Category Archives: child visitation

A Quest for Forgiveness

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I watched the movie, “Philomena,” at home with all the lights turned out. I

usually like to watch movies with someone. I had reserved this at the library,

for my good friend, Jenny, and I to watch. Her aunt died, unfortunately, and

they were going to be away. Although I mention her death, it is something

that Jenny and her family have chosen to view as ‘for the best,’ due to her

declining health and age. Just so you know.

 

I was by myself absorbing a piece of history, a time where there were some

“edges” to the kindness, found in religion. Judgment went hand in hand with

the predicament that Philomena got into. There was a sad part of this movie,

which will not ‘ruin’ it for you, that must be talked about.

 

Since no one was there, to discuss and ponder with, after the movie ended.

You will be my person I go to, who may contemplate what bothered me about

the movie. I wonder why some people who take on positions, like a particular

nun in Philomena’s life, have to be so cruel?

 

The man, Martin Sixsmith, who was a journalist and someone who liked to

write about ‘straight news,’ was assigned a ‘fluff piece,’ or so he thought. He

ended up becoming involved with a woman’s life, which ultimately changed

his life.

Martin Sixsmith wrote a book that was published in 2009 called, “The Lost

Child of Philomena Lee.” I will recommend this, before even reading it.

When life slows down in my ‘day job’ at the warehouse, (busy summers, less

so, in the winters) I will be getting this book out of the library to read.

My grandchildren will soon be back to school, so less busy times ahead in the

evenings for me. I will enjoy reading this fine story, despite my knowing its

ending. The details that are given within books, images and evocative incidents

resonate so much more when the words weave their tale.

The story of how Philomena gets pregnant is brief. It is a fleeting, emotional

choice; yet it shows her affection and interest in the young man. There are many

times in her life, she may have regretted this moment. Overall, it did not dampen

her outward spirits. Philomena is such a positive source of light and laughter.

She reminded me of the zany character of my Great Aunt Marie. Philomena has

‘gumption!’

She tells most of her stories to Martin with levity, without too many complaints.

She does hide her shame and her inward remorse, for what she did. She admits

to saying the rosary and going to confession many, many times, over the years.

It is when her son would have turned 50, that she mentions it finally to her own

daughter, she raised in wedlock. Her daughter is catering an event for Martin’s

fiftieth birthday, that is how the story begin. . .

 

She was a teenager, taken to stay at a home for expectant mothers. The nun’s

emphasis of their being “unwed mothers” is stressed in a negative fashion.

 

Parents trying to connect with their child they put up for adoption, adults who

were put up for adoption and anyone who enjoys a good, heart-wrenching story,

will all enjoy this movie. I am sure you will find meaning in the book, too. After

all, it inspired a wonderful and well-received movie.

 

Thousands of Irish-Catholic adopted children, raised to adulthood, are still

trying to find their ‘roots.’ They are wanting to find their heritage and their

families. The reasons for the secretive records are disclosed in the book and

the movie.

The ‘nunnery’ she was sent to live until her child was born, was named, Sacred

Heart. It held a serious (sanctimonious) attitude towards ‘sin.’

The expectant mothers were supposed to work, for their ‘room and board.’ They

had to do this 5-6 days a week. Philomena’s job was laundry, by hand, with lye

soap. Scrubbing their skin off their young hands, under rough and hot conditions.

 

One self-righteous nun, Philomena remembers, was cruel in her expectations

of these young women who were away from their families and homes. Sadly, the

head nun’s attitude was expressed, “Atonement is required for your sins.”

Not that these girls, didn’t go to Confession as often as possible!

 

The babies were only allowed to be seen once a day by their mothers, if their work

was done.

 

At one point, I was bawling, tears streaming and sobs ensuing. There was a place

on one of the simple cots they slept on, if Philomena stood on it, it brought back

the memory of her son being taken away in a car. His face is pressed to the window.

 

You know this, from the very beginning:

Philomena didn’t want to give up her baby boy.

 

The story from beginning to end, includes a lot of fun and silly parts. Martin’s

teasing Philomena and Philomena’s assessments of life, people and situations

all are so special, warm and happy. You will carry the part that Judi Dench

portrayed, this amazing woman, who did become a nurse and did try to lead a

righteous life, in your head for days. It has taken me since Friday, to put into

words, the way I came to love Philomena.

