11/ 20/2019 Part 117 The Story of Claire: Craig watches for Claire to get on the bus

By     P. Berman K. Hecht & A. Hosack

I need to make her anxious. I need her to wonder if I’m still interested in her.

Craig had been thinking about his conversation with Claire as he continued his bus journey home. He was very attracted to her, but she hadn’t shown enough interest in him. He needed to observe for more and decide what his next step would be. He needed to develop his plan carefully. At this point, the only thing Craig knew about Claire, was that she got on to the bus two stops after his.

It was time to find out more. The bus followed a long straight line down the road. He left work early the next day and walked down to the bus stop he guessed was hers. He saw there was a coffee shop close by and he went in and sat by the window where he could see out to the bus stop. He ordered coffee and waited.

It was tiring work, to just stare out at the same spot but he was finally rewarded. Claire was exiting the very building where he was sitting in. She went straight to the bus stop and sat down. He noticed that she didn’t say a word to the woman who was already sitting on the bench waiting for the bus. He watched and waited. At the bus stop, four people were now waiting as the bus pulled up. Claire hadn’t said a word to anyone.

She isn’t a talker. She wasn’t just avoiding talking to me.

Craig allowed the bus to take off without him; he was feeling good. He would let her wonder if she would ever see him again. He ordered his dinner at the coffee shop and ate slowly with a smile. He was thinking about Claire and how beautiful her hair was and how much he would enjoy touching it. Maybe as soon as next week?

Claire was hoping to see Craig, but she hadn’t expected to find him at her bus stop. She recognized all the other people who regularly waited for the bus at the same stop she used. When she got on the bus, she looked for a seat where she would be alone. She intentionally put her purse down next to her to discourage other people from sitting down next to her. Claire assumed Craig’s bus stop was one or two after hers. She had no idea he had been watching her prior to his coming to sit down next to her.

The motion of the bus put her into a familiar fog. It had been a long day with many patients who were afraid of having their teeth worked on. Claire had been proud of herself that she had remained patient throughout the day. In the back of her mind, there was a smile because she hoped she would be seeing Craig again. Each time the bus stopped, she looked up at the open door, but Craig never came on.

The seasons were changing. It was very dark outside the lights of the bus. Claire was very disappointed not to see Craig on the bus.  Would she have been pleased if she had known he had been looking for where she worked? If Craig could see her now, would he feel Claire was interested enough for him to make another move towards a date?


I guess it was an accident. He doesn’t follow the same schedule as me.

It made Claire sad to think she would never see Craig again. But then again, she didn’t know yet if he was a safe person to date so maybe it was just as well.

Both Claire and Craig want to meet again.

Is there anything Claire should be doing differently?

Is anything about Craig’s behavior bothering you?

According to a “flirtologist” presenting on TedTalk, some tactics work better than others at find a date you are truly compatible with. To hear her advice go to: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5cQoGNEcc5Q

Do you think her advice works as well with a “safe” versus an “unsafe date?”

11/ 18/2019 Part 116 The Story of Claire: Mrs. Carson helps her think carefully about Craig

By     A. Hosack, P. Berman K. Hecht


I am proud of him. He’s growing up to be a kind person.

Claire woke up the next day with a smile on her face. She had dreamed about Davy and his conversation with Mr. Carson about cats. She was so happy to think that he was growing up and learning from his experience. While changing his mind about cats wasn’t the biggest decision in the world, it did reflect that he was learning to stop and think. This reminded her for some reason about Craig.

I want my son to grow up to be a man like Mr. Carson. Someone who is kind and thoughtful. Someone who can be angry without being violent. When I think about Craig, how will he be able to tell if he is more like Mr. Carson or more like Larry? He did look a little angry or impatient when he first started talking to her and she didn’t answer. Was this because she’d been rude? Was it her fault if he was angry or impatient?

I need to discuss this with Mrs. Carson. How do I judge if Craig is a good or bad person?

Claire rushed down the stairs to find Davy and Mr. Carson eating breakfast and Mrs. Carson about to put out a plate for her. “Can I talk to for a minute in the living room,” Claire said. “Mommy, why can’t you just talk right here?” Davy curiously. “Davy this is grown-up business and your business right now is to eat breakfast and get ready for school.” “This cereal is really good mommy, make sure you have some,” said Davy going back to eating; his bowl was full of berries- his favorite kind of fruit.


Mrs. Carson was very curious about what Claire wanted to say. She sat down on the living room couch and looked at Claire who didn’t quite know how to start the conversation.” Finally, she just blurted out, “I met this young man named Craig on the bus last night, “Claire said, “I don’t know how to tell if I should encourage him to talk to me today or if I should try to avoid him.”

“How did you meet him, “Mrs. Carson said. “He sat next to me on the bus and just began talking, “Claire said, “I was surprised at first and didn’t know what to do in this did seem to irritate them a little bit.” “When you say he was irritated, what exactly did he do,” Mrs. Carson asked. “It was just his tone of voice change just a little bit, and there was a flash of something in his eyes,” Claire said which made me nervous that he might be like Larry. Larry used to get these flashes of anger in his eyes.”

Oh no, please let my Claire not get involved with another violent man.

(One-minute silence) “I’m glad you’re thinking this through to see if Craig is a safe person or not,” Mrs. Carson said calmly, “what happened next?” “The flesh left his eyes and he reached out his hand and said that he guessed he should’ve introduced himself and that’s when he told me his name was Craig. I told him my name was Claire and then he smiled at me,” Claire said softly with a smile.

