Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Scuz Bucket" No More!

For many years, dating back to when I was a little tyke, I used the term “Scuz Bucket” to describe a person, including myself, who was in need of a bath or some clean clothes. After a day of playing baseball in the hot sun, I would come home and say, “Mom, I am a Scuz Bucket. I need a shower – fast!” After some grooming and some clean clothes, I would no longer be a Scuz Bucket!

In fact, the term “Scuz Bucket” was eventually picked up by my friends and other family members. As you might have guessed, when I would call a friend to see if he wanted to go somewhere with me, if the friend was in need of a shower, he would have said, “Sure, but right now I’m a Scuz Bucket”.

All of us would use it day in and day out to describe each other, ourselves, or others as the term needed to be applied. In short, “Scuz Bucket” became an integrated part of our vernacular, as much as did mom, dad, and apple pie!

So, it stood to reason that the term “Scuz Bucket” would continue to be a part of my regular speech when my children were born. Instead of saying, “Wow, you’re dirty and you need a bath”, I would say, “Wow, what a Scuz Bucket, let’s get you a bath”! Or, it was not unusual for one of my kids to say, “Wow, dad, I’ve been playing in the sun all day. I feel like a “Scuz Bucket’”.

In our family, the term “Scuz Bucket” was applied with love (yes, it is possible to do that!) and caring. It was never meant for the purpose of harm. I loved the term, our kids loved the term, and it was used throughout our home like, well, the terms of mom, dad, and apple pie!

The term “Scuz Bucket” would most likely never have been an issue, had it continued to be used solely in the home with family members or in interactions with friends.

, on one very hot and sunny Saturday afternoon, my kids and I stopped at a 7-11 store for some delicious Slurpees (check my post from September 19, 2009, to learn of the importance of Slurpees in our home!). Yes, on this hot day of 95 degrees with no breeze, a Slurpee would hit the spot and all would be well with the world.

After we had made our selections, we were waiting in line to pay when a tough-looking gentleman entered the store. He had the classic look of a guy who had been working ALL DAY in the hot sun. He was filthy, his white t-shirt was nearly black, his jeans were covered with dirt and mud, and his pants were ripped at the knees. Clearly, he had spent his day working in the yard, garden, planting trees, or digging ditches. Or, with his obvious physical strength, he could have spent the day lifting greasy cars over the fence for all that I knew!

I looked at the gentleman and I noted that he looked like he really needed a Slurpee or two. In fact, I was admiring the level of work in which he must have been engaged all day on a hot and sunny summer afternoon.

At the moment of my admiration, my oldest son (about 4 years old at the time) walked up to me with a sense of urgency as he said in a soft but urgent voice, “Dad, dad, that guy is a Scuz bucket”!!!! OUCH!

Fortunately, my son whispered his observation, so the tough-guy gentleman did not hear my son’s observation and my immediate health outlook was still looking pretty good! Of course, I told my son that we could not discuss it in the store and to wait until we got back to the car. He seemed perplexed and rightfully so. I had just told him to not speak about a term that we had liberally used in our home!

After we got to the car, I told all three kids that, although the term had been appropriately applied in the 7-11, from now on, the term “Scuz Bucket” could only be used in our house, as it might offend others!!

Yes, a quick lesson at the 7-11 for my kids ……… and their dad! It’s amazing how quickly that you can provide lessons for all when your life flashes in front of you with a tough-looking gentleman at a 7-11!

So, how about you? Have you ever had a family tradition, used in love and caring, that later rose to embarrass you in public? If so, let me know!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Stopping Bullies - Part 2

(Continued from February 13, 2010) .... While researching “Bullying Causes”, the team of Olweus, Limber, and Mihalec discovered the following:

Two types of victims:
1) Passive – does not stand for self, smaller in stature, insecure, dependent upon adults – always loses
2) Provocative – often labeled as a bully, annoys everybody – always loses.

They also discovered that Peer Mediation does not work with bullying as,
1) Peer mediation issues are negotiated by students and are based on litigants having equal power and seeking resolutions.
2) Bullies have greater power and do not seek resolution; Peer Mediation will actually unwillingly re-victimize victim.

What we certainly know about bullying in schools is that:
1) it exists almost every single day
2) it goes unnoticed by most adults in schools, as bullies do not bully others when adults are present
3) it often goes unreported, as victims are embarrassed
4) repeated bullying that goes unreported is what has led to anger, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, lawsuits, and an environment in which some kids do not feel comfortable. In fact, due to excessive unreported bullying, some kids would rather be anywhere but school

Clearly, in order to stop bullying, the bullying must be reported. The bully will certainly not report his/her actions nor will the victim report the actions. However, after dealing with multiple issues of bullying, we have discovered that there is somebody who CAN report the bullying: THE THIRD PERSON.

Yes, there is always a third person (perhaps more) who witnesses bullying acts. Since the bully and victim will not report the bullying, it is up to the third-person to report it. The third-person must be given an avenue to report the bullying; must be assured that his/her identity will be protected; and must be assured that the school employees will quickly launch into gear to stop the bullying.

Yes, bullying is a major concern in schools today (it’s gone way beyond some thug stealing my “Twinkies” at lunch). But, it can be effectively stopped by having the third-person report it and having the school officials step in and deal with it under the confines of school policy.

