74 thoughts on “February 15, 2017: Moving In: The Continuing Saga”

  1. Philo wrote this late last night:

    Anyone here ever deal with their kid being bullied? We've been trying to wrap our heads around it for the past few weeks, but it's become obvious that the boys in Aquinas' class have moved from "boys will be boys" to "targeted meanness and/or forced exclusion." I've reached out to the teacher and a couple of parents, just tonight. It's an incredibly small class (there are 6 boys, including Aquinas), and Aquinas is much less athletic/more unique than the others. He also struggles with being a good sport sometimes, if things aren't going his way (it's first grade. that's not unusual, right?), but we've been working on that for a while, and it's certainly no excuse for him being picked on. He actually asked us to move again, and said he just wished he could fit in. My heart is broken tonight.

    Thought it should get some eyeballs.

    1. I don't have any kids, and I don't have any answers, but I've been where Aquinas is. It stinks. But I can tell you that, in time, you can triumph over it. I don't suppose that helps Aquinas much right now, but maybe it'll give Philo some hope.

      1. Thanks. This (and Zombieman's "make sure he knows he is loved and being taken seriously") is, largely, the approach we've had so far. He has such a creative force within him that I expect he'll do great things someday. One of those "someday people will applaud his uniqueness, not diminish it" types of things.

    2. I don't have any answers either. Keep talking to him and make sure he knows he is loved and that you are taking him seriously. Hopefully, those kids will move on to other things soonish.

      Is there a martial arts studio in town? It's not about fighting. It's about self-confidence.

      1. Martial arts shouldn't be about fighting – at least an aggressive/provocative way on the student's part – but it will give the student some tools to insulate against injury from physical bullies. I don't know how much physical bullying goes on in schools today, but I found that while I appeared to be an easy target (I had a distance runner's build in JH/HS), once bullies discovered I could take a punch and be ready to come back at them* I was quickly left alone.

        I've been thinking about potential activities for the Poissonnier once she's old enough. Martial arts are fairly high on the list right now, both for the self-confidence aspect and the benefits it confers to practitioners in areas like core strength, balance, agility, and the like. Curling's high on the list because I'd like to do that with her, there's a clear & welcoming community of enthusiasts, and because drinking beer is part of the spectator scene.

        *Pa's directive: "I'd better not hear that you're starting fights at school. But if someone starts one with you, defend yourself/go ahead and end it."

        1. I've been thinking about potential activities for the Poissonnier once she's old enough.
          I can't recommend track or swimming highly enough. They both have individual and team aspects to them that are great camaraderie builders. They also can provide a good way to make frenemies on rival schools.

          1. I ran Cross Country and Track, and much preferred CC. (The trail running was more interesting, and our CC coach was a lovely man & MN legend.) I'd be very supportive of a running sport. The CC team was the only team at our school that felt like one team, not separate boys' & girls' teams sharing a coaching staff; everyone was at least on good terms with their teammates, and there were several non-romantic friendships that crossed the fraught HS gender divide.

            In fact, I ran into a former CC teammate, who was a year ahead of me, this past summer at my HS best friend's 10th anniversary party. I hadn't seen my teammate since he graduated (he wasn't at the wedding), and even though we'd both been at Camp Pendleton, we'd never crossed paths. And yet, we picked right back up & had plenty to talk about.

            1. CC was a great sport for me in jr high. Shared pain and all that. (My parents would not let me play tackle football until h.s.)

              For both the Boy and the Girl, it was more about belonging to a group. Their h.s. cross-country team was co-ed and very cohesive and supportive, no matter the talent level. And rec club swimming was great for the kids.

          2. I also like that they are measurable sports. It both eliminates politics (hard to start the coach's kid if he doesn't have better times) and allows you to see your progress easily.

      2. I will add that our daughter endured a period of being bullied by one kid in elementary school. That was a tough year. Her "friends" weren't much help (and pretty much all fell away and were replaced with other kids in jr high and high school). Thankfully, she found ways to cope. We did seek out private counseling for her for a while.

