Episode Summary: The Back to School season is one of every parent’s most anticipated times of the year. Back to School Eve for a parent is like Christmas Eve for a child. We all love our children, but the increased laundry and endless snacking help build the anticipation for the Back to School moment. Even with this joy and anticipation we encounter some aspects that are difficult for us as parents to deal with. Join me and our call in guests as we discuss the highs and lows of Back to School and what it means to us and how we deal with it.
Take it or Leave it Podcast Episode 1: Back to School
Meredith: 00:18 Hello and welcome to Take It or Leave It, an advice-ish podcast for parents. You can download this podcast on iTunes and Google Play Music. I’m your host, Meredith, from That’s Inappropriate. This podcast will discuss all things marriage, motherhood, and everything in between. Please remember, I am not a professional at anything, so any advice I give you, you can take or leave as it might be crap. In today’s episode, we talk back to school, FORTNITE ADDITCTIONS, and what happens when you and your spouse do not agree on a parenting choice, so welcome to Take It or Leave It.
Meredith: 00:59 Hello and welcome to Take It or Leave It, an advice-ish podcast for parents. My name is Meredith from That’s Inappropriate, and I will be your host because you have no other choice. If you are listening to this podcast, remember you are the one who chose to subscribe. Basically, we are going to be talking about back to school. This is episode one. It is September 7th, 2018. We are going to talk about back to school because pretty much the entire country is back to school now. Labor Day is usually the last round of back to school stuff, so in the south, we start going back in August. You northerners go back after Labor Day, and I think pretty much everybody else follows suit. I’m not too familiar with other countries, but I’m assuming everybody is back at school, which means that you’re peeing in private for the most part, unless you have toddlers, and if you have toddlers, I’m sorry.
Meredith: 01:52 I want to talk some trending parenting topics and one of those is our kids are currently going through detox, and when I say that, I mean my son has a Fortnite addiction, and we’ve talked about this a couple of times over on the page, and I have taken away the game during … If it’s a weeknight, he is not allowed to play. If it’s a school night, he is not allowed to play, and so basically what we have done is completely made him go cold turkey, and then he’s allowed to play Friday night, Saturday night, and I let him play Sunday during the day. My question for you guys is what are your kids addicted to, what are they detoxing from, and what have you done in order to try and promote that detox? Because I’ve had a lot of people message me and say, “I don’t know what to do. They just play video games all the time, and I can’t get them to stop,” and believe me, I understand.
Meredith: 02:47 If I allowed my 12 year-old to have the gaming system in his room, there would be no way, and he’s asked for a TV and he’s asked for it to be in his room and the answer is just no, because I know that you’re going to be playing when you’re supposed to be sleeping, so what things are your kids trying to detox from right now? The phone number is coming up and all I want you to do is call in and tell me your name, how many kids you have, and I want you to tell me what they are trying to detox from so that we can talk through this. I know that other parents are suffering with this. That Fortnite video had millions and millions and millions of views, and people have messaged me and either said, “Yes, I totally agree,” or they’ve basically said, “You’re a terrible parent because you should’ve just pulled the plug and you shouldn’t have let your kid play the game in the first place,” which I don’t really think is fair because they are kids.
Meredith: 03:42 They’re going to play video games. At least my boys do. My daughter doesn’t. YouTube is a big obsession for these kids, too. It’s amazing how they can sit and watch another kid unbox a toy and get so much pleasure from it. It’s not like you bought them that toy, but they watch them unbox, which is amazing. I don’t know. We’ll see. I think we have a caller. Hello?
Missy: 04:07 Hello.
Meredith: 04:07 Hi. Welcome to Take It or Leave It.
Missy: 04:10 How are you?
Meredith: 04:11 Good. How are you? What’s your name?
Missy: 04:14 My name is Missy.
Meredith: 04:15 Hi, Missy. How many kids you have?
Missy: 04:17 I have two. I have a five year-old and an almost two year-old.
Meredith: 04:23 You got a toddler. Bless your heart. What is your child detoxing from?
Missy: 04:32 Well, he goes to his dad’s during the summer, which is in a different state for visitation, and when he comes home, he’s totally detoxing from candy, no routine, like no routine at all.
Meredith: 04:45 That’s tough.
Missy: 04:47 And video games, like he doesn’t have them here, so it’s nonstop asking for them, asking about them. It’s an addiction totally.
Meredith: 04:57 That’s really … Yeah. That’s a big deal.
Missy: 05:01 It’s very hard and I don’t know how to break it. One parent says it’s okay and another doesn’t and then I look like the bad guy, and so I don’t know what a happy medium is there. It’s very difficult.
Meredith: 05:15 I can’t speak from any experience of having to coparent because I don’t, but what I can tell you right off the bat listening to what you’re saying, he obviously isn’t following any game plan or rules that you’ve set forth.
Missy: 05:29 Right. It’s more like the fun parent. I’m the mean parent that has the routine, the schedule, all those things. Eight o’clock bed time. By seven o’clock, I’m like, “Oh my gosh, is it eight o’clock yet?” I don’t mean it like that’s my time, but you know how it is.
Meredith: 05:46 It is your time.
Missy: 05:48 I’d love to be able to poop and pee. I’d love to be able to shower and not have to worry about the other one trying to kill the other one. It’s insane.
Meredith: 05:57 I hear you. I agree. I think that if there’s any way at all possible for you guys to have some constructive conversations about the schedule that needs to be followed when he’s at his dad’s house, whether that’s through mediation or something, but that’s got to be really hard because if he’s gone for eight, twelve weeks on a completely different schedule, allowed to do pretty much anything he wants, that’s hell you have to pay for when he comes home.
Missy: 06:27 That’s what I’m experiencing. He just started kindergarten, and they just started this whole color chart routine and everything there, and the first three weeks, he was great, green every day, and now he’s coming home yellow, and it’s like I don’t even know … We’ll have to have those talks and I don’t know what to take away because he doesn’t have necessarily video games here, but when he comes home on yellow, how do you take away things? I could send him to his room and have him read books or things of that nature, but he’s not impacted. It’s a very difficult age.
