Saturday, October 31, 2009

Ron Wolfson

just when I thought I couldn't understand
more about myself
or my family

really not
when I felt
of all the happenings

along comes a rabbi
that we bring to our temple
to discuss
you see
I am the membership chair
and I feel I have done a bad job of that too
just add it to the list
just another thing
that I have not been good at

this Ron Wolfson
I listened to him
at friday night services
talk about
and forgiving
and family

I was in awe
I am hurting so much inside
I felt he could see it

I sat next to him at dinner
he spoke about his family
about his loss
about his kids
and wife
and more

he seems so happy
how can he be
he lost a child
I can't imagine

I was lucky enough to sit next to him
at saturday morning services
my favorite services at our temple
everyone singing
and making the chapel
a magical place

we got to talk about our feelings
our real feelings
not just want we display
when someone asks
"how are you"?

I spoke about
my family situation
and he made me feel strong
reminded me
how I was doing right
by all my children
saving them
from the difficult situations

I felt it was
meant to be
me sitting next to this
great man
he was the one
reminding me
what a great mom
I can be

Monday, October 26, 2009

nothing right

I went to the psychiatrist with Bethany
her psychiatrist
the one she thought she didn't need

But she wanted me to meet with her there
and I felt like a failure
that I had not thought of her
she felt I did not ever think of her

I feel like I can't do right by anyone
I feel like a shitty mom
She reminded me of situations
where she felt like an outsider
where I didn't think of her feelings

It scared me
it reminded me of some situations
with my own mother
which is something else all on its own

But I needed to repair this situation
she is bothered
how unhappy I have been
she worries about me and my own depression
she felt she was taking care of me
when I should have been taking care of her
and she didn't like when
my husband was in charge
when I should have been

How I was different
or I would take too many naps
go to bed
instead of facing things head on
I was weak
in reality
it was just not because of Karen
it was me
my insecurities
my anxieties
my situation with some of my own family members
that I could not even tell her about

I was keeping things from her
or so I thought
but instead
I was keeping myself from her
I thought I was protecting her
she could feel the distance
and it hurt her
she is so sensitive
even though
she is a typical teenager
she acts tough
when everyone is watching
she is just a little girl

She is usually confident
but this whole family
has affected all of us
she is still holding grudges
towards her big sister
and the history between them
I worry every day
that we have made mistakes
with Karen
with all of them
and that I am at fault

my middlest was hurting
she wanted me to know
and I just cried more
I listened
I wanted to fix it
I want to help her to heal
I have made more of a mess of this
instead of sheltering her
I think I pushed her away

I need to fix it
I don't need to keep secrets
I need to be a mother again
for ALL my children

My littlest would never admit
if I made a mistake with her
she worries about hurting other people's feelings

wants to tell the truth
she wants change

and I thank god
she told me now
when I have time
to change my behavior
and let her know
that I care for her so much
that I don't want her to feel this way

I love her to pieces
and I want her to know that
and even with that tough exterior
I need to remember
that soft inside
that needs cuddling
every once in a while

I will keep reminding myself
that I can do
something right
and get something right
for her

Saturday, October 24, 2009

First Homecoming

First time
homecoming dance
for my little Bethany
the freshman
the middlest
often times
has to act like the oldest

I never got Karen ready for homecoming
she did go to the dance
her freshman year
I was walking the Komen 3 day
she went with a group of girls
and one boy
and thought it all was boring

this year
we get to experience the whole thing
Bethany getting her hair done
Bethany getting her make up done
finding the right dress
the right shoes
the right purse

she was asked
by a boy in her grade
a friend
thank goodness
just a friend
she is going in with a group
a HUGE group
of other freshmen
all going to the dance for the first time

I think it was cute
all the boys made sure
that all the girls had dates
they worked it out
so that everyone went with someone

Bethany's date asked her
by giving her a white t-shirt
drawn on with lots of names
she had to wash it
to see which name would still be there
the only one with permanent marker
and  the question
of going to homecoming on it
she already knew
she heard the rumors
who would ask her
but it still was cute

She looked gorgeous
she was smart
she did not wear strapless
she did not need to worry about her dress
falling down all night
she looked sophisticated
in fact Lucy
wanted her to save that
beautiful dress for the bat mitzvah
but Bethany wanted this to be her
first homecoming dress

I was so proud of her
she looked beautiful
and radiant

My sweet husband and I
got to meet her over at the
"point" house
the one where all the couples were meeting
where the limo would pick them up
we had crowds of people
all these parents
taking pictures of the beautiful children

and so many girls
she has grown up with
so many boys too
all of us
watching our babies
grow up before our eyes

