Scare Tactics

For thousands of years parents and teachers have been trying to get kids to learn, behave, and understand. There have been many schools of thought on the “correct” method of accomplishing that. They have ranged from using logical explanations to beatings and threats to using drugs and counselling. However one of the longest enduring methods is scare tactics.

I’m not just talking about saying, “If you keep making that face, it will freeze that way.” I’m talking about horror stories. I’m talking about traumatizing our children to keep them safe. I’m not saying that this is the best way to accomplish the goal, but it is effective.

Every country in the world has cautionary tales. Some are folk tales. Some are fairy tales. They used stories to #1 get their kids’ attention and #2 get their point across in a way that stuck in their heads.

Not long ago our High School here in Conrad MT staged one such event. It was called the Ghost Out. Click here for the blog and pictures.  This event showed the results up close and personal results of drunk driving. Telling them not to drink and drive did nothing, but seeing their friends lying dead in pools of blood made an impression. There hasn’t been a decrease in the partying, but there has been an increase in calls for rides and checking in to let their friends know they are okay and have made it home. I know that some of the kids wanted nothing to do with anything involving blood, no movies no video games, for quite some time after the Ghost Out.

So now I find myself thinking perhaps it’s time to scare some more kids to save some lives.

I know that most of you will gasp and rant at what I’m about to suggest, but desperate times call for desperate measures. I believe it is time to scare kids about guns, about school shootings.

Desensitization to violence in all forms has made it hard for kids to understand the results of a moment of action. Whether it be horror movies, video games, social media, or even the news, kids in this day and ages have seen it all before. But until they have lived it, violence doesn’t make an impression.  How many kids who were running for cover and trying to survive a school shooting have a new perspective on how precious life is? How many are rethinking how they treat their fellow students? How many are asking if they could have changed things just by acting a little different?

This idea came about after I saw a news clip about the emergency teams that were going through training on how to use battlefield medicine in case of a school shooting. The EMTs were talking about how much this training was driving home the reality of how devastating a school shooting is.  So this got me thinking, maybe it would have the same effect on students. Maybe students wouldn’t be so keen to bring a gun in and shoot their fellow students if they had some up close experience with seeing their friends bleeding on the gym floor.

I know that this idea seems severe and maybe a little over-reactive, but so far what else had worked? People preach and rant about gun control. People blame the government. People blame the police, the administration, the parents, social media, video games, medications… There is no end to the “blame game” of reasons this type or tragedy should never happen. Unfortunately that hasn’t been working. It is time for scare tactics.

How much would it change a kid’s perspective of school shootings if they got to experience it without the actual tragedy? What if they were in class and heard the gun shots? What if they were to go through the drills for a school shooting? What if they were then taken to the gym or the cafeteria to see a scene of massacre where some of their friends were lying dead or dying? What if they saw how hard the EMTs were working to save those injured? What if they then had the opportunity to talk about it and share their fears? What if they were given a crash course in how to save a life?

How many of those kids would go home and rethink their perceptions of the world? How many would reach out to others who they knew were hurting? How many would reconnect with what’s important and do their best to keep each other safe?

I know that this idea is not a perfect solution. I know that in some kid’s cases it might make things worse and give them ideas. There is always a danger of things like that. I know that a lot of parents wouldn’t want their children to go through something like that even if it is fake. However, I keep thinking how effective the Ghost Out was and I just think that maybe scare tactics might just save their lives.

What do you think? Scare them to save them?


Prom 2017

Prom is upon us and once again the quest for a dress raises the stress levels of every girl around. Honestly I find the whole affair somewhat ridiculous. You have to find a dress, you can’t wear the one from last year, they are stupidly expensive and WTF guys get to rent theirs!

So we go shopping. My daughter is modest. She doesn’t like lots of skin showing so she wanted a long sleeved dress. HAHA! Everything we found was strapless or spaghetti strap. She tried some on then complained that she was naked! Then we found a two piece dress that had a long sleeved top but the skirt? It was poofy and barely came to mid-thigh! Who thought of that?