        1. Do you recall what grade that was?

          I grew up in a large community, so I ended up having new friends pretty much every year in elementary and middle school, and then another new set all through high school. We're now in a very small town, so Aquinas is going to have these same kids around year after year after year, and there aren't too many other options. Sigh.

          1. To what degree do you think the treatment Aquinas is receiving can be attributed to being the new kid in a small community? My hope is that this could be a passing thing (which doesn't lessen the effect it has on him now, but might point to a light at the end of the tunnel). When I spent time with kids in Pops' village (which was not where I went to school and in a completely different state) in activities like CCD & scouts, I often felt like I was on the outside of relationships even though I wasn't actively ostracized or picked on. There was potential for it to be worse with a couple of those kids, but thankfully I had three cousins my age in town who buoyed me.

            I know if this was my child I'd feel pretty helpless, particularly if the teacher & parents of the other kids don't take it seriously. Helping Aquinas to understand this is often the way new people are treated, and that new people deserve to be welcomed & treated with dignity will be something that sticks with him for life.

            1. Helping Aquinas to understand this is often the way new people are treated, and that new people deserve to be welcomed & treated with dignity will be something that sticks with him for life.

              Very much so, and not just new people. Not to say that I do this perfectly, or even come close, but I find myself noticing people who seem to be alone at community and church events more than most people seem to notice them.

          2. for the Girl, it was 5th or 6th, IIRC.

            The Boy had an instance or two (some anti-semitic crap in jr high), but for the most part was oblivious, doing his own thing, and had a solid group of friends. The social stuff was harder for the Girl.

    3. I got nothin on this. The trinket is in kindergarten, so similar age. But, I pick her up from school on Fridays and its very clear to me that she is liked by everyone and her teacher says she's pretty much a leader in class. That's not to say she won't have to deal with bullying down the road, but for now, at least, we don't have to worry about it. The bauble is encountering similar "everyone liking him" during his first year in daycare, too, although he's pretty small for his age so it may crop up later in life. Here's to hoping it doesn't.

      Also, I never experienced bullying back in my day, which was probably a combination of both playing sports (and I was a junior in high school when I gave that crap up) and being one of the smart kids. And also being much bigger than the bullies, that helped too.

      1. What you describe for the Trinket is exactly how things were for Aquinas last year. Moving was a huuuuuge detriment to him. I have zero concerns that Aristotle will have a similar problem when she hits kindergarten next year.

        1. I can imagine moving would be really tough on young kids. The good news for us is that we have zero plans of moving any time soon. She'll also be going into a multi-age homeroom next year, so her class will be made up of 1st and 2nd graders, which I think will be really good for her. I spent my entire secondary education with something like that (Stonebridge elementary) and I thought it was great.

      2. which was probably a combination of both playing sports and being one of the smart kids

        Yeeeah I don't think it's this.

        And also being much bigger than the bullies, that helped too.

        I can't speak for both dimensions, but height doesn't help either.

      3. And also being much bigger than the bullies, that helped too.

        Yea. I was always one of the bigger, more athletic (and "smart") kids. I have one memory of being bullied at the beginning of 7th grade by some "tough" kid, but that passed very quickly.

    4. Thanks for copying this over Spooky.

      The update is that the teacher was quick to respond with more questions so that she could address it. The parent's of Aquinas' "best" (only?) "friend" (friendly, but not close?) were somewhat supportive/somewhat didn't think the problem was as bad as Aquinas feels it is/somewhat willing to help set up some more support by talking to their kid and by arranging get togethers with the two of them + another kid from class, so that it's not just one on one. I haven't heard back from the parent of the kid who is the biggest problem.

      It's become clear to me that there are two problems - both being excluded and being picked on. Sometimes Aquinas excludes himself, both because he is largely independent, and because he is picked on when he includes himself. The people I've heard from seemed aware of the excluding part, but thought a big part of that was him just choosing to be alone. None of them seemed aware of the "picking on" part. It's easy to brush aside the excluding part, especially if some of that is self-inflicted. I'm hoping they'll hear me when I say "the reason he's excluding himself is because he's picked on", which should make all of it harder to brush aside.