My husband and I had to rush home
because Karen was all alone
we have tried to avoid that
she gets sad too easily
but we didn't want
to ruin Bethany's big night
I took lots of pictures
I feel good for her
she is going to enjoy it

I just know it

Thursday, October 22, 2009

funeral for a child

I got the email
late monday
an 18
almost 19 year old girl
walking across campus
she was a daughter of a woman
I walked the Komen 3day with
2 years ago
we stayed in touch
our team was special

her daughter
just gone
she collapsed
from a blood clot
in her leg
that traveled to her lung
just gone

My friend
I could not imagine
how she could be handling this
I "lost" my daughter
for 2 months
but I knew where she was
the whole time
just wanting her to come home
this was totally different
she lost her daughter for good
her only daughter
she had 3 children
an older son
and a younger son
much younger
11 or so
and the saddest thing was
that the day after her death
was the girl's birthday

Today was the funeral
my 3day team went together
we met
walked in together
sat together
cried together
this was something we never could have imagined
we are all different
some are married
some are not
some have children
some do not
but we shared an experience
that can never be explained

we watched our friend walk in the room
the temple was full
as full as it could be
women and men of my age
all looking puzzled
we should never have to be there
we should not have to listen to what
a beautiful child Tracy Fisher was
this did not make sense
the tears were streaming down all the faces
one musical
strong teenage boy
sang and played the guitar
one of Tracy's favorite songs
he was so strong
and I knew he had been distraught
over this situation

I went over to the Fisher house
I sat with my friend
just listening to her
she had spoken to her daughter on sunday night
her daughter wanted to come home for thanksgiving
she was making plane reservations
my friend said the email is still in her inbox
she saw it
after she heard of her daughter's death
she couldn't bring herself to open it
I listened to how happy her daughter had been in college
I had seen so many pictures on facebook
my friend was posting
gorgeous baby pictures of her daughter
with beautiful captions
of what an angel she was
and is now

Even though
I did nothing
I wanted to help
in some way

there was nothing to say
nothing to do
nothing could make that pain go away

I just sat
and listened
to her
and her stories
and wondered
if she would ever be good

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

where did the time go?

she's home
we are trying to make it work
the sisters are getting along
for the most part

I cry much less frequently
she makes it through school
some days
there are times I get calls
when she says
my stomach hurts
my head hurts
I am dizzy
can you come get me?
can I come home?:
I just don't feel well

I know it is not right just to pick her up
I have gone over to the school
to make sure she does what she needs to do
to get by

Some days I feel like I have a toddler
at home again
my days are filled with making sure she is happy
not crying
not whining
with no temper tantrums
it takes all my energy to get her out the door
I make her breakfast
I watch her eat it
I make sure she takes her medicine
I walk her to school
make sure she gets in okay
for the phone to ring
to pick her up
to hear her upset
to listen to the nurse tell me to come get her

it will all take time
it will be worth it
because all that matters now
is that she is home
under our roof
and we can all sleep
knowing we are together

Thursday, October 15, 2009

more doctor visits

all for one
and one for all

I drive all day
to so many places
I sit in offices
reading magazines
waiting for a smile
to greet me
after an emotional appointment

I get scared
what if I did something wrong
what if I am the reason for this behavior in the house
how can 3 teenagers live under one roof
and not explode

With all that has gone on
with Karen
and her long time away from the house
I was preoccupied with that
I was saddened by the events

then with what happened
with Little Lucy
and the difficult time
she had at school
with administrators
and teachers

I forgot about the middle one
She was always busy
doing homework
going out with friends
talking on the phone
texting on the phone
chatting on facebook
or im'ing with someone new

she seemed good
school work was a bit much
she had started high school
and I had met her teachers
but I felt watched
some of those teachers
knew Karen as a freshman
they watched her crumble
and I feared so much
that Bethany would not be like that
I knew she was strong
I felt it
she was showing me
she was strong

but the truth was
she was hurting inside
at her psychologist's appointment
the doctor came out
but told me
that the next session
needed to include me
of course
whatever I need to do for my daughter
my gut hurt
I did something to hurt my little girl
and I sure didn't want to
but she felt it
she was angry
she had vented a lot
the doctor said
so we could wait a week to meet

okay I said
then we got in the car
and a tear rolled down my cheek
please I hoped
don't see this
she will only think of me as weak

she said she didn't want to get into it
but she had explained why
she had yelled at her older sister last weekend
that she was scared
she tried to tell me
she was worried she hadn't changed
and she said I hadn't listened
I was only angry that
she hurt her sister
I didn't think
about her feelings

there was more
she didn't want to get into it
she wanted to wait
she needed time

and I will give it to her
however she wants it
because that is what she deserves
my time
my space
my apologies
my healing
my thinking about her
and only her

I didn't mean to hurt her
but I guess I did

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

trying to make it work...

