“Why did it have to happen to me?” Evelena asked after shopping last week, “why can’t I just talk to everyone, Ciara, Keelan and Niall don’t have to worry”, she said.

I felt incredibly sad hearing her say this.  I know it’s a long & hard battle she is fighting just to be, as she says, like everyone else.

With no definitive answer, all I can do is try and put a positive spin on it.  Telling her one day, all this will, hopefully be a distant memory of what once was.  After all, look how far she has come to date.  She nods, agrees and looks a bit brighter.

All this came from being in a queue to pay.  I suggested, as it was her money she was spending, that she pay the cashier.  She was reluctant to, but I reassured her she would be fine, after all she had paid before, she reluctantly agreed.

Waiting to pay, I assumed she was anxious about eye contact and physically paying, when all the while this wasn’t the case.  She told me, after leaving the shop, it was the waiting for the change she didn’t want to do.

panicThe reason being because she wouldn’t be able to say ‘Thank you’ thus appearing rude, and she didn’t want to come across as a rude girl.

Its moments like this, when it brings home how real her struggle is.  It’s a worry knowing she is struggling and trying so hard to jump all her hurdles, just so she can be, in her words ‘normal and say thank you’.

She certainly doesn’t lack in the want department, and while I want to believe in her confidence as she reels off how she will talk when she starts school blah blah blah, I can’t help but have the door of doubt slightly ajar.

September this year will mark an important milestone, Evelena will be starting Secondary school.

She is excited about starting and is familiar with the school, so there are no real nerves or apprehension regarding the school as a whole as her two older siblings are already there.   She is looking forward to being known, as Evelena, and NOT as the girl who doesn’t talk!’.

I arranged an informal meeting with the head of SENCO at her new school, as I felt it important to give them an insight on who Evelena is and what she has been working towards.

We talked in some length regarding the current methods in place, and how we can continue to keep up her current progress when she starts.

With Evelena now being 11, and having a good understanding of her SM, I feel she should be partly involved in making decisions and choices where intervention surrounding her SM is concerned.

I felt it important, to run through with the school, things we would prefer not to happen from the onset, such as any verbal ‘ice-breakers’ used to get to know one another when settling into their new forms.

Even without suffering any anxiety, many people do not like this kind of ‘ice breaker’ but can deal with it.  Unlike Evelena who would be sitting, anxiously waiting for the finger to point, and no doubt would have worked herself up into a height of anxiety and just clam up, or in Evelenas case not respond at all.

This is not an impression she will want to make, as it would be the first impression and one that the students would always remember.

However, I did double check this with her later at home, at first, she said she didn’t mind but when she thought about it more, she agreed it’s not something she is ready for.

Other than the ice-breakers, we agreed to ‘play it by ear’ regarding any intervention at first.  If she feels or the school feel she is not coping, is noticeably struggling or if she just tells us she is, then we will reassess our options.

She does not want to be singled out to attend classes where it will be noticed and other kids might start asking why she is being taking out, wanting to know what she is doing etc.

I pray she will have a good transitional period and make some new friends.  I feel it’s important to her that she does.  She has had lots of friends at Primary school and is a popular little girl but she has tended to stick with the same one friend and this, I feel, has held her back a bit.

Before school starts, they will be encouraged at the ‘meet your class’ day to exchange phone numbers with any other student they have warmed to, and will be encouraged to meet up in the school holidays.

I think this is a great idea and I hope Evelena is able to find a ‘new’ friend she can hook up with and get to know in the summer holidays.

My eldest daughter is staying on at 6th form and my son will be moving into Year 10.  Both have said they will be keep a watchful eye out for her to make sure she is OK, and not as we all fear, all alone.

Unbelievable as it is, there are kids who play alone and sit alone at school.

More importantly we want her to be happy. Yes, her education is important but so is her happiness, and a happy child will get on so much better than a child who is sad and unhappy, or so I believe.

Evelena is self-motivated and studious.  She hates failing, and can get really upset with it.  It becomes an even bigger problem to her if others are on hand to see her mistakes.  Of course none of whom would probably even be bothered by it, but it really upsets her.  I say time and time again to her, no one worries about her mistakes only her!  And after all  she never fails she just learns and next time try a different way.

