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Bullying, Decisions and Old School Solutions: Part II – Toronto Photographer

You are here because you probably read part one of my son’s  story “Bullying, Decisions and Old School Solutions…and if you didn’t…then please go back to do so. Just so you have an idea of what’s what.

You can read part one here.

What I did was sit down and think really hard about how to deal with this whole bully situation as a family and how to help my son deal with this issue along with what would benefit him the most, now and in the future.
While most parents do the best that they can for their children, there comes a time when you realize that your child may need someone from the outside.
Someone not a part of the family so to speak. Or maybe that someone is someones…such as a group of people.

I looked at my son and saw that he was floundering.
Hard.

And because I’m really not a kumbaya person…I started to Google various martial arts dojos.
I called a lot of different places, but nothing really clicked for me.

Then I called up a mixed martial arts dojo. I spoke with the manager there…Jessica, and she understood me. She totally got where I was coming from as a parent, when I sat there chatting her ear off about why I am looking for this for my kids.
We were invited to visit the next week.

Jessica made us feel very welcome.
We went over what is offered at the gym, and the benefits to our children. (Parents get perks there too!)

Needless to say we were so impressed, we signed them up…the same night.

First class came around and all the other kids and teachers made them feel welcome.
The teachers there are firm, kind, and very experienced.

The first week I saw my son get his smiles back.

The third week I saw that he was trying hard….and was more confident in himself.
The fifth week he learned that not trying doesn’t pay off.
The sixth and seventh week he earned his first belt and he learned that to earn a belt he had to work for it….and he was so proud  to have earned that belt!!
In his own words: “I think that this belt is going to be the most special. This belt made me realize that Marco was right. Belts are important, but learning is more important.

He started school on Tuesday. He was super excited to go and very happy to see all his friends that he hadn’t seen from over the summer.
He has a new aura of confidence about him . People see this. Children see this.
My son is back to how he used to be.
A confident, smiling, happy, go lucky child that is much loved.

As a parent I can teach my child many things.

I can teach them to respect others.
I can teach them to be good people and I can teach them much more.

Sometimes though, we need something or someone that is not within our circle to teach our children that little bit of extra…whatever it may be.

We found this little bit of extra at Revolution Mixed Martial Arts and Fitness.

I know that some people will say, “But you are teaching your child to be violent.”

NO. I am NOT.

A practitioner of martial arts recently wrote:
” My sensei always used to say ‘best self defence is not to be there.
Second best is to spot trouble and avoid it.
Third best is to diffuse the situation.
Only when all else fails should martial arts be needed!’

Another also sums it up quite nicely.

“… it teaches one the mental, verbal and physical self protection skills [needed] to deal with the one who never has had the benefit of such an education.”

As I said, I don’t do kumbaya when there is nothing being reciprocated.
When I see effort, and that a parent cares not just about their child but about mine also,  enough to want to sit down and find a solution…great.
We can pretty much fix whatever comes our way.

But when you as a parent have a laid back attitude and diminish what my child is going through…then I will empower my children to be able to find solutions on their own
and to not fit the cliche of ‘victim’ that has been assigned to them…due to policy.

So for all of you parents out there who would like to have their children be more confident and able to stand up for themselves, Revolution is having a FREE Bullying Seminar.
It is going to be held on Saturday September 13th from 10:30am-12pm.

You do need to register before hand.

Bullying in Schools

elena - this is such a great post to raise awareness!

Bullying, Decisions and Old School Solutions – Professional Photographer » merryfieldsphotography.com - […] « 6 Months Old Mr. { D } – Toronto Child Photographer Bullying, Decisions and Old School Solutions: Part II – Toronto Photographer » […]

Missy B - Great post, Martial Arts are a great way to empower kids, so glad you found something he loves!

Shuanna - What a great post!! I think it is so awesome that your son found a hobby that taught such great lessons and boosted his self confidence! Bullying is such a huge problem these days.

Kristy - What a great way to look at it…. “… it teaches one the mental, verbal and physical self protection skills [needed] to deal with the one who never has had the benefit of such an education.”