After all, bullies prefer to operate in a cloud of secrecy and without fear or retribution. If bullies are no longer allowed to bully without consequence, they will cease to bully. And, with the best-case scenario, not only will the victims be freed of bullying, but perhaps the bullies, as they also suffer from self-esteem issues, will seek out those who can help them.

But, remember, it all starts with reporting the bullying to the proper authorities. Do not remain silent! Hang in there!

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stopping Bullies - Part 1

About 150 years ago when I was an elementary student, bullying was prevalent from Kindergarten through 12th grade. The extent of bullying was making fun of other students and sometimes getting physically abusive. The bullying (we didn’t use that term then) was reported to a teacher or the Principal and the victimizer was given a paddling, his/her parents were called, and he/she probably received another paddling at home. But, …. those were the “good ol’ days”! Quick bullying, quick reporting, quick consequences, bullying ended from that person!

Over the years, bullying has taken on a whole new meaning with a host of increased of activities that have left scores of students feeling less-than-whole, belittled, angry, depressed, and even suicidal. Some will say that the elimination of corporal punishment in the school, as well as the elimination of spanking in the home, has, in large part, led to a decrease in fear in those who bully.

As angry and depressed as victims of bullying can be, those who bully suffer from just as much, if not more, of the same symptoms. Their bullying is what helps them to achieve some level of self-esteem, as they believe that they are temporarily a little better than their victims.

While there is certainly a variety of factors that have led to increased bullying, schools have been forced to confront the bullying head-on, so that schools can remain as safe and productive learning centers.

In reading the manual entitled, “No-bullying Program: Preventing Bullying at School”, by James Bitney and Beverly B. Title, Ph.D,, they have listed the following elements of bullying that kids have to deal with these days:

PHYSICAL BULLYING (potential harm to another person’s body or property)
Taunting, expressing physical superiority, threatening physical harm, blaming targeted student, making repeated and/or graphic threats, extortion, making threats to secure silence, threatening gestures, defacing property, pushing and shoving, stealing small items, initiating fights, scratching, tripping or causing a fall, assault, setting fires, biting, and physical cruelty.

(harm to another’s self-worth)
Insulting remarks, name-calling, teasing about possession or clothes, harassing phone calls, insulting intelligence, athletic ability, etc., and challenging in public.

(harm to another’s group acceptance)
Gossiping, started and spreading rumors, public teasing about clothes, looks, etc., insulting race or gender, undermining relationships, threatening total group exclusion, passively not including one in a group, playing mean tricks, making someone look foolish, arranging public humiliation, and ostracizing.

(Please come back next Saturday for the 2nd and final part)

Paul W. Reeves

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"Wish I Were 2 Again"

A few weeks ago, I made the following comment to my 16-year-old and 22-year-old kids: “Hey, if you two are really good, I’ll let you help me clean the garage today”.

Well, as you might have guessed, the two whippersnappers gave me the “Yeah, right” look and laughed. I told them that the line would have worked years ago when they were young and impressionable ……. well, maybe not, as I then recalled this story from our younger family days on a summer day when my daughter was only 3-years-old:

During a family camping trip, my wife and I, along with her parents and adult brother, as well as our 3-year-old daughter and 6-month-old son were headed from the car to the beach. As was usually the case, traveling to the beach with the aforementioned group meant taking everything that we owned (at least it seemed like it!), seemingly including the kitchen sink!

As a result, with the plethora of chairs, coolers, beach toys, goods for the baby, umbrellas, bags of lotion, reading material, and, well you get the idea, we had to temporarily employ our 3-year-old daughter to help with the hauling of goods to the beach.

Of course, the five adults handled the heavy equipment and our baby, so the hauling that our 3-year-old needed to do was not much. In fact, as I recall, I only had her carry some goods to help to teach her that we needed to earn our rewards in life - in this case, the upcoming fun at the beach!

However, as we were walking up the hill on our 300-yard trek to the beach, she began to feel the burden of carrying a couple of items. While walking behind her, I noticed that she began to slow down and that she was struggling. I could also tell that she was close to stopping, crying, and begging for help. Again, her load was not heavy, it just would have been more fun for her to have her dad carry everything while she enjoyed the journey!

In the moments just before she was about to go down for the count, I loudly proclaimed to everybody in our group, “Wow, isn’t she something? She is quite the strong and responsible 3-year-old, carrying those items to the beach and helping the family. I am so proud of her. There is no way that she could have done this last year when she was 2-years-old!!”

I thought that I had engaged in terrific parenting, as I encouraged my daughter, pumped up her self-esteem, and kept her marching toward the goal with confidence. After I finished my words, my daughter stood up a little straighter, walked a little faster, and continued confidently on her journey. Ah yes, parenting at its best, or so I thought!

However, a few steps after I had said, “There is no way that she could have done this last year when she was 2-years-old”, my 3-year-old daughter did not miss a step when she uttered, “Gee, I sure wish that I were 2 again!”

And there you have it! I haven’t been able to use my psychological parenting skills on my kids at all. After all, when a 3-year-old trumps you, it’s time to get some new skills!

So, since that time, I have continued to re-enact that scenario around the house while changing the details, kind of like the garage story! The nice part, though, is that my kids do help, even though my psychological parenting ploys have miserably failed! ...... Or have they???

How about you? Any quick and witty retorts that your kids have uttered in their youth? If so, please pass them along!

It is stories like these that have made involved parenting such a grand reward!

Paul W. Reeves