Today, there is no new recipe to share. Instead, today being the last day of 2013, it is a day to reflect on the past year and to let you in on what's been going on in my personal life. I don't share very much here on the blog because, let's face it, it's a food blog not a documentary. But I can't tell you what I wish for in 2014 without giving you a little personal background.
As I sat in church on Christmas Eve, listening to the priest and parishioners say the Lord's prayer, a familiar phrase was being echoed. It was "deliver us from evil" and I couldn't get that phrase out of my mind for days. I've heard it a thousand times before, but as the year is coming to a close, I couldn't help but ponder how much evil and hatred there has been in my life over the last year.
Don't get me wrong. There have also been many wonderful moments in 2013 that I am truly and utterly thankful and grateful for. But did you ever have one of those years where you felt like you were being tested. Let's see how much you can take before you crack? 2013 has been one of those years for me. But the thing is, it wasn't directed at me, but my child. Which if you're a parent, you understand that this kind of evil is even worse.
It first started back in February when my daughters cheerleading advisor pulled her aside privately during a Girl Scout meeting (she was also one of her Girl Scout Leaders) and chastised her for her behavior two days prior at a cheerleading event, when the issue had already resolved. She then told her to keep the conversation between the two of them and not tell her parents. She came home crying because she knows it's not right to keep things from us, especially when an adult tells her so.
Then in March, the same daughter (an 11 year old girl) was lining up after lunch in the cafeteria/gym when she accidentally walked through the wet floor the custodian had been mopping. He dipped his mop in the bucket, soaking the mop, then swung the mop behind her knees causing her to fall to her knees and said to her "Now go tell the principal why you're wet!" I received a call from the school nurse to come to the school to bring a change of clothes, not knowing what had just occurred. When I got there, my daughter was soaked from the lower part of her back down to her ankles. She was crying hysterically and was embarrassed because it happened in front of approximately 30 classmates. The custodian stood in the office doorway with the rest of the office staff and not one of them even looked at us or apologized as we left.
That brings us to September. Cheerleading season starts again and after several complaints to the town program executive board, the same cheer advisor was allowed to be the advisor again. I made a formal complaint that I wanted her removed as my daughter was not comfortable with her being her advisor and the board denied her termination (which is a volunteer position). This decision caused my daughter to quit a sport she had been participating in for 4 years with her friends and caused her to look elsewhere outside of the town program to pursue the sport she loves.
October brought even more turmoil when again my 11 year old daughter attending a Girl Scout event, made an innocent comment to some of the girls on a field trip that she wasn't allowed to ride in the car with the other advisor (again...she was able to hold onto her position with Girl Scouts as well). After the event was over and I had picked her up, I received a phone call from the leader a few hours later saying that my daughter hurt another girls feelings because she had said the comment in front of the daughter of this other leader. This incidence later led to her being bullied at school by peers, the same girls she has been best friends with for 7 years. She eventually removed herself from the situation and also left the Girl Scout troop.
So, you are all probably crawling out of your skin at the moment reading this thinking how awful this must have been and what has been done about it. All I have to say at this point and time is that nothing has been done. No apologies. No phone calls to see how my daughter is feeling. No remorse whatsoever from anyone involved in any of these situations.
NOTHING. AT. ALL.
Not by the school, where the custodian was suspended with pay during the state investigation.
Not by the Board of Education, whom I have spent thousands of dollars in attorney fees, still with no resolution except for the custodian being reinstated and moved to another school. (Where he could lose his temper at any given moment on another child age 5-12). All we are asking for the board to do is to notify us if this custodian is ever in another school within the district so that my daughter doesn't have to see him again and they say that the 2 minute phone call to notify us is too time consuming administratively for them to handle.
Not by the Football/Cheerleading Association program, who along with other complaints from other parents against this same person, actually listened to my daughter in person tell them what happened and they decided to keep this advisor in a supervisory position because they didn't want conflict. It was more important for this person to keep their role as advisor than allow a little girl to participate in a town program sport which boasts "It's all about the kids."
Not by the parents of the children, who instead of speaking to their children explaining how bullying just isn't nice, they chose to have their children shun my daughter by not speaking to her and to move to another table if she tried to sit near them at lunch.
Deliver Us From Evil. Karma. Rumors. Jealousy. Hatred. Bullying.
Call it what you will. What kind of society are we turning into where people don't believe in common courtesy? Through it all I have to say my daughter has been resilient. She is a well adjusted, loving, smart, talented and caring individual who, even through adversity, shines as bright as the sun. I am so glad that she didn't let these life experiences crush her spirit. A lesson I'm proud to say that she has taught me as well.
So why am I telling all of you this?
In hope that this story resinates with you somehow to make 2014 a better year for all of us. Better by remembering back to simpler times when neighbors were your friends. Where people watched out for each other. Where people can walk down the street and say hello and stop to chat without feeling harried and rushed. Where people can communicate with each other instead of being glued to electronic devices and using "words" like LOL instead of actually laughing. Try it sometime.
My wish for you in 2014 is a little cliche, but it is so true. The world is moving so fast, we can hardly keep up. One day you're putting your child on the bus for Kindergarten, the next they are driving their own car out of your driveway heading to college. Life is too short to be angry, deceitful, and vindictive. It's ok to stand up for what you believe in, even if that means your circle of friends or family gets smaller. Those who truly matter will still be there; looking up to you for the strength and positive example you choose to lead by. You can't always change the people and circumstances around you, but you can change how you react and feel about them. The choice is yours, no one else's. Let the haters hate because those are the people I pity and feel sorry for that they are so insecure with themselves that they have to attack others to make themselves feel more important. Sad.
STOP to smell the roses. STOP to tell someone how you feel. STOP to give a stranger a compliment. STOP before you speak. STOP before you act. THINK and APPRECIATE the people around you. STAND up for what you know is true and right. LEAD by example.
Wishing you all a very healthy, happy and prosperous New Year!