“I can tell by the look on your face Claire, that you’re feeling happy at this moment.” “Well, Craig didn’t grab my arm or touch me in any way. He seemed to think for a minute and then he introduced himself. Larry would never have done that. It made me feel relieved that may be he wasn’t like Larry. He wasn’t somebody who thought it was all right to hurt me. “

“I do think this is a good sign, that he didn’t touch you Claire. But I think it’s a good idea to start out cautiously. If you’d met them at work, and you known him for a while, you would’ve had a chance to observe him many times when he might be frustrated or angry. This would give you more information about whether he was a safe person or not.” “That makes sense Mrs. Carson, but I met him on the boss and the only thing I know is that he said he worked at a bank.”

“It’s smart of you to thought of that,” Mrs. Carson said. “If you see him again on the bus, maybe you should ask him more questions to learn more about him. You need to learn things that you could check out to make sure they’re true. One of the ways to know that he might be a good person to have a relationship with, is if he’s honest.”

“Thank you Mrs. Carson, you have given me some good ideas (Claire sighed).  I think I know what to do today if I meet him on the bus.”

Claire needed help and Mrs. Carson gave her ideas to try out.

Have you ever gone to an older adult for advice?

There is evidence that just spending time with older adults can help you. To learn about this go to:



11/15/2019 Part 115 Claire’s Story: Claire asks Mrs. Carson

By    K. Hecht, A. Hosack, P. Berman

It’s kind of exciting. I’ve been lonely. But what if he is like Larry?

Claire was walking home with a quickstep. Suddenly she didn’t feel the least bit tired. She was smiling and laughing to herself. It had been so nice that such an attractive young man had shown an interest in her. But she didn’t want to make mistakes. How could she tell if Craig he was like Larry or a nice man more like Mr. Carson?

Just as she was reaching the house, Davy burst out the door and envelope to her in a hug. “Mommy you won’t believe this but I’m going to kindergarten next year!” Claire hugged him to her and kiss the top of his head. “I am so proud of you Davy. You have worked very hard at Head Start and your teacher has noticed that you’re ready for kindergarten,” Claire said with a smile. She’d already known that Davy was headed for kindergarten.

All children eligible for kindergarten go for a visit where their “readiness” skills are evaluated.  Claire had watched as Davy completed every assignment the kindergarten teacher gave him without mistake. He knew the entire alphabet. He knew how to count to 100. He was learning to read some small words. The teacher’s evaluation report had been sent to Head Start and to Claire. She had kept the news to herself wanting Davy to hear about it “first” and tell her.

As Claire and Davy walked into the house, Mrs. Carson said with a smile that they were all going out to dinner to celebrate Davy’s achievement. “Davy, I was so tired at work today but now because you’ve worked so hard, I get to go out to eat dinner and I won’t have to do any washing up afterwards,” Claire said with a huge smile.

Mr. Carson was putting on his coat and clearly in a teasing mood, “I think we should go have dinner at that new diner. I hear they make a great fried cat!” ““No Mr. Carson no. You can’t mean it,” Davy said. One of my friends at Head Start brought his cat in for a visit yesterday and his coat was so soft!”

“Well, I can’t believe this,” Mr. Carson said in an outraged voice.  “Aren’t you the Davy who took Buddy for a walk last Saturday and said that a terrible mean cat had scratched buddy on the face?” Mr. Carson said in a serious voice. “Didn’t you say you are going to have to protect buddy from now on from all the mean cats in the neighborhood?”

Davy was staring down at his feet and looking sad. “Yes, I did Mr. Carson because that cat really did hurt buddy. But do you think it’s terrible that I’ve kind of change my mind about cats? My friend Max’s kitten wouldn’t hurt buddy- I am sure of it (Davy sighed deeply), its coat was so soft Mr. Carson. If only you had held that little kitty like I did you would realize that maybe the cat in the neighborhood is mean for good reasons. Maybe not all cats are mean.”


“Well, if you say so Davy,” Mr. Carson said straight faced. Mrs. Carson was laughing but trying to stop. “Now you just stop teasing Davy,” Mrs. Carson said, “Don’t worry Davey, we are going to the new diner but they don’t serve fried cats. Mr. Carson was telling you a fairy story. But you are going to Kindergarten and are ready for real stories!”

“Mr. Carson I am too old for fairy stories! I am big now I am going to Kindergarten,” Davy shrieked as he rushed out the front door, “I am so hungry my tummy can’t stand still.” Going out to eat was actually pretty hard on Claire that night. Davy was so excited that he kept knocking things over on the table and sometimes off the table. Claire bent down so many times to pick things up off the ground that she developed quite an ache in her back. But she kept her temper. Her Davy apologized each time, but he was just too excited to be well behaved.

When she finally had them tucked into bed and going to sleep, she was so tired she forgot all about wanting to talk to Mrs. Carson about the young man she met on the bus. But as she was slowly falling deeply asleep, she remembered his face smiling at her through the bus window. She hoped she would see him again tomorrow.

Was Craig just attracted to Claire and beginning a flirtation? Was he planning to sexually harass her? Was his observation of her at the back of he bus suggesting he might be a sexual predator? Sexual harassment can really harm victims yet it is a frequent occurrence and we don’t know enough about its causes and how to prevent it. There is a bill currently be considered in the house that would provide funding for more research on sexual harassment. The bill is:

H.R.36 – Combating Sexual Harassment in Science Act of 2019

You can read about this bill at the following link. You can also use the link to request that your house representatives support this bill. It would only take five minutes of your time but could really help us understand and stop sexual harassment.


11/13/2019 Part 114 Claire’s Story: Is Claire starting to date?

By   P. Berman, & K. Hecht, A. Hosack

I am so tired. But it was a good day.