If it was down to confidence and self-belief she would win a gold medal every time.  So, with that in mind, I hope September 2017 will be the end of one chapter and the start of a new one.

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As a newbie blogger on the block, I thought it might be a tiny bit interesting , if not useful(ish) to give an insight to who I am, or so I thought, through the eyes of my 4 kids.

I decided to re-hash it slightly, and give my kids,  this one off chance to answer, truthfully,  a set of questions, set by myself.   In turn giving my thousands of readers (I have a big family!) a chance to discover a bit about moi!

With my kids usually ‘abandoning ship’ at the mere mention of my blog,  with hollers of “that photo better not appear on any social media” and “I hope you aren’t writing about me” , I usually pull this card out of the bag when I need some time to sit and plan my next post within the Buck Stops Here House in peace.

With too many questions to text, I decided to take the unusual step of talking to them, at length.  This unwelcomed approach was met with a lot of ‘what’s,’ ‘why are you in my room”, ‘tuts’ and “not this blog stuff again”.

Not one to give up and annoyingly for my kids, I persevered and put a positive spin on it.  With a large gulp I said “think of it as a chance to answer some questions about me with real honesty and no comeback!

“What nothing at all”? asked Ciara (my eldest) “and you won’t get annoyed” “nope, not at all, say what you like I won’t mind” you can trust me, I’m your mother!

What could go wrong, after all I’ve spent the last 16 years reinforcing how much I detest lies.

With the kids newfound eagerness to particpate, I started feeling slightly less confident.

I began to realise that this might be a sort of payback for some wrong I may have done them back in 2008, or even earlier, who knows.

Please note that none of my kids were hurt whilst answering this questionnaire, I believe them to all be OK, I think, although I’m not quite sure as I’m currently not speaking to any of them.

I fired off the first question…

What’s mum’s favourite thing to do:

CJ – Moan & tell us off     (I wonder why this could be??)

Niall – Ironing    (since when?)

Lena – Annoy us   (more commonly known as parenting)

Keelan – Sleep

How do I make you laugh?

CJ – By pretending you are intelligent      (that’s no pretence!)

Niall – You don’t

Lena – You don’t make me laugh

Keelan – you don’t   (yes I do!)

If I became famous what would it be for?

CJ- Appearing on the Jeremy Kyle Show

Lena – blogging  (love her faith in me!)

Keelan – erm inventing something by accident

Niall – getting up early

What am I NOT very good at?

CJ – Turning up on time & not being able to be quiet

Lena – lots of things

Keelan – being cool   (already am cool)

Niall – my homework  (secondary school is hard, oh wait his is primary!)

What makes Mum cross?

Niall – when I don’t do my homework  (every week then!)

Lena – When we don’t listen to you  (every time I speak)

Ciara – Leaving the chair leg rest up & when I ignore my ironing on the stairs   (grrrrrrrr)

Keelan – when I mess about at school    (do you?)

(there seems to be a theme with school and my boys!

What was mum like as a young child?

Niall – really naughty   (clearly been speaking to his grandparents)

Lena – probably listened all the time and was one of those really good girls    (yep that was not me)

Ciara – Little s**t

Keelan – posh girl

What does mum do when you are not here?

Niall – normal jobs like cleaning up and probably smooching with Dad!   (at least he didnt say sitting down again!)

Lena –sits on the laptop doing her blog, Facebook and drinking coffee

Cj –  go on the laptop  (only chance I get)

KB – to be honest I don’t want to think what you do if Dads at home

Describe me in 3 words

Niall –  angry, bad driver    (been listening to his father too much!)

Lena – moody sometimes, funny, loud

Cj –  Loud, frustrating & bloated   (bloated!)

Kb – lazy, mean, strict    (again, called parenting!)

Where’s mums favourite place to go?

Niall – front room on the sofa

Lena – Spain I think

CJ – the Café   (love a bacon bap)

Kb – Grandmas

What does mum like best about dad or dad like best about mum?

