Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Risk your child's safety, for the sake of their sanity - Part 3 Let's talk about sex (offender registry)

People who commit sexual offences against children are probably the most hated people around.  And they should be.  To take the trust of a child and abuse that trust in such a way to create emotional damage from which a child will likely never recover takes a certain kind of evil.  To look at a child's innocence and want to gain power over them in a perverse way is such a serious crime the the public needs to be informed when a person has in the past been convicted of such a crime. The sex offender's registry is a good tool for a parent to use to keep their children safe, right?

Not necessarily.  If the registry were designed to include only those who are a threat to children it would be a good tool.  However, the way it is designed now, a child of 14 can end up on the registration for life for having sex with his 13 year old girlfriend.  The 14 year will be labelled as the most dangerous of sex offenders due to the nature of their "crime".  Please read the following links.  They explain the failings of the sex offender's registry better than I can.

Classically liberal writes about children labelled as offenders and in another post clarifies and backs up her statements.
Read about Ricky who was labelled a sex offender at age 16 for having sex with a girl who told him she was 16.  He will be on the registry for life.
Read about AJ and List Dameree who were at risk of being put on the sex offender's registry for taking bath time pictures of their three daughters.
And then read about the residency restrictions these "offenders" will have  - even the "offenders" who are not convicted may end up on the list.

Add to the above the fact that the registry only includes those who have been caught and most abusers will have hurt a dozen children before they are caught, and we have to ask ourselves just how effective such a registry really is.

Proponents say it's worth it if one child is saved from abuse. I say if we are willing to let innocent people suffer for crimes they did not commit then we don't deserve to call ourselves a free society.

Negligent  mother example #3

The risk: Not knowing if someone convicted of a sex offence involing children lives near me or has contact with my kids.

I have never looked at a sex offender registration and so I have no clue if the man down the street that my kids talk to from time to time is a convicted sex offender.  I have never taught my kids to stay out of strangers houses if they are invited in for a cookie.

The precautions: Instilling a healthy respect for their bodies and talking to them about what to do if they feel uncomfortable in any situation.

I know that my children are most likely to be abused by someone they know and so have taken the route of telling them to put up a fight and run away from anyone who is doing anything to them that they feel uncomfortable with.  I have not put a fear of strangers into them, nor have I instilled a fear that everyone is out there to get them.  I have taught them to respect their bodies and that no one has a right to touch them anywhere if they don't want them to.  They identify their genitals and man's genitals using proper terms.  Cute names like "pee pee" and "tinkle box" give children a view of their body the is unrealistic cute. We have an open attitude about sexuality in this house.  If I make it taboo, then how likely are my kids going to come to me to tell me if anything does happen?

The reaction from other parents: None because I don't talk about it with them

I will admit to keeping silent on my beliefs that the sex offender's registry is more harmful right now than it is helpful.  Many parents are supportive of the sex offender's registry and it's not an argument I want to have while sitting chatting over a cup of coffee.

Why it's worth the risk:  Fearful kids will grow up to be fearful adults

I have no stats to back me up on any of this, but Helene Guldberg, Ph.D. in psychology and the author of Reclaiming Childhood: freedom and play in an age of fear, has written an article on the consequences of teaching children to fear all strangers.  Here are a few excerpts from that article:
Inculcating children with a fear of all strangers is counterproductive. The message this imparts to parents and children is to be suspicious of any adult who wants to work with children.
The sad consequence of all this regulation is that, one way or another, children will pick up signals about stranger danger, the problem of photography, the implications of vetting - and the only message it is possible to draw from this is that it should not be taken for granted that you can trust adults.

Another side effect of today's culture of fear - and in particular of the paedophile panic - is that adults no longer feel confident to step in to help children in trouble.
 Want to take a risk?:   Don't look at the sex offender's registry

There is nothing I can say or do that will convince someone to let go of their fear of paedophiles.  All I can do is to say that there is a certain freedom in trusting people.  Not only for my kids, but for me too.  I am free not to worry about the dangers lurking behind the closed doors of a neighbours house.  As Helene Guldberg says at the end of her article:
If we can harness a more positive outlook about our fellow human beings and challenge institutionalized suspicion and state-authorized scaremongering, then we really might free up our children's lives and allow them both to enjoy themselves and to learn through living.