Claire is on the bus traveling home. She’s gotten so used to the routine, that she’s not really observing much of what’s going on around her. She’s completely oblivious to the fact that she’s been under observation since getting on the bus. There is a young man dressed in a suit and tie who’s been watching her for the last 10 minutes.

She is beautiful. And she’s always alone.

Craig had been watching Claire for the last week. She always seem to follow the same routine. She got on this bus at 5 o’clock Monday through Friday. She always preferred the window seat. She never talked to anyone while she was waiting for the bus to arrive. And she never talked to anybody on the bus. The older woman who’d been sitting next Claire got up and left at the next bus stop. Claire showed no signs of noticing.

Will she realize I’ve already been on the bus? How deeply is she really into her own head?

Craig straightened his clothes and stood up. He walked quietly up the aisle of the bus towards Claire.


He had been sitting at the very back of the bus so he could get a good view of her, but she wouldn’t see him. He is right next to her now. He intentionally made a big production out of sitting down and leaned against the back of the bus seat with a thump. “Woe, has this been a hard day. I am exhausted,” he said, as if talking to the bus in general.

Claire was startled. She turned towards him and saw him leaning back against the bus seat. He turned his head briefly towards her and said, “hello I hope you don’t mind if I sit here. It was the first empty seat and I am so tired.” “I’m tired too,” Claire said softly. “If you tell me about your day, I’ll tell you about mine,” Greg said.

He’s cute. I’m not sure I should be talking to a stranger on the boss?

Claire wasn’t sure what to do. Craig noticed her hesitation and immediately said, “Okay I’ll go first. I work in a bank. When I was at teller, I used to think that when I got promoted to manager it would be the greatest day of my life. Little did I realize that my regular hours were over. Now, this is a lucky day, I actually got out at 5 o’clock,” Craig said sighing and looking directly at her.

It’s my turn. He is expecting me to say something.

(1-minute pause) Craig was a little annoyed that she was still not talking to him. But he said, “I guess I should’ve introduced myself. I’m Craig, and you are,” he said holding his hand out towards her. “I’m Claire,” she said blushing and shaking his hand. She took a quick look out the window and realized her stop is coming up. “It was nice to meet you, I’ve got to go,” Claire said. Claire rushed off the bus. She stood at the bus stop and watched it as it drove away. Inside the bus, Craig saw her and waved. Claire waved back and he smiled.

Is it safe to talk with strangers on the bus?

How might you know if someone was safe or not?

To read about strategies for deciding if a stranger is safe or not, go to:


11/11/2019 Part 113 Claire’s Story: Mrs. Carson goes to Lisa’s house

By   A. Hosack,  P. Berman, K. Hecht

You can do this. Know on the door! You been friends for years! Lisa will let you in!!

Mrs. Carson was outside of Lisa’s house. She’d walked down the street with a firm step. But as she got closer she began to remember the look on Lisa’s face when she’d met her at the party and her steps began to slow down. Here she was now standing so close but so far from the front door.


Mrs. Carson was feeling frozen between wanting to go up the walkway and….run away. No, she would not run from one of her oldest friends! She pushed herself to walk to the door, and after a brief pause from a brief anxiety attack, she knocked firmly on the door.

The door opened after a few minutes and there was Lisa looking stonily out at her. “Can I come in?” Mrs. Carson asked in a soft tone. “Why are you here,” Lisa responded angrily. “Lisa please let me in. Our conversation yesterday left me feeling very uncomfortable,” Mrs. Carson continued in a soft tone. “I’m not going to take back a single word. I meant everything that I said,” Lisa almost looked gleeful.

That look on her face. She seems to want me to feel hurt! I can do this, stay calm.

“Lisa,” Mrs. Carson said, “we’ve been friends for years. Aren’t you going to invite me in so we can sit in your living room and talk like we’ve done so many times before?” Lisa was surprised. She had expected to be slamming her front door and Mrs. Carson’s face. But looking at that very familiar face standing out on her porch she just automatically took few steps backward and opened her door wider. Mrs. Carson came in went over to the closet and hung her coat up. Lisa watched her thinking about how odd it was that she just intentionally been extremely rude and yet Mrs. Carson was quietly hanging her coat up.

What should I say firs?. Should I justify what I said yesterday.

Mrs. Carson was sitting in a chair in the very familiar living room. Lisa had sat down on the coach opposite her. She didn’t know what to say. She looked around wildly searching for an idea. She noticed that the picture of Lisa’s son and daughter-in-law had been taken down. There was just a blank spot on the wall where it had been. Something was wrong. “Lisa, I’ve always loved your living room. You’ve always had such a great artistic sense that I’ve often envied. I tried to make things match as beautifully as you do at my house, but it never quite works out,” Mrs. Carson said looking around.

“You didn’t come here to talk about my artistic sense,” Lisa said sarcastically.” (1-minute pause while Mrs. Carson takes a deep breath) No, I didn’t. But you have hurt my feelings by the way you’re talking to me and I was trying to remind myself of all the reasons I have valued you as a friend.”

Suddenly, Lisa felt very ashamed for the way she’d been talking to Mrs. Carson. She should apologize but there was so much anger in her heart she just couldn’t get the words out. The situation wasn’t easy for Mrs. Carson either, but she had kept her temper reined in despite Lisa’s constant provocation.

Having to learn how to deal with Claire’s meltdowns and Davy’s naughtiness had made her a more patient woman than she was when she raised her own children. “Lisa, I don’t know want to talk about first. What you said to me yesterday, or why that beautiful picture of Brian and his wife is no longer on your wall,” Mrs. Carson said softly. Lisa turned to look back at her wall of family pictures. After a moment of stony silence, she looked down at her lap and seemed to sag into the chair.