I told my daughter that if she loved the top then we could work around the skirt.

We went to JoAnn Fabrics and found a beautiful material that would match her top. We found a pattern and all the bits and bobs we needed to make it with.

Once home I sewed her the skirt that she wanted.

Long straight and with a split on the side.

She was very happy.

Not a traditional prom dress but she felt like a princess anyway.

Then came the hair problem. She went to the stylist to get it done up all pretty with a loose braid and all, but it didn’t last once she got home. It had to be redone. She she did it up the best she could and I fixed the rest. I’m no hairdresser but I think it turned out alright between the two of us.

Then the real fun began. She was going with group of friends and they all came to our house to take pictures together.

They have something here that is called the Grand March. I had never seen this until we moved here, but it’s kinda cool.  All the kids who are attending prom and their families, or really anyone who wants to, come to the high school auditorium. They announce each couple or group of friends and they parade across the stage showing off their dresses and tuxes. They often do some pretty goofy poses, like my daughter did. Then they crown the King and Queen and they have the royals’ dance. Then the kids go to prom and the parents go home. It’s kinda cool because everyone gets to see all the kids in their finery. 

So we got past another year. We spent less and laughed more. Prom was a success.

Non-Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner

This year my daughter decided to cook Thanksgiving dinner. We usually don’t have turkey for Thanksgiving in our house because it’s a lot of hoopla and there is always way too many left overs. So we leave the turkey for Christmas and make something else for Thanksgiving. This year my daughter decided to cook steak.

After a lot of debate about what kind of steak to use she settled on a nice New York Strip. She marinated them in a bunch of herbs all day.img_8685 She paired it all up with some sauteed mushrooms with a little garlic salt, and some sauteed asparagus with lemon pepper. Baked potatoes and some breaded shrimp finished out the menu. img_8686

I’m very proud of her for making such a great meal. I’m sad that my husband had to miss it because he was working in the hinter lands of the great north. I am comforted that I haven’t completely failed as a mother and at least she won’t starve when she’s off on her own in the next couple of years.


Writing Prompt: What’s up with your dad?

“What’s up with your dad?”

“Oh he’s just sick of people trying to kill him, mainly you.”

“I didn’t try to kill him!” Jonas practically screeched.

“Yeah, he said you’d say that.” I said without looking up from my game. I was nearing the end of the mission and I didn’t feel like starting over.

Jonas collapsed like the trade center onto the couch beside me smashing the remainder of chips in the Doritos bag and scattering  gummie worms onto the floor.Frowning I glanced down at my fallen snack then shrugged.

“I didn’t try to kill him,” Jonas repeated sullenly, “it just kinda happened. Hey! Get that guy!” he pointed to the screen excitedly.

I hate back seat gamers but Jonas was my best friend so I killed the enemy soldier anyway. “You always say things just kinda happened when usually its you being a dumb ass that causes it.”

“I wasn’t really being a dumbass,” Jonas picked up a gummie worm and inspected it for fuzz. “I didin’t mean to pull out in front that semi.”

I slid him a disbelieving look but he went on.

“It’s not like we were really in danger. Your dad has one of those teacher brake thingies on his side. He coulda used it.”

“Dude!” I dropped the controller into my lap and stared at Jonas. “Seriously, this is the third time you’ve taken drivers’ ed and you’ve nearly killed my dad every time!”

“Not every time!” Jonas whined. “That first time it was Julie’s fault!”

A Mother’s Letter to the Teachers in Crisis

“What are they gonna do, fire me?” This statement has been said thousands of times by countless people who are leaving their jobs, whether by their choice or because they were asked to go.

I know the sentiment. I understand the motivation behind saying it. When you are parting ways from a job that you hate or that hates you, you want some kind of control or outlet for your frustration and anger. I’ve said it myself a couple of times but that’s not important. What is the important thing is where and when you say it.

And that place is NOT in a school and NOT in front of students.

Our schools here in Conrad, MT are in a budget crisis. Money that should have been there in a flex fund is not available anymore and so the school district is trying to find ways to cut costs. This includes closing one of the buildings and combining the middle and high school, unfortunately it also includes staff cuts.

