Category Archives: education

Benefits of Hitting a Brick Wall

When I started this blog my intent was to begin building a reader base and to also write a book about the events that surrounded my husband and I attempting to foster and adopt our granddaughters.  We were denied contact, denied the ability to foster, DHS fought the recommendation in our favor on adopting the oldest child, and the girls were eventually adopted out to strangers, not family.  I wrote about it in Attempted Adoption: An Emotional Whirlwind three years ago.

I also began a memoir at the same time about the events surrounding that time in our life.  I got the first draft of the first four chapters written and then my life turned into a turmoil and I sat it aside.  I have had it tumbling around in my brain and do want to get back into the writing.

At the time I was working on those first four chapters I knew something didn’t seem right but I couldn’t figure out what it was.  I have just completed reading  The Truth of Memoir by Kerry Cohen and now know what was wrong.   I was writing when I was still angry at what happened.  If you write from an angry/frustrated viewpoint you do not treat the people in your book fairly.  I wanted to get back at Child Protective Services, Department of Human Services, Michigan Children’s Institute, the guardian ad litem, the judge…everyone who had a part in denying us our grandchildren.  There were other people who also frustrated me, such as my son’s ex-wife who was addicted to pain killers, which played a roll in the children being taken, and my son who was caught doing home invasions and went to prison for a lengthy enough period of time that his parental rights would be terminated.

When I started the book I felt it important to tell our story, to help people realize that this is a corrupt system and it is a nationwide problem.  At the same time I was out to make those I felt treated us unfairly look bad.  While their behavior may have been deplorable, I still need to treat them with fairness in the book, meaning I need to stress that it is my viewpoint.  I also need to make allowances for the fact that these people were doing their job, and recognize that it can be a pretty horrid job to be involved in.  While emotion is important to a memoir, so is understanding and fairness.

Memoir - not about blame or hurtSo what do I do now?  I pick up where I left off and keep on writing.  When I have completed the first draft I will go back and re-work, edit, and tweak every chapter.  From a legal standpoint I have to determine for which persons I will use real names and which people will have their name changed.  As I work my way through the writing and editing process I may on occasion share a small section here as a post.

My brick wall was life, but in the end it was a good wall to hit when it came to my writing.  I have had time to process the events now.  While I may not agree with the process and outcome, I can now deal more fairly with each person in my memoir.  The benefit of hitting that wall is that my writing will now be better because of it.

 

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Filed under Adoption, celebration, Child Protective Services, children, Coping, CPS, Department of Human Services, DHS, education, Family, Foster Care, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir

Why do we have to play fair?

In my local newspaper this week there was a comic posted that said “and for those who did not graduate today…Please step to the stage to receive your Certificate of Participation.”

Sadly, that is what this country is coming to.  Those who achieve are not given proper recognition because it might hurt the feelings of those who did not achieve.

Earlier this month I learned about a Texas high school that would not allow students to wear their National Honor Society stoles during graduation. This is an honor, those students worked hard to achieve those honors and deserve the recognition.  What was the schools reason for banning the stole?  Administration was fearful that other students might feel excluded.EPSON MFP image

Hello world!  If you do not do the work to achieve then you should be excluded.  That is life!  That is reality!  How can we expect people to lead balanced, productive lives if they never learn that life isn’t fair.  Sometimes you win, sometimes you loose.  Regardless of what happens you continue to move forward and improve yourself.  You struggle, you push forward, you cope.

This is not a new thought process.  It began years ago.  When I was in school not everyone made the sports teams, not everyone won the spelling bee, not everyone was in the speedy readers group.  Some people just weren’t good enough.  If you participated in an activity some people got ribbons for winning, some people got nothing.  That was the way it was and we all knew it.  Whatever you were doing some received recognition for being the best, some people sat on the sidelines with a dream of someday achieving great things as well.  Dreams.  Goals.  Striving for a better future.

Then somewhere along the line people decided that wasn’t fair.  Every child should have the opportunity to be on the team.  Every child should be recognized for their participation.  Everyone should receive a special certificate, not just a chosen few.    It has to be fair, no one should feel left out.  No one should feel they have underachieved.

fair getting what need to be successfulHave we really done those children a favor?  I don’t believe so.  If a child never learns that sometimes life isn’t fair, that sometimes you win and sometimes you loose and that is okay, how can they learn to cope with the realities of life when they become an adult.  They don’t.  I think that is why we have so much violence, so many underachievers.  They never learned to push for the top.  It has been handed to them every step of the way.