“We didn’t know about it until recently,” Lisa said bitterly “or we would’ve done something to help. That wife of his had been having an affair for years. When he found out two weeks ago, she wouldn’t even tell him if their four-year-old son was his or not. She packed up her clothes and their son and walked out the door. Our Brian tried to kill himself with his hand gun. A neighbor heard the shot and called the police. Brian has been in intensive care since then.”

What can I say? What could help? Nothing. There is nothing to say.

No words could express what Mrs. Carson was feeling. She came over to Lisa and sat right next to her on the couch and patted her hand, “I am so sorry Lisa. Your Brian is a wonderful man. I know that. I watched him grow up!” Mrs. Carson said earnestly.  Lisa turned her face away and began to cry. “Lisa, you don’t have to turn away from me. I feel like I have a crack in my heart to hear about your family’s suffering.” Lisa turned back to Mrs. Carson and saw her genuine look of pain.

“What am I going to do? They say he will live despite…he put the gun in his mouth and shot himself! How can I help my Brian?”(2-minute silence where Mrs. Carson just hold’s Lisa’s hand. “I don’t know Lisa, but as soon as he leaves intensive care, why don’t we just visit him and treat him with love. That might be a start,” Mrs. Carson suggested.

“I would like that. (1-minute pause) My husband tells me he won’t go. Brian just needs to be a man. What does that even mean,” Lisa  sobbed. “Lisa, you know he’s always had a hard time dealing with strong feelings. I’m sure he’s just as scared about losing Brian as you are. We will go first. When we get back maybe, you just tell him a little bit about what happened. He’ll come around, you know he always does.”

Mrs. Carson wanted to change Lisa’s opinion of foster children. That is why she had come to Lisa’s house. It isn’t easy to change someone’s opinion. Mrs. Carson had taken two steps, recommended by Megan Phelps-Roper. She had assumed there was some understandable reason for what Lisa had said to her. She had stayed calm through Lisa’s anger and had discovered that all the unpleasantness had occurred within a context of tragedy. This context screamed out to be talked through first.

To read steps to read all the steps to talking to someone about something you disagree with go to:


To listen to Ms. Phelps-Roper talk about how she stepped away from a childhood built on hate speech, to an adult commitment to work against it go to:


11/8/2019 Part 112 Claire’s story: Who is taking care of who?

By   K. Hecht, A. Hosack & P. Berman

“It’s so cold out here Mr. Carson we have to walk a little faster or I will be too cold!” Davy said picking up his pace and dragging dog alone with him on a lease. Up a head, he suddenly saw Mr. Dugan coming towards them from the opposite direction. He began to jump up and down, “Mr. Carson, there is Mr. Dugan. He must have taken a walk! Let’s meet him half way. Hurry, hurry!” Davy’s excitement was transmitted to the dog as they began running towards Mr. Dugan; Mr. Carson was lagging further and further behind.


“Hello, hello, hello Mr. Dugan we were just coming to look for you,” Davy said jumping up and down while the dog was running circles around him – the dog leash was becoming tangled up in Davy’s legs.

“Careful Davy,” Mr. Dugan said sternly, “that dog is going to cause you to fall down and get hurt.” “No, no, no it’s a really good dog Mr. Dugan. He is my friend. I fall down all the time and I just get a few bumps and bruises.” Mr. Carson was finally coming up from behind. “Hello, Mr. Dugan. I see you already met our new dog.”

“Didn’t I see your girl put on notice of dog for sale in the newspaper? What’s wrong with the dog that you want to get rid of it?” Mr. Dugan asked. Now the Davy had calmed down, so had the dog. It was looking carefully at Mr. Dugan and now was walking slowly closer to him. Mr. Dugan was very familiar with how to handle dogs. He bent down a little bit closer to the dog and put out his hand. Dog came over and was sniffing away first at Mr. Dugan’s hand and then his right pocket.

“That’s a smart dog, he can tell I have a sandwich in my pocket.” Turning to the dog he said sternly but quietly, “that sandwich is for me, now you go over here where I can see you and stay away from it,” Mr. Dugan said pointing to a spot a little further away from his pocket. The dog seemed to understand and did what he was told.

“There is nothing wrong with the dog. Claire found him walking home from the bus and he was quite neglected, skinny and thirsty. We’ve been taking care of him until he was healthy enough for us to find him a good home.”

“I really want to keep dog”, Davy said looking sad but then, looked at Mr. Dugan and said, “everyone says they can’t take care of me and the dog and so the dog has to go. But we are only giving him to a good home where I know the person understands dogs (1-minute pause).”

“Why are you calling him dog. Doesn’t he deserve a name?” Mr. Dugan asked. “My mom thinks if I name him, I will have even more trouble seeing him go away. (1-minute pause where Davy knees down and hugs the dog to him) I’m going to be sad even though I still call him dog. But I understand, that I can’t keep.”

The dog was licking Davy on the face which was very ticklish. Davy began to laugh. “I see that dog really knows how to cheer you up,” Mr. Dugan said. “Yes, dog loves me,” Davy said scratching dog’s head. “He is a good dog Mr. Dugan,” Mr. Carson said, “we just budgeted it out with the shots and the vet’ s visits and the money just isn’t there for a dog.” “I hate budgets,” Davy said looking up at Mr. Dugan, “but mommy took me to the store to buy food for this week and added it all up on a calculator to show me how there was no money left over for dog food. But we bought the dog food by putting back all the ice cream, and all the meat.”

“I can live without that ice cream- though it makes my tummy sad. Our family needs the meat, (Davy sighs) but I would give it up for dog. But I understand we can’t give up meat. I needed meat to get bigger and Mr. Carson needs it for his blood, (Davy was looking strangely at Mr. Carson) but I can’t quite understand why.”