      1. Update to the Update:

        Teacher spoke to Aquinas this morning. What he told her matched exactly what he told us. She spoke to the two boys who had been the ringleaders (indeed, the assessment seems to be that the other 3 aren't an issue, except when one of the other two is involved), explained the treatment was unacceptable, and that there would be worse consequences in the future if it kept happening. She also made sure to indicate that there were more things to talk about (I'm sure Aquinas' "contribution" to the problem (which can essentially be summed up as being overly-emotional and somewhat bossy)) when we have conferences next week.

        I'm somewhat worried that "teacher talking to the kids" is exactly what Aquinas didn't want - because now that they're in trouble they're not going to want to include him genuinely. On the other hand, I'm not sure what other options exist.

          1. I would second this. The teacher is still (should be) a positive figure in their life at this point, and most kids have heard and understand the need to be compassionate and will hopefully take it seriously.
            Our special kid has always managed to attract minders through about last year. In fifth grade now, we see more middle-schoolish dynamics, and his own hot-headed behavior and negaive outbursts succeed in attracting attention, which he wants, but only compound the issue.
            Feeling for you and Aq.

          2. I hope you're right. "It's just first graders," I keep telling myself.

            The teacher's e-mailed response wasn't exactly artful, ("That being said, I cannot tell them what to play..." Uh. No one was asking you to. I explained to you that he doesn't like that game because he gets picked on when they play it not because I think the game itself is to blame. It's commendable of him that he has stuck it out and still played that game every day for months while being picked on...), so I'm a little anxious about how her communications were with the kids. And whether she's really getting a handle on the issue.

            1. I can't imagine how hard it is to help kids with those dynamics. When I was that age, I remember hardly any games where at least someone in the group wasn't being picked on. Sometimes it was me. Sometimes I was the jerk picking on someone (or tattling to the teacher that someone was not playing by the rules). I don't remember losing any friendships over it, at least. I do remember one kid specifically where we each had an issue with each other, and even after teacher intervention we continued to play together every day.

              But yeah, middle school. Two times I went to a teacher. The first time an 8th grader just destroyed everything in my locker just to be funny. However, I couldn't identify the kid so nothing could be done. I just remember him laughing. The other time I talked to a teacher when another kid spoiled the ending to a book I was reading in class. She admonished him (at an appropriate level for something not that big of a deal) and he didn't stop rubbing it in my face how hilarious it was that he had spoiled the book for me.

              1. Your experiences match my own.

                Also, I can't believe how much I hated middle school. A new kid moving in part way through 7th grade (JG) brought so much relief, as I needed a new friend, and he needed any friend. That worked out for both of us.

                Also, I really hope I wasn't the jerk who spoiled a book for you.

                1. Nope. I was just the jerk who stole a book from you.

                  I still have my diary from 7th grade. I'm not exaggerating when I say 80% of the entries start with the sentence, "I hate life." My life was freaking amazing from any objective standpoint.

    5. Whoo boy, being bullied as the kinda "weird" kid in a new school. I suffered that for all of high school. It stuck with me as an adult. I started going to therapy a year and a half ago and it's finally helped.

      A) - Find whatever it is that Aquinas gets his self-esteem from and support the hell out of it. I felt bad for liking the things I liked, since they were different.
      B) - I don't ever condone starting a fight, but I'll be damned if there weren't times I was physically targeted and felt helpless to protect myself. I was actually scared to go to some classes. Some sort of way to fight back as a last resort would be good (See CH's Pa's directive)
      C) - Don't be afraid to get him professional help. Don't let something fester and turn into years of pain.

      1. I felt bad for liking the things I liked, since they were different.

        Yeah, baby. I was ostracized because I wouldn't play football, and what I was into was considered a direct challenge to hetro-normative behavior. I still have some pretty sever anxiety when I go home because I may just run into one of the shitheads that tormented me in highschool.

