I was just told a horrifying story about an attempted kidnapping/sex trafficking incident, which happened in Miami’s Dolphin Mall at the Dave & Buster’s women’s restroom. Apparently, gaming venues are a hot spot for traffickersA recent field trip for a teen girls sailing class, attended by their mothers and coach almost led to tragedy.
As the 10 girls were heading to the restroom, their mothers were just outside the bathroom entrance. 10 girls went in. 9 girls came out. The mother of the missing girl was hysterically searching for her and called the police.
They found her in one of the stalls with the trafficker. She was gagged and already with her clothes changed standing on the toilet seat. The police said these attempts are happening at least 2 to 3 times a week. A WEEK!
Parents spread the word! Do not let your children go to the bathroom alone, especially at these places where they are being watched! The only the reason they found her was because her mother was there.
Go with them to the bathroom even if it is an inconvenience. If you have to, check the stalls. This is no longer about creating independence. Our children are the targets.
Talk to them about what to look out for. Give them scenarios. Help them to understand how they need to be hypervigilant. It is ok to scream and make a scene. It could save their life!
Once these children are taken, it is so hard to get them back. Obviously, I am talking about preteen and teenagers.
However, our small children should never be left alone or too far away. No matter how mature you like to boast your child to be, remember they cannot fight off a trafficker. That is why they need their parent/parents.
Even if you are a young woman, please don’t go to places alone without friends. Don’t meet new dates alone, no matter how nice he appears to be. Always go to public places with friends nearby. Have a secret word amongst your friends to alert them you are in trouble.
Being careful is not a sign of weakness. You just never know….
We asked staffers at children’s publishing houses to tell us about their favorite children’s or YA book they read this year. Our only condition: it couldn’t be a book that their company had published. Here we present their recommendations—happy reading!
Susan Van Metre, executive editorial director, Walker Books US
I’d bought a copy of Small Spaces by Katherine Arden when I’d seen one of the many rave reviews it collected (from R.L. Stine and Jonathan Auxier, no less!) but I’d never found time to read it. My daughter, who is now at the how-scary-can-I-stand-it age, spotted it inON? the bookcase and begged to make it our bedtime read. What a big mistake. If you would like to be up half the night wondering if those scratching tree branches are the grasping hands of zombie-like scarecrows longing to trap you in their nighttime netherworld of undying servitude, then, by all means, read this at bedtime! Just hope you don’t have launch the next day.
Susan Rich, editor-at-large, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
I adore Annie Barrows’s writing wherever I encounter it—she’s a master at her craft, and admiringly adept at inhabiting a child’s frame of reference. In Like, illustrated by Leo Espinosa, she celebrates the way that we are all scientists with a surprising and delightful exploration of the world through curious observation and comparison. Espinosa’s art brings buckets of joy through delicious graphic layouts and a mastery of color and shape that will delight the youngest readers. Like invites its readers to approach their own environment with similar curiosity—and what’s not to like about that?
Frankly in Love by David Yoon is honestly, one of the best books I’ve read in a long time, period. I picked this one up on a recommendation from a friend and I think she put it best when she wrote, “It’s hard to describe how exactly [Yoon] gets it so right. The combination of angst and hubris and hope and jokes is so good.” Yoon doesn’t villainize a single character, community, or self-destructive tendency, which was both frustrating and enlightening for this reader whose main coping mechanism is processing the world through a dichotomy of good and bad, right and wrong. He not only respects but honors the shiny and the messy, the big and the small, the simple and the complicated parts of being a teenager, going as far as coining the term simplicated to capture just that—a term I readily incorporated into my vocabulary and world view.
Carol Hinz, associate publisher, Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books
At ALA in June, I grabbed an ARC of Seen and Unseen: What Dorothea Lange, Toyo Miyatake, and Ansel Adams’s Photographs Reveal About the Japanese American Incarceration by Elizabeth Partridge and Lauren Tamaki. I now have a finished copy, and every time I pick it up to look at a page or two, I can’t help getting sucked in. The thing that stops me in my tracks is the way text, illustrations, and photographs are interwoven to tell this story. The book presents not only the facts of the unjust incarceration of Japanese and Japanese American people during World War II, but also how the government used (and suppressed) the photographs that documented what was happening. It’s a riveting exploration of the topic, presented in a stunningly designed package.
This year, I read (and read and read and read) the board book edition of Before We Eat: From Farm to Table by Pat Brisson, illustrated by Mary Azarian. We spend a lot of time at our local farm (Small Farm in Stow, Mass.!), and our son Jack loves it. This book replicates the farm-visit experience perfectly. It’s replete with all kinds of vehicles, the rhyme is pitch-perfect, the illustrations are perfect for poring over, and it’s generally an awesome meditation about the importance of folks who work in all sectors of our food system. Plus, for some reason known only to him, Jack thinks the picture of Pat and Mary is a picture of my wife and my mom, so he is always delighted to see the back cover.
Charles Kochman, editorial director, Abrams ComicArts
I really loved Swim Team by Johnnie Christmas. Long before this graphic novel was released, there had been some industry buzz about Johnnie, and I was eager to see what the fuss was all about. From the opening pages, I was all in and, like its lead character Bree, was swimming in the story’s layouts and bright colors. Editing Diary of a Wimpy Kid, I am particularly interested in depictions of middle school and how creators reflect the reality of childhood to their readers. Johnnie has Bree wade through waters I had not seen represented before in books for this age group, and that is its superpower. For readers of Jerry Craft’s New Kid looking for more diversity, this book is the perfect companion volume and continues the discussions we need to keep having with our kids.