Meredith: 07:11 I completely agree. Let’s do this because I like this question where you went from. Let’s take in another caller who has maybe coparented, who has a situation like this, I’d like to hear what their ideas are for how you would go about getting that child back on to a routine, because I remember the charts. I remember the yellow and the red and the this and the that, but let’s see-
Missy: 07:32 There’s like seven different colors at his school.
Meredith: 07:32 … if we can take another caller. Yeah. I know. There’s so many colors of the rainbow.
Missy: 07:37 I know.
Meredith: 07:37 Let’s see if we can take another caller. I’m going to say thank you to you, Missy, for calling in.
Missy: 07:43 Thank you.
Meredith: 07:44 Let’s see if somebody else can call in and answer this question for Missy. How do you get a child back on to a routine when they have spent so much time, up to three months, with a coparent who is not following the same rules and guidelines that you do? Because that has to be just insane because I know for myself when my husband and I aren’t on the same page and he allows one child to do something that I would’ve said no to, that causes a problem and we live under the same roof, so how on earth are we supposed to get this child back on to a routine? Let’s take another caller and see if we can get some answers for that. I think we got one. Routine is important because it gives everybody peace of mind and I just feel better when I’m on a schedule or at least when my husband attempts to keep me on a schedule. Let’s see. Do we have a caller? Hello?
Jen: 08:31 Hello.
Meredith: 08:32 Hi. Who am I speaking with?
Jen: 08:35 My name is Jen.
Meredith: 08:36 Hi, Jen. How many kids do you have?
Jen: 08:38 I have three kids, 17, 15, and 10.
Meredith: 08:44 Wow. Do you have any advice for our caller, Missy?
Jen: 08:48 I do. Consistency is important. It might take awhile for it to work, but just keep at. When my kids were younger, a chart, and stickers, and a prize after so many stickers worked seriously well.
Meredith: 09:05 I agree with you. Consistency is key. I’ve used tickets. You’re saying a chart with stickers. How did you reward the child? How did they get a sticker?
Jen: 09:19 If they did everything that was expected of them, got all their chores done, got their homework done, whatever, polite, courteous, sit in the aisle, they got their stickers.
Meredith: 09:30 Okay. You had set forth expectations, and as they competed those, you then rewarded with a sticker on a chart and said, “Okay,” and at the end, they could cash them in for a prize.
Jen: 09:42 Yes. We had a treasure box.
Meredith: 09:44 The treasure. The infamous treasure box. That’s a teacher trick, because my kids’ teacher has a treasure box, and he comes home with this stuff, and it’s like, “Why did your teacher give you slime? That mean, mean woman. She gave you slime and sent you home,” but yes, I agree with that. Consistency is absolutely key. Behavior chart is definitely something that you should engage. I’ve done a ticket system, rewarding for positive behavior, positive reinforcement. My behaviorist recommended that for my youngest son, and I did it for the whole family, I mean the kids, anyway. I didn’t do it for my husband. He’s rewarded in other ways. It was something that was very … They really got into because then they understood that there was value behind the tickets, so I agree with that. I just think it’s tough. Missy has got a rough go because she’s competing against an ex-spouse and that’s not fair, but unfortunately it’s never fair, so-
Jen: 10:47 Yeah. That’s not fair. I’m the mean guy all the time because my older two, my ex-husband, he’s not very involved, so when he is involved, and when they do see him, he’s the good guy. He doesn’t disappoint at all. He doesn’t see them very often. It is hard.
Meredith: 11:06 Right. My guess, and if I’m a betting woman, my guess is that when it is all said and done and they’re grown, the respect and admiration that they will have because you played that role, as well as many others, is going to be one of love and respect, so I applaud all of you that are coparenting or single parenting because you’ve got to do all the jobs, but thank you for calling in and I hope you have a great week.
Jen: 11:34 You have a great week, too.
Meredith: 11:35 Thank you. Bye. That’s definitely an issue that comes up in parenting. Even if you’re not coparenting, you can still have issues with how you’re dealing with your spouse and their parenting, so it’s definitely an issue, and you have to be consistent, and that’s key. Consistency is key. Big applause to the parents that step it up. Absolutely. And to all the single moms out there and single parents out there. All right. Good. Let’s talk a little bit about things that we love about back to school.
Meredith: 12:08 I absolutely love getting to pee alone. I love uninterrupted lunch breaks. I love being on a schedule. We just talked about schedules, and first day pictures for school, like taking your pictures, making your kids, forcing your kids to stand in the same pose and then you snap those pictures, that’s my absolute favorite thing because we always take their picture in front of this palm tree and each year you look back and you’re like, “Oh my gosh, look how big they got,” and I’m not a softie. I’m not an overly affectionate individual but there’s something about that first day pic that we always have to do with the backpacks on and the lunchbox at their side, and I saw a lot of really good back to school pictures on the internet this year of not just the kids but the mom sending their kids off to school all holding mimosas, in pool floats, hanging out, lounging around, and I was inspired.
Meredith: 13:03 I wanted a flamingo float, which I have yet to get, and I didn’t even have a mimosa on the first day, but it is what it is. Grocery shopping. How could I have forgotten that? Grocery shopping alone is like frigging Disney World. I’m not a fan of Disney World. Never mind. It’s like a really good thing that you would like to do by yourself because your kids are not there to beg to fill the cart with crap, and that is wonderful, or knock down … You know how when they go down the aisle at the grocery store and they’re running their fingers across all of the boxes just waiting to see if they can tip one off the shelf, and they’re not touching it hard enough to make them fall but just enough to maybe get one to fall off and then all of a sudden you turn around and there’s eight boxes of Cheerios on the ground, that’s why I’m not really a fan of taking the kids to the grocery store.
