My 11-year-old son is a really good kid, and I am so grateful for that. Part of the reason he’s such a good kid, in my opinion, is that he gets really strong emotional and intellectual support at home.
The rest is all him. He’s very smart, totally empathic and generally trouble-free.
We moved to a really wonderful neighborhood back in May, and part of me hoped the kids would be different somehow, and they are. Mostly in a good way, because here, most parents are on top of stuff with their kids, actively and intentionally parenting.
A few kids in our old neighborhood had parents who were just as involved, but many others weren’t so lucky.
But in the new place, involved parents seem to be the norm.
That’s why last week, when I overheard part of a conversation between the neighborhood kids in which one was telling the other that his mom wouldn’t let him download some app, I thought nothing of it.
These are good kids, I thought. Nothing to worry about.
But a few days later, I noticed my son isolating himself (unusual behavior for him) and that he’d been on his phone more than usual. And he suddenly developed this desire to play with some neighborhood kids with whom he’d previously had a lukewarm relationship at best.
As is my habit (and as he’s always known was a condition of his continued use of the phone), I took the phone without warning (no time to delete anything that way) in order to spot check him.
My son immediately confessed that he’d been planning to sneak out with these kids in order to walk to “the store” to buy candy and toys. The nearest store is about three miles from here. Oh, and, they were planning this little trip for after their parents fell asleep for the night.
The KIK app and what parents need to know about it
If that part wasn’t scary enough, it got worse. These kids had encouraged Noah to download the KIK app, which, according to my research so far, is very dangerous.
For whatever reason, my son downloaded the app. He’s human, and peer pressure got the best of him. I’m not mad at him; it’s my job to keep him safe.
He just figured it was a chat app. His friends brought him into a public chat room on the app where they proceeded to post photos of him.
An even scarier thing? The unknown people in this virtual chat room asked questions such as “who’s house?” and made comments that were vaguely sexual in nature.
This caused me to instantly bristle, and based on the comments and the context, I felt that this was an adult who might be pretending to be a kid in order to groom these kids for something worse.
The feeling got worse when I read through to the end of the conversation, the part at which something, some unknown force, drove me to take the phone and check it. (On a related note, this is why you should never ignore “gut” feelings – tune into your intuition and make your entire life so much better, for real.)
That was when the conversation stopped being vaguely sexual and got outright explicit, not to mention completely inappropriate for anyone of this age.
Thank goodness I took the phone when I did, because I am fairly sure whoever it was had been gearing up to ask for more explicit photos.
The KIK app is marketed as a chat app, but most “in-the-know” people will tell you that it’s a sexting app.
While I’m not judging anyone who’s into sexting (hey, it can keep a marriage hot!), I do not want my children to ever engage in that or any activity that puts them at such risk.
I don’t know any parent who does.
But here’s what I really need you to hear: if you are the parent to a “good kid” like mine, you might think you don’t need to check – you would be wrong.
See, even the two kids who sent my son down this path are good kids. Their parents are involved in their lives. They aren’t neglected or abused; they’re loved.
The lesson for me was simple: good kids are still human kids and they can still be deeply affected by peer pressure.
It might be easy to ignore your “good kids” a little, especially when you’ve got problem kids in the bunch or other drama in your life, but to do so creates a big area of risk – and in some cases, can send kids down various paths that no parent ever wants to see a child travel.
Sexting apps lead to sex crimes against kids more often than their creators care to acknowledge, especially dangerous ones like KIK. Below, you’ll see a link to an article that describes two recent examples.
So tell me, are you keeping an eye on your “good kids” lately? Is it time to do a spot check? Let’s discuss.
In separate cases, two men have been charged with using a smart phone application to solicit sex with juveniles, according to arrest reports.
Jeremy Paguiligan, 27, of Pensacola and Curtis Joshua Cannon, 27, of Jay both are accused of sex offenses that allegedly were initiated on the instant messaging app Kik.
Paguiligan was booked into Escambia County Jail on Tuesday on charges of lewd and lascivious behavior toward a victim aged 12 to 16 and promoting sexual performance by a child, according to jail records.
Last year, Paguiligan allegedly arranged to have intercourse with a 15-year-old girl using Kik, an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrest report said. Investigators reportedly found sexually explicit photos and video on Paguiligan’s cell phone that they believe to be Paguiligan and the victim.
Paguiligan has been taken into custody and booked into Escambia County Jail without bond.