 

Judi Dench did not win an Academy Award, nor was Steven Coogan nominated,

but this movie is stellar.

 

Judi Dench did an outstanding job in her 2013 portrayal of this indomitable lady.

“Philomena” will steal a piece of your heart.

Active Vs. Passive Learning

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While I have some ‘brainiacs’ in my family, my brother
and sister in law both have PhD’s and my Mom has her
Master’s, they are basically pro-public schools. They
had a lively dinner conversation over smoky brats, hot
dogs and hamburgers. We were talking about my coworker,
Keith, and his daughter, Ashley.
Rich taught in Cleveland Public Schools with a Learning
Disabilities classroom for 20 years, Susan is an English
Professor at Baldwyn Wallace, and my Mom taught in Westlake
City Schools (plus a few years in Vermilion and Sandusky
high schools). I have experience with fourth, fifth, sixth
and preschool integrated classrooms (special needs blended
with typically developing peers.) Randy is a graduate of OSU
with a fine arts degree, Susan’s daughter is a judicial
clerk with a Law degree, along with her husband who has
a degree in computers. Everyone may not have taken direct
part in this lively discussion but many times my grandniece
and grandnephew, Emma and Robby may have created some fun
and “cute” distractions!
When I asked Keith how Ashley’s first week of school
was going, he let me know that he was allowing her to
be home-schooled.
Some background information, I wrote a blog about this
little duo and Ashley’s unfortunate bullying experiences
on the bus. Ashley is overweight and I feel, without
even meeting her, that she may have some learning
disabilities. She is strong in her computer and math
skills but not in her reading and spelling skills. When
two areas are strong and opposing ones are weak, this
disparity shows strengths and weaknesses. But, usually
it also means LD labeling and some tutoring and special
needs’ arrangements through an IEP. (Individualized
Educational Plan)
I thought it was unfair she got thrown off her bus due
to the way she reacted to teasing by other bus mates.
I thought it was brave and very challenging that Keith
was able to get more of the custodial parenting
responsibilities through a year’s worth of “battle”
with his ex-wife whose present husband and her stepson,
were actually “bullying” within their own family structure.
This also included throwing a little “mud” and getting
some counselors behind Keith.
So, I was dismayed that Keith was giving up having Ashley
learn through a new teacher and situation. Instead, she
logs on and is monitored while he is at work and she
spends so many hours doing assignments. Once in awhile,
she will ask her mother when on a visitation or her Dad
for help. Each time they are trying to encourage her to
do the thinking.
When this subject was brought up, the family all pitched
ideas to present to Keith to make Ashley’s curriculum
more well rounded. One way they thought would help her
to learn more was to have “projects” where she could
do more active learning. She could research and then
do some homemade experiments for science, some hand
made posters and models for her book reports or history
lessons. She could also be taken to museums over the
weekend. The Columbus Art Museum has free admission
on Sundays.
There might be a local Homeschooling group that would
join forces and include Ashley. Sometimes smaller groups
can include someone better than large classroom settings
and this could have been accomplished, also, within the
school system: I would pair her with a more ‘popular’
or outgoing student on these projects. I also had used
a “loner” student while I taught sixth grade Language
Arts to stay in and make bulletin boards while given
a subject matter and his own freedom to choose how to
interpret the subject. (Christopher would be around
47 years old now…)
Mom said that church youth group, Girl Scouts and other social
groups, like 4H would be great ways to make her life more
well rounded in the social aspects. I will mention this along
with the other suggestions, that you my fine readers may supply!
Keith is a nice man who likes to play learning games
so I think he may be open to suggestions. I am tempted
to give him a written compilation of these, but would
also like to “use” my teaching associates out there,
parents who have home-schooled and parents who have
had to come up with their own workable strategies to
bring added dimension and success to their children
or students.
This is my plea, so please respond and help me out.
I am interested in your views on home schooling and
computer learning versus classroom learning where
there is a social structure. I also think that Ashley
needs to have exercise, so am not sure how to deal
with this.

When I wrote about Keith and Ashley she was 10 years old
and in fourth grade in a county school. She is now 11
years old and would have been in fifth grade. This may
help with any and all advice, suggestions or comments you
may make!
Thank you, as always, Robin

Breaking and Entering: He gives his “Best Defense!”