Meredith: 13:54 And the grocery store that I shop at, they’re so polite that they’ll run up behind you and pick it up and it’s like, “Don’t pick that up. My child is coming back to restock those shelves. Don’t you dare pick that up. That little butt head has to clean that up.” Anyway. All right. Why don’t somebody call in and tell me your absolute favorite thing about going back to school? What is it that you wait for all summer long? Is it getting to sit down and watch a TV show during the day? What is the thing that you literally miss the most during summer? Because I have to be honest, I’m not a big fan of summer if you guys didn’t notice. Fall is my favorite time of the year and we don’t even get fall in Florida. We pretend, but what is the thing that you miss during the summer that when your kids go back to school you get and you’re so excited for? That’s really what I want to know.
Meredith: 14:43 What is your most favoritest thing ever that you don’t get? Can I not get a coffee break for a sip or what? I got my producer sitting over here telling me that I got to keep going. It’s like I just needed a sip of coffee. All right. I think we got another caller. We’re going to talk about things we love the most about back to school. Hello?
Erika: 15:09 Hello.
Meredith: 15:09 Hi. Who am I speaking with?
Erika: 15:12 This is [Erika Sigley 00:15:13]/
Meredith: 15:13 Hi, Erika. How are you?
Erika: 15:15 Fine.
Meredith: 15:16 Good. How many kids you got?
Erika: 15:19 Three.
Meredith: 15:19 All right. What are their ages?
Erika: 15:22 26, 21, and 18.
Meredith: 15:24 18. Is the 18 year-old a senior?
Erika: 15:29 No. He just graduated. He will be going off to college next year. I am done.
Meredith: 15:34 You are going to be an empty nester. That’s so exciting.
Erika: 15:37 It is, and I want to tell you first off that would you do is amazing because if I would’ve had this group when I was a single mom getting married again and then having a combined family and going through all of the things that you talk about, and I felt alone, I worked and thought, “I am losing at everything,” this group would’ve been awesome, so what you do is fantastic.
Meredith: 16:08 Jesus, Erika. You’re making me cry. It’s my first podcast. What are you doing? I have a stone heart.
Erika: 16:16 [crosstalk 00:16:16] started this because in this group, I see all these moms, and the [inaudible 00:16:22] they’re making and the things they’re going through, and I’m like, “Yep. Been there done that. Yep. Been there done that.” To touch on the lady with the coparenting, been there, done that for a lot of years. My husband and I both had relationships and children with other people, and thank God we were smart enough not to have any more when we got together, but as far as that goes, they literally have to find a middle ground because it will only get worse as the kids get older and they actually have to do real … I don’t want to say they’re not disciplining the children they have, but when they get older, it is just [inaudible 00:17:04] if you’re not both on the same page, so that’s something I don’t …
Erika: 17:10 Not all of us have good relationships with our exes and you don’t have to. I don’t care if you don’t care if they breathe oxygen or not. You’ve got to remember that it’s about your children, and if that takes lawyers, which we’ve gone that route with one and didn’t have to go that route with the other, you have to do that for the sake of your children, and in the end, even if that doesn’t work out, your children when they’re older, because I know this because mine are both older and on both sides, even though it didn’t go great on one side, that child still knows who did right by them and taught them the lessons they needed to learn. No matter how hard it was on us, they know that now.
Meredith: 17:56 That’s what I … I agree completely with what you said, and that, I think, is the … The end is that your kid is going to know you did right by them. Tell me, what is the one thing when your kids were little that you missed the most during summer break? Because you had three kids running all over the place. What were you so excited for with back to school?
Erika: 18:17 That I could take them to school and sleep.
Meredith: 18:21 Go back home and go to bed.
Erika: 18:23 Go back home and go to bed, but I also worked night shift as a nurse, so it was very hard to sleep while they were here all summer long-
Meredith: 18:31 That had to be tough.
Erika: 18:32 … and you’re trying to sleep during the day, so that was hard, but of course, having three boys, they played every sport under the moon, so actually summertime was easier because as they got older, they slept in, so you could sleep in.
Meredith: 18:48 Right.
Erika: 18:48 So school time, when school started come August, it was football season, wrestling season, baseball season, go, go, go, go, go, and I just said as this last one graduated, as we’re starting now and I saw all the back to school-
Erika: 19:00 … last one graduated as we’re starting now, and I saw all the back to school pictures and whatnot. I’m like, I feel like I should be doing something. Why am I not doing something? I haven’t sat still this long in years.
Meredith: 19:12 Yeah. Well, now, you’re going to have to figure out where you want to travel, what you want to do with your time and your energy and your efforts and your hobbies and all that great stuff. Congrats on being an empty nester. Thank you for calling in. I agree 100% with your advice. I am so grateful that you have found us, and I thank you so much for the support because this community means the world to me. I, feeling alone the way I did, I knew I had to reach out and try to make some connections. Good Lord, I had no idea that this was what was going to happen, but boy, am I blessed that it did. So thank you so much, and congrats.
Erika: 19:51 Thank you, and everybody look forward to it because the part of them not all being here means you’ve done your job.
Meredith: 19:57 That’s right. I agree. All right. You have a great rest of your week.
Erika: 20:01 You too.
Meredith: 20:02 Okay. Bye.
Erika: 20:03 Bye.
Meredith: 20:04 All right. So on the flip side of things that you love about back to school, there are a lot of things that people hate about back to school. Now, I know. I took some flack over the summer for some of the things that I was posting, saying, some mom saying that they absolutely love summer vacation, and they wished they didn’t have to send their kids back. God love you. I don’t understand it, but that’s fine. But there are some things about back to school that even I am not a super duper fan of.