In a non-related incident, Curtis Joshua Cannon, 27, was charged with two counts of lewd and lascivious behavior toward a victim aged 12 to 16, one count of using a computer to solicit a child and one count of transmitting information harmful to minors.
Cannon allegedly used Kik to send illicit pictures, as well as solicit inappropriate sexual contact with a minor, according to an Escambia County Sheriff’s Office arrest report. Cannon reportedly told investigators he had been advised by his attorney not to comment on the allegations.
It wasn’t until I became a parent that I fully understood, and came to love that saying. Just knowing “it takes a village” made me feel like there was somebody, and possibly even several somebodies, out there on my side, rooting for me. It made me feel not so alone and not quite so worried that I was screwing up my own little human.
As a parent you need to select your village wisely. Take one wrong piece of advice from the village idiot and you’ll be getting the parental stink-eye from a lot of other folks out there.
I don’t feel “it takes a village” is relative to just parent’s though. It’s important to have a village of support when you’re trying to live a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I take my tribe selection seriously!
I carefully choose the people that I take advice from and who I let into my weight loss bubble. Funny my saying that since I blog about most of it publically, but that’s not what I really mean. When you talk openly about trying to lose weight or change your habits you get input, asked for or not, valued or not. People like to give advice and help. Mostly it’s with a pure heart and good intentions.
I will listen to a lot, from a variety of people, but I only actually take a few people’s advice to heart, adding them to my village. You know what I mean. We all have well intended friends and family who still think the cabbage soup diet is the way to go. Those people would be on the “smile and nod” list and only shown property on the outskirts of town. Whereas hearing what works from a friend who really understands the craziness that is my head, that advice gets filed in the “good stuff, remember that!” and lives nearby in the village of my mind.
Weeding out the village idiots from the village people () can be a tricky and sometimes uncomfortable job. It’s not like they walk around with “I give bad advice intentionally” on their foreheads and sometimes they’re people who you are close with, be it emotionally or in proximity.
I have had office mates who I’ve had to uncomfortably tell “I really appreciate your trying to help but I have a team of people I am working with and it really overwhelms me to receive so much advice. If you wouldn’t mind I’d like to just follow what I’m doing and not get any further input.”
Man, that conversation is a hard one to have. It’s not nice. It has potential to make them feel bad and then you feel bad and nobody wants to feel bad.
Putting yourself first is hard, but important. You and your village are truly vital to your success.
My mental neighborhood starts with the people at Novarum, a health center in the Netherlands. Although I graduated from their bi-weekly sessions over two years ago, I still consider them an integral part of my success thus far. I also know they are there, just a phone call away, should I feel myself sliding down a slippery slope into old habits.
Me and Carolyn prepared to spar
Down the road from Novarum lives my pal Carolyn. She just simply gets me. I have interaction with her almost daily and she understands my kind of crazy. And believe me, it’s a special kind of crazy. We all need that one friends that just gets it. On top of being my mental collaborator she’s my sparring partner and workout buddy.
Me and Hilary, my village grocer
My village grocer is Hilary. She’s studied food, is passionate about food and is vocal about food. She’s the delicate balance of information, as I need it and can handle it, and advice. What I love best about her though is that she is always respectful of my boundaries.
Cindy, one of my trainers & me – at the gun show
Living in their own quiet cul-de-sac are the trainers from my gym. They shout encouragement to me as I tear through my workout. We laugh together when they say “burpees” and I reply with “I hate you”. They intimidated the hell out of me when they first moved into the ‘hood but after giving them a chance I know they want me to succeed just as much as I want to be successful.
And the best part about my village is my own home. I have the biggest cheerleader kissing me hello and goodbye every day. My husband, Marco, is one of the most understanding, supportive people I’ve encountered throughout my life. He’s seen me struggle with every aspect of the health game, so he knows it’s difficult. He encourages me in a non-pushy way, which can be a delicate dance. He eats what I want to eat because he knows I’m trying to be healthier. He’s gotten on the exercise bandwagon with me when I didn’t have anybody to work out with and we enjoyed it together. He believes in me even when I don’t believe in myself. There is no better villager than that. Get one of those in your town as soon as you can.
Marco and me
What kind of neighbors make up your own mental village?
For as many people as there are on the planet, there are probably twice the amount of ways to show somebody that you love them.
Traditional people can love you with cards or with flowers.
Kids love one another with a tug of the hair or punch in the arm.
Friends send you funny memes that only you will really “get”.