Maggie Gibson, production supervisor, Random House Children’s Books
There’s a Ghost in This House is a simple, clever picture book that has all the subtle fun you’d expect from Oliver Jeffers. Every other page is semi-transparent and when overlaid with the four-color art reveals silly one-color white ghosts in a house with our main character (a little girl), explaining that she can’t find any hauntings. It’s slightly eerie but so much fun to reveal the ghosts and their antics. As a production person, I love the ingenuity of the design—it’s beautiful and out-of-the box. His book is a delight to read every spooky season, and let’s be honest—with a six-year-old, every season is a good reason to read this book.
I really enjoyed Murder for the Modern Girl by Kendall Kulper. It was fizzy and fun, with authentic period setting and some real emotional stakes. The past year I’ve been drawn to books that walk a fine line between total escapism and real-world parallels/incisiveness, and this book nails that balance, with a smart look at what it might mean to take justice into your own hands. Plus magic!
Phoebe Kosman, director of marketing, publicity and key partnerships, Candlewick Press
The New Zealand powerhouse that is Gecko Press can do no wrong in my eyes; through them I’ve discovered dozens of books, from board books to picture books to middle-grade novels, many in brilliant translation, that my five- and eight-year-old and I have absolutely adored reading together, and that—crucially—have borne repeated rereading. This year’s Gecko standout for us was Free Kid to Good Home by Hiroshi Ito, translated by Cathy Hirano. Expressive illustrations, a spare and funny, evocative text, and, most of all, Ito’s keen sense of how kids think and feel about prickly issues like jealousy, anger, and their place in their family, have made this an instant classic for us. (Plus, the dog looks just like our beloved elderly dog.)
Alvina Ling, editor-in-chief, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
My favorite book this year was The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. I’ve had a few autism spectrum diagnoses in my family this year, and I remember hearing about this book when it was published and was curious to read it. It’s a slim but mighty book, and I found it so beautifully told and moving, and such a clear and profound look into the mind of an autistic boy.
I read The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes this year and it is probably my favorite YA book I consumed in 2022 (next to its sequel). I loved the fleshed-out cast and individual characterizations. The puzzles and loops it throws you into are so fun, and I constantly found myself trying to get ahead of them. I loved how complex but easily consumable it was. It gets two thumbs up from me and I would happily be the glass ballerina in the Hawthorne house (you’ve got to read the book to get that one).
As a not-very-tall person myself, I was utterly charmed by the picture book Not Little by Maya Myers, illustrated by Hyewon Yum. Clues to the main character are given right from the front matter: Dot towers over the title page, giving readers immediate insight into this confident child’s sense of self. But the dedication/copyright spread features her tiny shoes next to the much larger footwear of her family, clarifying that this character is indeed very small. As she says throughout the book, however, she is not little. Just the right amount of repetition makes this a great read-aloud, and it’s highly satisfying when Dot stands up for another small classmate in an act that’s both big and brave. Former Abrams associate art director Hana Nakamura (now art director at Norton Young Readers) introduced me to this book. She and her young son love it, too!
Irene Vázquez, assistant editor and publicist, Levine Querido
In Nigel and the Moon by Antwan Eady, illustrated by Gracey Zhang, Zhang’s illustrations have this dream-like quality to them that absolutely immerse me in the world of the book, which is perfect for this story of dreaming big. I’ve been a fan of Zhang’s since her work on The Upside Down Hat, and I will happily admire anything that she creates.
Ginny Greene, receptionist, Candlewick Press
The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives is a page turner. The author, Dashka Slater, gently tells what happened both from the perspective of the victim and from another young high schooler on the 57 bus. Neither teenager knew each other. Slater pieced together what had happened and the consequences from a myriad of sources. I learned more about gender fluidity and racial prejudice from reading this. My husband brought this to me from an ALA conference; it’s my favorite book of the year.
To put it simply, The Honeys by Ryan La Sala was the queer horror story that I needed this year! I was lucky enough to grab an ARC of it at TLA, and I spent all my mornings and lunch breaks there tearing through to see how the mystery would unfurl. I was immediately pulled in by Mars’s voice as well as the shiver-inducing atmosphere of the camp, and as a twin myself, I was also really invested in the sibling relationship at the heart of the story. And while it takes quite a bit to genuinely gross me out at this point, there was one scene that made me say “Oh, no. Absolutely not” out loud. Full of sparkling prose, nuanced characters, and truly spine-chilling scenes, I totally adored this book and had a blast reading it.
Mabel Hsu, executive editor, Katherine Tegen Books, HarperCollins Children’s Books
The Snail by Emily Hughes is a marvel to behold. Every detail—from the unique interior design to the gentle but powerful illustrations—is done with such careful intention, and the end result is stunning. The story follows one of the great artists, Isamu Noguchi, as he grapples with his mixed-race heritage, rejections from the art world, tensions during Japanese incarceration, and the way he created his art to hold himself in an unforgiving world. I was thrilled to find this story at the Noguchi Museum gift shop, face out on a shelf and surrounded by the artist’s Akari light sculptures—seeing his very lamps shining on this beautiful book celebrating his life.
Hi everyone! I know I have been quiet for a while. As with everyone, life happens, but I have been dealing with some health issues. However, I have always kept in mind my blogs. And it was a gnawing sensation to get to it. However, something would come up and I wouldn’t.
Some people might call it laziness, some may say to give myself a break, and others might say “You are a mother, work, and have other responsibilities. You will get to it when you can.’
Well, I am excited to say that I am back on the horse. I am going to be coming out with new blogs and content. I am excited to reconnect with all of you. Be sure to continue to check on my Interesting Reads for all the latest news and blogs for us mommies.
Please be sure to check out my social media account as well as where you can get my children’s book, “El Lechon Choncho, Otherwise Known as Choncho the Pig.” It is a great gift for the holidays for the avid little reader or child at heart.
Have a safe holiday season. Please be careful and enjoy the time with your family and friends!
School shooting…another school shooting. Young children and teachers killed…again. A fourth-grade classroom at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas; where an 18-year-old lunatic gunman locked himself in and proceeded to kill 2 teachers and their innocent children.