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I have been over at my son and daughter in law’s home, probably

abouf five or six times since my grandson, Landen, went into a

neighbor of his Dad’s house in the middle of the night. You may or

may not have read the first part of the story…

Landen is a precocious boy, who spends a lot of time drawing very

ornate and creative “treasure maps.” He is also good at drawing

mazes and adding interesting details. He made one for my Mom

this past weekend, while the three girls painted with watercolors

out in the back yard. We were all sitting under this beautiful

sycamore tree that has such wide branches that there is a baby

swing on one lower branch and a big kid’s tire swing on another.

I would like to tell you, each time I visit, I enjoy my time there but

if any of you have multiple grandchildren, you may understand

this next statement: It is very difficult to “isolate” and talk to just

one. If you read a book, it is to all of them! If you want to know

the “back story” on why in the world Landen would wander into

another person’s house, it will take you awhile to get to him,

without an audience! He is too old to follow into the bathroom.

He is also very skilled when it comes to asking if anyone wants

to help go get some popsicles? He dodges those kind of ‘helping

questions’ and leaves it up to one of the three girls (ages 2, 4

and 9).

So, finally when I heard him say, under his breath, “I need to go

inside and find the colored pencils.”

I blurted out, “I am thirsty and need to go get water. I will bring

back some more water bottles for the rest of you.”

That left the girls happily swirling their watercolors, the littlest

one who likes to make polka dots on her page, carefully dipping

the paintbrush into the water. She has learned through my daughter

in law’s guidance and “Homework Club” all summer by the way, how

to color inside the lines. (She also is fully potty trained thus being able

2 weekends ago to spend the night at Nana’s house.) Also,as mentioned,

she cleans her paintbrush before switching colors andgetting loaded

with more watercolor paint. A few dismayed times of coming up with a

“blackish” painting because she would mix the colors and she “caught

on!” (Makyah turned two in March this year!)

Anyway, I casually followed Landen who was rapidly stalking off to

find his hidden ‘stash’ from the girls, set of colored pencils. I followed

him into the playroom, saying, “Hey, Landen…”

I waited to see his serious blue eyes looking through his little glasses

at me.

“So,”

(now with a seven year old, only one male among the 4 kids, you need

to appear nonchalant. Treading lightly is the key here to getting any

kind of ‘confession!’ He is very likely to start denying any and all

misbehaviors, whether he did them or not!),

“I missed why it was that you were over at your Dad’s neighbor’s

house while it was dark and late. Do you mind letting me know what

was going on in your mind?”

(I wanted to yell, “What were you thinking, Landen!!” but I refrained!)

I quickly added, “No big deal, in my mind, I am sure you were sorry

afterwards!”

Landen, looked at me and then he looked down, he told me this

possible truth, “I was on ‘green card’ the whole first week of school,

Nana!”

Hmmm, pretty good at avoiding direct ‘confessions.’ Almost ‘criminal’

in his Master Mind thinking!

I looked at him and gave him my biggest and most sincere smile, with

a little bit of sympathy thrown in, to boot.

I did not say a word. This tactic used to get my son, Jamie, to confess

almost anything!

Landen started to look in a set of drawers his Mom keeps the family

documents. This is in a tall metal piece of office equipment, her filing

cabinet. I looked at him and finally I BROKE MY SILENCE! I am not

so good at this, apparently, as I used to be!

I asked him, “Are you allowed in those drawers?”

As he pulled the bottom one open, I saw a treasure trove of boy

stuff: a plastic water gun, a jack knife, a slinky, a sling shot along

with varied art supplies, some colored markers and colored pencils.

He slid the pencils out, and slammed the metal drawer shut.

Then, he sat cross legged on the floor,

“Okay, Nana, here’s the thing. I was over about a month ago to

play with Stevie. I had a nice time and when I was going home

to eat dinner, Stevie’s mother said to me,

“Why Landen, you are so polite. I heard you sharing nicely with

Steven. You are welcome anytime.”

That was his “defense” statement. I really could see his point, there

were no parameters to the open ended offer of hospitality from the

neighbor lady.