Part 4 Turning parents into criminals - coming sometime this century

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Story of the Beginning of Kevin’s Special Brain Powers – Part 2

When last we left our heroes, one was inside the hospital on a stretcher and the other was having a total melt down in the parking lot.  Will Kevin be leaving the hospital today?  Will Sara pull it together and actually go in the hospital?  Let’s find out in The Story of the Beginning of Kevin’s Special Brain Powers – Part 2.

I asked my mom if she would come inside the hospital with me, just so I didn’t have to come back out and let them know that Kevin was indeed there and was not moved to another hospital or anything.  So, Paul stood by the van to keep an eye on the kids and mom and I went in.  The place was absolutely empty.  I got to the desk and the administration nurse asked me if I was here for the man brought in by ambulance.  I said yes I was and asked if he was there.  After she said that he was there, mom left to get the kids back to her house and I was taken back to where he was.  He had been there for about 30 or 40 minutes at that time.  They didn’t have the sirens going on the ambulance because there was no traffic at that time of night, but they did have the lights going so they got there fast.

I went back to sit with Kevin.  He looked OK and was no longer confused.  He knew he had a seizure and knew that the hospital was the place he needed to be so they could get to the bottom of it all.  The nurses there were absolutely incredible and kind.  We were asked all of the same questions that the paramedics asked – job, how many kids, any history of seizures, what were you doing when it happened etc.- and then came the questions that Kevin and I were to get very familiar with over the next few days.  “Do you know what day it is” (he got that one wrong but the nurse gave him a pass anyway as it was the wee hours of Friday morning and he said it was Thrusday), “What city are you in” “Do you know where you are” and the nurse left us alone for a while.  I can’t really remember what we talked about in that time, but I do remember we were laughing and joking around with each other. It is just our nature to make light and laugh when we want to cry.  The nurse assigned to Kevin came in after about 25 mintues and had some funny conversation with us for a bit… but she came with an IV for Kevin.  So with her pleasure came some pain.

Now, Kevin had never had an IV before.  Never.  He had to have one so they would be able to get some drugs in him if he started seizing again. Kevin did not like the IV experience.  Not. At. All.  They put it in his arm, not in his hand, and got it in on the first try, but it was not a pleasant experience for him.  The nurse told us that Kevin would be getting a CT soon and asked us if we needed any thing or had any questions.  I asked her how they would keep Kevin from having a seizure if he started to have one again.  She told me they would put anti-seizure medication in his IV and it just kind of shuts down the brain.  I remember us having a conversation with the nurse about seizure medications and seizures in general, but I can’t for the life of me remember what was said.  After we were done our conversation, she left us alone to do some nurse-y type stuff.

Kevin kept on pointing to his IV and saying “OW!” These were my exact words to him “Priorities, there Kev. You just had a seizure.  Let’s not focus on the IV. Mmm’kay?”  To which he would reply “Ow!” and point to the IV. (Kevin, if you’re reading this, you know I love ya! Mwah! But, um you’re a bit of a wimp.  Yeah… I think you know that, right?  You’ve had many IVs since then and it’s still always the same.)

Someone came and to get Kevin to bring him to CT after a bit.  I followed along and sat outside the waiting room while Kevin got his CT.  I was tired.  I was in bed at 1:00 and up at 4:00 with all of this. Sitting in the waiting room at CT was the first time I relaxed.  I was just leafing through a magazine and trying to keep awake.  The CT didn’t take long, however, so I didn’t get a chance to relax for long.  The orderly walked really, really fast.  She was such a nice lady and talked to us the whole way back to emerg, but she was one fast walker!  And I remember being freezing.  They kept piling Kevin up with blankets from the warmer but I was so, so cold.  And then when we were whizzing down the halls, I just started shivering.  Why are hospitals so cold?

We got back to emerg, and Kevin and I stated talking again. We were thinkging that the CT was going to come back normal and Kevin would be able to go home and would have to see a specialist or something.  We were our usual joking selves but by that time, the laughter was really hard to stop.  We were both so tired, physically and emotionally and we could not stop laughing.  We were right across from the nurses’ station and the two nurses were laughing at us.  We knew that, but didn’t care.  It was all in good fun.  Then, the resident in the emergency department came in to talk to us about the results of the CT.  She told us that there was a mass found in Kevin’s brain but could not say what it was.  We were told that University Hospital has a neurology unit and Kevin would be transfered there as soon as possible. She said that the mass could be anything from a virus to a tumour and they would be able to tell us more there.