Meredith: 20:31 I am not a fan of the parent pickup line, okay? I do not understand why it is so difficult to go to school and pick up your child. There are cones everywhere. There are lanes. We’ve got like friggin’ flight control, like traffic controllers out there/ It’s like every day, you know you have to go and pick up your kid. Yet every day, there’s somebody who’s trying to merge into your lane, somebody who’s trying to run over your cone, somebody who’s trying to get in front of you with a wave, and it’s like, “No. No. No, Susan. You can not cut in. I see you. I have eyes on you. I am not letting you into this lane. I have been waiting here for 47 minutes. You can’t just come in and merge,” right? The parent pickup line drives me bonkers.
Meredith: 21:21 What I started doing was sitting my son in the front seat with me when we’re parked in the parent pickup lane because we’re parked for a good solid 35-40 minutes. I then start his homework there and then stick him in the back when the other two come in, and then I shut that door. But it’s just like good Lord, like that parent pickup line is out of control. It just seems like there should be a better way to do it, but I mean I’m not saying I have the answer. I’m just saying I hate the parent pickup line, okay?
Meredith: 21:51 And then the other thing I hate is they will send those PTO parents, and if you’re a PTO, God love you. I do. But they send those PTO parents out there with their fundraising slips, and they go knocking on your window trying to get you to sell crap while you’re in the parent pickup lane. It’s like, “Why are you doing this to me? Why are you trying to get me to sell cookies and candles when I am sitting in my minivan?” But that’s what you do.
Meredith: 22:17 And then you get saddled with this form, and then your kids are like, “Well, I want to do the fundraiser. I want to sell the cookies because I want to win the prize.” It’s like the prize is a rubber duck from Oriental Trading Company. It’s worth three cents. I do not want to sell $500 worth of cookies so that you can get a three-cent rubber duck. This is not a good exchange for me. I don’t understand this.
Meredith: 22:41 And then, no, my kids can’t take the bus. We don’t have a bus. But yay for the kids who can take the bus and for the parents who send their kids, but I just don’t understand. I don’t get it. I have no idea. I don’t understand it. But the fundraising drives me nuts.
Meredith: 22:55 Finally, this year was the first year that our school said, ” Hey, if your kid is going to opt out of these fundraisers, you can pay X, Y, Z amount, and they’ll still give them a prize.” So it’s like I’m going to get to give my school $100 for my kid to get a prize out of the treasure box. It’s basically like, “Oh, my gosh. All right.” I’ll do that simply because I’m not selling your cookies, okay? I don’t care, Otis Spunkmeyer. I don’t care anything about you, and I don’t want your cookies, so I’m not doing it. So fundraising. Testing. We’re going to be back to testing and testing anxiety and kids not wanting to go to school because they don’t want to take the test and poor teachers who are forced to teach to a test that these children don’t want to take, and then these poor teachers who their salaries or bonuses or whatever are tied to testing results for children who don’t want to take a test that these teachers have to teach to. And that is just a cycle of misery. At least in the State of Florida, I know that that’s a problem, and that drives me nuts because my daughter has massive testing anxiety. She worries about it. She gets stomach aches about it. She gets head pains, as she calls them. It is miserable. I’m not saying that we don’t need to test our children to make sure that they’re on grade level or doing what they need to do, but some of these states tests are simply out of control, and it is unnecessary to test a child that often. I don’t know.
Meredith: 24:35 All right. So why don’t you tell me the things that you can’t stand about back to school? I need a caller to tell me because the other thing that I can’t stand about back to school are the back to school germs because those are going to start coming at you hot and heavy. Isn’t that gross? But these back to school germs, I swear, as soon as the doors of the school open and all of the snotty little children start to crawl into the crevices, you automatically start getting these back to school colds. The worst, the worst is when your kid comes home and they tell you that the person, their desk partner puked. I don’t think anything sends more of a fear or more of a shiver down my spine than hearing, “My desk partner puked in class.” That is probably the worst thing ever.
Meredith: 25:27 Do we have a caller? Hello?
Kristine: 25:30 Hello?
Meredith: 25:31 Hi. Who am I speaking with?
Kristine: 25:33 Kristine.
Meredith: 25:34 Hi, Kristine. How many kids you have?
Kristine: 25:36 Five.
Meredith: 25:37 Five. Yikes. People probably say that when you say five, right?
Kristine: 25:42 Yeah.
Meredith: 25:45 All right. So tell me, what is the thing that you can’t stand about back to school season?
Kristine: 25:53 The mandatory open houses.
Meredith: 25:55 Oh, yes. Because you have five kids, so how many schools are your kids in?
Kristine: 26:02 Only two are in school.
Meredith: 26:04 Oh, you have two in school. Okay. In the same school?
Kristine: 26:07 No. Two different schools. One’s in the high school, and one’s in middle school.
Meredith: 26:11 Okay, so you have a high school and a middle school student, and the mandatory open houses, especially when the kid’s already been to the school.
Kristine: 26:18 Yeah. I honestly, I don’t go to the open houses.
Meredith: 26:22 So yes, I agree with you. I think it’s kind of ridiculous that they make you go to an open house again and again when a kid has already been in a school. Do you ever struggle with the back to school germs?
Kristine: 26:34 Oh, definitely. My youngest is three, so she catches everything.
Meredith: 26:40 Yeah, I do remember that with the toddlers, and then it’s just a … It’s like a cycle of illness, so like any time somebody says, “Oh, I think so-and-so has the stomach flu,” I panic because if one kid gets it and there are five people in your household, all, everybody’s going to suffer with it. You guys have, what, seven?
Kristine: 27:03 Yes.
Meredith: 27:03 Yeah, and then you just feel like it’s gone through over and over again so many times that you can’t even, like you just … I think at some point, you just decide to dig a hole, and it’s like, “All right everybody, let’s just crawl into the hole.” I don’t even know what I would do with seven people with the stomach flu. We’ve done all five of us sick at one time, and that was miserable, but I mean it’s just insane. Back to school germs are like the real deal, right? I think over the summer, everybody kind of separates, and for whatever reason, it’s like a algae bloom or something, and these kids all come home with all sorts of stuff, but nothing is worse than hearing, “My desk mate puked in class today.” It’s like, “What? What?” That’s the worst.
