Chaos Chronicles Podcast 225 is up!

by Lian on March 18, 2010

Looking for podcast about Modern Motherhood that  includes a potpourri of topics, from sports parenting to  Sandra Bullock, from creativity to studies about happiness? The Chaos Chronicles podcast 225 is for you! It’s got it all– and more!

On the show this week:

Alex Chilton: my college radio imaginary boyfriend

Alex Chilton: my college radio imaginary boyfriend

A tribute to Alex Chilton, RIP Go back with me to 1986, when I was a college radio DJ and Alex Chilton and Big Star were the darlings of indie pop. To understand what he meant to groovy girls like me who dreamed of marrying REM’s Peter Buck and moving to Seattle, then read this elegy from LA Times music critic Ann Powers. Yeah, what she said.

Sports parenting: When is it time to stand up and say something… and when you should you sit down and shut up?

Substantive conversation = more satisfaction out of life.  According to a new study, true happiness comes when we stop talking about Speidi and start talking about symbolism on Lost.

Get Creative. Why I think it’s important for moms  and other busy women to find a creative outlet. For more on this topic, see this related post.

The To Do List: More homework for you! Take Prof. Alan’s research survey on podcast listeners and habits/preferences. We know you care! So, take 10 minutes to fill out the questionnaire. Tell him Lian sent you!

And Finally, School Bullying

Always an emotional subject and one that affects so many kids and parents. Debbie from the Chaos Crew suspects that her 5th grade daughter maybe being bullied. What should she do? Share you own experiences with this very difficult subject here. I offer my advice on the podcast. Add your advice on bullying in the comments for Debbie.



Lian March 24, 2010 at 11:36 AM

More really excellent comments here. I am not surprised that so many kids ( and parents) have been through these issues. And the 5th to 8th grade time frame does seem to be consistent. I like the perspective of the parents that have made it through those years and now see their children as healthy happy adults. But, ugh, what a couple of years.

Kathy, you make some great points. The idea of parents supporting the child’s feelings and finding just one adult ally at the school bear repeating. It may not solve the problem, but it does validate your child’s emotional distress which I think will pay off in the long run.

I am going to post this over at the Chaos Chronicles Facebook page, in case somebody else wants to to comment.


Kathy March 24, 2010 at 9:36 AM

Hello Lian and Debbie- I have started this comment to your post 3 times- because my now 11 year old daughter was bullied at school for more than 2 years. To make a very long story short, L. was ostracized by a group of girls in her class during the 3rd and 4th grades. She was ignored, when she asked to join them in play they would turn and run or walk away from her (I witnessed this myself), and they would flat out refuse to allow her to sit with them at lunch. In the reading I did on the topic I learned that “girl bullying” is often missed because the bullies are often very socially savvy. In other words they are good at fooling the adults.

I initially felt as Debbie did. I wasn’t sure that my daughter was being bullied. I would say things to L. like, “just find someone else to play with,” or, “don’t worry they will be nicer tomorrow.” It makes me very sad to look back and realize how I missed the signals. Our daughter became quite depressed (withdrawn, lost interest in things she enjoyed) and began bullying her younger siblings.

When my husband and I finally took action we did two things:
1. We acknowledged to her that we believed that we thought she was being bullied and that though we couldn’t change the bullies behavior, we were going to help her to be strong so they couldn’t hurt her anymore. You can’t imagine the relief on L.’s face.
2. We went to the school and were fortunate enough to find the counselor helpful and proactive. I have a feeling we weren’t the first parents meet with her about this group of girls.

I can’t encourage you enough to find the RIGHT person at the school to help. Yes, it can get worse with an ineffective or unequipped teacher or principal, but you must advocate for your daughter. No one else will.

Our daughter is doing well in 5th grade. This is due to our support and the school counselor’s involvement. I know the bullies were dealt with, but we never knew what their consequences were. Each family’s privacy was respected and I think it kept the tension amongst the families to a minimum. (believe me there was TENSION) The great part is L. now has a cordial relationship with these girls – she is not close to any of them, which is healthy. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were all friends in High School. Kids can be resilient, I think it may take my husband and I a while longer to bounce back from this.

I have to encourage you to follow the link to a segment on NPR’s, Talk of the Nation. They just had a segment on bullying from the bully’s perspective. It was very enlightening.

Debbie in Bethesda March 23, 2010 at 2:52 AM

Thanks for all the advice and words of wisdom. So far, so good this week. I particularly like the point where someone said that a bully does so because they themselves feel inferior. I’ll try that one out on my daughter. This week is the last one before two weeks of spring break. After that I just have to make it until the end of the school year (July3 in her case) as next year she switches from her current private school to the public middle school. After seeing the Wimpy Kid movie (excellent BTW for the tween crowd), I can only hope for the best!

