Bon Voyage Helene

childhood friends
friends at the beach

Yesterday was Emili’s last day to play with her best friend Helene; Helene and her family are moving back to France. The girl friends from their school class spent a poingant day with Helene at the beach.

fun at the beach
making childhood memories

The girls were very busy building sand castles and  laughing and splashing one another!

ouch, jelly fish
jellatenous globs of jelly fish

We found jelly fish washed up on the beach; these are very small compared to previous years.

Forget me not

As a going away present for Helene and Emili, I needle felted two dolls, one for each girl. Emili the girl received Helene the doll and Helene the girl received Emili the doll.

Helene and Emili dolls
Needle felted Helen and Emili dolls

 Helene and Emili have been in school together since the first grade; I am still friends with my best friend from the first grade!

needle felted dolls
needle felted friends

We all tried to be brave and not cry, but Emili and Helene’s last parting hug broke me. We now have a great reason to travel to France!

Friends-needle felted dogs

needle felted dogs
best friends

I took a photo of these two dogs (the original, real live dogs) in India. They were sleeping at the base of a monument, one was using the other’s rear end as a pillow and they were the most raggedy dogs I’d ever seen…but they looked happy.

doggy friends
Let sleeping dogs lie.

It took me a week to make this sculpture, working on and off between the girls’ end of the school year activities. I find these two dogs sweet, I think the black and white cow patterned dog is much older than the blond dog, maybe she’s the mother. My girls look at the original photo and tell me that “everyone needs a butt for a pillow”, oh silly girls!

sleeping dogs
May I use your butt as a pillow?

As I felted these dogs, I thought about friendship and how a few very good friends are a gift and that the simple things in life are the best.  These dogs brought many nice things to  mind as I felt, felt, felted away.

everyone needs a butt for a pillow
sleeping dogs detail

Give me your lunch money, or else…

childhood friends
Friends are important.

School is about learning, discovering, making friends and learning how to get along with others. Sometimes our kids have to learn to deal with a bully and it’s not fun, for you or your kid. My children have had to deal with bullies a few times already. 

It's hard to confront a bully

 I sought out advice from several teachers, mothers and a psychologist about the best way to deal with a bully situation. From my own children’s experiences, I believe communication is of the utmost importance, an adult should be informed to help the child deal with the problem. With one of my children, I had no idea she and several others in her class were being bullied for two years till another class mother told me. I was upset that I hadn’t known and I asked my daughter why she hadn’t told me about the abuses she suffered at  school. At 7 years old her response was “oh mama, it’s so embarrassing!” She had dealt with the bullies on her own by fighting back, she’s a tough cookie.

big bullies
Kids can be very mean to one another.

Children often don’t want anyone to know that they are being bullied for fear of being made fun of, shame or reprisal. The parent of the bullied child should not initially confront the parents of the bully; this takes power away from the bullied child which can further distress the him/her. The teacher is usually the most important problem solver in a case of bullying. I went to the class teacher in all situations and I informed the teacher as to what was happening outside of the class room, but on school grounds. Teachers often opt to talk with the class about what’s going on and sometimes a weekly class discussion time is implemented to talk about problems, thoughts or concerns of the students. I found that these discussion times were helpful for the children. Teachers often have no idea bullying is occurring and they should be told. If the problem can’t be solved by the teacher talking to the bully, the teacher should have a meeting with the bully and their parents. 

how to tame a bully
One of my children reacted with tears, the other one reacted with her fists.

 If a child’s teacher does not step in and deal with the problem for whatever reason, seek the help of another teacher, counselor or principal at the school. If no one at the child’s school takes a bullying situation seriously and fails to act upon the best interests of a child, you may consider changing schools. Just because a teacher intervenes and parents have been informed doesn’t mean that the problem will always go away. Children often need outside help to learn to deal with aggression, talking to a therapist is a good way for a child to learn social coping techniques. I told my children that they need to stand up for themselves; this seems obvious to me, but not always obvious to some children. Learning to deal with a bully is a skill that one will use their entire lives; I’ve run into plenty of bullies as an adult.  Bullies are not always peers, teachers can also bully students, we have encountered this problem as well. After my husband and I learned that our child didn’t want to go to school and was very stressed out because of what went on in the class room, we set up a meeting with the principal and the teacher to inform them that our child felt intimidated by the teacher’s yelling in the class and from insulting comments that the teacher made to the children. Sometimes just telling the teacher how you feel about his/her actions in class is enough to get them to stop or at least tone it down a little. I’ve found that many parents are afraid to speak up.

school friends
childhood friends

For a parent,  knowing that your child is suffering at the hands of another is frustrating and at these times I think most of us would like to step in and “do something” about it to help our children. Stepping in (for example, informing the teacher) is one thing, but acting for our children (for example, speaking to, yelling at, threatening) the child or children tormenting our children is unacceptable. Parents are offended (rightfully so) when other parents reprimand their children. I’ve seen parents become hostile about a bullying situation, screaming at the offending child, the child’s  parents and even the teachers for not being able to control the situation; these people were later banned from the school grounds. Each case is different and should be dealt with as so. Parents are not always open minded (sometimes downright blind) to the idea or fact that their “little darling” is bullying another child and they become defensive (sometimes nasty) when told so, this is why letting the school authorities handle the situation is a better idea for everyone. I am happy to announce that my children have come through all their challenging social situations and we’re working our way through the new ones that come up. The best piece of advice I can give is, when “a situation” arises, take a deep breath before you proceed.