Kristine: 27:52 Oh, yeah. Especially when I’m taking care of everyone else, I’m the last one to get sick, and I get sick 10 times it’s worse than everyone else.
Meredith: 28:00 Yeah, yeah. I know. But yeah, no I agree. But I’m with you too. I had to go to open house again for my … I went to everybody’s open house, which is silly because my fourth grader and second grader have been in that same school from the beginning, and my middle schooler, it’s now his second year, and it’s like every year, you make me go to open house. It’s like I know all those teachers. I know where the cafeteria is. I know where the library is. I know where all of these things are.
Meredith: 28:26 And then, they kind of like, you feel like you’re shamed if you don’t show up because it’s like, “Oh, missed you at open house,” and it’s like, “Yeah. I was busy. I was watching Netflix.” You know? I don’t know. But all right. Well, thank you for calling in, and good luck this school year. I hope they don’t bring any more germs home to the toddler.
Kristine: 28:43 Yeah. Thank you, and you too.
Meredith: 28:45 Have a good one.
Kristine: 28:47 You too.
Meredith: 28:48 All right. Back to school is in full swing. But another thing that happens as a result of back to school and this is a really, really hot button, super touchy topic for a lot of people, but it’s something that should be discussed, and we absolutely have to touch on are bullies. Bullying happens. Bullying is frequent. I think that there are levels of bullying, right? I think you have to be able to differentiate too between: is this a mean kid or is this kid a bully? Is this kid just rude or is this kid a bully? I think there is a difference.
Meredith: 29:34 First, I’m going to say that as a parent, I kind of feel like I have … I have a lot of jobs, right? As moms, I think we can all agree that we have a lot of jobs. We wear a lot of hats. But one of my main jobs like main, main big-time jobs is raising a kid with a good heart who is not an a-hole, right? It’s my job to make sure that they are loving and kind and respectful and that they’re not the bully, that they’re not the mean kid.
Meredith: 30:11 I think that that’s really, really important, and I try to do that, every single day, I try to instill that. But you still, they still, your kids come home, and you ask them how their day was, and every now and again, you’re going to hear, “So-and-so was mean to me.” And then you have to kind of unpack that and figure out like, how were they mean? Was this bullying or was this maybe just a kid with no filter and they were just being rude or whatever? And so you have to, because it’s absolutely serious and it seems like it’s escalated quite a bit because in the last 30, 30 or so years, it’s a completely different landscape. But I think we do have to pay attention to it, and you do need to teach your kids to stand up for themselves without harming another child.
Meredith: 31:02 Tips and tricks. What do you think? How do explain a bully’s behavior to your child? Let’s … Can we take callers or no? Can we try? We’re going to keep trying. We’re going to keep trucking.
Meredith: 31:14 So I’d like some advice from parents out there on how to deal with a bully. What would you do? What do you tell your child when they come home and they say to you, “Hey, so-and-so was mean to me today?” We all have that mama bear gut reaction like, “Who was mean? What did they say? What were they doing?”
Meredith: 31:33 But you have to decipher. You have to go in, and you have to really, really figure out if this was a bully or is this just a kid who’s being a turd, right? Because there are plenty of people who the turds out there, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a series of events that has, is because the bullying, if you ask me, is a repetitive harassment over and over again, over time, and they’re targeting one child, and they’re doing it on purpose. It’s not “So-and-so knocks me off the jungle gym and said, ‘Ha, ha. You’re a butt face,'” right? That’s just a kid because they like to say, “Butt face.” So I think we need to kind of figure out steps for talking to our children about how to interact with somebody who’s potentially a bully and what are we supposed to do with that.
Meredith: 32:27 Missy says, “I ask my son what you did them to first to see if it was retaliation.”
Meredith: 32:33 All right. Hello, caller.
Rosie: 32:35 Hello?
Meredith: 32:36 Hi. Who am I speaking with?
Rosie: 32:38 This is Rosie.
Meredith: 32:39 Hi, Rosie. How many kids you have?
Rosie: 32:42 I have two boys. I have a 13-year-old autistic boy, and a 10-year-old boy.
Meredith: 32:48 Have you dealt with bullying?
Rosie: 32:51 Yes, especially with my special needs child, it’s always a topic in our house. Because now, he’s in middle school, I needed to speak to him about the way people act with him and how they treat him and to always be protective of his surroundings.
Meredith: 33:10 What is your advice to him if something were to happen at school? Do you tell him to automatically go to a teacher or an adult? I mean what would your steps be?
Rosie: 33:20 Oh, absolutely. Absolutely. He does have an aide, a one-to-one aide that guides him through the school, so that’s the first person that he should be saying something to. If not, the teacher or the principal or any adult that works at the school should be told.
Meredith: 33:36 Absolutely. I think if our children understand that the direct, like the first line needs to be a teacher or an adult, and then, then that you need to remind them too like you also got to come home and tell me because it’s our job-
Rosie: 33:51 Exactly.
Meredith: 33:51 … to check to make sure that the school employees are doing what they’re supposed to do because you have to remember how many hundreds of kids are in a school, we need to check and make sure that they’re doing what they’re supposed to do as well because things slip through the cracks and people forget to maybe make a statement or talk about something. It’s our job to be the one to double check and make sure it actually happened, right, and follow through.
Rosie: 34:14 Exactly. There was a situation his first year of middle school where a student tried to cut him off on a lunch line because they thought that they can get away with it with him. The aide, he did go approach the aide, and they did handle it, but they called me from the school to tell me before he came home, but then I waited to say something to him to see if he would approach me, and he did. He told me everything that had happened.