Apparently, before ‘breaking and entering’ or as one of my very wise

commenters (Wyrd Smythe) pointed out, it was more like ‘trespassing’

since the front door was not locked, Landen had made a positive

impression on said neighbors. Although they heard rummaging around

in their home and thought they heard the noise of toys, you would

have thought that suspicious; not a robber, but a child…

I would have thought they would have come downstairs before

calling the police!

I will tell you my opinion, I think Landen was not used to listening to

figurative use of language. He is a very literal kind of boy when it

comes to rules. He is used to staying out of trouble by staying in

the ‘green card’ area, at school. He worries if he ventures into

‘yellow card’ area…

He may not have realized the difference between an offer of

kindness and what that meant, as far as time and place. He has

some ‘gray’ areas when it comes to “real” and “imaginary” friends.

So, his use of imagination may have come into play. One thing I

noticed, though, he did not bother to make up any other excuses

to tell me. Nor did he dwell on the way he was thinking.

We all have our own versions of the “truth.”

Apparently, Landen decided on his “best defense” and he is sticking

to it!

My verdict: Not guilty.

Punishment (Sentence given): Landen needs to have more definite

and specific rules.

# 1:  Stay in the house when your Dad and stepmom are in bed!

Point of View

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This post is going to shake things up because most people I know have

extreme polar opposite opinions on men in children’s bedrooms. This post

pairs a male friend’s experience with accusations in contrast to the famous

and most recent addition to the Michael Jackson scandal.

I have opinions but I try to hold them back on my blog. I want this to be a zany,

fun place to visit or a thought-provoking serious read. I usually don’t want to try

those subjects that are considered controversial or off limits in social settings and

what is considered “polite company”:  sex, politics and religion.

The exceptions are the personal stories that are mine or shared by friends or

acquaintances.

I have a special long time friend who met his present wife while she was still

married. Her husband was estranged. My friend was a single, hard working

teacher in a public elementary school.  The couple met at church. He was

drawn to her intellect, her background and profession of teaching also.  She

was almost ten years older and had children. None of the details concerned

this decent man. He had no doubt that he had met his match. He was, and

always will be, in my mind a most determined and patient person.

Once her husband left her and moved in with another woman, this woman felt

relief. She naturally looked to her new male friend for comfort and guidance.

She did not hesitate to allow him around her children. She felt comfortable inviting

him to all of her children’s soccer games, school band concerts and they all trekked

off their first summer together to woods, lakes, and child oriented destinations.

I was an onlooker most of the time, in awe of such certainty that the first marriage

of the woman was not meant to last forever. That their new relationship was the

beginning of the rest of their lives together. How could they feel so strongly bound

in such a short period of time? They both answered, “God brought us together.”

The young man enjoyed children’s books, his favorites were often in his car, being

reviewed to read to his own classroom of first through third grade children with

learning disabilities. He offered to sit on the girls’ beds at night and read to them

aloud. This made his sweetheart happy since her husband had become very distant

towards the children, had not sat down and eaten a meal with them, let alone read

to them! (Even on their visits to their Dad’s house, they said they ate pizza or fast

food in their rooms.)

It was not noticed when the man was reading on the girls’ bed, that the older brother

felt left out or had mean thoughts. But a sinister and invasive mean thought took hold

of that boy and he got his camera out and took pictures of the teacher, friend, and future

father figure on the girls’ bed. Now, granted there were clothes on the man, his shoes

were on, too. The girls had pajamas on, one tucked under the covers and the other not.

When the subpoena came and the court order arrived, it was shocking and horrendous.

The accusation of my dear friend was that he had ulterior motives, unclean thoughts

and was doing naughty things with those cute little girls in their sweet pajamas!

This shook the relationship to the core! How could the man trust the boy? How could

the mother totally side with her new partner if it meant driving a wedge somehow

between her and her son? And the very worst possible result might be, if this hit the

newspapers or entered the local area gossip mill, this fine teacher of over fifteen years’

service get fired? All over what to most eyes were photographs of a man caring for

children in a very appropriate way?

I would like to ask you, have you heard that Macauley Caulkin had been on overnight

stays at Michael Jackson’s house and never accused him of any misconduct? “Home

Alone” had brought him fame but also it removed him from having regular friends. His

not going to school but being tutored was also what Michael Jackson had been through.

The two of them became friends, different ages, who had “lost their childhood too soon.”