I realize that there are some people who simply do not have the ability to achieve greatness.  They may have developmental disabilities, they may be physically impaired, That is okay.  People are different.  Don’t hand them a sympathy ribbon.  Let them compete at their own level with others on the same plateau they are and let them achieve greatness within a group of their own peers.  This will help them learn to work toward a goal and obtain recognition for hard work.

If we go back to letting children experience wins and losses they will learn to cope with life.  They will learn to set goals and improve themselves.  They will have more self-worth than they have by constantly receiving a token certificate of recognition.   Don’t they deserve that?  I think they do.

 

 

 

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Filed under children, Coping, decisions, education, Family, kids, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, parents, reality, school

Evolution of Women

The passage of time can make one forget the history they have lived through or witnessed.  We are so used to having women executives, doctors, police officers, professional athletes, newscasters, and more that we forget there was a time in the not so distance past when those type of careers were not possible for women.

I stumbled upon some newspaper articles from 1972, 1976 and 1980 regarding women and their changing role in society.  It was interesting to read what people thought and accomplished back then.  My teen years, the 1970’s, were spent during a time of great strides in equality and achievement for women.   Not all believed those accomplishments were to the woman’s benefit.70's picketers equal rights

Women that were 92 years old and 73 years old contributed to an article written in 1976.  These women believed that in the past men treated women with much more respect.  Women were treated like fine porcelain, something special that a man was lucky to get.  These elderly women felt times were better when women were put on a pedestal and a “man was a man” and provider.  Women were homemakers, did not vote, did not work outside the home, and were never subjected to profanity.  Women were the protected sex.  70's screw sexists

But women did not want to be protected.  They wanted to achieve equal rights, and the 1970’s helped them march toward that goal.  An article I read from 1980 stated that the status of women has never been altered so suddenly or dramatically as in the 1970s.  Until I read the article it never occurred to me, but in brought back memories.  I do remember these things being achieved and making news.  Here are a few 1970’s achievements:

  • Equal Rights Amendment
  • Introduction of the word chairperson and Ms.
  • Legal permission for women to keep their names after marriage
  • Title IX of the Education Amendments in 1972 prohibited discrimination in education.
  • Boom in women participating in collegiate sports
  • Class action lawsuits for sex discrimination
  • Forbid sex bias with creditors against women — prior to this a woman had to obtain her husband’s consent to obtain credit in her own name.
  • Unemployment benefits could not be withheld from pregnant women
  • Pregnancy Discrimination Act in 1978 prevented women from getting fired from their workplace for being pregnant.
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 1980 was the first time the court recognized sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • 1972 – Ability to participate in the Boston Marathon.
  • Most states would recognize marital rape, but it did not become criminalized until 1993.
  • Roe v. Wade, 1973 protected woman’s right to have an abortion.
  • Girls obtained the right to play little league baseball.
  • Service academies were ordered to admit women
  • Women became more visible politically
  • Big gains in sports: women became jockies, professional players of basketball, tennis, golf and football;
  • Large gains in jobs:  firefighters, police, construction, building trades, airline pilots.

70's - picketers against eraEven with all those accomplishments there was still inequality.  Equal pay for equal work was not achieved in 1980.  Women still held was were termed “pink collar” jobs, meaning they still held the lesser level and lower paying jobs of secretary an clerk.  Women earned 57% of men’s wages; women with four years of college earn less than a man with an 8th grade education.

When something stirs a memory, other memories come into play.  I remember my parents discussing some of those achievements with disgust.  They too felt that women were overstepping their boundaries and becoming unfeminine.    Women today acknowledge their feminine side in dressing, but in the 1970’s the goal was to achieve a look similar to a mans.  Pantsuits were high fashion.  To accomplish your goals in a man’s world you must look and act like a man.  70's - Mood in 70's

The Evolution of Women has taken place, and the female gender continues to evolve as we achieve greater standing in the eyes of the world.  It will be interesting to see where this next decade takes us.