As a parent, you hear this and your heart drops. Your eyes fill with tears. Your heart is filled with shock, anger, and disgust. You ask yourself, why does this happen? When will this end? When will the world change? When will God step in? When will the government officials stop pointing fingers at each other and work together and come up with a better system?
As you see the news, you saw the parent of the students of Robb Elementary, desperately awaiting news on their children while they are on lockdown. Uvalde is about 75 miles (120 kilometers) from the Mexican border. Robb Elementary, which has nearly 600 students in second, third and fourth grades, is a single-story brick structure in a mostly residential neighborhood of modest homes.
You hear the death toll rising. Parents are crying while being interviewed or some can’t speak at all, so they have a family member speak for them because they are overcome with grief. Vigils are being held.
Then, you hear about the shooter and how he sent messages on Facebook of his plan minutes before he executed it. He shot his grandmother in the face before he arrived at the school. However, I get annoyed, and I understand the media is doing their job, but they focus so much on who the shooter was, how they got the gun, basically describing the entire plan, etc.; to the point where they become infamous and then you see copycats pop up. You wish they wouldn’t focus so much on that.
Yes, I am well aware the shooter was being bullied, but he shot innocent victims. There was no resolution to his problem but murderous cowardness.
Sadly, as you read or hear more stories, you hear of the heroic efforts of Eva Mireles, the fourth-grade teacher who died heroically shielding her fourth-grade students from a barrage of bullets. Mireles’ co-teacher, 46-year-old mom of four Irma Garcia, was also killed. According to witness accounts, she too died protecting her students from the shooter.
You see and hear the families mourning the loss of their beautiful babies. How will they go on? These angels who did not deserve to die this way.
Uziyah Garcia, 8 – known as a sweet boy and an adept football player
Xavier Lopez, 10 – enjoyed life and loved to dance
Amerie Jo Garza, 10 – Just received her honor roll certificate hours before she was killed. She attempted to call 911 to save her classmates.
Jose Flores Jr., 10 – killed hours after receiving his honor roll certificate.
Alithia Ramirez, 10 – just turned ten days before. Her family still had balloons decorating their home from her party.
Annabell Rodriguez, 10, and Jacklyn Jaylen Cazares, 10 – two cousins in the same class. Their aunt had to identify them.
Jailah Nicole Silguero, 11 and Jayce Carmelo Silguero, 11 – Veronica Luevanos, whose 10-year-old daughter, Jaliah Nicole Silguero, was among the victims, told Univision in a tearful interview that her daughter did not want to go to school Tuesday and that the girl seemed to sense something was going to happen. They were both described as beautiful baby angels by their family.
Eliahana Cruz Thomas, 10 – Adolfo Cruz spent more than 10 hours standing outside of Robb Elementary to find answers about his granddaughter, Eliahana Cruz Torres.
Eliahna “Ellie” Garcia, 10 – loved to dance, play sports and loved her family
Rojelio Torres, 10 – described as very smart and loving.
Jacklyn Cazares, 10 – described by her family as full of life and love.
Navaeah Bravo, 10 – loving child.
Tess Mata, 10 – had a jar full of cash she was saving to go to Disney World. Described as a joy to be around.
Alexandria “Lexi” Rubio, 10 – Athletic girl who played basketball and softball. Just made the honor roll. Described as a loving and sweet girl
It is like watching Sandy Hook and Parkland happen all over again. You pray for the victims and their families. You pray for God to give them the strength to go on. You hold your little ones a little tighter than usual. You cry and worry when you drop your child off at school.
Now our children have to practice drills with their teacher with the understanding this is an actual real situation which could possibly happen in their school. You hear words like lockdown and the color codes and what they mean. Code Red: lockdown. Only police may move about the campus. Code Black: Bomb Threat. Code Yellow: Lockdown. Only the school’s safe team may move about campus.
I remember when I was these children’s age, the scariest moments in school were when the fire drill went off because of a prank, but we never thought it was a real fire. It also reminds me of when during the early1950s, schools across the United States were training students to dive under their desks and cover their heads. The now-infamous duck-and-cover drills simulated what should be done in case of an atomic attack —and channeled a growing panic over an escalating arms race. My mother and father repeatedly had to do this when they were in school.
It is absolutely terrifying. Our children are going to school and there is a possibility of never coming home. As parents, our hearts break for these families. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy.
Where do we go from here? I don’t know. Usually, I try to end my blogs with encouragement, but today I can’t. I am just sad. And I will continue to pray
So, I don’t advertise this information, but I am 48 years old. The age part doesn’t bother me. I am married and have two beautiful children. I love my parents and siblings very much.
But what does bother me is watching my parents get older. Watching them struggle. Watching them decline. No matter what belief system you have or hope for the future, anyone who has to witness their parents get older and struggle or deal with issues they handled before but not find hard breaks your heart.
It all came to a head the other day when my sweet father was on the computer, and he gets a message sent him saying he needed to call the bank as someone has hacked into his account. He decides to call the number and the thief (I could use many other choice words, but my blogs are supposed to be rated G) pretended to be the bank and proceeded to defraud my father and mother of $1800.
What makes matters worse is when I was calling my parents to check on them, and they would not pick up. Finally, when I get my mother on the phone, she tells me what is happening, but it didn’t make sense. She felt this was a con, but my father wanted to handle it. It comes to a point to where you ask yourself, how much control or power do you weld over your parents? Do you scold them like a child? No, you can’t. All you do is support, counsel and help them. I didn’t need to yell or show my anger or frustration. What was I going to accomplish with that?
Well, the damage was done. My father was swindled into purchasing $1800 worth of gift cards from Walgreens. The thieves knew they couldn’t be traced once that was done and on top of that, my father bought them. According to the police, he voluntarily bought the gift cards even though coercion was used.