We stopped laughing.  The nurse came over to check on us and we were both crying.  She brought us a box of tissue and I can remember her exact words she said to us and the compassion on her face.  “Not the news you wanted to hear.” A bit of an understatement, but I was so grateful for her for saying anything at all.  It made it all OK that we were falling apart.  She didn’t expect us to be cheerful through that news, and that was what I was really grateful for.

Kevin kept on saying “What if it’s cancer?” and I kept on telling him “Let’s wait to find out.”  Then he said “It’s coffee and muffin day today” very quietly.  At the company he worked for at that time, they buy a bunch of muffins and brew a huge pot of coffee when a new person starts working there.  They put all of this in the new guy’s office and people come in to get a muffin and cup of coffee and greet the new guy.  That day was to be Kevin’s coffee and muffin day.  He had bought a plastic table cloth and put an extra table in his office the day before in preparation.  The funniest things are important to you when your world is turned upside down.

The nurse came back in and told us Kevin would be transfered in about 20 minutes.  I asked her if I could use a phone to call my mom so she wouldn’t try calling there for an update or to get a hold of me. I got to the patient phone and dialled my mom’s number and got her machine. It was after 6:00 at this point and I figured that they were sleeping.  I was surprised that mom didn’t answer the phone to get an update but figured that she was just that tired (I sure was). So, I left a really tearful, incoherent message telling her that they found a mass in Kevin’s brain and he was being transfered to University and I would update her when I knew more.  I hung up and went back to Kevin’s bed.

When I got back to his bed, the nurses were arranging with some paramedics to get Kevin over to University hospital.  Because he had an IV, a nurse had to go with them.  While they were discussing all of this, Kevin said to me very quietly “It’s starting again”.  I ran over to the nurse and told her Kevin said he was starting to have another seizure.  If you want to see nurses move fast, telling them someone is having a seizure is the way to do it!  They grabbed the syringe, injected his IV and asked him what he felt now.  He said that he was still having his pre-seizure aura (a word the nurse taught us earlier) and so they put more in.  When he still felt it, they put in a really big dose. The nurse told me he would not be able to stay conscious with that much in him, but they could not risk him having a seizure during transfer.  His eyes started to get heavy, but he was fighting it.  I said to him “Don’t fight it, Kev. Just go to sleep.  It’s OK.”  He still continued to fight it and told me he didn’t want to sleep and leave me alone.  I told him not to worry about me, just stop fighting it and he would see me when he woke up.  He drifted off to sleep at that point and the nurse told me that they would be moving him really soon.  I asked her how I was to get to the hospital and she gave me a taxi voucher and told me there was a direct line phone to the cab company by the doors to emerg.  They pushed Kevin’s stretcher through some doors I was not allowed to go through and I went to the phones and called my cab.

I stood outside the doors waiting for the taxi to come pick me up.  The sun was up, the sky was beautifully blue with not a cloud and there was a wonderful breeze blowing.  People were driving past the hospital on their way to work.  I couldn’t believe just how normal the day was.  All of this normal activity was going on, all of these people were doing normal things and here I was, wondering if my husband was dying.  It was a very surreal experience.

While I was waiting for my cab, I saw the nurse and paramedics put Kevin’s stretcher in the back of an ambulance and drive off.  That was hard.  Once the ambulance was out of the parking lot, the lights and sirens were turned on and Kevin was on his way to University Hospital while I was left standing there waiting for my cab.

The cab came to pick me up and off we went, across the city to University Hospital.  Being that it was rush hour, the ride took a lot longer than I would have liked.  I wanted to scream at all of the people in the morning traffic. Didn’t they know that my life was changing! How could they act so normal!  I probably should have used the time to sleep.  I was dropped off at the emergency room entrance and made my way to the administration desk.  The nurse got an orderly to take me to Kevin and he was still unconscious. It was shortly after 7:00 by this time and he would remain mainly unconscious through blood being taken on two occasions and numerous pupil tests until 12:00.  (And here is a measure of my love for Kevin.  He had a huge zit on the bridge of his nose that was begging to be squeezed but I didn’t touch it.  Even though he wouldn’t have woken up.)

I decided to call my mom again to tell her that we got to University Hospital OK and that I don’t know any more than when I called before.  She answered the phone on the first ring and told me she had been waiting for me to call. I told her that they found something in Kevin’s brain and she just said “What!”  I filled her in on all I knew and  I told her I called earlier and left a message and she said she didn’t hear the phone ring and there was no message.  So, it was a bit of a mystery.  We thought maybe the phone just went screwy or something. I saw someone going into Kevin’s bed area in emerg and told my mom I had to go.  We hung up and I went to talk to the neuro resident for the first time.