Niall – you like it because dad can cook and you don’t have to do anything.  Don’t think dad likes anything about you!

Lena – I don’t know,  it could be anything

CJ – you like it because dad does what he’s told

Kb – you like dad’s passion for his work, really hard to think what Dad likes about you though!

What am I really good at?

CJ – Blackmailing me to babysit   (works everytime!)

Lena – blogging  (so love this girl)

Niall – cleaning up  (not sure when I moved of the sofa to carry this out!)

Kb – sleeping

What’s the best quality your mum has?

Lena – Bossing people about and forcing people to do things….this was interrupted by Ciara to say its blackmail (I call it delegation)

Niall – Washing up (Ciara shakes head in disbelief to this answer saying she never washes up) I question how she knows this , as when home she rarely lifts her head up from the screen of her phone!

CJ – Ability to switch off from us   (A fine quality that I have I might add!)

Kb – trying to be funny,  such a try hard  (no need to try son! au natural)

What does Mum always say to you?

Niall – Ask dad to make me a coffee

CJ – Stop thinking we single you out

Lena – always saying my name in the morning until I get up and it’s really annoying   (more annoying for me I can assure you)

Kb – have you done your homework?  (everyday at least 100 times)

And so we have it, all done.  The kids, especially Ciara said they really enjoyed answering these questions (can’t think why) and could she write out a few questions on my behalf…..! needless to say this will be the only questionnaire posted on my blog.

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Do you find your kids never hear you when you ask them to do something? yet they don’t have any diagnosed hearing problem.

I know unbelievable isn’t it!!

Selected Hearing

It’s a daily struggle in our house.  However, all is not lost, I have found ways of getting around these ‘hearing issues’.

I either:

start a conversation with their dad whereby hey presto one of them will appear interested to know what’s going on, and what it was I just said to Dad

or my favourite:

Unplug the broadband and wait.  1, 2…. when not one but all four kids will appear from nowhere.

I WAS JUST ABOUT TO DO IT!

There are times, usually 95% of the time where my kids are all prone to bouts of ‘forgetfulness’ (See ALSO HOMEWORK) and periods  of ‘temporary mess blindness’ TMP for short.

From wet towels on floors to used plates & cups balancing on any flat surface the kids with their TMP are able to successfully navigate their way around the ‘unseen’ mess to another room untouched by children’s mess; only kidding there is no such room.

Anyway, who am I to make a fuss.  If I get my “not having this shit” hat on & start cracking the whip I’m told to chill and not be so moody.  After all they were ‘just about to do it’ as I started firing off.

With all mess moved and lobbed elsewhere, they all disappear to their pit of doom, fondly known in a world without kids bedrooms.

Maybe I ask too much.  After all, expecting them to bend down & pick up what they dropped, even clear their mess up when there is no monetary benefit to them whatsoever,  is a biggie, maybe even a bloody cheek.

But hey who am I to complain.  After all, and I quote “you chose to have children” ball is batted at me every time.  I love a teenage smart arse.

We all know (excluding children) parenting is exhausting.  According to my kids, being a kid/teen is way more exhausting.  After all I have no idea how hard school is!

Poor things.  They have to get up so early, go to school for the WHOLE day and come home to do homework, and lots of…..err….em….lots of other exhausting things.  Its sooooooo frustrating when catchup is bieng slow!

Me tired? No, how can I be all I do is sit on my laptop all day.  My life is a breeze.

It struck me recently, when watching the new kids film ‘Sing’ (which I loved!) one of the characters, Rosita (a pig) is a married stay-at-home mum of twenty-five children.

When a local talent contest gives her the chance to showcase her singing, she is desperate to audition but, being a mother life is hectic and her needs are second to her children’s.

However, not to be deterred and unable to share her dream with her tired husband and kids who never listen (sound familiar!) she sets about setting up a vast assortment of contraptions to take care of her housework, meals, send her children off to school, put them to bed.

She has even has the foresight to record specific dialogue, recording a reminder to her husband where his keys are.

She records a bedtime story for her kids and her saying ‘goodbye’ for the morning.