Meredith: 34:42 Good. Yeah, and so you know then they’re comfortable to share that, and so I think it’s just our job to make sure that we’re taking the temperature with our kids. Like, “Is everything okay today? Did anything happen?” But they do absolutely need to go straight away, first line of defense is like, “Hey, this kid is bothering me,” or, “This kids did X, Y, and Z.” But I think it’s also hard because our kids don’t want to be tattle tales, right? Because we also tell them, “Hey, are you telling on somebody? Are you ratting on somebody?” But they need to understand the difference between harassment and bullying and just a kid, like I said, who’s being a turd because all of our kids can be turds at times. My kid isn’t, my-
Rosie: 35:21 Oh, absolutely. Right. Exactly.
Meredith: 35:24 So that’s a tough line that we have to be able to have a conversation with them and have a conversation with their teachers or employees at the school. But thank you for calling in.
Rosie: 35:36 Thank you. Congratulations on your first episode.
Meredith: 35:40 Oh, thank you.
Rosie: 35:41 I’m so glad that you’re doing this for the community.
Meredith: 35:43 Oh, thank you so much. You have a great weekend.
Rosie: 35:45 You too. Take care, honey.
Meredith: 35:47 Thanks. So I think when it comes down to this because we had a situation a couple of years back. My oldest son was in fifth grade. He was, they were, I think it was recess time or PE, but they were walking the track, and all of a sudden, my son got tapped on the shoulder by a girl, and when he turned to look at the girl, another girl came around and pulled his pants down and panted him. This is fifth grade, so this is what? This is 10 years old? And so he quickly gathered his pants from around his ankles, pulled them up, and walked away. He did not tell the teacher. Somebody else who saw this told the teacher, and then I got a phone call, and I had to come into the school.
Meredith: 36:37 Now, I was furious because my son had his pants pulled down. Luckily, the child had on underpants, and she didn’t snag those too. But I was sitting there thinking to myself how embarrassed would I be if I was in the middle of the school yard with all of these kids watching and somebody pulled down my pants.
Meredith: 36:56 Now, I don’t think he was being bullied. I don’t think it was to be super malicious. I think they thought that this was funny. But we did have to have a conversation, which was super awkward with the teacher. The teacher met with us individually, myself and the teacher, the teacher and the other two girls’ parents because it was a tag team effort to have my child’s pants pulled down. But it really opened my eyes to how mean kids can be. And then thinking about just the fact that my kid was standing there pantless. I was really … My husband had to kind of hold me back because I was ready to go in there and start lighting some people up.
Meredith: 37:42 But I had to kind of say okay, because they ask you, “Do you want to file a bullying report?” It’s like I don’t think he’s being bullied. This isn’t something that has happened several times. I’m going to watch it to see if this is going to escalate, but I think this was two kids who were being turds and my kid ended up being the one who had his pants pulled down.
Meredith: 38:00 … you were being turds, and my kid ended up being the one who had his pants pulled down. So, I think you just have to watch that, and you have to make sure.
Meredith: 38:09 Of course, I said to him afterwards, I said, “Bud, you gotta tell me what’s going on. And why didn’t you tell the teacher?” And he said, “Well, I really didn’t want to get anybody in trouble.” You know? Because he’s a people-pleaser. And I said, “No. That wasn’t okay. You know? Kids do things and make poor choices, and it happens. Good Lord, as adults we make poor choices. But, there was a line that was crossed. You were in your undies in the school play yard. That was not okay. You gotta tell a teacher. You’ve gotta stand up for yourself, in that sense.”
Meredith: 38:42 We didn’t file a bullying report, but it wasn’t fun. It wasn’t a moment that I’d like to live again. And I would really hope, and what I think my job is as a parent is to make sure that my kids are never the kids that are pulling down the pants. So, that’s my job, right? I don’t want my kids to be … They call it “flagging”, right? I think it’s called flagging when you pull down somebody’s pants. Ima flag you later, honey. No, I’m just kidding.
Meredith: 39:14 I think it’s just … That’s my job. My job is to raise good, loving, kind kids, and go from there. But bullying can become very, very serious, and so, as a parent, I think the last thing I’m going to say on this topic is keep an eye on your kids. If they’re telling you that something is up, look into it. Talk to the teachers. The teachers can get overwhelmed. There are hundreds of thousands of children at these schools. Double check. Make sure. Be a hemorrhoid. Do the things that you have to do to make sure that your kid is okay, and to make sure that your child is vocalizing to an adult at school, and that you’re following up on that, because it can really, really go sideways quickly if it is a true bullying situation where a child is being targeted and harassed. And that can end fatally, unfortunately.
Meredith: 40:06 I think the majority of these incidents are just kids being kids and being rude, nasty little things. Bullying, however, is very serious and needs to be watched, and you need to constantly be on top of making sure that your kids are okay when they’re not with you at home, and they’re at school.
Love and Marriage Segment
Meredith: 40:28 All right. So, let’s talk about love and marriage. So, the third segment of our show is going to always deal with something with marriage. Some marital issue that I’m currently having, because I have lots of them, or something that I’ve come across in my marriage. So, I thought what we could do is always, in this last segment, break down what I’d like to call Love and Marriage.
Meredith: 41:02 So, this episode, since we talked about detoxing from Fortnite, I thought I would bring about the fact that I had stressed, from the beginning when Fortnite came out and my son was asking me about it, I told my son, “No. No Fortnite. I don’t want you playing that game. I don’t like that game. I want nothing to do with it.” I went out of town on some business thing, and when I came home I got news from my son that my husband allowed him to download the Fortnite game.
Meredith: 41:33 Now, I said I didn’t want him to have the Fortnite game. My husband gave him access to said Fortnite game, which then led to a rampant addiction of Fortnite, not that that was his fault, but we completely disagreed on whether or not he should be allowed to play this game. And I had to decide, do I want to fight with my husband about this? Or, is this not a battle that I’m going to pick, and to fight with him? So, we didn’t fight about this, but I found that after I saw how addicted my son became to the game, I was angry that my husband let him play it.