MaryCatherine March 22, 2010 at 5:32 AM

As a parent of older children I can look back on the middle school years with a little perspective. My daughter was bullied in 7th grade because of how smart she was. She talked to her teachers and the bullies were told to stop. Of course they didn’t and she put up with a lot of bad days. It was hard for me to see her so sad but she stood up for herself and never let her academic strength decline to make herself more popular. She went on to a private school in the area for High School (not because of the bullying). Later she met some of her former bullies at various parties during her college years, both guys and girls. On two occasions these former classmates apologized to her for what they did in middle school. I was surprised when she told me that she didn’t remember them or the extent of the bullying! She is now in graduate school working on her PhD in math and has many close friends!

Amy D March 22, 2010 at 4:07 AM

My son had a “friend” in 5th grade who had some issues. My son would come home on one day and say that this kid said he would not be his friend anymore and then the next day he would be his friend again, and then back and forth. We talked about what a real friend is and I also pointed out that the sun did not rise or set based on whether or not Brock was his friend. My son had some other friends, but this kid was the leader. Fortunately, when my son got to the Middle School he started hanging out with kids that were much nicer. Many bullies lack self esteem. My son is more academic than sports minded– not that you have to be one or the other- but I think his friends that he has made in the band and Boy Scouts are really nice kids. The kids on some of the sports teams seem so competitive and rude? I know I’m stereo-typing, because I know THERE ARE nice kids in sports. I also was glad to hear that your son doesn’t swear. I just think that not swearing is good manners and being considerate to others around us that may be offended by such language, not to mention the religious aspect of some types of swearing.

t3zoo March 21, 2010 at 4:03 PM

I agree, also, with Lian that most parents do not want to hear anything negative about their own children. Sadly, I have been a position where someone I considered a true friend pooh-poohed (sp?) a situation where my child came home crying from playing at her house. I hadn’t made any accusations, and acknowledged that it takes two to tango but the fact was it was only my child who was crying and walked home by himself (at a time when he had never walked anywhere alone before). The parent just took the position that it would work itself out.
In the middle school situation I wrote about earlier, I learned that the parent (also someone in my social group) told her son never to go near mine again after my child went to the guidance department. It is sad that many people do not want to be held accountable and are teaching their children the same lesson. And i am not naive, I know that my kid can provoke too. But i try to address this with him, and talk about how his actions affect others.
Again, it’s just really hard to deal with, and we have to support our kids, even if we also suffer some social consequences!

Lian March 21, 2010 at 2:29 PM

Debbie– sounds like the school did everything they could. And your daighter did, too. Now it is just waiting out the fallout and hoping that she can make it through the next couple of weeks.

I agree with t3zoo that having your daughter know that you have her back may be exactly what she needs to get through this.

In the case of my son, I opted not to talk to the parents. I didn’t know them well and had no idea how they might react to the revelation that their kids were bullies. My experience has been that most parents do not respond well to anything negative about their own children, even if it is blatantly true. That last thing I wanted to do was escalate the situation when my son so desperately wanted to get through it.

These are rough years, in deed.

And t3Zoo– you win. Worst/best sportsparenting line ever! Lian

t3zoo March 21, 2010 at 11:38 AM

First off, “Take the chihuahua. mijos, I’m goin’ in,” will definitely be my husband’s and my go-to inside joke line of the upcoming baseball season. In fact, it joins our list of top ten outrageous youth sports parenting lines. Number one remains, yelled by a mother to her own son when he fell running to first base, “Walk it off! What’re you a f—–g pussy?” Yes, people, that actually happened.

But more seriously, my kids also had their share of bullying in Middle School, and sadly the ramifications of “snitching” were, for a while, as bad as the original bullying. I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do think it’s important for our own children to know that we take their feelings seriously and that we are willing to stick up for them. I guess it’s just important to warn them that when the bullies get in trouble they tend to continue and sometimes strengthen their taunts, at least for a while.
The good news is that the bullying did subside when high school began and even some damaged friendships seem to have been repaired, although they probably will never be back to the brotherly type of best friends they were in elementary school. Tough times all around for these kids.

William J. March 21, 2010 at 9:39 AM

Bullying is such an awful thing and how sad is it that if the choice you make to help the one being bullied turns out wrong the bullied just ends up suffering more. Just like Lian’s Mom had a mantra, get up and get going, my Mom also had a mantra, everything in life is temporary and it will get better. Hard things to learn as adult almost impossible to learn as a youngster..

I was one of those kids that was neither popular or a dweeb, I was just there. Because I was the lost the sibling (My sister was head cheerleader and prom queen, my brother an all state athlete, I won an Opie look alike contest) my life at school was made miserable by my older brother and his best friend. I could have told my parents but didn’t. I didn’t want that dreaded tattletale title. I stuck it out. Years later before a move my Mom and I were cleaning out a trunk. For some reason my Mom had saved my brother’s letters. There was a letter in there from Ron to my brother at a time when I was going through some difficult medical issues. The letter was to comfort my brother who was having a hard time dealing with what I was going through. Ron wrote “Don’t worry about Bill, he is the strongest person I know. If anyone can overcome this, he can. I wish I were more like him.” I was stunned. The two people who made my life miserable in high school were doing so because they wanted to be more like me not because they hated me.

Maybe that is it Debbie, your daughter is better than they are and they want to be her. And as my Mom always says, it will get better.