My father felt terrible when he realized what happened and what he had done. I have never believed in kicking someone when they are down. I can’t say I have always acted that way and have blown my top, but this time I didn’t. I couldn’t. He was hurting so much, and my mother was frustrated.
So why am I telling you this? Because I want to do all I can to protect other elderly parents against these degenerates. Below is an article you can read in your spare time, but I am going to list the ways the elderly is being targeted.
Catfishing scam. Catfishing is when someone steals from a person that they’ve ‘met’ online. Today, many seniors turn to online services and social media to make romantic or friendly connections. These scammers may endear themselves to the elderly person — and then ask them for money to help with an emergency like to bail them out of jail or make a flight back to the United States. Most often, scammers will never meet the elderly person and are actually located someplace other than where they claimed to be.
Telemarketing or mail fraud. The U.S. Department of Justice estimates that dishonest telemarketers take in an estimated $40 billion each year, bilking one in six American consumers — and the AARP claims that about 80% of them are 50 or older. Scammers use the phone to conduct investment and credit card fraud, lottery scams, and identity theft.
Phishing scam. Phishing is when a criminal uses fake emails, calls, or texts to steal a victim’s personal information. In one common phishing scam, an elderly person will receive an email that says it is from the person’s bank or investment account and that the elder needs to update their information. This is really just a ploy to get the elder’s information and steal their identity.
Social Security spoofing scam. Scammers contact elderly people by phone and claim that the victim’s Social Security number has been suspended due to suspicious activity and asks the victim to confirm their number or risk the possibility that the number will be seized. REMEMBER, SOCIAL SECURITY DOES NOT CALL YOU!
Internet fraud. Some older people are slow to embrace new technology, which is why they are sometimes targeted in internet scams. Seniors may download a fake anti-virus program or viruses by clicking on pop-up windows. This action allows scammers to extract personal information about the senior.
Fraudulent legal documents. Many scammers cloak their actions in legal authority, procuring a power of attorney or will or other legal document giving them access to a senior’s property. They get seniors to sign these documents by lying to, intimidating, or threatening the seniors.
Texting scam. A scammer texts the victim deceptive messages to try to get the elder person to provide their personal or financial information. For example, the scammer might promise a prize to the first 100 people who respond to the message. The scammer then uses the information to steal the elder’s identity or to commit fraud.
Grandparent scam. In this situation, a scammer calls the elderly person and pretends to be their grandchild. The grandchild will then ask for money for an unexpected financial problem like not having money for rent, medical bills, or car repairs. The scammer will plead with the grandparent not to tell their parent.
Undue influence or fraud. Many seniors have been duped into parting with their homes or other property because a scammer convinces them it is for their own good. In one infamous case, three officials from the Detroit-based Guardian Inc. were found guilty of embezzlement and fraud after selling a client’s house for $500 — to the mother of a company officer. The company also collected excessive fees from its wards, sometimes as high as 70 percent of their Social Security checks.
Lottery scam. Scammers inform elderly victims that they have won the lottery or sweepstakes — but they just need to pay for taxes or other fees before the rest of the money will be released. They might even send a check to the victim to make it seem more real, but the check will just bounce.
In one of these scams in Canada, the U.S. Attorney General and the Solicitor General of Canada estimated that scammers were able to steal about $1 billion a year from its citizens.
Home repair scam. Typically working in teams of two or more, scammers scour neighborhoods with a high concentration of older residents, or even track recent widows and widowers through obituaries and death notices, then appear on their doorsteps claiming to spot something in need of fixing — a hole in the roof or clogged drainpipe, for example.
The scammers demand payment upfront, and then often claim that their initial investigation reveals a more serious problem, with a more expensive solution. The “work” they do is unlicensed and often shoddy, such as applying paint to a roof to make it appear as if it has been tangibly fixed.
In a twist on this scam, one alleged worker might distract the elder while another enters the house to steal money and other valuables.
Okay so now that we know some of the scams out there. Here are some signs you can look for to make sure your loved ones are not in the process of being victimized:
Telltale Signs a Loved One is Being the Victim of Elder Abuse.
Unusual or large withdrawals or transfers from bank accounts, or large credit card charges that the older person can’t explain.
Checks that are missing or include suspicious signatures.
An individual who suddenly forms a close relationship with the older person, getting easy access to his or her home, money, and other property.
Newly executed documents, such as a will or power of attorney, that the older person doesn’t seem to understand.
Changes in account beneficiaries or authorized signers.
A large number of unpaid bills.
Entry forms and prizes from contests, and payments made for “free” vacations or other merchandise.
Untreated physical or mental problems, including a dramatic change in mood or disposition, or other evidence of substandard care.
Sudden social isolation.
Where to Report Suspected Financial Abuse
There are now a number of individuals and groups dedicated to investigating suspected financial abuse and finding and stopping perpetrators. Here are some options for taking action.
Notify bank personnel. Depending on the type and extent of financial abuse involved, giving a heads up to the bank tellers and officers who commonly handle the elder’s accounts may be enough to stop the wrongdoing. Bank employees are often in a good position to note suspicious activity, such as a sudden withdrawal of large sums of money or use of an ATM card by an elder who is housebound.
The laws in most states encourage or require bank officials to report suspected elder financial abuse. And a federal law requires financial institutions to file a Suspicious Activity Report with the federal government when they suspect elder financial abuse.
Get help from a senior services group. While the services offered — from counseling to legal assistance — vary widely depending on the locale, the Eldercare Locator, at 800-677-1116 directs callers to local programs and services that help prevent financial elder abuse. And VictimConnect Resource Center (victimconnect.org) at 855-484-2846 helps arrange and coordinate assistance with crimes.