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Filed under career, communication, Coping, decisions, education, employment, handicapp, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, time

Toot My Own Horn

As a writer I love putting thoughts down and sharing them. This week I am going to share two columns I recently had printed in the local paper…I’m going to toot my own horn.

It seems as if the government is getting involved in our lives more and more, taking control in areas they never have in the past. Once such area has to do with the regulation of school lunches, so I wrote a column School Food Guidelines Will Not Solve Kids’ Nutrition Problems. I am sharing it with you here both as a link and with a copy of the column posted below in case the link no longer functions, as sometimes happens with newspapers.

The other column is on a subject much more personal to me.  My grandchildren were taken by CPS, parental rights terminated and although my husband and I tried to foster and adopt our granddaughters CPS/DHS fought us all the way. That battle is the subject of a book I am writing. I recently wrote a column that Foster Care Policy Change is Modest Given the Need for Reform.

I hope you enjoy the subjects on which I have chosen to “toot my own horn”. If you have any accomplishments to share, please do in the comments section below.

Times Herald Column - Foster Care Policy Change Times Herald Column - School Food Guidelines

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Filed under Adoption, Child Protective Services, children, CPS, Department of Human Services, DHS, education, Family, food, Foster Care, grandchildren, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, lunch, nutrician, school

Let’s Get Prepped

Corbins First Day  of Preschool September 3, 2014

Corbin ready for preschool. Photo by Caroline Kelch.

This week as the children in Michigan returned to school I was thinking about how the more things change, the more they stay the same.  There were numerous Facebook postings of children on the first day back at school.  Photos were posted of my grandsons.  I don’t remember my mother taking the “first day” photographs every year, but I did take them of my children and that seems to be a popular modern activity.   In reflecting on back-to-school preparation and school routines there are generational similarities that may or may not be an improvement.

Austin and Corbin ready for school.  Photos by Caroline Kelch.

Austin and Corbin ready for school. Photos by Caroline Kelch.

I was of elementary school age in the 1960’s.  Back-to-school preparation involved getting 2-3 new outfits, new shoes, tennis shoes for gym class, new pencils, an eraser, a box of crayola crayons and a notebook and loose leaf notebook paper, and of course your metal lunch box, carefully selected with your favorite TV show on the outside and a matching thermos to carry your beverage.  There were no book bags or backpacks.

If you lived in town you walked to school, if you lived in the country you rode a bus.   There is a home movie of me and other students walking to school my kindergarten year on the shoulder of a road.  There were no sidewalks and we walked with cars driving past us on the roadway.  My first grade year we moved to the small town where I grew up.  Subdivision streets did not have sidewalks, so again we all walked on the side of the road.  Somehow we all managed to survive the hike each way without anyone getting killed or kidnapped.   Today’s parents would most likely cringe at the thought of sending their young children out to endure such a walk on a daily basis.

In the classroom each student had a desk with a lift up top so you could store all your supplies inside.     School started at 9:00 am with the Pledge of Allegiance, and then class instruction began.  There was a 15 minute recess in the morning,  and another recess in the afternoon.  A hot lunch could be Back to School Desk 1960spurchased or students could pack there own, and there were no restrictions on what could or could not be brought to school to eat.  Lunch was a one-hour period in which students sat wherever they wished in the cafeteria and once done eating would get up and go outside to play for the remainder of the lunch period.  If it was cold weather this involved walking back to your classroom area, unsupervised, to put on your hat, boots, etc. and then exit onto the playground.    School was dismissed around 3:20 pm.  Latch-key did not exist, everyone went home after school.    While some kids had extracurricular activities, for the most part the time after school was open for to play with friends, watch TV or do chores.  Elementary level students rarely had homework.