Meredith: 42:13 Was I wrong for not shutting it down in the beginning? Because now that we’re out on the other side, and he’s back at school and he’s only playing on the weekends, I don’t think he really has … He’s not addicted. He was over the summer. I’m not going to lie to you. I’m going to tell you the honest truth. My kid was addicted to Fortnite over the summer. But now he’s not. I think we’ve broken him. But was I not wrong for basically taking this to that and saying, “Hey, this is not good?” What are your thoughts on that? I want you to tell me if I was wrong or if I was okay to let it go. Do you want to chime in on this, producer? No. My husband, the producer, is remaining silent over there, waiting to hear your calls on this as to whether or not I was right or wrong.
Meredith: 42:57 I let it go because I felt like there were probably other things in our marriage we could fight about, but then after he became addicted, I was kind of like, “This is …” I wanted to say, “This is your fault.” I wanted to look at my husband and say, “You did this. You let him play this game that I said “no” to.” But I know in a marriage it’s not a good thing to point a finger and say, “This is your fault.” So, I bit my tongue and I didn’t, but I really wanted to. So, was I wrong? Or was I right for letting this go? Or, when you and your husband disagree, what is it that you do if they then give the child what it is that they want? What is your solution for that? Tell me what you think I could have done better, or, what you would have done in your own situation.
Meredith: 43:46 I think we have a caller, and now you can tell me. Hello?
Katrey: 43:51 Hi. How are you?
Meredith: 43:51 Hi. What’s you’re name?
Katrey: 43:54 Katrey
Meredith: 43:55 How many kids do you have?
Katrey: 43:57 I have five.
Meredith: 43:58 Five. Another with five.
Katrey: 43:59 Three girls, two boys.
Meredith: 43:59 Wow. It’s epidemic out there. Where do you live?
Katrey: 44:05 I live in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
Meredith: 44:07 Fort Wayne, Indiana. Okay. So, tell me, am I wrong? Should I have held my ground and not let him have the game?
Katrey: 44:16 No, you’re not wrong. I think that … Well, my kids aren’t so much addicted to things like Fortnite. It’s just NBA 2K.
Meredith: 44:23 Okay.
Katrey: 44:25 And my youngest son, my five-year-old, wasn’t never interested in it until he saw that’s what his older brothers liked.
Meredith: 44:32 Right.
Katrey: 44:32 And it got to a point to where my oldest son, he’s 11, to where he got so addicted that that was the only main focus. Everything he talked, everything he did was this game.
Meredith: 44:44 Yeah.
Katrey: 44:44 And it’s like, “No, you have to slow down.” I kind of hate ;is technology, the world that we’re in. It’s like, you have to let two-year-olds have an iPad, you know, things like that. But I think it takes away from the more family- oriented kind of things. It’s like, kids don’t focus on their parents, the more parents don’t focus, because it’s like, “Here, take this iPad, go,” and it’s like, “Shut it up.”
Meredith: 45:09 Right.
Katrey: 45:09 You know? So, I don’t think you’re wrong. Now, as far as with your husband, I think that some battles we’re going to win, but 75% of the time, we’re going to win all the battles in our marriage.
Meredith: 45:23 But I think it comes down to if you’re going to pick it, right? Like, it has to be something that you really, really, really want to fight about, and at that point, when we had this discussion, I didn’t really want to fight about the video game. I was bummed because he didn’t listen to me, and he went and let my son do it anyway, but I felt like that wasn’t super important to fight about. But then, after months and months of my son just becoming addicted to this game, I wanted to look at him and be like, “This is on you. You did this.” But that’s also not the right thing to do, is point a finger and say, “You’re wrong.” But I wanted to.
Katrey: 45:57 Yeah. See, when Dad wants them to do something and he doesn’t do it because he’s focused on a game, Dad will start to pick up and say, “You know what? You were right. This game is very addictive.” Because when the credit cards start coming in here, and he needs Fortnite Lives and backpacks and things-
Meredith: 46:13 That’s right.
Katrey: 46:13 … that’s when Dad’s going to kick in. I think dads don’t pick up on the things we see daily with our children. I think they pick up later on, “Oh, you know what? Maybe you were right, but I’m not going to say you’re right, I’m just going to make the adjustment.”
Meredith: 46:29 There you go. ” I can see that you were correct, but I’m not going to justify your correctness.”
Katrey: 46:37 “I’m just going to slowly take this game away from him, and then eventually, I’m not going to ever tell you you’re right. You just got to notice that you’re right.”
Meredith: 46:45 I know. I love that. And I agree with you. I think … But I do, and I’m firm on this. Now, once again, take it or leave it, because my advice can always be crap, right? But I am firm with the fact that in marriage picking your battles, like anything else, whether it’s a fight about your kids or this, that or the other thing, you gotta pick. Because there are way too many battles, every single day, and if you try and fight all of them, you will run out of steam quickly. So, picking your battles is important.
Katrey: 47:13 I think you have to have your thing. Like, me and my husband, when we argue, or we feel like we’re upset at each other, we’ll just go step away from the day. He’ll go upstairs, or he’ll go to work. And my peace is cooking, so, I’m in the kitchen and I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinners and nobody’s even that hungry. But it’s like, “You know what, Mommy? Tear the curtains down, Mommy has to feel her peace.” And you know, with five little ones, we have two five-year-olds, a 7, 9 and 11-year-old.
Meredith: 47:43 Oh my gosh.
Katrey: 47:43 And we’re a blended family, so, it’s like, “Ugh. I’m already pulling my hair out.” So, it’s like the littlest things … If it keeps them busy, as long as they’re doing what I ask them to do as far as with school and their chores, I kind of let them be kids.
Meredith: 47:58 Right. Right. Agreed.
Katrey: 48:01 You know? So, it’s like, “You go have your fun, you go do what you like to do,” but if you’re not doing what Mommy likes to do, they know. When Mommy’s not happy, I don’t think no one in the house can be happy.
