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Thoughts about teens, tweens, parenting and this adventure of living on Earth in the 21st century.

Annie Fox, M.Ed., is an internationally respected parenting expert, award-winning author, and a trusted online adviser for tweens and teens.

Two sides of the story

December 29, 2011

Before I watched the sunset it was a normal Wednesday. David and I ate oatmeal and read the paper. I went on poop patrol in the yard. Drove to Spanish class. Filled up the car. And answered this email from a desperate teen:

Hey Terra,

I can’t take it much longer. I like this boy and he has known for about 1 week now. We’ve known each other since 2nd grade. I hate when he dates other people but mostly this one girl and he’s dating her again! He said he does things he don’t want to for her and she put him through hell last time. I hate this cause if it happens again I’m going to be hurting because I love him so much. What do I do?

Desperately in Love

I wrote back:

Dear D in L,

I understand that you love this guy and you’re very upset when he’s “put through hell” by his girlfriend. But there are two sides to this story. Let me tell you about the other one.

Nobody is forcing the boy to date this girl.

Nobody is forcing him to “do things for her” and nobody is forcing him to stay and put up with “the hell” you say she’s putting him through.

Maybe you think everything would be wonderful if he’d only see how perfect you are for him. But life doesn’t work that way. He makes his own choices and don’t let him try to convince you that someone else is controlling him.

If he wants to end it with his girlfriend, he will… if and when he’s ready.

If he wants to be with you or someone else, he will… if and when he’s ready.

I’m sorry you’re frustrated and hurting, but that’s can happen when you try to control a situation you have zero control over. If you’d like to feel better and more in control of your emotions, I have a suggestion. The next time the boy tells you about “the hell” his girlfriend is putting him through, you might encourage him to stand up for himself in this relationship. Of course, telling him is your choice. You’ll either do it or not.

And if you do, he’ll either take your advice. Or not.

I hope this helps.

In friendship,


Then I put the dog in the car and grinned at her reflection, joyously hanging out the window, sucking in all those end-of-the-year-in-Northern California smells.

A little ways down the road, we parked, climbed the hill and hiked along the ridge.

Then I saw this



and this


and this


and this





This word-junkie has nothing worth saying about what I saw. Only that there were two-sides of Wednesday. Before I watched the sunset and after.

Filed under: Parenting,Teens — Tags: , , , , — Annie @ 11:35 am

“If you don’t come down by the count of 5, you will be pepper sprayed.”

December 8, 2011

Just read a headline in my morning San Francisco Chronicle. “$55,000 for pepper spraying of child.” Sounds a tad extreme. What could possibly cause a cop to use a toxic weapon on a kid?! Well, apparently, back in June 2010, a 7-year-old special education student from San Mateo (who, according to the story, has “learning difficulties, dyslexia, anxiety disorder and social-skill problems”) perched on an “unsteady” piece of classroom furniture and refused to get down. Classroom aides called the police. (Huh?!)  An officer arrived with a can of pepper spray. (You’ve gotta be prepared facing a 2nd grader.)  After warning the child that he’d be pepper sprayed if he didn’t get down by the count of five, the officer sprayed him. According to the filed complaint, the child didn’t know what pepper spray was. Guess that should now be included in the 2nd grade curriculum.

A quick search revealed that in April of this year, another elementary school student in a special education class was a pepper sprayed by police at his Denver school.

The two incidents could easily be lumped together, but they are very different.

In the Denver case, the child behaved violently, throwing furniture, wielding a broken piece of board, cursing and threatening to “kill” his teachers. The police reportedly felt the safety of the teachers and students was threatened and they needed to subdue that 8 year old quickly.

In the San Mateo incident, apparently the child was in danger of tumbling from a bookcase and they needed to subdue that 7 year old quickly.

I wasn’t at either scene, but I’m wondering: if a police officer doesn’t have the common sense and the training to safely get a 7 or 8 year old under control, then what the hell is that officer doing on the force?

I’m also wondering if this isn’t a case of  “When all you’ve got is a can of pepper spray, then everyone looks like a dangerous suspect needing to be subdued quickly.”

Finally, I’m wondering what lessons the victims and rest of the kids in those two classrooms took home that day about police officers and teachers… adults who are supposed to care about kids and know how to take the time to listen to them, to understand and to help.

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