Parents leave hidden messages in lunchboxes.
Some love via text.
Some love through a song.
Some promise everlasting love with a ring.
How do I love?
I love with food. Sure, I love other ways too but food has been a constant sign of fondness for the larger part of my life.
For a woman conquering a weight issue, this can be a challenge.
I love to love people via culinary gifts. I adore watching the full bodied reaction of somebody enjoying a cupcake I’ve created with my own two hands. The relaxation of their body. The smile on their face. The lick of a finger. The deep sigh. For that moment, you made their life smile.
I’m no one way street though. I don’t just love people with food, I let them love me right back in the very same way. Just this week a colleague went to London and brought me back Cadbury Crème Eggs because she knows I have an unnatural affection for them. All lined up in a pretty little row at my keyboard, sat four magical foil-wrapped eggs, with that realistic, slightly creepy, egg white center and yellow yolk. A gift of friendship was well received with a yelp and a “squeeee!”
What do you do when gifts of friendship and love threaten to hamper your weight loss goals? What happens when your Mom makes your favorite dessert because she knows how you love it but it doesn’t fit in with your day? What do you do when love leaves you a five pound box of chocolate? You can’t just throw out perfectly good food! What about all those starving children… yes, we all know where that sentence leads us. The children are still hungry but your thighs aren’t exactly thanking you either.
I read the most brilliant analogy on a website once and it has stuck to me like glue. The key to battling food love is to accept it.
Some people will always love you with food. They will always send you home with leftovers because they know it’s your favorite. It’s how they love. Accept the gift, graciously. You do deserve that gift of thoughtfulness.
But what about those goals of yours? Therein lies the secret key that you’ve been searching for.
Receive the gift, but realize what the real gift actually is. They’ve given you the gift of love, thoughtfulness, caring, kindness and consideration. They’ve wrapped those deep seeded emotions, specific to you, in gorgeous packaging – love wrapped in brownies. Fondness tied up with a noodle bake bow. Friendship disguised as crumbly cake… whatever food it is you love… they’ve wrapped their emotional bond to you in that food. Now you’ve graciously received that gift of love and accepted it.
It feels really nice, doesn’t it?
With a clear conscious, because you graciously accepted the gift, you can now throw that wrapper away, just like you do with other gifts. Throw that brownie/noodle/cupcake “wrapper” away. Throw it away knowing that the gift of love was received loud and clear.
The empty wrappers will join my foil covered Cadburys in that great waste disposal in the sky but man, I can still feel the love!
When Angie asked me to write for Project Blissful I have to admit, I was honored, stoked, excited and so very ready. I had wanted to be a writer for so long and here was my chance, being laid out before my very eyes – practically handed to me on a silver platter. The website is there, the readership is there, all I had to do was provide some content and Lord knows I have a lot of content just screaming to get out. Perfect.
Then two solid weeks went by and I wrote a grand total of four hundred really lousy words. They weren’t even close to being good. Unreadable. Un-entertaining. Unworthy. Seriously crap stuff.
The rest of my evenings I spent not writing but browsing Disneyworld websites looking for tips and trips for our upcoming vacation. And by upcoming, I mean in December. Hardly right around the corner.
Then I decided “Sarah, clearly you don’t have time for taking on this project”. I armored myself with my list of excuses pulling on each shield piece by piece.
Sarah – You work forty hours a week. You have a five year old who needs attention. You hardly get to see your husband so on the evenings he’s home you don’t want to be tapping away at a keyboard. You really do need to read, for the hundredth time, the quickest way to see Mickey Mouse once entering the Magic Kingdom. Oh, and don’t forget, you’re just too tired. Rightfully so, you work forty hours a week and have a five year old. Oh, wait. I already used that one…
I fitted myself with the biggest suit of excuse armor I could find and prepared a speech as to how I would tell Angie I just couldn’t do it. I eased into the conversation “man, it’s harder than I expected it to be Angie”. To which she replied “I don’t expect perfection”.
And this will sound so cheesy stupid that you may never ever want to read another word that I write ever again but that was a light bulb moment for me. I know exactly why I haven’t written jack in the past two weeks. I am a perfectionist and nothing I can produce is good enough for other eyeballs to witness.
I have to be entertaining. I have to write well. I have to have people want to read more of my “stuff’. It all has to be good, every single word, and I want to be liked and I don’t want to fail and I’m pretty sure it all has to be perfect the first time through. I could never post anything that isn’t awesome and since I can’t write anything awesome, then by default, I can’t post anything.