The exotic animals at the zoo on Michael Jackson’s property brought him much joy, he

had had some tough moments, his father was a stern disciplinarian. I have sympathy for

this situation, more than I should perhaps. The latest man stood by M.J. during earlier

accusations while M.J. was alive. This new man coming out of the woodwork, claiming

he had repressed memories of unnatural acts and impropriety is outrageous in my mind!

This is where the polar opposites come into play: Either you believe it is possible to be

friends with someone much younger and get a lot of healthy joy playing, climbing,

jumping with them, watching cartoons, going to a zoo, or an amusement park

or you don’t.

The teacher managed to get enough witnesses and testimony from his girlfriend and

her daughters to “beat the charge.” He did not have to explain to any public education,

his church, or other venues what he had done. He was found innocent of all charges. He

married the woman, he accepted the boy and loved her daughters. When he travels out

west to speak at conferences about his educational theories for math and reading aimed

at children with learning disabilities, he stays with her adult son, wife and child. The

two men love the Cavaliers, Indians and watching sports together bonds them.

The happy ending to this couple’s life is yet to be. But one of their favorite recent memories

is one that happened at her son’s wedding. He stood up and asked the stepfather to come

forward, he said a toast in his honor, not his own father’s honor. No, one to the man who

accepted him, nurtured him, allowed him to develop, think and grow into the fine husband

and father he has become.

The words were simple but sincere: “I wish to thank my stepfather for loving me despite

my obstinance and showing me the way to be a man. You are my role model and my hero.”

 

Too bad that time won’t be able to tell Michael Jackson that the world has forgiven and

forgotten the monetary gains and salacious accusations. All because he wanted to enjoy

hanging out with children instead of adults. Sometimes I prefer the children of the world,

too, M. J.!

Keith and Ashley

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This is a love story about a father who has been a hero to

his daughter. He is a coworker of mine and his name is

Keith. His daughter, Ashley, was living in a challenging

situation where his ex-wife, her mother, was involved with

drugs and alcohol.

Ashley’s mother was unfortunately allowing her stepson to

also run slipshod over her own daughter.

There was potential of the boy pursuing an inappropriate

sexual act with Keith’s daughter. He had several times cornered

her in a room or once in the bathroom.

When Ashley had come to his house for her bimonthly visits

and Keith heard this, his blood boiled! He had decided he

had to at least try to get full custody of Ashley.

The way Keith was able to get the court to stop and notice,

unfortunately was not due to the gross neglect or potential

danger of Ashley. Keith had the school get involved through

official records of her poor attendance record last year. Then

the fact the bus driver called Ashley ‘disorderly’ and she got

kicked off the bus. Added with her low grades and ungroomed

appearance, the school counselor saw all the signs that this

child of 10 years needed to be saved from her own mother.

Keith has finally been awarded full custody. All of his friends

have  been listening and supportive of his decision. It is rare

that a mother loses custody. It is very difficult to have the law

take action to protect the child when the mother has lost interest

in her child’s welfare. The proof was accumulated and even then,

one judge had to be persuaded twice. The first time, he said the

case did not prove her an ‘unfit mother.’

Ashley’s dad has been trying hard for over a year to be able to

get her mother to allow her to come to his house daily to work

on her assignments. Keith did not expect the custody situation

to work out so quickly, thought years would go by, and got the

temporary homework visits passed through mediation rather

than court. Ashley’s grades have been gradually going up and

this makes her Dad so proud of her! This was a positive “proof”

that he was fit!

When the time came where Keith’s lawyer thought that the final

decision might work out in Keith’s favor. He was hoping to win

his custodial case, Keith had had his sister and mother come for

a week to transform Ashley’s bedroom.

Keith built a bookcase, fixed her closet so that it had two racks for

clothing, one lowered for pants and shorts to be able to be hung up,

the higher one with tops, sweaters and jackets. They had bought

clothes that were nice, current fashions and appropriate for school

at thrift stores.

His female family members chose a nice light teal/ light turquoise

color with tan and brown details used in the throw pillows and

curtains. Keith had always kept her room nicely decorated in a

Disney style, more for a younger child. Now that she was growing

older, it was a little hard to believe she was needing a change.

Ashley needs to have pride in her own appearance, her grades, her

home and her bedroom would be a great place to study in now.

Keith hopes that she will make more friends and invite one or two

over to spend the night someday.

