanding-responding-to-bullying-part-ii-51-638

His message grew out of research from psychologists like Izzy Kalman and work with speakers like Brooks Gibbs.  The process is simple, but the results can be life-changing.  He explains to children how aggressive behavior (put-downs, etc.) is a “power” game:  someone wins and someone loses.  When the target of the behavior gets upset, the aggressor wins, but if the target stays calm, the aggressor loses and usually loses interest in continuing the behavior.  He encourages students to use a 2-step Peace Plan:

Be a PeaceMaker

  1. Don’t get upset.
  2. Treat them like a friend.

To demonstrate how this works, he

calls a student up from the audience to play the “Golden Rule Game.”  He has the student call him names or pick on him in some way.  The first time, he gets upset and retaliates with his words.  This eggs on the student, who continues the behavior and the student “wins.”  In the second round, the student again acts as an aggressor, but Mr. Veley remains calm and treats the student like a friend in his words and manner.  This unexpected behavior disarms the student and Mr. Veley “wins.”  As he says, “Confuse them with kindness.”

 

It’s not magic, nor is it a perfect solution.  Name calling and other verbal insults are never right and can be hurtful, but the key is to empower students with a means of effecting a real change, to help them be resilient.  As Jesus taught us in the Golden Rule, love changes everything.  Mr. Veley emphasized that if a student is being physically harmed, they need to get help from an adult immediately.  But if they are being attacked by words, their first defense is to use the Peace Plan.  In rough schools where this process has been fully implemented, results have been a 90-95% reduction in aggressive behaviors!  Plus, students are less likely to feel like helpless victims and are more likely to feel empowered to respond in a healthy way.

PeaceMakers Logo

This message fits right in with the PeaceMakers program we have implemented this year.  In addition to teaching virtue and reinforcing social skills, this tool helps students to grow in resilience and learn how the power of love and kindness can change behaviors – and possibly hearts.  If you would like to know more about Jeff Veley’s program, this is an excellent 25 min. video about the Peace Plan as well as ways that adults can then assist students in developing resilience when they are faced with challenging situations from peers.  https://www.jeffveley.com/free-video-training-delivery/?mc_cid=2db20ac102&mc_eid=926e394ec7

The next time you find yourself the brunt of someone’s unkind words, try out the Peace Plan.  You might just be surprised at the results.  God bless you!

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So Why Don’t We Wear Shorts Anyway?

When I as a kid, shorts were a sign of summer…  We loved those days where we could play outside for hours on end.

Now I like to see a child happy at least as much as the next guy.  So why not give the kids a little joy and let them wear shorts here at school, too?  While some of these reasons carry more weight than others, I’d like to share them, as they have bearing on our formation here.

Number one.  Peck, peck, peck…..there is a gradual breakdown of civility in our culture, and any semblance of formality or refinement is under attack.  Have you noticed the dress of people at Sunday Mass over the years? I know I’ve heard the argument….God is glad we’re there, He doesn’t really care what we have on.  There is truth to it, but there’s also goodness in dressing up for the Lord. Kids who have a pair of pants that resemble “dress pants” are used to wearing them know what dress up means and are capable of doing so.  While the girls need to continue to work at wearing skirts properly, they too are used to wearing them.

Number two.  School is serious business, and as a sports team has their uniform, so we have ours.  It gets kids in the mood for learning, and frees them from wondering, “What to wear today?”  Let’s get there and be ready to learn.  Daily routine is fostered.

Number three.  Simplicity, on a different level.  No need to purchase another uniform item as the season changes and your kids grow.

Number four. We have air conditioning, which maximizes the learning environment for the students.

Number five….for some things it is good to have to wait.  When you get to high school you can wear shorts. Stick it out, friends. There’s an argument for perseverance.  Too much, too soon makes for entitlement.

Number six.  What sane person would wear shorts day in and day out when it is well below zero?  Peer pressure and human respect are about the only two answers that I can think of. Not very good answers in the formation of souls. I really don’t want that trickling down into our school.  We need to fight peer pressure to do illogical things.  I’d rather not introduce the illogical to our kids.  It’s snowing today, which gives this reason a little more validity in March!

Number seven.   Differentiation between the boys and the girls. It’s part of theology of the body.  Our girls generally have a different uniform from the boys.  Unisex is oversold these days.  We are equal, BUT different.

Number eight.  I know more than just a few people who, when they got a “real job” had a very hard time putting aside the sweats and hoodie.  We have that formative piece covered.

Number nine.  Shorts can easily get too short.

Number ten.  It has been our custom here from the beginning.  You can let the rope out, but you really can never bring it back in.

Finally, I want to see our kids eternally happy.  A bit of discipline and refinement along the way will help, please God.

A teacher was just commenting to me how she enjoys seeing a child randomly skipping down the hallway on the way back to class.   I enjoy the girls twirling in their skirts occasionally.  Our children know they are loved and they are happy here.  That is a good signal that our formation program is working well both for this life and the next.

So, when the weather gets warm, pull out those shorts at home and let them run through the sprinkler.  But in the meantime, we’ll be keeping the pants and skirts here at school.

God bless you!
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Catholic Sibling Rivalry

After the Bishop’s visit here on the Feast of St. Peter last Thursday which included the Eucharistic procession through the school, our children were excited, especially since it has been a while since the Bishop has been here for a school Mass.  Don’t miss the flower petals on the floor, strewn by the third grade girls.  (I was proud of Mr. Maly and staff for agreeing to a potentially difficult cleanup, for the sake of honoring the Lord.)

Bishop w monstrance

In the Bishop’s homily he asked the children some questions, one of which was, “How many popes have we had?  What number is Pope Francis?”  I don’t know about you, but at this point I’m squirming a little, as I’m not sure of the exact answer.

A child toward the front of the church where the younger children sit raised her hand and the Bishop called on her.  (Anyone want to take odds on whether she will have the right answer?) She said, “Two hundred and sixty-sixth.”

He was as surprised as I was that the little one had the answer on the nose!  Was I proud of that child and her teacher, or what? Mrs. Svoboda had written it on the board that morning, but they had not spoken of it.  The child noticed, and was it a handy fact to have!

Now on to the sibling rivalry.  When they got home last Thursday a fifth grader said, “When I get confirmed, I’ll be right in front of the Bishop!”

Her little sister, who is in second grade, said, “When I receive my First Communion, I will be right in front of Jesus!”

You have got to love the kids!  I was especially glad to hear that second grader so vividly showing she knows what Holy Communion is all about.

We also had First Confession last Saturday, which prompted a cute story from Father Townsend’s past involving a second grader in dialogue with his Grandma.  As I recall it the little one was telling his Grandma how lucky she was that she only has to think of the time since her last confession to figure out what needs confessing, and he has to think about HIS WHOLE LIFE.

After Confession the little fellow said, “Wow, all those sins and it only cost me an Our Father!”  It cost the Lord a little more than that, but that is for consideration later in life my little friend.  For now we will enjoy your goodness.

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