When my children were in elementary school in the early 1990’s shopping for school included several outfits, shoes, gym shoes, backpack, folders, spiral notebooks, pens, pencils, crayons, colored pencils, Kleenex, glue sticks, highlighters, red pencils,  lunch boxes, thermos, and other items I have since forgotten.    If you lived within a mile of the school your child was a “walker”, but the majority of the parents drove their children to school.  There was always a long line of vehicles going in and out of the school parking lot.  School began with announcements over the intercom system and each classroom then had the option of saying the Pledge of Allegiance.  When my oldest child was in third grade the district we lived in eliminated recess and it was Back to School Suppliesnever restored.  The only physical outlet the children had was gym class once a week, and art class.  Children who could not sit still or pay attention for extended periods of time were diagnosed with ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and medicated.   At lunch time students had assigned tables, sat with their classmates, and had to remain there until lunch was over.  Lunch was a quick affair, only 20-30 minutes to get your food and eat.  If a child forgot their lunch money or lunch they were offered a free peanut butter and jelly sandwich.    With most children coming from two income families, many children went to latch-key after school or had other organized activities in which they participated either immediately after school or in the evening.    My kids were no exception, participating in cub scouts, girl scouts, Awana, Karate, dance, and probably a few other things I have forgotten.

Now zoom forward to the 2010’s.  I  have grandchildren who are in elementary school.  Clothing and shoe requirements are about the same as they were when my children were young.  Backpacks are a must and children ride the bus to school even if they live in town.  My daughter deals with a lengthy list of required school supplies.  Many schools have supply lists available in advance at major stores so people can stock up.  You are not purchasing supplies for just your child, some items are shared with the entire classroom.  Required supply lists include notebooks, paper, folders, pencils, pens, highlighters, markers, glue pens, erasers, scissors, Kleenex, hand sanitizer, and snacks to share with the class.  Young children often have a lunch box as well.  Schools are managed tightly for security, teachers meet the youngest grades outside as they exit the bus, and escort them back to their buses at the end of the day.  Entrance to the school is only possible through the main entrance, all other doors are locked to prevent entry from the outside.  Most schools have eliminated the Pledge of Allegiance because of its reference to “One Nation Under God” and the fact that this reference might offend some people.  Classrooms have a mid-morning snack time using food provided by students.   Classrooms and/or schools may have restrictions on certain food items due to other children having allergies, with peanuts and/or peanut butter being a frequent restriction.  I believe there is limited recess time for the children to go outside and play and do not know what the arrangements are for lunchtime seating but assume it is a controlled and organized system.  Many children are scheduled with after school activities.Back to School Bus

What I question is whether things have improved over the generations.  Things were far more relaxed in the 60’s and 70’s than they are now.  There was less structure giving children more  opportunities to make their own decisions and they had more unscheduled free time.  More time was allotted for play/recess during the school day which allowed students to expel excess energy and learn social skills such as how to resolve conflicts on their own.  You rarely heard of children being medicated for disorders, allergies were practically non-existent, and violence such as stabbings and shootings in schools were extremely rare, basically non-existent.  If children got into a conflict or fight they may have been sent to the principal’s office, but suspensions from school for such conflicts were not common.  If our parents worked we went to a friends house after school or by around age 11 were allowed to let ourselves into the house and stay there alone until our parents came home.  Actually many of us were babysitting other children by the age of 11 or 12.    Parents of today may read this and wonder how we survived without having our lives properly organized.  The answer, we learned how to cope with boredom, how to socialize and resolve conflicts without violence and how to take care of ourselves so that we were well prepared to go out into the world and be productive members of society.

School - How do you turn this thing onChildren that grew up in the 80’s, 90’s and the 2000’s have led a much more structured lifestyle.  Their time has been mapped out for them with activities, video games and TV to prevent boredom.  School days are organized with where to sit, who to socialize with at lunch, and any physical or verbal conflict results in suspension due to “zero tolerance” policies.   Children do not learn how to conquer boredom, resolve conflicts or care for themselves because their time and care is mapped out for them on an hour-by-hour basis.  In my opinion this has resulted in increased violence amongst young people who are frustrated, angry, over-scheduled, and have never learned coping mechanisms for boredom and conflicts.  While not all children demonstrate these symptoms and many are successful, there are also a high number who are unable to adjust to the realities of adult responsibilities.

While it is doubtful that things will ever change back to what they were in prior generations, I think it is important to look at the overall affect our lifestyle is having on our children and try to make whatever adjustments we can to make sure that they learn all the skills they need to be successful academically and socially in school and later in their adult years.

I welcome thoughts on what you think on this topic.  Whether you agree or disagree, an active discussion is a great way to open minds and consider different viewpoints.

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Filed under children, education, Family, grandchildren, kids, Life is a Melting Pot, school