I never know if I can do it
the three girls
my husband
my extended family

I feel overwhelmed at times
I feel strung out
I want to make them all happy
I need to take care of myself too

when I am worrying about one kid
the other 2 feel left out
with all that has been going on
my middle one
has really been feeling neglected

and for that reason
she reminds me of me

I want help from others
but I never want to ask
I don't want to burden other people
and I feel like a bother
but there are times
when I need it so much
but just don't know how to say it

she has been hurting
she has a lot of anger towards me right now
I want to help her
but she won't let me

she'll yell at me
she'll walk away from me
she'll ask me to drive her somewhere
which sometimes
just pisses me off
why should I drive her
when she won't talk to me

I am being told
this is normal
she is finding her own self
wanting me there for her at times
and other times
not at all

she is "normal"
I know
she is so normal
and she can be so good
but other times
I wonder who she is
I wonder if she cares

one moment
she tells me she is so sad
for me because I am
crying all the time
and then
the next moment
she said she is sick
of me being sad

I am sad
trying to keep it all together
and worried I am
going to break it all apart

I always thought I wanted
an even amount of kids
2 or 4
so there would not be a middle child
I was told
then someone would always be left out
and I never wanted to do that to a child

but g-d and mother nature
laughed at me
and gave me 3 kids
and not just any kids
but 3 girls
3 teenage girls
at the same time

some people laugh at me
like my great aunt
since she did it too
others feel sorry
for me
because they only have 1 girl
and said that was enough for them

but me
I am grateful
because they are beautiful
who I am helping mold
into lovely young people

they may fight with me
yell at me
scream at me
hate me at times
think I am mean
just plain cruel

but they are good people
who care for one another
and for me
and my husband

and at least
with 3 girls
at all times
there is always one
who is nice to me

Saturday, October 10, 2009

First Family Fight

i knew it would happen
one day
just not this soon
oh why
what could I have done

it always starts the same
all three girls
are in the car
and then they fight
over the car radio
and the sad thing is
it is usually the shortest ride of all

over a year ago
after dropping off carpool
Karen got upset with Bethany
we had a 5 min ride home
by the time we got to our house
I could not open the garage
I had to turn around
to go to the ER
because Karen was out of control
Bethany was hysterical too
my husband met me there
and I was just angry
a 5 min ride
all about music

today was the same
after getting ice cream
and after all of us getting the flu mist
of course
my girls don't want shots....
we got in the car to go home
and a silly fight broke out
over the radio
it seemed just so stupid to me
I did what I normally do
I turned the radio off
then there was whining
and blaming
and frustration

Bethany took out her iphone
she just got for her bday
because *I* thought
she deserved something
because of everything
happening at home
and put some music on speaker
I told her to turn it off

when we got in the house
Bethany did it again
Karen asked her to turn it off
Bethany said no
so then Karen got mad and raised her voice
then Bethany
precious middlest
one who has gotten so mature
and has been so good to me
yelled back at her sister
who just returned from
7 weeks of hell
in a residential treatment center
"You didn't change at all"

Oh no she di-n't
the gutteral sobbing
I heard from my oldest
the moans
the hysterical cries
of sadness
were too much to bear
the littlest came running
my husband came running
Karen was lost to us
in a different way
she was hurt
not by hitting
not by pushing
not by a stare
but by a few words
that crushed her soul

I went into mama bear
and got so upset
at my middle one
I couldn't believe she could be so cruel
did she have any idea how much that would hurt her

it was unbearable
I pulled out our family contract
reminded everyone of the words
we wrote together
to help the transistion home

It was emotionally draining
we talked some about it
we all started to calm down
Littlest was leaving to spend the night out
so it was just the 4 of us
my husband
the oldest
and the middlest
for dinner

they decided together
to get sushi
there was a sense of calm
I knew it in my gut
this was the beginning
of a new problem
that would come to haunt us

We needed a hero-letter from psychologist

Here is a copy of the letter from our hero, Dr Melissa Black.  Her continued emotional support, whether by email, phone or in person, inspired us to continue to fight for our little girl.  I know, deep down, this is the reason the changes were made.  Her phone call to the Middle school head was ignored and denied. Even her phone call to the headmaster was not taken as seriously as we all thought.  Given the way he started our discussion.  In seeing this letter, we first noticed a difference in the demeanor of the Headmaster. 