It all goes well and they don’t even notice she has gone!

I thought of how many times I repeat things at home, or in my teenage son’s word ‘bloody nag’ on a daily basis.  I could easily record what I say and press play and just shove off somewhere.

Would they notice I wasn’t there? I wonder, after all,  most days are spent walking around with one eye shut, the other eye firmly placed on phone whilst arguing with siblings.

No I don’t think they would notice, well not until they wanted something.

As I started to write, I realised very quickly I say a lot!  This is just a mere snippet of some of the same ‘ole crap I  use, every day.

They are in no particular order of importance and are used in an unlimited capacity.

  1. Hurry up
  2. Just GET dressed
  3. Have you seen the time?
  4. We are going to be late
  5. Just eat it.
  6. Well you’re not getting anything else.
  7. Think of the poor starving children in Africa.
  8. Who’s everyone?
  9. I said NO.
  10. Because we can’t afford it.
  11. For Christ’s sake, stop arguing.
  12. Leave your brother alone
  13. I said BED!!!!!
  14. I hope you’re not still on that phone
  15. Have you got homework?
  16. Have you done your homework?
  17. Are you listening to me?
  18. Are you actually watching this?
  19. Make sure you tidy up.
  20. No, I haven’t seen it.
  21. No, you come here.
  22. Where’s your PE bag?
  23. Drop the attitude.
  24. There is no way I would have spoken to my Mum & Dad like that.
  25. This is not music!

So, in closing, how many, if any of the above do you use on a daily basis?

tape

Growing up in the ’80s was fun.  I loved it.  Ahhhh…..the era when I was a teen.

When it seemed to take bloody ages to finally reach the ripe ‘ole age of 17 so I could start learning to drive (how I wish the years still went that slow!).

It was a time when ‘Apple’ was something you ate and ‘Windows’ were mainly for staring out of, a lot, especially in class at school!

Putting on my make-up and glad rags to the sounds of Whitney Houston, Spandau Ballet, Michael Jackson (even had his poster on my wall when he looked like he should) and my favourite, Rick Astley all on vinyl.

It was a time when hair, mine especially, would survive any hurricane, rock hard from a can of cheap extra hold hairspray practically gone in one sitting!

Hands up who loved Grange Hill and Neighbours? the unforgettable moment when Charlene aka Kylie Minogue married Scott aka Jason Donovan etched in your mind forever, along with their wedding song sung by Angry Anderson! I can hear it now.

On the weekends, it was Swap Shop or Tiswas, unlike today’s kids, we didn’t have the endless choice of kids programmes 24/7, although I’m not complaining when the it comes to the Teletubbies or other such dribble that I have endured over the years with my kids!

It was the decade of questionable fashion, who couldn’t resist a pair of satin leggings and neon leg warmers to finish the look! We had trends in schoolbags like the Plastic Jelly Bags, totally impractical, where you had to line them with a carrier bag or everything would fall out!

Fast forward to now and unwittingly I seem to have morphed, somewhat into my parents.  I can often be heard bellowing out to the kids how they “don’t know they are born”, “I would have loved that when I was your age”, and the unforgettable one liner about the Money Tree!

I have put together an insight of what some of the 80s for me had to offer along with how it compares to my kids today.

WALKING (What my kids avoid at all costs)

A large percentage of the 80s was spent walking.  We had no choice back then, anywhere we wanted to go, we walked.  We weren’t privy to the luxury of ‘Mums Taxi’ on standby waiting to ferry us all where we wanted to go, nope we walked.

Sometimes, we would jump on the bus always favouring the back seat just so we could puff our heads off (yes, we smoked…a lot, funded by saving our dinner money) on the way into town!

HOMEWORK

The luxury of tapping in a few key points and oodles of information appearing before your eyes in seconds was, unfortunately not available to us.  We had to trawl through large collections of enclyopedias or text books for hours before finally admitting defeat and writing any old shit.

There was no copying and pasting or the luxury of a delete button, had to write it all up with an in ink-pen and if you made a mistake the page was ripped out and you started again.

Tippex was a stable of the 80s pencil case.