Meredith: 48:10 No. I agree with that statement. I think that’s a solid one.
Katrey: 48:12 Mom keeps the world going.
Meredith: 48:13 I think that’s a solid one, right there, to end on. And I’m with you. We gotta pick the battles, and we have to let our kids be kids, but also, they need to know what the requirement is to continue to live in my home rent-free.
Katrey: 48:25 Absolutely. And before I go, I wanted to tell you how I found you, or, you found me, I’ll say. I was on Facebook one day, and your first video that I actually saw was the one where you were, “I’m just one freakin’ person.”
Meredith: 48:44 Yes.
Katrey: 48:45 That one. And I listened to that, and I said, “You know what?” I told my husband, I said, “I am one freakin’ person.” He said, “Where did you get that from?” I let him see your video, and he was in love. He was like, “Now I see,” he said. Because moms have this whole list of things.
Katrey: 49:01 I got sick one time and was in a hospital for two weeks, and my husband said, “You know what? This is a job. I think moms need a cheque for being at-home moms,” because I’m an at-home mother. So, it’s like, they don’t understand what we go through, and I appreciate you, because I listen to your videos and I just … You know, I go through and I say, “Oh, she’s the greatest.”
Meredith: 49:20 Aw.
Katrey: 49:21 “She keeps it all the way clear for you.” Even the one where the baby got stuck in the drier. I got discouraged, because I said, “You know what? There’s a lot of things … As a parent we can’t always keep our eye on them.”
Meredith: 49:34 Right.
Katrey: 49:35 And I got so discouraged. I’m just going to say, my son, one time, he was one, and he got into the medicine cabinet. He climbed on top of the toilet, which it was above, and got in there, and he had some medicine. And he never did chew it, but I didn’t know that. I never looked in trash cans to see that he threw it in there. I panicked, and it made me feel like a terrible parent. I keep things locked up, but … You make me feel like every 24 hours a day, we can’t possibly keep our eye on our kids, and you gave me stuff like, “You know what? You’re going to make mistakes as a parent. It’s how you deal with the mistakes, and how you learn from them.”
Meredith: 50:11 Yeah, well, thank-
Katrey: 50:12 I think you’re doing a great thing, and I appreciate you.
Meredith: 50:15 Oh, thank you so much. I really … You guys are just-
Katrey: 50:17 Oh, you’re welcome.
Meredith: 50:18 You’ve been the best today, and warmed my collars today. This is-
Katrey: 50:20 And I’m going to continue to follow you, and I’m going to just tag my sisters, because they’re single mothers, too, and they actually need us. And you give us advice in a good, fun, interesting way.
Meredith: 50:30 Well, thank you so much. You guys have a great weekend.
Katrey: 50:32 Thank you. You have a blessed one.
Meredith: 50:35 Thank you. Oh, my gosh. I had so much love from my callers today. That was so wonderful. They all pick me up. It’s like that warm hug you gave me this morning, business manager. It was just delightful. But I completely agree with our last caller here. I think that you gotta pick your battles. You’re one person. You got a lot of things to do, and each and every day, we’re trying to give our best, we’re putting one foot forward, and crap happens, you know? Things happen.
Meredith: 51:11 But what do you do? What are your options? Well, you gotta keep going. That is the only option that we have. And I think sometimes we feel like we are out of options. That’s not true. You always have an option. You can always move forward. You can always go and do the next thing. As somebody who has been very blessed with many different opportunities and adventures in this world over the last four years, because next month is our four-year anniversary for the blog and the website.
Meredith: 51:42 I can tell you that I have failed miserably more times than not, but the one thing that I’ve always said in those failures and in those moments, whether it was with my kids, with my business, with my marriage, with my medical issues that I’ve had, when I’m down at the bottom looking up, the one thing that I’ve always said is, you know, “I gotta go. I gotta go do the next thing. I have to go do the next thing, whatever that is. I have to go.” You can’t sit.
Meredith: 52:13 Now, you can sit for a little bit and cry. I’m a fan of five-minute pity-party. But then you have to get up and you have to move on, because there truly are no other options. You don’t ever, as a mom, get to quit. You don’t ever, as a wife, get to quit. You don’t ever, as an employee … Well, maybe you can quit a job. But my point is you have to keep going, because I promise you, there is something around the bend that is worth continuing to fight for, whether it’s your marriage or your kids. You have to keep going. You really, really, truly do.
Meredith: 52:48 As many times as I have been offered opportunities that have fallen through, I’m blessed to have been offered those opportunities, even though they didn’t work out. And in the moment it can sting, when you’re told, “No, we’re going to pass on your book. We didn’t like it,” or, “No, that video isn’t going to be aired on the show today,” or, the time I got asked to be on Good Morning America and then they bumped me for a trending news story, and I was sitting there all excited and ready and waiting for my Skype interview, and I was so excited, and then they were like, “We’re sorry, you are not going to be on the show today.” And it’s like, “Oh, man. That’s a kick in the vagina.”
Meredith: 53:26 But what do you have to do? I think I cried for a few minutes and then I said, “All right, what’s next? What are we doing?” So, you have to remember you have to keep going, no matter what. But, hey, take it or leave it, that is my advice for today. I had an absolutely fantastic, wonderful time chatting with you guys. Thank you to everybody who called in. Thank you to everybody who listened, and, you know, come back next week, we will have Episode Two, and I love the fact that we get to spend time together each and every week.
Meredith: 54:00 We will be having a guest on the 21st, I think will be our first guest, so, keep an eye open for that. And make sure to download this podcast and subscribe on iTunes or Google Music, and I think we’re good. I think it was a success, yeah? It was good? It was good? You guys loved it? All right. You loved it. All right. All right, have a great weekend, and this has been Take It Or Leave It. Thank you for spending some time with me and my questionable advice today. You can download this podcast on iTunes and Google Play Music. Make sure to follow on Facebook over at That’s Inappropriate Parents for more relatable parenting content.