Contact Adult Protective Services. Adult Protective Services (APS) is the government-affiliated agency charged with investigating reports of elder financial abuse and offering assistance to victims. To find your state APS office, visit the National Center on Elder Abuse’s website at ncea.acl.gov/Resources/State.aspx.
Alert law enforcement. The police or local prosecutor’s office will often intervene when there is good evidence that a crime is being committed.
Please take the time to review this information especially if you have elderly or older parents and you have had to take a more active role in their lives and decision making.
And to the thieves who stole my parents’ money, I am going to take a story from the Bible, in the book of Jude 9 where it states, “But when Michael the archangel had a difference with the Devil and was disputing about Moses’ body, he did not dare to bring judgement against him in abusive terms, but said, “May Jehovah rebuke you.”
So as much as my heart hurts and my parents are healing from this mishap, I will leave this in God’s hands and continue to pray for guidance, hope, help and the strength to continue to help my parents.
How do you feel when your child is getting teased? How do you feel when your child is getting bullied? Well before you answer, let me give you, my answers. Bothered when the teasing is unnecessarily harsh especially from family members. And I feel an extreme anger when my child is being bullied. I am sure most parents share the same sentiment.
Now obviously we need to break down the difference. A bully is defined as a blustering, mean, or predatory person who, from a perceived position of relative power, intimidates, abuses, harasses, or coerces people, especially those considered unlikely to defend themselves. Teasing is defined as to irritate or provoke with persistent petty distractions, trifling jests, or other annoyances, to bully, harass, or torment.
Now obviously by definition, a bully is more serious and can have disastrous consequences for the victim as we have seen in the rise in suicides of children and teens. Even adults have been driven to a point of no return when it comes to bullying and ridicule. However, teasing though not as serious an offense can be quite upsetting and unsettling for a child.
We are always told to rise above. Don’t let the said bully get the better of you. Don’t let someone’s sense of humor or teasing cause you to lose your temper. You are supposed to take the high road. But it tends to be a different response when it is our child that is on the receiving end of the bullying or teasing.
When our child comes to us with problems with a bully, we speak and counsel our child. We go to the teachers and/or principal asking for help on the matter. We try to rehearse ways they can defuse the situation on their own. You want to jump in and handle it all for them. You want to save them from the pain and humiliation, but you also want them to learn how to stand up for themselves.
However, when you have a child who has special needs or limitations, it becomes even more frustrating, infuriating, painful and you find yourself using a lot of choice words when referring to the bully/teaser. Why would someone’s child feel the need to bother, mentally torture, become physical or bully another child just because they feel they can?? Especially when they can clearly see there is a limitation in the child.
To me, one of the most stressful and painful moments of my life has been when I have had to deal with a bully bothering my daughter or son. Getting them dressed for school in the morning as they fought me and cried or dropping my child off at school with tears in their eyes because they had to face that bully in their class. Then I would cry while driving off to work, worried about how their day would be like. I would call the school to check in on my child. I would send emails to their teacher and copy their principal if I felt I needed to in order to get the situation resolved.
You feel a desperation and you kick yourself because you worry you are pushing those vibes to your kids. You just want it over. You just want that child to leave your child alone. You dream about your child becoming like the character Ralphie from the movie ‘A Christmas Story’ where he finally gives Spud Farkus (the school bully) a taste of his own medicine.
But when you finally have a resolution to the problem of the bully, you find yourself breathing a sigh of relief. It’s over. And if you never had to deal with this situation with your child and you don’t know what the hell I am talking about then I am very happy for you.
As we all say being a mother has its ups and downs. Being the mother of a child with developmental delays and limitations can have some more intense ups and downs.
And if you are currently going through a situation like this then know you are not alone. Give your child some extra hugs and kisses. Make sure they know you are there to help and be a source of comfort. And most important, let them know you will always be there to for them and fight for them. Having your child know they can come to you with any issue that is troubling them is so important. It keeps the lines of communication open.
Well, that’s all for now. Stay safe and make good decisions. Remember, those rides to school can be one of the most informative.
My son. My funny, sweet, loving, hyperactive son was having a hard time in Pre-K 4. He was 4 years old and struggling. He had delayed speech. He couldn’t focus nor sit still. I had spoken with his principal and teachers before he started Pre-k 3 to discuss his issues we saw. I also had a conversation at the beginning of the school year for Pre-K 4 telling his new teacher all the issues we saw BUT I made it a point to tell her anything she noticed with him to please communicate with me (Remember that part later in the story). Every week I would ask on how he was doing and was told everything was going well. We were using my daughter as a form of reference since she was diagnosed with ADHD.
Watching him as he was hitting certain milestones and missing others, my mind began to race about what this all could mean. So, we decided, my husband and I, we would be more proactive and not miss the opportunity to help him. The guilt still bothers me because I didn’t act fast enough for our daughter. So, for my son, I was not going to make the same mistake.
As I said before, we met with his principal and teachers before he started pre-k 3. We then got him into speech therapy and then occupational therapy. He started making improvements or so we thought and then fast forward to Pre-K 4 we were given the news he was not adjusting nor acclimating well to the class.
Ok I know. He is only 4 years old. It is Pre-K. It is not like he is preparing for Harvard. And let’s talk truth here. When we were in school, Kindergarten was coloring, learning their letters, learning how to count and writing. Now I come to find when my children started school, the curriculum changed. Pre-Kindergarten is where those specific things are taught. By Kindergarten, your child whether in private, public, charter or home school needs to be able to write sentences, know the alphabet, count to 100, spell and recognize sight words, etc.
This was supposed to be a meeting with parents to discuss their child’s report card. However, my husband and I were expecting to meet with just his teacher, but the principal decided to join us. You know that feeling you get when you know the meeting between parent and teacher is about to take a rough turn.
