Speaking Up is Hard to Do

Even alligators can have a tough time sticking up for themselves once in a while.

During the drama associated with the Senate confirmation (or not) of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court, I’m reminded of how unfairly hard it can be to speak up for oneself.

Despite the sincerity and bravery associated with Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee regarding the alleged sexual assault she sustained at the hands of Judge Kavanaugh some 36 years ago, a lot of people have felt motivated to heap criticism upon Dr. Ford’s testimony and continue to support Judge Kavanaugh, no matter what he has done.

Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley said that he believes the testimony Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, but he isn’t convinced that Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh was the person who committed the assault, even though she testified of being 100% sure. Utah Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah had this to say: “I don’t think she’s uncredible. I think she’s an attractive, good witness.” Of course, President Trump couldn’t resist putting in his two cents either, mocking Dr. Ford by saying, “How did you get home? I don’t remember. How’d you get there? I don’t remember. Where is the place? I don’t remember. How many years ago was it? I don’t know.”

It’s no wonder that in the midst of this national spectacle, it’s hard for little people to speak up too. My 6-year-old grandson has been targeted by his class bully for several weeks now. According to my GS, his teacher, other teachers, fellow students, and the parents of fellow students, he (and others) have been hit, chocked, knocked down, punched, and chased around the playground by this explosive child.

A couple of days ago, I finally decided enough is enough and I called the principal. While sounding extremely sympathetic and assuring me that he was doing everything possible to get the situation under control, he also made the following comments:

“Decisions regarding matters like this are not made only by one person.”

“We’re trying to use positive reinforcement to encourage him to make better choices.”

“Every child has the right to an education, even those who can sometimes be disruptive to the other students.”

“There’s a lot of red tape behind taking action on something like this.”

“I’ve heard [from the bully and his mother] that your GS has called this child ‘mean and rude,’ which has upset him and instigated the outbursts.”

In other words: THE BULLY IS REALLY THE VICTIM. NOTHING IS GOING TO CHANGE, AT LEAST UNTIL SOMEONE REALLY GETS HURT.

Sound familiar? Unfortunately, based on what I’ve seen happen in the past couple of days (and years), I have little doubt that in the near future, Brett Kavanaugh will be sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court, and this bully will still be in my GS’s first grade class, free to do what he wants at the expense of others.

But being the optimistic Nana that I am, I really hope I’m wrong.

I’m a Nana, and I Have Rights Too

“Johnny Appleseed” by GS. 🙂

I recently had a visit from someone I’ve known since I was 10. It was of course great to see her and talk about old times, but it also reminded me of a painful truth I’ve learned since becoming a Nana and that “Addict’s Mom” — unless people have walked in your shoes (no matter how long you’ve known them or how good a friend you consider them to be), they likely aren’t going to understand the life and times of a Nana raising her grandchildren.

Besides our relative ages, I just don’t seem to have much in common with old friends these days. Their children (if they have any) are long ago grown and gone, off raising their own children. But that is not my reality. My days are filled with getting kids ready for school, picking them up after, taking them to what already seems to be too many after school activities, and cramming in a little work whenever I can.

Retired empty-nesters just don’t get it.

But I have always had a close relationship with this person, so despite my better judgment, I answered some probing questions about my AD, the kids, and how my life in general is going. I told her it was lonely sometimes, relating an especially painful experience I’d had a couple Thanksgivings ago, when we were “uninvited” to a sister-in-law’s holiday dinner after we asked if we could bring our AD, who was able to get a day pass from the rehab she was currently in. “Sorry, we don’t want her around our grandchildren,” was the response. “But the rest of you can still come – hope this doesn’t affect our relationship.”

Unfortunately, it did affect the relationship, and we haven’t spent much time together since. I wish I could say this was the only time a family member or friend has been too busy to see us or somehow left us off their guest list (how does that happen?), but it isn’t. Not by a long shot. And despite the incredibly thick skin I’ve developed over the past few years, it still hurts sometimes.

When I related this story to my visitor, she replied, “Well, that was their right, and you just have to respect it.”

Ouch. Another scab ripped off an old wound, followed by the little voice in my head that pipes up after such reality checks – “Well, duh! You know better than to actually be honest and expect anyone to understand how you feel, to have empathy for your situation! You did it again, idiot!”

But after a week or so of healing and reflection, I’ve come to this conclusion: I’m a Nana, and I have rights too! I have the right to avoid narrow-minded, judgmental people who have no idea what my life is like, and refuse to answer their well-intended (NOT!) questions! I have a right to refuse to open myself up to comments that hurt me, offered by people who have absolutely no right to judge me.

If I really need to talk, I’ll have to do it at my Parents of Addicted Loved Ones (PAL) group. For those of you who might be looking for a non-judgmental shoulder to cry on and some authentic support, consider checking out PAL. Like me, you’ll probably find some people there who truly understand your situation because they’ve been there, and are not just looking for a reason to say, “Well, my kids certainly never did THAT! My life is actually pretty good, at least compared to yours.”

Before you ask, yes, another good “friend” said that to me six years ago. I’m a really slow learner.