Michele - It’s great to hear about parents that care. Great information!

Lauren Weeks - I love that you sought out solutions. My son is three and I have often though lately about what I would do being in a situation where others were making him miserable. I also love that you’re admitting that you simply don’t know it all and that sometimes it takes a village, others to help us help our babies. Thanks for sharing your story!

geather - Sounds like a great event to raise awareness and help those who fall victim to bullying

Eden - I totally agree with your solution, Effie! I just signed my four year-old up for KungFu.

merryfields photography - Thanks for the kind comments everyone!

It is really hard seeing your child go through something like this. To say that I was happy with the decision we made would be such an understatement!!

Sometimes we as parents have to admit that we don’t know everything in order to get the help we need.

That being said, I found what worked for me and my family. Everyone will make their own choices and their own decisions.

Bullying, Decisions and Old School Solutions – Professional Photographer

First off, I am going to start by saying that I had a really hard time writing this.
I had a chat with my son prior to me posting this for a few reasons.

I have a policy that I will never ever post anything about my children (whether it is a photograph or something written about them) that will make them feel uncomfortable or embarrassed in a month, a year or 10 or 20.
I also needed his permission to tell his story.

So here goes. I hope I do him justice.

I think that I can safely say that as  parents, the one thing we want for our children above all is to be happy.
Well, happy and safe.

We want them that way wherever they may be, whether in our home, at school, at an after school program etc.,

Well there was a time when my son was not so happy.

When he first started kindergarten he was over the moon to finally be a big boy and go to school!

We all went to drop him off that first day. With his backpack -that was almost the same size as him-and his big smile, I felt good.
I felt that all was right in the world.

My son has always been happy go luck and friendly with all kids. He doesn’t like to be mean and he doesn’t like it when people are mean to him.

When he was in grade 1 and 2 we went through a lot with various aspects of bullying.
From being punched, kicked, choked to verbal abuse.

One boy used words to bully him. He was told that he wasn’t a good friend, and that he sucks, and he’s a loser.
All because my son wanted to play with other children and not just with one child consistently for every single recess or lunch break.
He invited this boy to play with him and his other friends…but the boy didn’t want that.

This boy eventually started hitting my son. Punches, kicks, pushing, etc.

When I spoke with the teacher and the principal about it, they said that they would try to keep them apart.
Reality is that is very hard to do. One teacher in a classroom of 20+ kids cannot keep their eye on each and every child. They try…but it’s not feasible.

A lot of back and forth went on. A lot of me getting upset as how my son was being treated was an on going issue.

Then other kids stepped in.
They saw that there are certain things that they can get away with…for a time at least.
They started excluding my son from playing together. The same children he was in school with from junior kindergarten started excluding him.
He was hurt and he was embarrassed and he was quiet about it.
Then another child decided it would be cool to grab my son by the throat a few times and choke him.

Stop Bullying

They told me they have an anti-bullying policy in place.

This anti-bullying policy unfortunately is turning our children into victims. I found that while the focus is in discussing with a bully what they did is wrong and all that nice stuff…what my child is being taught is
‘If you are hit, run and tell a teacher.” “If you are made fun of, run and tell a teacher.” “If you are bullied, in any way shape or form, run and tell a teacher.”

We are teaching our children to run away, and have others deal with the issue.
We are teaching our children to not stand up for themselves in any way.
We are teaching our children to be a victim imo.

My philosophy is this: My child has the right to defend themselves against (thank you R for this little bit of eloquence) man, woman or beast.
If they are attacked, they need to protect themselves.
If they feel that they are going to be attacked they need to protect themselves.

Does this mean that I want my child beating up any unsavoury little twits that feel entitled to treat people like garbage?
No it doesn’t mean that at all.
What it does mean is that I want my son to be able to stand up for himself.
I want him to be able to assess a situation and know when to back off and leave and have the confidence to deal with it if need be.

My son had none of that.  He couldn’t understand why people would be mean or even want to be mean to others.