Kevin was still sleeping and she wanted to do some tests but said it could wait until he woke up.  She told me that they gave him four times the regualar dose of medication and so he’ll be out of it for a while longer.  She asked me a lot of questions about what exactly happened when he had his seizure.  Was it his whole body? What part was affected first? How long before he lost consciousness? How long did the whole thing last? What is the family history? And on and on and on.  Boy was she thorough!  She did some reflex tests, had blood drawn then looked at Kevin’s pupils.  After all of the questions and poking and prodding, she told me that she looked at the results of the CT scans.  She said it looks like a cerebral arteriovenous malformation or something else I don’t remember but it is not a cancerous growth as far as they can tell.  She said to know for sure the will do and MRI but she was 98% positive that it was not a tumour.

I waited until 9:00 to call Kevin’s parents.  I told them Kevin had three seizures in a twelve hour period and was in University Hospital and they found something in his brain.  I told them that they were pretty sure it was not a tumour.  I told them to call whoever they thought would need to or like to know and I would continue to update them as I knew more.  Then I asked him (I was talking to Kevin’s dad) to not come to the hospital.  That may seem insensitive to some, after all, it was his son who we were talking about.  But, there was only one person who was allowed back in the emergency area and everyone else had to wait in the waiting room.  I didn’t want to worry about having to “entertain” someone in the waiting room and as it was, I could see Kevin from where I was calling.  If I had to go to the waiting room to update someone, I would have to leave Kevin and I didn’t want to do that.  I got off the phone with Kevin’s dad and called my mom and told her we knew that it was most likely not cancer and that’s all we knew for sure right now.  I then asked her to call Kevin’s work and let them know what was going on.  I felt badly about askng her to to that, but I didn’t have the number and Kevin was sill sleeping .  Plus it was long distance so I didn’t want to make that call from the hospital.  I then called my work and told them I wouldn’t be in that night and that I would be in to talk to HR on Monday about when I would be back.  I had started that job in mid-July and I was worried about being fired for missing a lot of days before my three month probation was up.

After all of the phone calls were done, I went and sat with Kevin.  And I sat.  And I sat.  And I sat.  Then I walked a bit.  Then I sat some more.  The nurses in emerg came over to me and told me to go get something to eat.  They were filled in on what went on and knew that I had been at this since 4:00am.  It was about 9:00 at that point.  So they pointed me in the direction of Tim Horton’s and I bought myself something to eat and a hot chocolate and brought it back to Kevin’s bed.  Then I ate and sat and sat and sat.

At 10:00, the neuro resident came back to examine Kevin.  Seeing that he was still asleep, she told me that she was had to wake him to do some tests.  She drew more blood before waking him up and then woke him up.  It took a very long time to wake him up.  She did reflex tests, picked him lightly with a pin and asked if he could feel it, asked him to push on her hands etc. etc. etc.  He stayed awake for all of that and after she left promptly fell back to sleep.

Part three in which Kevin finally wakes up – coming soon

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Adventures of Lilly and Madeleine - at the ripe old age of seven and nine*

While looking up stats and information for my Risk Your Child's Safety For the Sake of Their Sanity series** , I came across Lenore Skenazy's Free-Range Kids blog.  One read and I was hooked and now make it a daily visit.  Today, Lenore posted a story about a mom, Lynn, who let her seven year old go get the mail for the first time.  The mailbox is down the street and around the corner, putting her child out of her sight for a number of minutes.  I highly recommend you visit Lenore's blog to read about it.  Lynn's take on her situation is such a cute read!

It made me decide to tell the story of Lilly and Madeleine's first trip to the Dollar Rama by themselves.  Now, we are a walking family.  I deliberately live in a neighbourhood that has everything I would possibly need within a half hour walk. So, me and my kids walk everywhere.  Let me preface this by saying I would never suggest allowing anything like what I allowed for a child who is not familiar with his or her surroundings, but I would suggest people familiarize their kids with their surroundings so they can do something like this. I'm afraid that this needs a map to fully understand what exactly went down.  I needed a map to fully understand it when they were explaining it to me!  So, here's the map (let's call the street running vertically Main St. and let's call the street running horizontally First Ave):


Lilly and Madeleine wanted to go to the dollar store themselves, sans growups.  It is marked on the map with the $$$.  The green dots represent streetlights and the red circle is a really busy intersection that I didn't want them to cross alone, with or without lights. In order to avoid the busy intersection (because people there can be really aggressive drivers), I had to give them directions different than the ones we normally take.  They had been to Shopper's Drug Mart to pick up milk for me before, but never had I let them cross the busy street alone before this experience.