With writer’s cramp and an offering of something, our homework would be complete.  And if we didn’t finish or even start it would be a quick ‘Sorry but ‘lazy arse’ was unable to do her homework because…….’ bullshit note would be written and signed by me on behalf of my parents!

MOBILE PHONES

We didn’t have them.  We had payphones, which we could never afford, so spent a lot of time talking to the operator asking to reverse the charges.

House phones were usually rooted in the hall, annoyingly as there was no privacy.  We would have to wait to ring our friends until after 6pm and then it would be accompanied with shouts of “hurry up on that phone”.  Mine don’t have that worry, they can sit anywhere talking on theirs for as long as they like all paid for my us.

And being able to bypass the phone lock by tapping the black buttons under the receiver.

To be sure of our friends answering and not their parents, we would always give 3 rings first put the phone now and ring again.  We had code words such as ‘polos’ for fags, aptly called as we would eat a dozen on the way home to rid ourselves of the smell, and any fag packets and lighters found in our coat pocket were always our friends, we were just minding it for them.

Our version of texting was passing each other notes throughout lessons or writing messages in each other workbooks trying not to be seen by the teacher.

There was no way of our parents getting hold of us or tracking us on any find my i-Phone.  The only ‘being’ regularly phoning home back then was E.T.

THE TOP 40

We didn’t have a phone to plug our headphones into and listen to 100s of songs, we had Sony Walkman’s.  We had the pain of having to rewind and fast forward to any particular song we wanted, fist pumping when we timed it right the first time!  And when the batteries started running out, well….!

To add insult to injury we also had to endure the bloody nuisance of the ribbon coming loose from the tapes.

I used to spend hours turning the little wheel with a pen, sometimes one bit too much with the bloody thing snapping.

VIDEO RENTAL SHOP

Who doesn’t love a Movie night!  The difference between our movie nights now to the 80’s is the way it’s viewed!

Watching a newly released movie in the 80s meant, renting a video from the local video shop.  Making yourself up to look older for the 15+ films, rehearsing your date of birth en route just in case, which would often be all in vain as the film would already be on loan by the time you got there.

Today it’s much simpler.  Movies are streamed onto your computer, tablet and television right from the comforts of your own home.   There is no problem with it being out on loan or having to make yourself up to look older, its just a press of a few buttons to confirm they are old enough, having worked their way around any parental control, smart kids of today!

SELFIES

A selfie back then was holding a throwaway camera as far as your arm would let you, at a certain height hoping you were all in the shot.  The disappointment when having waited 2 weeks, picking up your photos from the developers, to find photos of half heads or blurry ones!

Instant ‘selfies’ were only available with a Polaroid camera, and only if you or a mate were lucky enough to own one.

We didnt have the freedom of deleting and trying again, you were stuck with what came sliding out.

PLAYING OUTSIDE

We pretty much lived outside.  From morning to night, we would be out and our parents would have no way of knowing where we were or being able to contact us.

No phones with trackers to find out where we were.  Home time would usually be either when the street lamps were coming on or you were hungry.

We literally have to prise our kids out of the house nowadays, preferring to keep in touch with their friends by gaming, texting or face time, and that’s usually when in the same room as them!

SHOPPING

Walking, again, we would go into town where we would scour the classics, C&A, Chelsea Girl (always way out of my budget) Tammy Girl and testing out the make up in Miss Selfridge.

Today, my 2 teenage kids prefer shopping online.  All from the comfort of an armchair, with bank card at the ready…my bank card!

Back in the 80s, town was full of punks, large stereos blasting out and a crowd of people, us included, watching kids breakdancing.

How we would spend hours in the shop Athena flicking through poster after poster, I mean what 80s teen didnt have at least one Syd Brak design on their walls at home?

Then before heading home, it would be off to the pub for a quick drink and a fag age 14!

DIRTY DANCING

How I wished I was the one having the ‘time of my life’ with Patrick Swayze!

THE HERE AND NOW

Although a lot has changed over the years a lot still remains the same, its just jazzed up with fancier names.