Mr. Dugan was looking Davy and the dog over. “You’re got a smart boy there Carson, to understand budgets at his age. I’ve had dogs before and you’re right it takes a good bit of money and sometimes it can mean a sacrifice to keep them,” Mr. Carson turned to the dog who was sitting patiently, wagging his tail at Mr. Dugan and said, “I’m pretty amazed how this dog is listening to you Mr. Dugan.” “I have had a lot of experience with dogs. Come on over here dog,” he said. The dog came over and began licking Mr. Dugan’s hand again. “Do you want to come and live with me dog? Of course, I could only have you if Davy here would walk you once a day because I do have bad arthritis,” Mr. Dugan said looking over at Davy. “Can I please Mr. Carson. If I could walk dog once a day it would be like he was still my friend even though he didn’t live at our house.”

“You’ll have to be a good responsible neighbor Davy. If you promise to take him for walks, you need to go over and do it even if it’s raining even if it’s cold,” Mr. Carson said seriously. “I’ll do my best, but if I forget will you remind me Mr. Carson?” “That sounds like a good plan Davy.”

“I think I’ll call you buddy,” Mr. Dugan said to the dog. “It’s a good name for you because you are Davy’s buddy and you’re going to be mine.”

Dog has a home and a name now. Mr. Dugan is lonely, and the dog is going to give him something important to do- caring for a living being that will give him affection and companionship in return.

It isn’t easy to take good care of a dog. Pets may find it isn’t that easy caring for their owner.

Service dogs can play a role in saving the lives of people with diabetes, seizures, and other serious health problems. They have to receive extensive training to meet the needs of their specific owner. To read about them go to:


11/6/2019 Part 111 Claire’s story: Mrs. Carson’s feelings are hurt

By   P. Berman, K. Hecht, & A. Hosack

I don’t know what to do. But I do know I don’t want Claire to hear about this.

Mrs. Carson went in search of her husband as soon as she got home. She wanted to tell him about the problem she experienced, with Lisa and get his advice about what to do. His immediate reaction was to get very angry about what Lisa had said. But, after sitting with her for a while, just being together on the couch in the living room, he said to her, “let’s act on our own advice to Claire. We’re always telling her that when she doesn’t know what to do, she should to do some research and get more ideas. Let’s do this together,” he said giving her hug.

Mr. Carson got out their computer and typed in, “how to respectfully disagree with others.” They found an article written by Marisa Fasciano (March 2, 2015) for the Teaching Tolerance Magazine. As they read through the article, they wondered if bringing Claire and Davy into their home could have triggered some things from Lisa’s history that they didn’t know. The article talked about how strong emotional reactions usually came with context. Working through the controversial topics required both sides to try and understand each other’s background “context”.

Is there something about Lisa’s point of view I don’t understand yet? Is she really worried about me?

“What do you think,” Mr. Carson said after they both finished reading the article. “I don’t know much about Lisa’s background when it really comes down to it. We just helped drive each other’s kids around to different activities. We never really talked about problems- except maybe when the kids were sick.” “Did you notice anything changing between you when Claire first came,” Mr. Carson asked.

“She was helping take care of her brother who had Alzheimer’s. I don’t think things were going well at the nursing home where he was living; his wife couldn’t handle caring for his basic needs once his illness had really progressed.  I guess she began spending more and more time at the nursing home the same time I began to spend more time with Claire and Davy,” Mrs. Carson said.

“It seems like you and Lisa really got out of touch,” Mr. Carson said. “Yes, we did get pulled in opposite directions,” Mrs. Carson said, “she was spending all of her time at the Nursing home and I guess I was spending all my time here (1-minute silence). I guess I need to meet with Lisa and try to listen to what she has to say.  I need to find out if this is more about her being under a lot of stress or if she really believes Claire was born to be bad.” Mr. Carson went red, “We went through some scary times with Larry. I don’t remember how much of that I told her husband Dan.”

“It’s so hard to remember what our life was like before Claire and Davy came into our lives,” Mrs. Carson said, “But, I do remember that before we learned about and from her, I always tried to keep our kids from hanging out with those children who live across time in the trailer court. I don’t think I consciously thought that those kids were bad…. but they weren’t polite when I saw them at school, and they seemed to always be in trouble.” Mr. Carson said dejectedly, “I know I told our kids a few times at the park when they were misbehaving that they needed to stop acting like… trailer trash”

Mrs. Carson patted his hand and said, “Honey, we have both made some big mistakes. We can’t go back and change how we judged those kids without really understanding who they were. Maybe they were doing just fine. Maybe they needed our help, but we didn’t see it. We can’t know.” Mr. Carson smiled at her, “So, are you going to call Lisa now?”

Mrs. Carson looked down at her hands. “I should. I know that but what should I say. I know it’s going to be hard, she sounded so mad and you know….I have always struggled with talking to people who were mad at me. (1-minute pause)  Maybe you could…. practice with me what I should say.”

Mr. Carson started laughing and gasped out, “in some ways it’s funny that Lisa thinks we’ve joined a cult. If we have it should be called the cult of practice, practice, practice skills you need to learn.” Mrs. Carson began laughing too and Claire and Davy came in from a play date at the park in time to hear them both.

Smiling, Davy interrupted the laughter with, “Mr. Carson, I noticed our neighbor sitting on the porch looking really sad,” Davy said. Maybe we should visit with our dog. He’s so cute and goofy it might make Mr. Dugan feel better to play with him.” “I think this is a great idea Davy, keep your coat on and give me a minute to get on mine. We will take the dog for a walk and visit Mr. Dugan.” The dog had been laying on the floor. But somehow, it knew it was being talked about. He jumped up on Davy’s legs and looked at him so pleadingly.