I hear things mentioned of my son running around the classroom, crying, not finishing his work, not at the level of reading, writing, or math as where children need to be at his age. I. was. shocked. Why didn’t anyone say anything? Why didn’t the teacher tell me all the times I asked how he was doing?
Then the conversation turns to moving him to their other school for children with learning disabilities or differences as they call it. The same school my daughter attends. And I am just there with my mouth open and tears rolling down my face.
My husband thinks they are overreacting. I feel like there is a bit of an exaggeration, but I also know my son has his issues. I know he is not where he needs to be. I wasn’t angry at them but disappointed they had me thinking he was doing better than he was. I felt like someone pulled the rug out from underneath me.
Yes, I had alerted them to what I was seeing, but I also didn’t think it was this bad. Then the conversation takes another turn to where I’m told “you should really have him tested to see where he is on the spectrum.”
“Wait! What?” Spectrum….as in autistic? So, my mind begins to race even more, and the fear rises. Is my son autistic and I missed this too? He never missed a pediatrician appointment. I also mentioned to my doctor what I saw. How could this be? What in the world is going on with my mothering instincts? They suck…. I suck. Or so I thought.
The next day I kept him home from school and took him straight to the pediatrician. I explained everything we discussed at the school. My pediatrician says there is no way a 4-year-old would not be hyper. However, we did need to find out what was going on. So, she sends me to the University of Miami Mailmen Center. Two weeks later, we met with the pediatric specialist for Neurology. My husband and I sat for three-hours answering questions while she watched my son for that entire appointment and examined him.
She looks at my son and says, “Your son is not autistic. However, he has Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder combined type. This means his inattentive side and hyperactivity is at the same level along with developmental delays. So, it was not autism, but he had a big diagnosis in my eyes. In fact, he was worse than my daughter’s diagnosis.
He is more alert about his surroundings and pays more attention to conversations. He is much more social and fearless than my daughter. And he has an unusual gift in music. He just has more difficulties learning. So, thankfully we have him in the school that helped my daughter so much.
It will be a longer road for him academically than my daughter’s. But I have faith he will be just fine. Don’t get me wrong there are far worse things in the world. Especially now that we are all in the thick of the pandemic.
One thing I have learned in this whole process of having two children with learning differences and needs is to keep a level head. Gather your information and take some time to weight the information you are being given from your schools about your child.
This blog is not to make teachers or schools to be the enemy. Contrary it is through them I was given answers I needed to better help my children. But we have a responsibility as parents to weed out all the unnecessary opinions and go on about with facts.
If you are unsure what is happening with your child, and you see them struggling with speech, certain milestones, focus, behavior and academically. Then you can do the following things. Take your child to a pediatric neurologist. Have them make sure there is nothing clinical going on with your child. Once you have that done then take your child to a psychologist where they can give your child what is called a psychological evaluation.
This evaluation will check everything through a series of questions and exercises to see what areas your child needs help. It will not disappoint. Also make sure to check with your health insurance to see what your coverage is for therapies such as speech, occupational and behavioral.
Most of all, remember there is no shame in this. You are not alone and there are many parents dealing with this same problem. If I can help at least one parent in this journey, then I would be so happy.
Remember, trust your gut and don’t drive yourself crazy second guessing yourself.
High School….how many of you remember your days in high school? Some say it gave them the best years of their lives. Some say it was the hardest years of their lives and then the dam broke when they hit college.
One thing I felt and noticed is, if you are a parent, that 8th grade graduation of your child brings an array of nostalgia along with “Oh God, next year high school.” Every time I would say that I felt the back of my neck get hot.
As I watched her walk down the aisle in her graduation, during covid-19, with tears in my eyes, as my nose was running from underneath my mask (due to happy tears). It came to me all the memories of her in pre-k, then elementary, moving her to a new school, getting her tested, then moving her to another school which helped her. Seeing those sweet green eyes of hers that melt your heart. I was beginning to feel the pressure of where she was going to land for high school. Would we make the right choice? Would she acclimate well?
You see if you read my blog, by now you would know my daughter has ADHD. She went to private school all her school life up until now. She was in this small population of a private school with only 5 children including her in 8th grade. During covid it was perfect. The perfect safe space but to my husband and I, we felt sooner or later our daughter would have to face the world. Meaning get her around other students of more diverse backgrounds, different characters, etc.; to help her learn how to deal with people. We felt she was in a bubble. We worried how she would cope. We wanted to make changes in where she would go to high school. Everyone else was heading to the same small private high school. But not her.
But where? I didn’t want to put her in the public school she was zoned to going. She came from a private school of only over 100 students and would head to a school of a population of over 3000+ students. I was looking for a private school, but in order to attend she had to pass the entry exam. And I wanted to avoid that…
Why you ask? Most parents tutor their children, get them ready for the high school entry exam, they pass, get accepted, and life is peaches and roses for them. But not every child tests well. My child doesn’t handle taking tests well.
Now I don’t want you to think I have a low opinion of my child, but I do know her strengths and weaknesses, right? I am her mother. Between her father and I, we should have it down to a science with her, right? As Oscar the Grouch from Sesame Street would say, “Ding Dong, you’re wrong!”
We came up with the idea. OK! Let’s put her in a Magnet School. The official definition of a magnet school is this “a public school offering special instruction and programs not available elsewhere, designed to attract a more diverse student body from throughout a school district.” Ok! great idea. I always heard great things about them. I was told it is like a private school in a public school. And the best thing she didn’t have to take an entry exam. They would review her grades and she would be chosen by lottery.
So, we filled out the application, and we chose 4 schools. Due to privacy, I am not going to name them. We really wanted the one around the corner of our house because they have a phenomenal art program. My daughter wants to be an animator. Well as saying goes, “Murphy’s Law.” Well, we’re Murphy’s cousin.