I told the teacher and the principal that I had given my permission for my child to hit back if he felt that he was about to be hit or if he was actually hit.
I told my son that he has my permission to smack back if someone is hitting him.
I told my son that he has the right to defend himself…but never to bully another.

Here was the problem though.

My son did not know how to do that.

My son did not know how to defend himself.
He did not have the confidence to do that.

He was scared.
He was lonely.
He was sad.

Stop Bullying

I hated that my child was scared and made to feel this way. I am not a crier, but this whole situation that transpired for over a year made me cry and wonder if today would be the day that he would be seriously hurt… and it also made me feel like I wasn’t doing the best I could to protect my child and have them be in a safe environment.

My son had nightmares about it. He also had a break down. He’s a tough little cookie that doesn’t like to cry but that day…while he was trying to hold his tears in, he told me how miserable he felt. How alone at school and how he was being treated and he could not understand why. What had he done to be treated that way?

To say that I had enough would be an understatement. A severe understatement.

I was tired of dealing with parents that did not care about what their children did.
I was tired of dealing with parents who did not want to have a role in their child’s life.
I was tired that the schools hands were efficiently tied by a district school board and their policy  and there wasn’t much to be done.
I was tired that the police could not step in to intervene because the law says that the child must be 12 years of age before anything could be done.

I was fed up and tired and didn’t want to sit back any more just crossing my fingers that policy would fix a situation that was having a very serious toll on my child’s well being-both mental and physical.

So what was my solution?

I’ll be posting that in the next few days…

Edit September 10, 2014: Part II was added here: http://www.merryfieldsphotography.com/my-son-was-bullied-part-ii/

Kassandra Lee - Thanks for sharing this.

Chantel - Very emotional and powerful. Well done on speaking your mind lets hope many more do the same.

Eden - Ugh, this is one thing I hope I don’t have to deal with as a mom. I’m sorry your son is going through this. I hope he finds a solution and the strength to stand up for himself.

Beckah - I’m so sorry little man had to go through this but I know for a fact he comes from great stock. He’ll come out stronger than he went in. I just hate that it had to happen this way.

Cynthia Dawson - Oh gosh, this is so sad. Your images are so very powerful. I look forward to the next post.

Samantha Munyard - Powerful story and images!

Brianna Hays - This brought tears to my eyes…So moving and powerful!

Gretchen - I can only imagine how difficult this was to write. Thank you for sharing your heart in order to help others.

Candy Hoehn - This is so incredibly sad! No mother wants to ever feel this way or have their child treated like that. Please let us know how you dealt with it!

Laura Cora - My heart goes to you… it’s so sad…

My Son was Bullied… Part II » merryfieldsphotography.com - […] You can read part one here. […]

6 Months Old Mr. { D } – Toronto Child Photographer

As a child photographer I am very luck to be hired by families documenting their child’s milestones.
I’m lucky because in a way not only do I get to see how they grow over the course of a year, but with families like the one I recently photographed,
it’s a great way to be able to sit back and literally relax when taking photos. Their company is always so much fun and invigorating!

So little Mr. D has the cutest, chubbiest little face that one has ever seen! The rolls he has going on are just super sweet!

Without further ado, Mr. D, in his 6 month debut…

Professional Child Photographer

 

Professional Child Photographer

 

Professional Child Photographer

 

 

Lai - I love taking pictures of 3 months and 6 months babies because they are awake and alert. They interact with you more, but not too mobile to let you chase. Cute pictures!

Beckah - Oh my gosh! That outfit + that background = awesome!

Elly - He is super adorable! I love his little outfit!

Katie Brockpahler - He is so stinking cute!! I love the backdrop and his little outfits!! Great job :)

Eden - Love his pilot outfit! Too cute!

Steve Harvey, Von Doughnuts and the Beginning of Our Culinary Expedition

One day last week, the kids and I were watching tv together while having a snack.
We were watching The Steve Harvey Show.

I love Steve Harvey. One of the original Kings of Comedy , his sharp wit and classy demeanor has always made me a big fan of his.