“Mr. Carson, the dog really likes this idea!”


Mr. Carson, Davy, and the dog were getting ready to take a walk over to the neighbors. Claire was going upstairs to wash up; taking Davy to the park always ended up with her getting very dirty from his antics.

Mrs. Carson was sitting at the kitchen table alone with her thoughts and wondering what was going on with Lisa. She was preparing herself for making that phone call – practicing what she might say in her head. This was not going to be easy for her.

Does Lisa need help? Does she hold negative stereotypes about foster kids?

It is hard to change your view of something unless you learn more about it and recognize that you might not have known all the important information you needed to make a fair judgement. To read more about what different forms of abuse are and how children may react to them go to:


11/4/2019 Part 110 Claire’s story: Mrs. Carson is hurt

By   A. Hosack, &   P. Berman, K. Hecht

People noticed my editorial! Sarah read my editorial and she is telling people about it!

Mrs. Carson was at a party for one of her friend’s birthdays. Everything started out so wonderfully. She hugged her friend Sara and wished her a happy birthday. Sara congratulated her on having her editorial published in the newspaper. She announced to everyone that they now had a famous author as a friend. Mrs. Carson started to laugh with pleasure until she noticed that her neighbor Lisa was looking very serious.

Just a year ago, Mrs. Carson might not have given Lisa’s nonverbal signs of distress, a second though; she just wouldn’t have realized they might mean something important. But, she had learned a lot about how to notice when someone was distressed, since Claire first moved into her house with her baby. She had gained so much that day, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of worries, but so much love and such a feeling of having made a difference to somebody.

Mrs. Carson came over to Lisa and reached out to touch her hand whispering, “are you all right?” Lisa withdrew her hand angrily. She had been stunned when she first noticed the editorial Mrs. Carson had written. It was happening again. Everything was about that Claire. Ever since Claire and her baby had moved in, Mrs. Carson was so busy she barely spent a moment with Lisa. It used to be a weekly event that they go to the grocery store together. They usually exchange at least one phone call a day.

That scheming Claire was exploiting her friend – who was blind to the whole thing. Reading the editorial had just pushed her over the edge. It was like the Carsons had joined some kind of a cult; everything was about that Claire, everyone else had become invisible. Lisa’s husband was on the church board, she had heard all about Mr. Carson’s attempts to get them to spend church money on Head Start; one of those social programs that was just a waste of everybody’s tax dollars. Even the church’s money was supposed to go to something to help that Claire.

Somebody needed to do something to straighten the Carsons out. Mrs. Carson was supposed to be her friend. Well, she could just listen to somethings her friend was thinking about her. “I read your editorial and it was just like everything else you have been saying these past few years. What makes you think you can believe anything that girl Claire says to you? She’s got you hypnotized or something. You’re always bringing up great things that she’s done. Let’s face it, she’s bad, she was born bad. You are spending all the money you need for your own retirement on that girl and her kid and before you know it, she’ll be gone leaving you with nothing.”

Lisa can’t really mean this? Can she? Why would she say such terrible things?

Mrs. Carson was stunned into silence by Lisa’s words. She was just standing there staring at Lisa, and then Lisa just snorted and walked away. Mrs. Carson felt very strange. She went into the bathroom where she could wash her face and cold water. She looked at herself in the mirror but saw the same person she thought she’d always been. Lisa was….she didn’t know what. Claire wasn’t bad.

A cult? What could Lisa be thinking?

Mrs. Carson hadn’t realized how long she been in the bathroom alone with her thoughts until somebody knocked on the door. “Just one more minute now and I will be out,” Mrs. Carson said trying to sound happy. She really wanted to go home but she didn’t want to spoil her friend Sara’s birthday.

She had time to work this out. When the party was over, she would work it out with Mr. Carson. As she came back into the living room, she was just in time to hear Lisa telling everyone that she had to go home because she was suddenly feeling very sick.  No one noticed the stunned look on Mrs. Carson’s face.

Lisa is so angry with me she is leaving the party. Is this my fault somehow?

“Are you all right?” Sara said coming over to stand next to her friend. Not wanting to spoil her friend’s birthday, Mrs. Carson just said, “I’m fine, just a little tired. So, tell me all about your plans for this special day?” Sara took Mrs. Carson’s words at face value. She began to tell her, and everyone else, that her children were coming up to visit for dinner and how excited she was to see her grandchildren. She brought out the cake and said, “I refuse to feel guilty, we are going to eat this cake now and then my son is bringing another one for dinner!” Everyone laughed and took a plate while Sarah handed out slices.


I need to stop thinking about Lisa now. Cake, I need to eat this cake and support Sara.

Mrs. Carson wanted to focus her attention on helping Sara have a wonderful birthday party. But her mind just kept coming back to Lisa and her very angry face. Mrs. Carson had raised her children alongside Lisa’s. She had thought they knew each other well. Why was Lisa so against Claire? Had she unintentionally offended Lisa by talking more about Claire and paying less attention to her as a friend?

Why would my letter have made Lisa so angry? Was that just an excuse? Is it really something else?

These last few years with a bigger family had taken up a lot of her time. She had spent less time with her friends than she used to.  Mrs. Carson realized she had changed, not because she had joined a cult, but because she had learned so much from trying to help Claire. She would never have written to the newspaper, even last year. She had slowly come to the idea. She had come to realize how many people like Claire were out there but not getting help. While Mrs. Carson hadn’t expected everyone to share her opinions, it never occurred to her that someone would have found it offensive in some way. She was especially shocked that somehow her letter could’ve offended a friend. What was going on??