She went to the audition for the Art program. We put together her portfolio. She went for her interview. I cried in the car nervous and worried and praying she would do well. And NO I didn’t cry in front of her. Well, they didn’t choose her. We actually never heard from them again. Not because of anything she did, it was just they had only 30 openings and over 1000 student applied for that same school. YIKES!
Ok, but she did get chosen to another magnet school but this one was an incredible school but extremely advanced. They waived the fact that she didn’t take Physical Science for 8th grade. It was not mandatory. However, they ask if she took Algebra 1. I said yes. I was wrong. She had only taken Algebra. I screwed up.
Most of our friends said, “Don’t take her out of the school before she attends, she may surprise you.” But we began to panic when we saw her school schedule. She had honors classes for EVERY subject. I made a slew of phone calls. I spoke to the principal. I spoke to the counselors. They told me not to worry. they told me to put my finger over the word Honors on the schedule. They said they used the same regular books of other high schools, but they go at a much faster pace.
My head was screaming this was going to be a disaster but what if I was wrong? What if I robbed her of an opportunity and showed her, I had no faith in her abilities? So, we had to let it ride.
Advanced was not the word for that school. Intense was more like it. The third day of school, she came home hyper ventilating saying the teachers told them they would be kicked out if they couldn’t keep up with the program.
Homework was a 3 to 4 hour a day process. Weekends were full of studying. Where was the fun? What was the intensity for? I understand the school get more funding than the norm even better if they can keep the school grade rating high and GPAs high as well. She was throwing up on the way to school on the days she had a test.
Then we get to what’s called a 504 file or an IEP. They are special allowances given in the public school system for students with special needs. Well, that to me is another incident of riding down a hill on a bike with no brakes. After all the meetings, meeting such gracious and wonderful people, very helpful, they come up with a wonderful plan. But as Murphy had it, the teachers didn’t want to follow the plan.
She was supposed to be given extended time. There was a clear definition in the written plan of the scenario of if she was to take her test in the allotted time the teacher gave and she saw she was not going to have enough time to finish, then she was to inform her teacher 5 minutes before the test ended to reschedule with a mutually convenient time to finish the test. It was like you called these teachers ugly. The reaction of resistance baffled me. It was a flat out no we will not follow this plan. My daughter was more defeated than before.
So, I pulled the plug on this high school. I told my daughter she was being taken out of that school. I literally saw the blood return to her face. She was relieved. She cried and laughed at the same time. The only blessing from that school is she made friends from the first day and she is still in touch with them. They talk every day, and this is the first real friendship she has had in a long time.
But where do we go? This brings me back to my main point. I was trying to make such a perfect scenario for her to acclimate in high school that I forgot there are no perfect scenarios. Not in this world. I had forgot to put the matter in God’s hands as well and was fighting a losing battle. So, I ran to my daughter’s old school and I went to speak to her former principal.
I cried and poured my heart out. I told her all my daughter was suffering. She reminded me that she had her high school. Her small private high school where she would be with her old school peers and new ones. It was a private school that brought in international students. She would meet new people. From different backgrounds. Most of all, she would be taught in the way she learned. She would have the extended time. She was with teachers and staff she knew and loved her.
When she and I toured the school, she looked at me and said, “I’m home.” My heart burst with happiness. I was too busy fighting to make the perfect scenario for my husband and I when I needed to realize this is what she needed.
Fast forward, we are midterms now and she is studying. Her grades have improved. She joined the Media club. She took a tour of one of the local colleges and that was in her first week of her new school.
She smiles. She laughs. She is sleeping better. And so am I.
I will never forget the day my husband told me those words. You see, it wasn’t so much as the surprise of me quitting my job. It was the surprise of how soon. We had planned or better yet, I had planned to work through the summer, saved up my salary for those weeks, use it to pay off some debt my husband and I had to then be able to stay home.
It was going to work out fine. My husband started his company with an old business colleague/friend. He could get medical insurance so the need for me to work in order for us to have benefits was no longer an issue.
By this time, I had my son. It wasn’t just us 3 (hubby, daughter and I) and the dog. My son was 2 years old. My daughter was 7 years old. From my last blog, if we are going to use it as a timeline. She was about to start a new private school for kids with special needs/learning differences.
There was the pressure for me to keep working financially. There was pressure for me to stay home. The guilt of watching my daughter struggle and not having enough time in the day was painful. On top of that, having an active 2-year-old was rough. Working full time and having to rush to pick them up from the in laws to then rush home and struggle with her doing homework, my son wanting to play, getting them bathed and cooking dinner all at the same time made me wonder why I didn’t have a nervous breakdown sooner.
So, I chose home. My daughter needed me to be more available to her. My son was beginning to give me concerns as well, so I needed to be home. Home. No need to rush off in the morning to take my son to my mother-in-law to watch him. Yes, in the Cuban culture, it is very normal for the grandmothers to stay home with the grandchildren if possible. But my husband would head straight to work now instead of dropping my daughter off at school. I could now take her to school and give her daily pep talks if needed.
I enjoyed being with my son all day. No pressure from work. For the first few weeks it felt good. It was calming. However, most women whom I have spoken with all say the same thing. No matter how stressful or how hard you worked at your former job, you work harder at home.
Ok, it is not the mental pressure as before but the physical work. The struggle to constantly be picking up a mess, organizing, keeping my son entertained, his schedule, cooking dinner, doing homework with my daughter and on and on was exhausting. I was fine with staying home. Yet, I was dragging my butt.
Husbands love the fact their wives are home. They feel now you have all the free time in the world and no excuses. When you forget to do something, or you’ve had one of those days in the memory books for how many things can go wrong at once; you will still be met with a disapproving look. Especially, if you are unable to manage a task, he has given you.
It reminds me of a hilarious mommy meme where the mother says, “Just say thank you, your children are still breathing after the day I had.” In fact, some husbands just think we are sitting in front of the TV catching up on the latest episode of Real Housewives. Well, not every day.