The end of school disco is now a more lavish affair called a ‘Prom’ costing anything upwards of £300 and a massive parade of all attire in front of proud parents before disappearing into some expensive venue.

I look back on my teenage years with great fondness, a time when we laughed, a lot, and worries were few and far between.

i often think if the technology today, had been around when I was a teen, I don’t think I would have got away with half of what I did.

Not that anything I did was bad, it was just all teenage stuff!

I wonder what my kids will grow up remembering from their teen years?

stranger 1

“and don’t be talking to any strangers” I would hear my mum shout everytime I went out.   “Yes I know” I would yell back at her, exhausted at forever being told the same thing.

Yet here I am today, repeating the same to my kids – the single difference being they aren’t leaving the house when I tell them!

Todays stranger is right here in our house, more so in our children’s bedrooms – in the form of the internet and social media platforms.

As a parent it’s difficult to know if all the nagging (my kid’s words) and repetitive talks on internet safety ever really sink in.  Groans of “yes we know Mum”, “you don’t need to keep telling me” are often heard, when I am, as the kids say, on one!

Would they tell us if anything untoward happened?  It’s a worry.  Fortunately as we found out our eldest daughter did tell us when something happened to her.

While there are positives to social media, there are also negatives.   When speaking to my kids about the dangers, I don’t sugar coat any of it.  Awareness is better than ignorance.

Knowing the majority of their online chats will be with their friends, there is always the chance that someone, somewhere might try and creep in un-invited.

Explaining to my younger kids that the ’11-year old Jacqueline Wilson fan Jane’, online trying to speak to them might actually be a 40-year-old paedophile John, can be difficult for them to grasp.

They only have words to go on so could potentially believe what is being fed to them (unlike the stranger on the street, where they can physically see).

stranger 1

Any time there is a story about the perils of the internet, such as the scenario above,  I show mine.  It doesn’t give them sleepless nights; it gives them an insight of the real, potential dangers out there.

Unable to have eyes and ears on the kids 24/7 any prolonged monitoring of their online activity is just not possible.   As parents we are bringing our kids up to be both sensible and savvy. To know right from wrong and to notice when online, the difference between safe and worrying.

A few rules that work for us as a family are below.  As with any rule I explain my reasoning behind it, that way it’s not open to misinterpretation!

  1. 100% not allowed too give out any personal details, i.e. name, age, where they live.

The kids groan when I reiterate this to them from time to time.  The replies of  “we know, you don’t have to keep telling us”,  are often heard.  But they have to be mindful of unwittingly slipping up.  Who’s to say after a long comfortable conversation they haven’t, unwittingly just given out some personal detail.  It pays to always be that little bit on guard.

  1. You don’t accept friend request from complete strangers.

If a person approached you on the street and asked to be your friend, would you accept it? No. So why would you accept a friendship from someone you don’t know online & who doesn’t know you, especially one with no mutual friends!

  1. If it doesn’t look right or you are not sure, don’t click on it.

Like an email that appears to be legit but contains a link in it.   Or any pop ups or ‘click here to win’ boxes.  Clicking on these can lead to unwanted viruses or worse.

  1. Bullying

Reminding the kids if they feel this is happening to them, let us know. Also, enforcing we don’t expect them to participate or become involved in any form of bullying online.  Once its said and sent it cannot be undone, even with good intentions some message can be misconstrued.

When it happened to us

When I mentioned to Ciara I was thinking of writing this post, she was like “Mum, what’s the point of writing about Internet safety, everybody knows the dangers”.

Rewind to the midpoint of 2015 when Ciara, then 15, received a notification showing she and a couple of friends had been tagged in a post on FB.

When she viewed the post, she was shocked to see a photo of her Christmas presents (along with around 8 other various photos from her account) had been posted, with a piece underneath telling her what he would like to do to her, sexually.

This post, was public on her wall for all to see.    This was only half of it, there were 8 more photos.  She chose not to read further and immediately blocked him.  Fortunately, she screenshot the posting which proved invaluable as he later removed the post from her wall.

post pic

The ‘offender’ in this case was a lad at her school, in the year above. She knew him, but he wasn’t someone she spoke to or spent any time with.