        1. If the PR wasn't from the same hometown as me, I would still be on my "only visit on Christmas" schedule.

          I loathe having to go to the grocery store while I'm home for fear of who I'll run into. Fuck that place.

          1. I'm old enough now that it doesn't bother me if I happen to see one of those people, but if I was never to see any of them again it would, in the truest and deepest sense of the term, be all right with me.

    6. Dad brag time:

      Just picked up Aquinas from school. Here's what he said:
      "Dad, today went much better, but there was something else that made me sad. At second recess, [the bully] had to stay in to talk to [the teacher], and when he came back out, he wasn't playing ball tag with us. I wasn't being left out, but I was sad because it was like he was being left out."

      I love him so much.

    7. We have (thankfully) not needed to deal with this issue, at least not yet, so I don't have any super specific advice I can give. It sounds like you're already doing the things I would think to do: show him how much he is loved at home, make sure he knows that when the other kids are picking on him that they are the ones that are in the wrong not him, and try to do your best to give him other experiences that can help him with his self esteem and feelings of self worth.

      I also think you trying to intervene on his behalf is a very good thing. Hopefully it will lead to some immediate improvements, but even if not, it will help him know that you have his back and will be there for him when he needs you.

    8. I just want to ditto what others have said about making sure he knows he's loved at home. There were times when the one thing that kept me going was the knowledge that my parents were always behind me.

    1. Good read. I found it interesting (well, maybe not so much "interesting" as "irritating") that the same Moneyball concepts apply - too many police prefer to do what they've always done, despite all new resources available to them.

  2. Thanks for the tip on Perkins' podcast appearance, Beau. Whatever happens to him as he rehabs from injury, I'd very much like to see him retained in the organization after his playing days are over. His point about having a breadth of experience from working in every pitching role in the game was particularly relevant, I think, to his future as an analytics-minded coach or force in the front office. A bit of a Gabe Kapler from the pitching side, if you will.

    I also went back and listened to Breslow's interview from a few days earlier, which covered how Breslow spent his offseason analyzing other reliever's mechanics and pitches in an effort to change his own approach. I'm very interested to see what additional considerations about his future with the Twins might entail. A spot in the bullpen might have been an understanding, but I think Falvey & Levine have something bigger & better in mind for Breslow.

    1. Castro's not the first Twins catcher to wear #21. Henry Blanco was the most recent, and Jeff Reed wore it briefly in April & September '84. Hopefully he has more success with it than recent 21s: Mastro (2106), Shane Robinson, Duderino, Marquis, _elm_n, Ruben Sierra, & Brett Boone.

  3. crockpot barbacoa is a great thing. But note to self: two chipotles would have been enough.

    recipe:

    1 large onion, chopped. Soften in some olive oil to the point that it gets a little color, and dump in crock pot on high. 1 chuck roast, cut into large-ish chunks (biggest pieces of fat removed). Season with salt and pepper and brown very well. Dump into crock pot. Deglaze frying pan with a half cup or so of beef stock, reduce by at least half. Meanwhile, in a bowl, combine TWO chipotles in adobo, ample ground black pepper, 2-3 large cloves garlic, chopped, a tsp or so of dried oregano, a tablespoon or so each of ground cumin and granulated garlic, a bit of fresh or dried rosemary (chopped if fresh), a quarter cup each of beef stock and vinegar (pref. red wine vinegar, but I used white wine vinegar because didn't have red), the juice of a lime. Combine into a loose paste. I also added a good squirt of fish sauce to up the umami to 11.

    Pour sauce and reduced beef stock over beef and onions and combine. Turn heat to low and let cook all day. Remove meat, shred, and return to sauce to combine for a few minutes. Goes great in tacos and burritos.

    1. I'm making Guinness dark ale stew for dinner tonight, but the above recipe is going into rotation this weekend for post / pre carnival parade fare. This time of year our diet is restricted to things we can get quickly into our bellies before a parade that will soak up some (largish) amount of boozy drinks, and things that reheat with ease as to get into our bellies after parades where we've consume a (largish) amount of alcohol.

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