No one wants to lose their job and I believe that a teacher losing their job due to money is a crime against our civilization as a whole. For what will become of our society if our children get bargain basement educations. But it is not up to me and it is not up to our teachers. Budgets must be made and cuts will happen. What is important is how these cuts are handled. Unfortunately they are not being handled with dignity in many cases.

Some of the teachers whose contracts have not been renewed have stopped teaching. They come to class and tell the kids to do whatever they want. Projects go unfinished and grades no longer matter. Others are becoming irreverent and going off topic in class to the confusion and astonishment of the students. When they are called out on it by a student the response has become, “What are they gonna do, fire me?”

I understand their feelings. I have been in jobs where downsizing laid of many of the workers or the regime change in management made me lose my job. However, I still worked. I still did the best I could to accomplish my tasks until the very end. It has been all for the good. Yes it stressed me out but I maintained my work ethic and my reputation as a good and reliable worker allowing me to get other jobs in the future.

Their future employment possibilities aside, what about the example they are showing to the students? Instead of continuing to teach with dignity and grace and being the living breathing example of how to handle a bad situation, these teachers are showing the students that an F-U attitude is the way to go. Like little parrots the kids are going home and repeating, “What are they gonna do, fire me?”  Pretty soon they will be at work and when they have a rough time of it they will start doing a half-assed job and their response will be, “What are they gonna do, fire me?” And they will lose their jobs.

Most of the younger generation already doesn’t know how to handle adversity, now they are getting an up-close and personal view of how not to handle job loss with dignity. This could be a great teaching moment when the teacher says, “Yes, I’m losing my job and it sucks! But this happens sometimes in the real world and this is how you should handle it.” We could be really teaching our children one of life’s most important lessons right now, HOW TO PICK YOURSELF UP, DUST YOURSELF OFF AND KEEP GOING WHEN BAD THINGS HAPPEN.

Kids look up to teachers. They are some of the most influential people in their lives. We live the rest of our lives by what our teachers showed us when we were children. How many times have you looked back and thought about a teacher from your past and how that person changed your life. This is the moment that will change these students’ lives forever.

Please, I beg you, think of the lives you are influencing with your behavior right now.

First Car Accident

It’s a terrifying moment in every parents life. You answer the phone and it’s the shaking voice of your child saying, “Mom, I just hit a car.”

Immediately your imagination runs to the worst possible thoughts of crushed metal and broken, bleeding bodies. You mind jumps to planning how to get to the hospital or the jail.

From the moment that we let them sit behind the wheel of the car for the first time,  we know that one day it will happen. I know that I went through it, my husband went through it, my brother went through it. It is as inevitable as the sunset. It’s one of those life experiences that you can only learn from the hard way.

A few days ago, it was our turn.

It was icy and snowy. I had just said to my daughter as she left for work, “Be careful, it’s really slick out.”

Not more that five minutes later the phone was ringing. “Mom, I hit a car.”

She had turned into the parking lot near her work. She was only driving about two mph. A second car was coming in through the alley perpendicular to her. My daughter hit her brakes but she was on ice and she didn’t stop. The other car didn’t slow down either. They bumped.

Admittedly it was a very minor accident.

This is my daughter’s car.IMG_7354

This is the other person’s car.


Really can’t see any damage.

The driver of the car got out and was screaming at her through the window threatening to call the police on her. My poor daughter was completely terrified. You have to understand my daughter is a very sensitive girl. She can’t stand it when people yell at her. She began to cry and called me.

I walked her through finding her registration and insurance paper work and told her to take pictures. Especially since the other people were being so frantic about what appeared to be nothing. The police showed up and calmed the other driver down then reassured my daughter that it wasn’t as bad a they were making it out to be.