Shaken and troubled by this, she spoke to her Head of Year at school about it.   In turn, the school liaised with me and informed the police

Her friends, who had also been tagged in this post, were less willing to discuss it with anyone.   They didn’t want to report it.  One friend didn’t see it as any big deal, while the other did not want her mum to know or have her phone taken from her.

Undeterred, Ciara was happy to take it further and speak to the police.  She felt what he had done was wrong, and she wanted him, in her words ‘told off’.

She was also concerned about how it might have been perceived by anyone who may have seen the post when it was live.  They might, wrongly assume that she was in some sort of relationship with this boy, and was ok with this type of sexualised messaging!

With the police on board and dealing with the lad in question, Ciara carried on as normal.  However, a little while later, he sent Ciara a photo on FB.

Again, it was posted publicly on her FB wall and was an image of his erect penis along with some scribblings on what he would like to do to her.

Shaken, she again screenshot it.  Like before, he took the image down some 30 minutes later

She reported it accordingly, and this time was invited down to the police station to make a -statement.  She spent around 30 minutes in a room describing in detail, to a male police officer, the sequence of events and a description of what the photo showed.

I for one, at that age would have found that to be an excurationally embarrassing situation, if not an incredibly scary thing to do.  She handled it with great maturity, and I was so proud of her.

She later heard, when interviewed, he denied the charge but on further pressing admitted he had sent the image.

He was given a conditional caution and to undergo a process of Restorative Justice:

“restorative justice whereby the system of criminal justice which focuses on the rehabilitation of offenders through reconciliation with victims and the community at large”

A youth intervention officer was assigned to Ciara.  She was there as a mediator, giving Ciara the opportunity to talk about how she felt, how it made her feel and what outcome she would like to see happen.  In this case, she replied she simply wanted him to acknowledge he had done wrong and be punished.

One of the biggest things Ciara struggled with was why he had done it, and more importantly why her?  This was a question she put to him, he was unable to answer it.

These meetings proved to be a great help to Ciara, keeping her up to date on how things were progressing.  It was something she felt was important to her.   I often wonder how she would have felt if there had been no such intervention.

It was suggested she write a letter to him, whereby she could ask any questions she would like answered.   Then if agreeable to both parties, they could be brought together for a meeting where she would have the opportunity to speak to him about why/what he did.

She agreed and wrote a letter.  In turn, he responded and the YIO duly brought it around.  Feeling, nervous Ciara read it.  In it, he said he didn’t really know why he had done what he had, but he was willing to meet with her too discuss.

Unfortunately, a couple of days before their scheduled meeting, he again sent an inappropriate picture, this time to a different girl.

Consequently, the meeting was cancelled.  Ciara was not interested in meeting with him anymore.  She was shocked, and said it was like re-living the whole experience again.  She could not believe, after all his weeks of ‘therapy’ he was still acting in this manner, with no show of regret and willingness to stop.

Throughout all this, she still had to see this lad every day in school.  She spent her days, always mindful that she could at any time bump into him.  It was a situation that made her uneasy for a number of months.

Fortunately, he is no longer in school and Ciara is able to continue her education without feeling nervous about seeing him.

As a mother, I found it incredibly difficult, especially at the meetings whereby he would be discussed.  I struggled with how he could, after being involved with the police, go on to repeat the same offence.  I imagined being his mother, and what I would do if it was one of my children.  But like all situations, its easy to say and much harder to do.  Hopefully, with all the best will in the world I will never have to know.

To date, Ciara has never heard anything more from him.  I could not be any more proud of Ciara than I am.  Throughout this difficult period, she handled it with a level of maturity beyond her years and was completely non- judgemental.

So in fact, by continuing to parent our kids the best way we can, we must also look on the plus side of the internet. It brings a lot of positives: endless information, possibilities and opportunities for us all, blogging being one major one!

And a favourite of mine, connecting us to loved ones far and wide, bringing the ones we love and know into our living rooms.

UPDATE:  Unfortunately this boy went on to re-offend he, it would seems has not yet learned from any intervention or help received.