Anyhow, we were watching the show where they were having a doughnut competition.
My son-who wants to be a chef- said, “Why don’t we have that kind of a doughnut store here in Toronto ?”

I figured that we must have something like this in Toronto. I mean, with such a huge variety and diverse population, I thought that for sure
someone has thought up of creating gourmet doughnuts.

So I Googled ‘gourmet doughnuts in Toronto’.
I was right.
There are many, many–did I say many!? – gourmet doughnut stores in Toronto!! So where to start right?
Well, we picked one and chose a day to go.

The idea here is that my kids and I are going to explore various culinary delights-kid friendly obviously- from doughnuts to pad thai to whatever, through out Toronto.
I want my children to not only experience the city but to experience various other cultures, food stuffs and what not that they probably will not encounter at home.

I don’t make doughnuts, and to be totally honest…I hate doughnuts. Like hate hate doughnuts.  I hate how unnatural they taste and how fake the flavoring is.
So I thought that this would be interesting to do as well for myself…and maybe have my mind changed.

While the two little heathens were super excited about this…my son was over the moon.
He decided that in order to keep track that we should implement a rating system, of 1 to 5 and grade taste, texture, and visual appeal.

Our first adventure took us to Von Doughnuts on 713 Danforth Avenue.

Toronto Foodie

They are a gourmet doughnut bakery that serves their doughnuts fresh (and trans fat free!!) every day and also caters.

Their decor is sleek and modern with orange and grey tones. It’s super comfortable to hang out in and we loved the seating that they have in the front, which
allowed us to get a peek at the street scene.

Jennifer, was super friendly and was explaining to my kiddos what Doughnut Showdown is all about.
Von Doughnuts is going to be a contestant on the Season 2 Premiere of Doughnut Showdown on September 8th at 9PM EST on the Food Network Channel so make sure you watch the show!
*Maybe pick up a dozen or so to watch it with?* hint hint…

gourmet dougnuts Toronto

 

As soon as my daughter saw the “Mangiacake” …she made her choice. Like seriously, just look at it! She loves pretty, sparkles and anything sweet….so there was her choice.

Kid Friendly

 

 

My son chose his…based not just on how lovely this doughnut looked…but on the name as well!
He couldn’t stop laughing about the name! His doughnut is called “The Sappy Pig“!

Kid Friendly

 

I’m a big sweet and savory fan and love caramel with salt…so this was my choice. Caramel Salt N’ Pepa…oh my.

Gourmet Doughnuts

 

They also serve amazing coffee! I loved my Americano (black)!

Fresh Coffee

 

They also have tea…a pretty wide selection of tea. But I do love my coffee…so perhaps next time I’ll take a try at one of their lovely flavors.


My son ordered the Sappy Pig which is a maple dipped, with bacon (yes bacon!!)topped along with peanut butter and Valrhona chocolate drizzled on top.
He gave this doughnut overall 5 for it’s superb taste, beautiful look and he loved the texture of how smooth the doughnut was combined with the bacon on top.

My daughter ordered the Mangiacake. A vanilla dipped caramel and cheese popcorn doughnut sprinkled with gummy’s and sprinkles.
As soon as she saw that doughnut she was jumping up and down! What girl doesn’t like sprinkles?!
She gave that doughnut an overall 4. She loved how it looked but she found the taste not as strong as the other two doughnuts and felt that it could have more taste.

Mine was the Caramel Salt N’ Pepa…or as I like to call it, my total Heavenly Dream Come True!
This doughnut…dipped in caramel and drizzled with Vahrlona chocolate, sea salt and crushed peppercorns..is a fantastical combination!
The flavor just explodes in your mouth and I love the duality of the sweetness tempered by the salt and pepper corns!
Overall…5, 5 and 5 again and again!

Fresh doughnuts

Von Doughnuts was such a treat to visit! I have never in my life had a doughnut like this. Seriously delicious.
Go take a peek, take your kids and make sure that you look at their doughnut menu. I love that not all doughnuts are offered every day, which pretty much ensures that you are getting
something super fresh!