Have you ever gotten an unexpected reaction from someone you cared about? It could be because of different opinions on how to raise children. It could be because of differences of opinion about politics?

What might you do?

The Southern Poverty Law Center provides some examples for how to talk through disagreements with others about serious topics. To read about it go to:


11/01/2019 Part 109 Claire’s story: Martin is struggling with a decision

By      A. Hosack  P. Berman & K. Hecht, 

Move Larry move don’t just lie there. This is your own fault. Why couldn’t you do what you were told? 

Martin was back at his post staring at Larry through the window of the intensive care unit. He was lost in thought, this time full of anger. He had warned Larry over and over the last night they were in prison about what was expected once they got to Philadelphia. There was nothing more he could have done to prepare him for life with the gang on the outside. Larry had been the screw up – not him! 

“He’s here he’s here. I told you daddy that he be here come on hurry up.” Amelia was trying to drag her dad as he laughed and did his best to wheel his chair faster. Shocked out of his internal rage, Martin looked down the hall and couldn’t help but start laughing. Ted was wearing some kind of crazy something on his head that looked like it was made from pipe cleaners. 

“Mister, Mister!!! Do you see the hat I made for my daddy last night? I made it myself to keep his head warm.” Amelia twirled over to him and looked up at him with a big smile. Ted arrived and apologized, “I’m so sorry that my daughter was yelling at you from down the hall. She’s gotten a little overexcited today.” 

“It’s my dad’s birthday and we had cake and ice cream would you like a piece?” Amelia said all on one breath. Martin could barely speak for laughing. He looked at Ted and when words could come out said, “She’s not bothering me at all. She looks about the same age as my daughter.” This led Amelia to begin tugging at Martin’s shirt saying, “Is your daughter here! Would she like to play? We have cake!!”  

Blood rushed to Martin’s face. Thinking about his daughter for a moment made him feel deeply ashamed; what would she think if she knew that her dad was involved in attempted murdered? Looking down into her eyes, Martin said softly, “she can‘t play with you today. She’s hours away from here.” Amelia looked down so dejectedly that Martin shared a little more. “I am sure she would want cake, if she was here. Would you like to see her picture?” Amelia began to jump up and down in excitement as Martin removed a photo from his wallet and showed her his daughter 

“What’s her name, what’s her name Her dress is so pretty.” “Now, Amelia, give this gentleman a chance,” Ted said, smiling down at her. “Here name is Destiny,” Martin said with pride. I have three sons and this little ball of fire.” 


“She looks fun daddy; can we go over to their house and play?” Ignoring his daughter, Ted smiled up at Martin and said, “she looks like a wonderful girl.” Martin smiled back but then shame quickly returned and he said as he walked off, “Sorry, I have got to go.” He almost ran down the hall, not giving them a chance to say anything else. 

I almost killed Larry. I almost killed Amelia’s dad. Selling drugs is one thing but… Can Jesus ever forgive me for what I did to Larry?  

His sweet daughter Destiny was in church with her mother right about now. What would she think about her dad if she knew? He was destined for Hell. No praying of his wife’s would stop that. He was lost for sure. 

Martin doesn’t want to be a killer. What would he have wanted if given more guidance? 

Martin was born into poverty with a single mom desperately trying to care for four children on the income she made running a cash register part-time at the local grocery store. As she got further and further behind on the bills, her oldest son, just 10, turned to the local gang for help.  

Might you want to offer a better form of help to poor children faced with tough choices? 

A political advocacy step would be to support bills that are intended to help end poverty. One bill currently under consideration is H.R. 4436: National Poverty Research Center Authorization Act. This act would financially support Poverty Centers run by institutions of higher education. These centers help support programming to end poverty in their communities.  

There is a website below that would help you learn more about this bill. If you support it, you would click on the blue tab at the top that says, “Call or write a letter to your representative.” If you click on this, it will show you who your senators and representatives are. Since this is a house bill, you would click on your representative (s). For mine, I had to fill out a brief demographic form to prove I was a member of his district before a pop-up menu to write a letter appeared. Go to the website below if you would like to consider supporting this bill. The letter I sent is also below, feel free to use it for your own email or phone call if you decide to take action. 


Dear Representative Thompson,  

Please support H.R. 4436. It would provide funding so that many research centers could be established around the country to help end poverty in their communities. Poor children have more difficulties learning in school, are less safe on their streets, and often spend too much time alone as their parents work long hours trying to earn enough money to feed them and keep them housed.  

We have approximately 7 million people in prison in the USA (https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=kfdetail&iid=487) Estimates are that it costs $182 million dollars to do so (https://www.prisonpolicy.org/reports/money.html).  Please consider spending this money on programs that could end the need for crime to support families and drugs and alcohol to dampen the pain and unnecessary suffering caused by living in poverty.   

Imagine what a legacy that would give you as a congressman to be listed in history as helping to build a strong USA through supporting families, rather than supporting incarceration. 

Sincerely yours, 

Pearl Berman, Ph.D. 



10/30/2019 Part 109 Claire’s story: Martin is torn by guilt

By    K. Hecht,  A. Hosack, &   P. Berman 

I had to do it. My family had to come first. 

Martin had turned Larry into the gang without hesitation; he had too, he was likely being watched, everyone watched everyone else in the gang. Standing at the window, seeing all the tubes coming out of Larry, watching him in silence; Martin had literally begun shakingIt had been three days without Martin seeing Larry make a single move, no matter how small. Larry remained unconscious and unnaturally still.  

Could it be all the drugs they are pumping into him? Larry looks like he’s already dead. 