There were no tickets and despite the ranting of the other driver, we have not as yet heard anything from our insurance. But the lesson that my daughter learned that day will stay with her forever. Even though she was scared to call me because she thought I was going to hate her for getting into a wreck and take away her driving privileges, she acted very responsibly. She handled the whole thing by herself only asking for advice on what to do because as she said, “They never told us in driver’s ed what to do if you’re in an accident.” I am very proud of her for handling the situation as well as she did even under threats from the other driver.

I’m just glad that she’s okay and safe. We’ve both had our firsts. Her first car accident and my first terrifying phone call. God willing this will be the only ones we ever have to have.

Don’t get it in your eyes!

My daughter. She is always they healthy one in the family. She works out and is very health conscious. She tries to use mostly all organic products for her face and soaps but…

Poor girl came to me one night with what she said felt like an eyelash in her eye.  I looked and looked but found nothing. We rinsed out her eye with water and still it bothered her. Tried tears but still nothing.  She finally went to bed still hurting but too tired to care.

IMG_7270She woke the next morning with her eye still bothering her and she wisely left the make-up off of that eye and went to school. Part way through the day she asked to come home. Her eye lid was swollen halfway shut and it was red from her eyebrow down to her cheekbone and the white of her eye was completely bloodshot.

We headed over to the doctor.

He thought maybe it was an infection but she had just come off of antibiotics from having Bronchitis. This puzzled the doctor. So we got do something gross.

He numbed her eyeball and dyed it yellow then shone a black-light on it. IMG_7271Truly a freakish thing to see your daughter with yellow eye and purple skin. Turns out she had a corrosive burn on her cornea.

Scary huh? You’ll never believe what it was from. A little granual from the exfoliating face scrub she used to wash her face had gotten into her eye the night before and sat in there burning her eye.

They treated it with steroid drops and she was better in about a day but it was still a scary wake up call.

SO when it say don’t get it in your eyes, DON’T GET IT IN YOUR EYES!

Conrad High School Ghost Out 2015

This is what it could look like if you were in a drunk driving accident.


Our Conrad High School Literary Arts class along with the Pondera Medical Center in cooperation with the Conrad Police, Fire and Rescue services put the fear of death into the kids in our town.

The Literary Arts class filmed a short video of a “typical drunken party” Sunday night. On Thursday the school held IMG_6370an assembly to discuss the dangers of drinking and driving. During this video they heard screams and a crash. The entire high school filed out to the old tennis court that sits behind the school to find this wreck.  They stared in silence at the scene where their bloodied friends lay in a crumple of metal. I have never seen a group so large be so quiet.

IMG_6386The scene continued as the driver awakened to find that he had crashed. He tired to wake up his friends some were unconscious some were shaken and injured but alright enough to walk. Two were dead.IMG_6384

One girl had been thrown from the back of the pick-up and was laying about
30 ft away from the wreck. Of the three girls left in the back of the pick-up two had minor wounds and the third was hurt pretty bad and nearly unconscious. The passenger of the pick-up was suffering from internal injuries that led to his death. The driver of the car was killed onimpact. His passenger was badly injured.

IMG_6387“What did you do! Were you drunk?”  The brother of the pick-up passenger raced out of the crowd and started yelling at the driver. He began to fight with the driver only to be stopped by the panicked shrieks from one of the girls that had been in the back of the pick-up.

Another vehicle came racing up. It was the other kids from the party. One called 911. They put it on speaker so that everyone could hear the conversation between the dispatcher and the girl who was nearly in hysterics. (It had been arranged with the 911 dispatch that this training call would take place. They treated it as if it were real.)

The sirens went off across town. Soon two ambulances, a fire truck and three police car came screeching up to the crash. They were quick to manage the scene. The IMG_6393witnesses and the other kids involved were separated out and the injured were lifted out and strapped to gurneys then wheeled away to be taken to the hospital. The Jaws of Life were used to pry the door off the car so they could reach the body of the boy in the car. The dead kids were covered with sheets. The police interviewed the witnesses and put the driver through a road side sobriety test. He was then handcuffed and led away.