Keith built a nice study corner with a desk, bookcase and pretty

chair with a padded seat so Ashley would be comfortable while

studying. Keith also would sit at the kitchen table when he got

home looking over her homework and had taught Ashley to put

stickie notes on places that gave her trouble. She walked home

so she was able to avoid the stepbrother who had started to bully

her and taunted her.

This had brought Ashley tears of frustration and then, when she

lashed out in anger, SHE was the one kicked off the bus!

Once the school was informed of the true situation; the injustice

had been corrected. But, in that case, it was too late for Ashley

to want to ride the bus, at least as long as her stepbrother was

also a passenger on that school bus. He will be riding another

bus next year to the middle school.

We cheered each time a victory was made! We consoled Keith at

each setback and I am happy to say, all things are “fixed” except

sad visitation times bimonthly to her mother’s are still awkward

and mandatory.

Keith hopes Ashley will feel more secure knowing that she has

a home to go to and that she is making progress in school. He has

been taking her to private counseling sessions with a psychiatrist.

By her inner strength, Ashley will be able to stand up for herself

and that is the best way to achieve her own self esteem.

In this story, the relationship between a father and his daughter

reveals his true love for his daughter. At this age, Keith is Ashley’s

“knight in shining armor!”

My son’s friend, Scott C.

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I am working with a lot of variety of men, mostly younger although

there are some “old-timers” at the distribution center. One young man,

Scott C. went to elementary with my middle child and only son. He was

close to him, spent the night at his house and he spent the night at ours.

One particular birthday party I had for my son when he was in second

grade comes to mind, Scott is running around with pure joy on his face

with a lit and shiny sparkler!

Scott C. went on from high school to Miami University to complete his

degree in education and also, his Master’s. He had married a woman

from Marion, Ohio and had 3 children. He was training me about 2

summers ago, with much hesitation and reluctance on my part! in heavy

bulk and riding on a pallet rider. I was a bins order filler for about 2 years

then and was not thrilled with the switch and the “orders” from higher up

to become “cross trained.” I made a good productive rate in bins and was

much more comfortable with the level of lifting and not crazy about learning

how to drive the equipment. Scott put up with a lot of my “guff” and told me

along the way, how he had substitute taught and not been able to get a

full time paying job and had supplemented his job by being a supervisor of

before and after school latch key program in Marion. Still with the family

needed a better paying job so had ended up here in a low paying manual

labor job. We empathized with each other’s story but he was happy in his

home life at the time.

I was sorry to see him approach me on Thurs. with a sad look on his

face, very despondent in his posture and countenance. He called from

about 6 feet away, “Hey Robin! I need to ask you something!”

I stopped filling my bins with the windshield wipers to listen to what he

was concerned with. Scott told me he hated to interrupt my work but since

we did not have lunch at the same time, he wondered if he could ask me

a couple of questions about my divorce and the way we handled visitation

years ago.

I told him my ex being from Cincinnati and my living in Delaware meant

we had to be on the road a lot, Fridays we would meet at Washington

Court House where a Mc Donald’s was. I said at the time there was no

outlet mall but now that is where Jeffersonville Outlet Mall is. I asked,

“Oh no! Why?” He went on to tell me that he and his wife divorced last

Fall and since he and I just passed at our lockers and other public places

he had not felt like talking about it.

This handsome, sweet (boy, still in my eyes) started to tear up.

He told me his ex-wife had cheated on him a year ago, but he had gone

with her to Christian counseling and patched things up for the kids.

I praised him for those efforts and also, said I was so sorry, too.

He said that she found another lover and had been actively and physically

involved all summer, 2012 while he worked our grueling, long and no

air conditioned days here at Advance Auto D.C. #23.

I could picture the whole thing and cringed. Yuck, how I had hated all

that with my second husband! Anyway, he asked how did we manage to

be civilized?

So smart, so nice, too nice. I told Scott that the public place is the best way

to go, to meet her from Marion and Marysville halfway and switch kids.

Write notes and pass them. He could do that. He also wondered how to

fight the way she is stopping the midweek visit. I told him to threaten to

go back to court. Not be shy or nice about that!

We parted and seemed a little bit “shored up” for battle. I hope so! He deserves

to be with his kids, a fine and caring man. I wish for him all the luck in the world

and hope to hear someday about his happy ending!