Nashgal March 21, 2010 at 6:39 AM

Sadly bullies are part of our society today. Bullies are of all ages and sexes. I am sure that most people reading this blog can even think of a few adult bullies they know. The difference is that as adults we are better equipped to deal with these people or have better options to avoid these people. In schools kids have nowhere to go to avoid the bullies. I have taken the approach of trying to teach my kids how to better deal with bullies at school on their own. However, I have not had to deal with physical situations and the war of words has not been excessive. Each situation is different, and the personalities of each kid is different.

I have a 12 year old girl in 7th grade. The mean girl issues began in around 4th grade for her. This is a book a found very interesting “Queen Bees and Wannabes” and it may give you some insight. I have also been sort of purposeful about making sure my daughter had a variety of friend groups. She has a group of friends from dance that does not overlap with the school crowd. She is on two swim teams that have different seasons only one overlaps the school crowd. I think you get the idea.

My daughter has also had the problem of the two faced friend. We have had many conversations about real friends vs. acquaintances. I even asked my kids “who do you think are mom’s real friends?” They were spot on with their responses.

The last thought have is what about girls in the next grade up? Do you have any connection with a mother in the 6th grade who has a girl. There is nothing cooler than having an older friend to hang out with at recess or lunch.

Good luck we have all been there in one way or another.

Debbie in Bethesda March 21, 2010 at 4:15 AM


Thanks for your thoughts. I did speak to her teacher who chatted to the bullies without mentioning my daughter’s name and told the students she would talk to their parents if their behavior did not improve. She also moved my daughter from the table she sat with one of them during the school days. And the teacher in charge of the leadership program of the school (of which her bullies are a part) also had a long lecture with them. This is all I asked for and was done swiftly.

As you suspected, the bullies then went underground and said things more during the lunch period and during aftercare (when the regular teachers are not present). My daughter immediately sayd something to a teacher who then had a chat again with at least one of the students again.

It’s all rather sad as one of the bullies is a friend with whom she did overnights at the beginning of the school year. I’m just hoping the upcoming spring break will end the situation. It is very tempting to talk to the parent of at least one of the kids as I know her so well, and know she would be upset if she knew this was occuring. But I decided not to say anything and let the school take care of the situation. For all I know, she is aware, but it is hard to control kids during school hours.

The good news is that although my daughter was a mess at the beginning of the week because she got so upset, at he end she was much cheerier, I think because she felt she had more control over the situation.

Suggestions continue to be welcome from the Chaos Crew as the online sources I found were not very helpful, and focused on avoiding the situation (which I told her to do, but it is not very realistic in a school situation).

Kristin March 20, 2010 at 3:09 PM

I about tripped on my run today, listening to the story about the mom handing Brookes a dog to go get in on the melee…..unbelievable. Makes me thankful that my daughter is a dancer at the moment and my son, only 4 would rather kick the soccer ball in the back yard than play anything organized.

About the bullying… I agree, it is happening younger and younger. My 7 year old had a terrible time in Kindergarten and 1st grade, because, gasp, she could read and others could not. Working as I do, in the schools, I am all too familiar with bullying and how it impacts everyone. It is so sad, to me, that girls seem truly evil when it comes to the kinds of things they do. Not to say that boys are not bad, but girls are vicious. I have to believe there is a level of parental responsibility, the basics of the Golden Rule, that are missed by too many children. I try extremely hard to make sure my kiddos work on treating others the way they want to be treated and I wonder if others are doing the same.

Love, love the show Lian!

Lian March 19, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Christine– I couldn’t agree more about the exercise connected with behavior. I know one way I make it through the season is to walk around the track or field during the practices or warm ups. As you know, you have to get to games an hour early. Sitting is a folding chair drinking too much coffee is a bad idea! If I sat on the bleachers and did nothing, I’d get all worked up to.

maybe all the parents on our team should watch The Dog Whisperer. And not just for the chihuahuas, mijos!


Christine P March 19, 2010 at 10:14 AM

Hi ‘People’,
I have a theory about the ‘incomprehensible’ (thanks Susan) behavior of these sports parents…I am a fan of the Cesar Millan and I think these parents are NOT GETTING ENOUGH EXERCISE and thus are exploding on the sidelines because they have SO much pent up energy and need to drain it. Maybe parents should go for a long walk or rollerblade before donning the ‘sport spectator’ hat. This is good advice I think! I, too am a sports parent and have felt the palpable energy from parents…it can get scary at times!
PS I am happy that your kids don’t swear/curse, I wish I had never started with the potty mouth, it’s sooo hard to stop-I am inspired by your son!

Susan in Iowa March 19, 2010 at 5:54 AM


I do not understand what has happened to youth sports – honestly!!?? It is out-of-control – the behavior by some parents is incomprehensible!! My pet-peeve with youth sports is that I can’t stand that practices and games are over the dinner hour, let alone on Sunday mornings – where is the respect for family time? Way too many practices – I feel like I am definitely in the minority – or it wouldn’t continue…

DId you happen to see the article in the New York Times about organized recess? Again, way too much organized play.

Have a good weekend – thanks for the podcast!

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