The audience of high school students were still dead silent. There was no elbowing each other and joking. There was no whispering or looking at their phones. They just stared. I didn’t blame them. It was intense. I had helped set it up and when I saw them loading my  daughter (she’s the one on the tailgate) onto that gurney-my stomach clenched and tears burned behind my eyes. All I could see from where I was standing was her Converse tennis shoes hanging off the side of the tailgate surrounded by firemen and medics. That image out of everything we did that day was burned into my mind. It was so real. All I wanted to do was to run to the ambulance and be with her. It was not something that will be easily forgotten for any of the school.

IMG_6396The students were then ushered back into the school where they had set up a trial. Complete with Judge and Attorney. The driver of the pick-up escorted in by the police in full prison garb and was charged then sentenced. They followed the sentencing with a discussion about the laws and the repercussions of the choice to drink and drive.


Then there was a funeral service for the three students that had died in the wreck. They read obituaries that has been written by their classmates.  The student then filed by a coffin containing a mirror so they could see themselves in the coffin and know that it could have been them. After that there was workshop about grief and regrets.


They ended the day with an assembly with speakers telling about their experiences with drinking and driving. The Literary Arts class sat up on the stage and answered questions from the student body about their experiences during the project and what they learned. It was unanimous -the kids who had staged the accident for the school all agreed that they would never drink and drive. They were truly disturbed by what they had gone through even though it had all been fake.

My daughter said that she started to have a panic attack when they were strapping her to the gurney as she heard all the screaming and crying around her. Another student who had been filming the project said  that she had a moment where she realized that these were her friends and they were dead. She said she never ever ever wanted to see that in real life or feel that way again.

The next day the kids were talking about the Ghost Out on Yik Yak (a social media app where posts are anonymous). There were a lot of posts about kids wanting to make some changes. So I think that the project has had the desired reaction amongst the students.

All in all the day was horrifying and intense but it was an awesome day.


The morning started out with two dozen donuts brought by yours truly.

They didn’t last long. Nothing combats nerves like food. Later two gigantic boxes of pizza turned up and a couple of trays of sub-sandwiches joined the group.

It was funny to watch them try and eat around the fake blood dripping from their faces. They were all good sports about it. Although one poor girl couldn’t stand the smell for the fake blood so we had to put some strong smelling chap stick under her nose.


I had been asked to help out along with some of the other parents and teachers. I was one of the make-up artists who had bruised and bloodied all these kids up. I have a Theatre degree and have done a bit of make-up before but nothing on this scale. I watched a lot of YouTube videos to get some ideas. It was a learning experience for me as well as the kids.


Fake scars and bruise make up were followed by red food dyed chocolate syrup blood making for some really gruesome wounds.IMG_6366

Some kids had issues with their glass shards falling out of their wounds and we had to reapply their wounds over and over again.

The death scenes were staged to be particularly shocking but were a little difficult because some local wasps decided they liked the smell of the fake blood.

By the end of the day, the kids had consumed a ton of pizza, sub-sandwiches and a lot of soda. They had been grossed out and shocked by their own reflections and they leaned a lot about making the right choices. I couldn’t be prouder of these kids.


Senior Moment

It is basketball tournament time. All teams in the district are pitted against each other with the aim of finding the best team to send on to the next level and then on to State. It’s an emotional time especially for the Seniors.
During their entire high school career they have played the games hoping to win but sometimes losing. If they lose they always go home thinking that there’s always next time or there’s always next year, until they hit that Senior Moment.
That last game of the last season and they realize there are no more chances. There will never be another high school basketball game. Oh they may come to see their friends or siblings play but it will never be their game. And it hits them hard.
It’s that moment where they suddenly realize they’re adults now. I know that most say it’s graduation that does it and maybe it is but the point is that it’s a Moment. A life changing moment.
The trick is how to take it. Do you cry and lament that it’s all over. Or do you look back and say, “I gave my all to every second of every season” and feel proud?
Isn’t every moment in life like that? Isn’t every moment a Senior Moment?
Do you look at your life every day and think, “It’s over and I’ll never get another chance.” Or do you think, “I gave every thing I had for every second of every day?”
What’s your Senior Moment like?