Of course, we all know if they had to do our job for one day, they would be howling like a dog that had just been stepped on. They don’t realize and not necessarily on purpose how many things mothers juggle and have to remember on a daily basis. Just putting together a lunch for school has its own challenges. From the right color thermos, to remember to put ketchup, to cut the crust off the bread, etc.
Stay at Home Mothers are not just housewives. They are the CEOs of the home. They are the glue. They manage to serve everyone’s needs and remember everyone’s preferences. Yet, it is usually late at night before they can get to something for themselves. As I am writing this blog at midnight.
So, this blog is for all the stay-at-home moms. We see you and know your struggle. It is real. It is serious. And it is underappreciated. If you haven’t heard a thank you in a long time, or are having one of those days, I would just like to say…
I would be wrong to not mention all the working mothers, who juggle so much in the mornings, to then rush off to work, having to put in a full productive day, then rush home with the kids for dinner, baths, homework, projects, etc.
Us women are truly a remarkable creation! We do so much.
So, for all the husbands out there, make sure you give your wife a sweet kiss and say thank you. It will give her added energy and lets her know she is appreciated. Especially, on the days of where everything is going wrong.
When I found out I was pregnant with my daughter, I was so happy. I had no idea what was to come. I had no idea what planning I needed to undertake other than the usual color scheme for her room and stroller I wanted. But planning out her entire future and the lists the way I had seen other women so effortlessly do? No, I didn’t do that. You see…I overwhelm easily. It is a trait of mine I am not so fond of.
But I like the women in my family, we overwhelm, we panic, we stress and then we get it done and move on. I got the job done always. That is until education and schools came into play.
Now here is my disclaimer, I am no expert, I am not a pediatrician, I am not a neurologist, and I am not a psychologist/psychiatrist. But what I am is a mother, first and foremost. I have been around other family and friends with their children as they spoke their first words, took their first steps, and reached their milestones. I knew to purchase the book “What to Expect When You Are Expecting.” I had a semblance of a plan with my husband of what to do or expect.
So, when my daughter was here and began to take her first steps, say her first words, and begin to miss milestones; I began to inwardly panic.
You see she born under fetal distress. I was in labor and didn’t feel any of my contractions. When I did, it was really the time I should have been pushing her out. Not to mention I hadn’t dilated at all. What became an exciting moment turned into 45 minutes of sheer terror for me. I had an emergency C-section. She had pooped inside my belly before she was born. Fast forward, tired but relieved, she was placed in my arms.
All was well with the world, save a few bad nights of colic fits, gastric reflux, occasional cold, bronchitis and ear infection. I went back to work after three months. My mother-in-law took care of her for me. Her first year was a happy one. Even though my husband and I was surrounded by ridiculous family drama that year, our daughter was perfect, happily growing and beautiful.
So, all those thoughts of something being wrong here kept coming up when I saw her not pronounce her words correctly, struggling to communicate and having to translate to my family and in-laws what she trying to say. At 3 years old, I was terrified to put her in PreK 3 because since she wasn’t speaking at all but a few words, I thought the right choice was to hold her back. I was told later that was a wrong decision and I just should have placed her anyways and she would have started talking immediately. Well, she still didn’t. We had her in a bubble because we were scared. What if something happened to her and she couldn’t tell me.
In the Latin culture, you have many tell you, don’t stress it. You are reading too much into it. Every child doesn’t reach milestones at the same time as others. That’s true to a point. However, there is a milestone timeline specialists and pediatricians’ use. It is necessary to be able to properly diagnose a child’s early development and alert the parent if there is an issue.
I also had family members and friends telling me if you think there is something wrong, forget what anyone else says and address it. The problem was I hesitated. I used the fact I was working full time and therefore I couldn’t take time off to address her needs. I think I was more worried about hearing what they would find.
No matter, my mistake was I should have been more proactive. If I had the chance to do it all again, I would have taken her to a neurologist. I would have gotten her speech therapy and occupational therapy at age 3 yrs. I would have ignored the ‘don’t stressors’ and made sure I had answers sooner. I would have not waited till she hit rock bottom in 3rd grade to where most children do before they are diagnosed with a learning disability/difference along with her other diagnosis. The only thing I did right was move her from the private school that wasn’t addressing her needs to one that immediately saw her areas needing attention and jumped on it.
I can say from the moment I had my answers. My husband and I went forward and didn’t look back. In moving her to right school she really blossomed. Where she hated school before and dreaded the mornings, I finally had her heading to school with a smile on her face. She started learning and retained the information. Her anxiety was considerable better. She had catching up to do in the social department where she was withdrawn at school before she was now participating and opening up to express her feelings.
She still has her memories of being teased by other children from her old schools. She still grapples with wondering what her future will be like and how successful she can be in the world we live in right now. She understands and accepts her limitations but knows it doesn’t define her. Now she is dealing with high school and all that comes with it. But that’s another blog for another day.
What’s the moral to my story? I have met and sought counsel from many teachers, principals, pediatricians’, psychologists, neurologists and all of it can be very exhausting. And no there is no one size fits all for each child. But what I can tell is this…listen to your gut. Don’t let anyone tell you there is nothing wrong.
Us mothers/fathers (don’t want to forget fathers) have a sixth sense and it something that God gave us to know when we need to step in and help our children. Trust your instincts. Sometimes they are screaming at us. It is ok to fight for your child. It is ok not to always agree with your teacher when they say everything is fine. It is ok to press a little further when your pediatrician says, I find nothing wrong. The one moment can make all the difference in the outcome.
Remember, you are their advocate, their lawyer, their coach, their counselor, their friend, and above all their parent. If you can’t or don’t fight for them…who will?
Thank you for reading! Please feel free to comment below. I will be posting this on my socia media accounts as well!
Have a great day! Be safe and make good decisions out there.