Mr. Scott Griggs

414l SpringValleyRoad

Dear Mr.Griggs:
I am writing this letter at the request of Jeff and Alyson Ray to clarify my thoughts about
the recent situation involving Lucy and the need for schedule adjustments. As I
understand the situation, Lucy felt that she was pressured by not only her history teacher
and the teaching fellow, but also by her advisor to "confess" to cheating. The experience
of being confronted by 3 adults who are all in an authority position was a very negative
experience for Lucy. The most distressing part for her, by far, was feeling that her
advisor was not advocating for her and in fact, in Lucy's experience of the situation, was
joining with the teachers as another accuser. While I was obviously not present and
cannot attest to the actuality of what transpired, what seems most important is Lucy's
perception that she was not protected by her advisor. Whether this is because of a
stylistic approach, a personality conflict or simply a lack of understanding of Lucy's
emotional world at this time is not being debated. What concerns me is that Lucy and her
parents have specifically asked for a change of advisory and a change of language class
to help Lucy feel protected and heard and that this request has been categorically denied.

My thoughts and recommendations are based on my understanding of Lucy's emotional needs at this point in her life. I do understand that for some adolescents there would be considerable merit in "working through" this situation with her advisor. However, I strongly believe this is not the challenge that either Lucy or her family needs to face at this time. Given the entirety of the family situation at this point, it is imperative that Lucy feel she has advocates both at school and at home. Equally important in this situation are Jeff and Alyson's feelings. As parents, we need to feel that we can protect our children and that we give them over to educational environments that are flexible enough to consider our child as an unique individual whose needs may, at times, require certain protocols be adjusted. Lucy appears to be a well liked and engaged adolescent who wants to please the adults in her life. I strongly believe that making the requested changes for Lucy will result in decreased anxiety and increased trust in her educational process.


Melissa Black, Ph.D.

Friday, October 9, 2009

too little, too late

another 8 days
this time too late
a phone call from the supposed
"advocate" of an advisor
for my little girl

thursday evening
over a week after
the horrible accusation
and scenario
we received a voicemail
from the woman
which said
these exact words

" Yes, Alyson and Jeff, this is Pam G, I haven't had a chance to speak with you, and I just wanted to call to let you know that I think that Lucy is a wonderful young lady. I also wanted to assure you that I will do my best this year in working with her, and, uh, I just wanted to reassure you of that. Thanks so much. Bye Bye."

shockingly enough
just that day
she at last spoke to Lucy
alone for the first time
in over a week

my husband and I
thought she was warned
we were going to the big boss man
the headmaster
on friday morning

Friday morning arrives
I am sick to my stomach
what if they don't think about my baby's feelings
what if they decide to keep her in this woman's class
I am practically in tears in the office
My husband explains the family situation
he explains what happened to our eldest
when she was in 9th grade
and had a bad relationship
with her advisor
the year ended horribly
and Karen had to leave the school
we couldn't take that chance again

The headmaster started to talk
and he scared me
he talked about the professionalism
of the team
how they all wanted to work it out
I thought
don't do this
we handed him the letter the psychologist wrote
it was our last chance
for the school to see this
with our daughter's perspective
my husband and I
saw the headmaster's face change
at last
we thought
maybe they will take everything
into consideration

He read the letter
he thought about what we said
and he said he needed time to
think about it
and he would use the weekend
and get back to us on monday
maybe there was a chance

I cried from relief
I cried from exhaustion
I couldn't believe
all that we had to go through
after the position our little girl
had be put in

That day
Karen and I
again spent 45 minutes
playing with the littlest
at school
so she did not have to endure
spanish class with that beast

when Karen and I went to Lucy's locker with her
I saw the middle school head down the hall
he didn't even have the decency to walk past me
I saw him duck into a classroom
apparently he discovered he had done us wrong

The day went on as normal
Karen and I enjoyed each other's company
Bethany came home from school
wanting to get ready for the
night's football game
Lucy stayed after for a carnival

at 6 pm
the headmaster called
I was scared
but I picked up the phone
he said he spoke with the team
and with the administration
and he thought the best answer
was to remove Little Lucy
from spanish class and
that woman's advisory
the ironic piece is that
the only advisory that had room for another child
was none other than
the original accuser of the cheating
neither my husband or I spoke
the headmaster said it was the best he could do
I said
let's meet with him to explain the situation
it was over