We will definitely be going back to Von Doughnuts to try out the rest of their flavors….or I might just stick with the Caramel Salt N’ Pepa.
I’m a convert…from hating doughnuts…to loving me some Von Doughnuts!

Take a peek at the rest of their menu of wonderfully delicious doughnuts here:

http://www.vondoughnuts.com/category/doughnut/the-daily-dough/

Ashley - Those look delicious! This is such an creative approach to broadening your children’s experiences…and palates! Well done!

Cari - Great images! These made me hungry!!

heather - Great images from what looks to have been a great adventure! And now I’m craving a gourmet doughnut because they looked delicious!

merryfields photography - Thank you Ashley! They were delicious! I’m also happy to say that the kids are looking forward to selecting the next place we are going to check out food wise!

Heather…just do it! ;)

Thank you Cari!

Katie Brockpahler - Those look amazing and I am so inspired to bring my camera along to little family outings like this! I need to do that more (and not just the iphone)!

Newborn Baby G – Toronto Newborn Photographer

It was with great pleasure that Baby G’s mum got in touch with me, looking to commission me for a newborn session!
I had met Baby G’s mum some years back from a Mommy Connection’s group that I had taught a ‘How To Photograph Your Little Ones’ class.

Her little newborn boy was super sweet to photograph and while he didn’t sleep all the way through…we got some great wide awake photographs of him!
Little sister was an absolute hoot with her big huge personality and decisive, “NO’s” she would give us.

Mum & Dad, thank you for allowing me the honor of photographing your beautiful family!

Enjoy!

Professional Newborn Photography
Toronto Newborn Photographer
Sibling Photography

 

This is the …OMG I can’t wait for this lady with the black box to finish what she’s doing with me look!

Toronto Newborn Photography

Beckah Greenwood - Oh my gosh, that one of him sucking his little pinky is my favorite I think, this is adorable!

Shrine Circus Came to Town…the Stress of It! – Professional Toronto Photographer

A few weeks back I came home and hit play on messages that were left on my residential line.
One of those messages was from my dear sister and it pretty much said the following, “Hey I have extra tickets for the circus so you can take the kids.”
Lol!

So while I totally appreciated her getting these tickets for us, and wanting to give them to us, I think that in future (which I already told her) that no one should leave messages like this on anyone’s voice mail…since quite a few do check their messages with their kids around. No leeway. Just a screaming chaotic mess of “OMG Aunty S is the best and we’re going to the circus!!!”

I just KNOW that there are other parents out there nodding their heads saying, “Oh yep we get it.”

Shrine Circus. Yes I know they originated with the Masons at the Knickerbocker Cottage in New York…let’s hear the conspiracies…lol!
They supposedly do a lot of good with their fund raising.
One of their major charities being the Shriners Hospital for Children with locations across the US and Canada.
Cool. Like really really cool.

Big Top

My kids loved the concession stand…popcorn, cotton candy…and (stale) corn dogs….

Concession Stand

 

The clowns on the unicycle were dextrous and quite funny…

Acrobatic Clown

 

My daughter was face painted by a lovely lady who we saw again in a trapeze act.

Face Painting

 

 

Mad skills here…

Horse Tricks

These guys were probably some of the best clowns we had seen! They were funny and had my kids (and everyone else) in absolute stitches!!

Funny Clowns

 

The human hamster wheel…blindfolded and G-d knows how far up from the ground he was…he made us hold our breath, cover our eyes and send fervent prayers to all deity’s in the hopes that he does not fall off that death defying contraption!

Spinning Wheel

 

Trapeze act…our face painting lady…she was pretty amazing!

Trapeze Act
Trapeze Act

Here’s the thing that bugs me though about this circus. I don’t profess to be the most educated on this subject, but it’s how I feel.
Elephants and circuses should not be mixed together in my opinion.

While the Shriners say that they take every care that they can for the animals – I just cannot fathom such a majestic animal being happy to travel from city to city confined, and not having the open space that they deserve on a consistent basis.
*Shriners have 10 acres and a pond with which they play in when at home.*

To train elephants, the trainers (I don’t know about the Shriners) prod them with what is called an ankus…or a bull hook.
At no point and time did me or my family see the trainers use the bullhook on the elephants.
Did they have them?
Yes.
Did they use them?
Not while we were there.