Martin felt guilt was flowing through his body rather than blood. He was sure it would have been less painful to have seen Larry die in that accident. Immediate death didn’t involve the type of suffering Larry might be experiencing while no one around him could notice.  

He looks like a corpse on the outside, but could he feel the pain of all his broken limbs? 

Martin had been sleeping in the car and following the gang’s instructions to check on Larry every day. They didn’t want him waking up. Martin had tried to overhear as much of what the doctors and nurses had been saying about Larry as he could. They were concerned but hadn’t given up hope Larry would wake up; his vitals had been improving – whatever that meantHe had to report back to the gang every night.  

The more time Martin spent alone watching Larry, the more memories of their time together punished him from within.  Prison had been so boring except for the times they had swapped stories. They had shared some many stories – some were probably truer than others. Some of Larry’s sex stories had to be made up; Martin was almost positive about that. They were certainly making up some of the stories they told each other about the guards’ love lives. Hanging out in the laundry room- safe from surveillance for a little while, they had laughed their heads off. Talking to Larry was more fun than talking to other gang members. Their stories were all about seeking revenge, once they got out. 

Martin was so intent on staring through the window, that he didn’t realize he had a little girl standing next to him who was staring up at him. “Mr., what’s wrong with you? Why are you shaking?” 


Martin looked down into the green eyes of a little girl, around the same age as his youngest. She was staring at him with that wide-eyed look, young kids often had. No sound was coming out of his mouth as he just looked carefully at her. Ted rolled up in his wheel chair and took her hand, “Amelia, you know you’re not supposed to talk to strangers.: Martin looked down at him in sudden anger, maybe this guy didn’t want his White kid talking to a Black man. Ted saw the anger in Martin’s eyes, “I meant no offense mister; I’m just trying to teach her to behave in public places.”  

Martin was surprised by this respectful form of address. The guy was in a wheelchair and wearing hospital robes. No threat here at all. “I don’t mind her,” Martin said with a small smile. Ted smiled back and said, “we are here visiting my friend Larry. We were in a car accident together a few days ago; he wasn’t as lucky as me. Martin’s smile was wiped off his face. Here he was standing next to that sweet little girl and he might have caused her dad’s death. “Mister, you are looking strange again are you okay?” Amelia said shaking his hand back and forth. “I’m fine sweetheart. I guess I’m tired and should go take a nap.” “That’s silly mister, only little kids take naps.”  

Martin leaned down to Amelia’s eye level, “You are a very nice girl to be worried about me.” “I am learning how to be kind at school from my mommy,” Amelia said, twirling around in circles. Martin looked up at Ted in surprise. “My wife teaches at the Boys and Girls Club in town. Amelia sits with her while she teaches; she is learning a lot, just from hearing what the older kids are talking about,” Ted said smiling. 

“Kids go to a club to talk about being kind?” Martin said. “It’s a club with lots of after school programs. Our neighborhood has lost most of its jobs. Many of the kids in our neighborhood were getting into a lot of trouble after school because their folks are working in there alone. The club opened last summer. It has been a safe place for kids to come after school; there are sports programs, they can work on their homework and get help, and my wife helps with programs that talk about building relationships that don’t hurt people.”  

I wish my kids could go to a club like that. My oldest is already getting into fights at school. I don’t want him to turn out like me. 

Amelia has been watching Martin closely. She’s had always been a very curious child. She’s was the youngest child in Ted’s family, and she was always on the outside a little, with her brothers preferring to exclude her from their games. This gave her a lot of time to watch people and notice their faces. She had noticed that Martin’s face often looked like he was sad or worried. His face had gone white again. She walked over to him and hugged him around the knees, “it’s going to be okay Mr. this is a good hospital.” 

Martin looked down at her and smiled. She’d shown more concern for his welfare in the last few minutes than others had shown in the last year. He spent so much time doing gang work that his kids often treated him more like some stranger who came in and out of the apartment for visits than like someone to pay attention to.  

I want my sweet Destiny to be kind like Amelia. Why isn’t there a club like hers in our neighborhood? 

Ted was getting uneasy that Amelia was getting into a stranger’s business. He called over to her and said, “Amelia it is time for us to go back to my room, your mom went down to the cafeteria to bring up lunch for us.” She smiled up at her dad, “I’m hungry daddy.” “I know you are sweetheart,” Ted said smiling 

“I hope whoever you are visiting recovers soon,” Ted said as he wheeled his chair with one hand and held Amelia’s with the other.  As they disappeared down the corridor, Martin’s thoughts were filled with self-hate. Ted was in a wheelchair because of him. Larry might die and if he didn’t… The gang would expect them to do something about it – and it wouldn’t be a kind something. 

Martin has caused serious harm to Ted and Larry. Was he born to be bad? 

Martin grew up with all the men in his family, spending most of their time in prison. He barely knew his dad who had been sent away for life. His older brothers were in the gang long before he started kindergarten. To others they might have been drug dealers, but to his family they provided the money to pay the rent, get food, and get clothing. When his two older brothers were both sent away in prison, Martin was faced with the choice of following them into the gang or letting his mom and younger brothers become homeless. 

Growing up in poverty, had limited Martin’s ideas of what choices were available in life. While he had never wanted to end up in prison like his brothers, dad and uncles, wherever he looked he saw brick walls. Some poor children have been luckier than Martin because the door of a Boys and Girls Club of America was wide open for them. These clubs provide many different services to kids, all designed to provide them with a safe place to be, safe mentors to work with, and the ability to succeed in life. 

There aren’t enough of these clubs for all the poor children who could benefit from them. Consider being a personal advocacy and donating money or time to the Boys and Girls Clubs of America at: https://www.bgca.org