I’ve felt totally imperfect and just not good enough. It’s been total paralysis. I can’t think where to start. I can’t come up with a good idea. I have no clue what people want to read. My mind and vision is blank. I can’t remember where to coffee pot is to give myself a caffeine boost and potentially jumpstart my butt into some sort of gear. I freeze.
But Angie kept saying things to me… nice things. I’m sure she had no clue what she was really doing for me but she was my anti-freeze. She even gave me the idea to share about my perfection paralysis. Within minutes I had opened up five blank word documents and written the titles to my next five posts with little taglines so I would remember the genius that was to follow that title.
Her perception of what great material I could produce and my own perception of what I could feebly manage to crank out were somewhat skewed, to say the least.
All I really needed was a little confidence boost, that tiny “of course you can” whispered to me and off I went like a cannon. I needed the permission to not be perfect, to just do what I do and really, so what if it isn’t perfect every time. It doesn’t have to be!
Angie said so.
Are you a perfectionist? Does it ever hold you back from trying something new?
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When I was in college, I rented a basement from a friend and her boyfriend.
Things went great until their relationship began to deteriorate, at which time my friend moved out.
We all agreed that I would continue to rent the basement, at least until they decided what to do with the house.
In the few weeks I lived there after my friend moved out, her boyfriend began to go into my things while I was gone, taking things and doing who knows what else.
He made it no secret either–on several occasions he confronted me about various items or information he found among my private belongings.
And then, one day, I woke up and found that he’d climbed into my bed while I slept. That was the last straw. He had violated my privacy and now he was violating my personal right to choose who was allowed in my bed.
Since I couldn’t wait until I found an apartment to move out, I crashed on a friend’s couch for a few days while I located a new place.
When I finally did, I was very happy–except for the overwhelming anger that kept looming in my subconscious. Every time I turned around, something reminded me that he had hurt me, violated me, upset me. And that he wasn’t the only one who, by the time I was 19 years old, had done so–some in even more harsh ways.
Negativity begot negativity, and I started seeing more and more of it in my life. I struggled with it for months, falling into depression after depression. I felt like I was completely worthless, drowning in my own thoughts.
One day, as I sat wracking my brain about how to get over this anger, I thought I heard something. I was alone in my apartment, with the exception of my cat.
And I know this is going to sound crazy, but I would swear to you that I heard someone whisper, “You have to forgive him,” in my ear.
And, more strangely, I knew immediately what the “whisper” meant.
Even though I’d stuffed it all down and tried not to focus on my anger for all of these months, it still stayed there, like a parasite, nibbling away at anything positive that came into my life.
So I picked up my notebook and started writing him a letter. I told him why I was so angry at him and what he did that hurt me so much. I told him why I thought he was wrong. I called him every name in the book and said cuss words that I invented for the occasion.
And at the end of the letter, I told him that I forgave him–not for him, but for myself. Because I deserved to live in peace, without the negativity of my past with him (or anyone else, for that matter) corroding my beautiful world.
When I finished the letter, I felt an amazing sense of peace come over me, almost immediately. And, while I’d fully intended to mail the letter (or at least an edited and polished version of it) to that man, I never did. It turned out that I didn’t need to.
Once I’d written down my feelings, owned them, and moved on–the healing began. Such a simple act allowed me to release months of pent up feelings that were holding me back. I was finally able to begin to feel GOOD again, and suddenly my life was back on the right track.
How about you?
Are you holding a grudge? Do you have some old anger lingering in your heart? If so, it’s time to begin to heal. We all know logically that we cannot change the past, so why live there?
Here’s my challenge for you today. If you are plagued by anger or holding a grudge that you just can’t shake, try writing a letter today to the source of your frustration. Say what you mean, and don’t censor yourself. Let it all out.
And then, offer your forgiveness.
Then, if you like, write a more “reader friendly” version of your letter and mail it to the person or people who have hurt you. But more likely, you might find that the simple act of getting it all out is enough, like I did.
The bottom line here is that if you are holding on to toxic anger, it’s only hurting YOU. The person or people you’re angry at are probably not aware of it–and if they are, it’s not affecting them nearly as significantly as it is you.
The best revenge, they say, is living well–so if you don’t want to let go of your anger just for your own sake, then let it go to be the bigger person.
I’ll leave you with a final quote from Catherine Ponder.
“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.”
What do you think? Do you have someone to forgive? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section, below!