But when we have the Toronto Zoo relocate the elephants that they had in a spacious-but not spacious enough- environment…I just cannot help but think to myself, really Shriners, with all the good that you do, and your cool and funny acts that families already enjoy…do you really really need the elephants?

My answer, is a big emphatic no.
So until the elephants go…we shall no longer be going to the Shrine Circus or any other circus that will be using exotic animals.

Elephant

You an of course google more information on the subject of animals in circuses…but make your own informed decisions and don’t just go by what others tell you.

Some links that I found of interest:

https://www.thedodo.com/la-shriners-circus-wont-use-pe-484286324.html

http://www.animalcircuses.com/ourreasons.aspx

American zoo keeper talks about using the bull hook:

http://circusnospin.blogspot.ca/2009/05/modern-ankus-or-bull-hook.html

What the Shriners say about their animals:

http://shrine-circus.com/blog/2013/07/30/for-the-love-of-animals/

Cake Smash Session SNL Style – Move Over Will Ferrell

A week ago I received an email inquiry about a cake smash session.
As  I had one more slot open for August, it was not a problem to book them in.

The next email I received from this  same young lady, informed me that she was looking to do a cake smash for her husband’s birthday.
I honestly did not know what to expect as I have never done a grown up cake smash before. But I was game…

We chatted on the phone and I’ll say it, I was excited as this was something new for me.

As I was waiting for them, I looked outside my window and saw a small mob of about 8 people standing outside!
I knew when I saw all of them that this was going to be an absolutely epic day!

The lovely K had planned a day out in the city for her husband T and some of his friends. One of the events of the day was to come by my studio for a fun portrait/cake smash session!!

These guys and gals were friendly, funny and just an all around good group to be hanging with!

The session itself was like a scene out of Saturday Night Live with a Will Ferrel twist! We had a lot of fun and we laughed a lot!!
I laughed so hard I am so surprised that I was even able to hold the camera steady!

A big thank you to all of you for making this one of the best sessions that I have ever had!!
It was great because of all of you making it so!!

Enjoy the sneak peek!!

The image with the ‘floating head’ was a request based on this image here: Will Ferrell

Will Ferrell

Big Baby Photography

Wonderful cake by Nina’s Cupcakes

Nina

Teddy Bear

Will Ferrell

Adult Cake Smash

Adult Humour

Funny Photo Shoot
Funny Photo Shoot

Adult Humor

These guys are amazing! Embracing life, having fun…that is what it’s all about!!

Toronto Photographer

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Natalie - Oh my gosh, these are HILARIOUS!! That’s got to be one of my favorite cake smash sessions I’ve ever seen!

Lai - Oh my goodness! This is hilarious! Not many guys are willing to do this. He must love her so much and enjoy doing this at the same time. I would have laughed all the way throughout the session as well! Good job!

Lori - What fun a a great sense if humor from the birthday boy!

Janelle - HILARIOUS!!!!

Michele - This might have been one of the funniest photo posts I have ever seen. GREAT IMAGES!

Eden - OMG! I LOVE this!!! The best cake smash ever!

heather - This is amazing! What a fun group of people and great images!

Louise Vessey - Yes I can see that this would have been a total blast to shoot! Perhaps this is the next big trend? LOL!

Carrie Cheng - These are hysterical! What a fun shoot. Good acting on his part. Good photography too :) Love the dual image one!!

Gretchen - Goodness – what a riot. I bet everyone involved loved it!

merryfields photography - I can honestly say that I have never ever laughed so much at any session as I did at this one!

These guys & gals were all amazing and so much fun!

Beckah Greenwood - Oh gosh! This would have been the funnest session EVER! I’m jealous! Such good sports and you NAILED It.!

Sofia - I love this! You must have had an absolute blast at this shoot!
Never seen this before done with adults – I would highly recommend you!

C o p y r i g h t   I n f o r m a t i o n