Lucy was home from the carnival
we went in to tell her
and she was BEAMING
from ear or ear
poor baby
she had been struggling herself
with anxiety for 9 days
worried for her future
and she is only 12

the funny addendum to this
is that the headmaster said
the middle school head
was going to reach out to us
to repair this relationship
it has been a week now
and not a word has been said
or emailed
or called
in fact
another time this week
I saw him duck
into a classroom
it was the classroom
of the "advisor"
it still was lame

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Back to school

I was so nervous
for my little girl

I admit it
I sent messages
to her friends
on facebook
letting them know she would be coming back

the school hadn't told the kids
what had been going on

when Karen and I went to visit school
the friday before she went back
one kid looked at her
and said
"we thought you died"
it was
a little funny
so we laughed
but I knew
she was still nervous about going back

Since Karen's first day back to school
was the same day as Lucy's new schedule
my husband
and I
had to split up duties

I took the little one
and he took the big one
the middle one
took care of herself

The little one did well
she met her latin teacher
she was excited to see her
new schedule in print
and her friends were happy for her too

when I got home
I wanted to run over to Karen's school
I had emailed the teachers
the headmistress
the nurse
her advisor
anything went wrong
I was just around the corner
I would pick her up

But my husband came home
about the same time as me
he said
at least 3 kids welcomed her back
the teachers were all happy to see her
he had not seen any
awkward conversations
I thought
Some kids
even made a big poster
and signed it for her
to bring home

I waited by the phone
I didn't do much
expecting her not to make the whole day
she did
she came home
so happy
telling stories on friends
really giggling
it was so good to see

she napped that day
and fell asleep early
then woke up so tired
just go half the day today
I told her
she barely made it to lunch
she had pushed herself too hard
that first day

the third day she slept late
had a doctor's appt
and went to school
in the afternoon

by thursday
she was "sad" again
uh oh
she thought all that
had been "fixed"
she was nervous about a couple of classes
she didn't want to go to school

I had her get up
we talked
we called her dad
and then we walked over to school
to speak with the counselor
he listened to her
and she cried
tears of relief
he was going to help her
I reminded her
she doesn't need to do anything alone
we are here to help her

she was used to group therapy
twice a day for 7 weeks
and now she thinks she can
just take care of it alone again
isn't that what caused all this in the first place?

she did start school late that day
and I told her I was around for her again

the next day
she made it
she woke up
she hesitated
she wanted to stay home
but she left
to walk to school

I was exhausted
keeping her upbeat
seeing her smile
was all worth it

Friday, October 2, 2009

not quite over with the little

My husband and I
scheduled a meeting
with the head of middle school
the morning we
were heading back to
to bring Karen home

What a joyous day
we were to have

Finish up the miserable
of the middle school scenario
and go pick up our oldest baby
and bring her home

the moment we walked
into the office
of that head of middle school
we knew
something was not right

he sat down
crossed his arms
and said
that he decided no changes
were necessary
and that he still
felt his teachers had not done
anything wrong

I about hyperventilated
my husband got up to walk out the door
saying that there was nothing left to talk about

stupidly now I realize
thought I could talk
to this man
about my child
about the wrong doings
of 3 adults
on one little 12 year old girl

I spoke to him about
his conversation with the
psychologist who said this change was necessary
he denied ever hearing her say that
I reminded him of how the
advisor of my daughter
took the accused teacher's side
instead of advocating for our little girl
he denied ever hearing that
from Little Lucy
I asked
I may have over reacted
but I left that office
pulled my daughter
from her advisory class
with that witch of an advisor
standing in front of the room
and had Lucy
come back to the Head's office
and recount
her version of the events

he still didn't budge
it was then and there
I lost it
my husband told him that
our relationship with him would never be the same
we had to bring her with us to pick up Karen
we knew we had to get Bethany too
she was pissed
actually both were pissed
Lucy would have to miss a field hockey game
Bethany didn't want to leave school
we told them both
we had no choice
we had to take them

the head of the upper school was lovely
he let me sit in his office while
the tornado and fire drills were going on
I spoke with the psychiatrist while in there
and then
on the way to the airport
my husband and I knew what we had to do
we called the Headmaster of the school
and made an appointment for friday
we did it
we went over the head of the middle school's head
it had to be done
we were sick of playing by "his" rules