The directions I gave them were to take the path that leads to the back of the Shopper's Drug Mart and then to cross the parking lot and end up at the T intersection with the lights, which is another parking lot entrance and First Ave.  I wanted them to cross the street at those lights, walk to the corner of First and Main, turn left then walk down to the plaza with the $$$.  I thought it would be easy for them to follow as we had been to the $$$ numerous times (cheap snack crackers FTW!) by a more direct route but have crossed the street at that T-intersection many times for other reasons.

They ended up getting to First Ave with no problem but they didn't really cross it.  Through some sort of weird directional mix up, they ended up walking toward the fire station!  They got to the fire station and said "Hmmm, this isn't right!" and turned around.  They ended up at the corner of First and Main - the intersection I didn't want them crossing - and crossed the street... the wrong way.  They ended up walking toward Archie's.  Once they reached Archie's, they said "Well, this isn't right!" and turned around and went back to the corner of First and Main again and ended up crossing it again.  They were now headed toward the library.  They reached the library (where we go once a week) and said "this isn't right either!".  But they know that $$$ was right across the street and we have walked to $$$ after the library a few times.  So, they continued heading in the same direction down Main, go to the other set of lights, cross the street, end up on the right side of the street (finally!) and headed to $$$, which is how we go when we get there after our library trips. 

Being completely confused as to how they got there, they decided to just go down Main St, crossing the insane intersection yet again, continuing down Main until they reach the street leading to our subdivision.  From there, they made it home.  Crazy kids!

So, what did I do during this whole ordeal?  I did start wondering after they were gone for an hour and a half.  My mom was over and so she walked to route to $$$ that I gave the girls and called me on her cell when she didn't see them on her way or at the store.  I started feeling a little anxious at that time.  I was picturing them walking around some subdivision off of Main St., trying to find their way home.  I went outside and took a peek down my street in both directions, only to see Lilly and Madeleine round the corner.  I gave my mom a call and told her all was well.

When they came home, I couldn't help but laugh at their misadventure.  They were so scared that I wasn't going to allow them to go on their own again because they crossed at the intersection I wanted them to avoid.  Had they deliberately disobeyed that request, I would have been angry and would have banned them from solo trips to the store for a while.  But, there was nothing malicious in their intent - they were just lost and confused. 

I was so proud of them for keeping a cool head and being aware of their surroundings.  I toyed with the idea of giving them my cell to call me if they got lost but it wasn't charged so it stayed home with me (my cell is never charged, which I suppose defeats the purpose of having a cell).  In the end, I'm glad I didn't.  They learnt something that day, a lesson I could never teach them.  And they gained a giant leap toward independance.

Prologue:  They have since made the trip to Dollar Rama two more times.  Madeleine now wants to go it alone without Lilly, and when the opportunity presents itself, I think I'll let her.


*Well, Lilly is nine and Madeleine is seven, but the title wouldn't have rhymed that way.

**Part three is coming soon, really it is. Kevin's seizures and those pesky demanding kids are keeping me from writing it up.  I mean, they like, want food and stuff.  And they're so dirty so I have to, like, clean their clothes and sheets.  I know.  It's so unreasonable!

Friday, September 25, 2009

"Meet the teacher" night is so overrated.

I don't know how constructive this will be or if it will be more of a rant. Let me start by saying that I was in the ER with Kevin (again) the night before and was just exhausted. The kids were all hyper, I had to go to "Meet the Teacher" night with all four of them as the solo parent. The school is always overcrowded and I was just not in the right frame of mind to deal with all of that. So, perhaps I'm just being a crank.

Let me get the main point out of the way, and then go on with my pity party.  I really don't like meet the teacher night.  It's supposedly for parents to see the class and just spend two or so minutes with the teacher and then leave.  But that's not how it goes.  You get a room full of lingering parents who think that their child is just the best child to ever grace the face of the planet, and don't you think so teacher?  And oooooooh look!  Isn't that the most beautiful picture you have ever seen?  Can you believe that their child did such a good drawing?  I know!  It's just unbelievable how talented their precious little dew drop is!

Maybe it's just a problem at the school my kids attend that a lot of parents talk loud enough to be overheard so you can pay attention to how wonderful their child is.  It's been my experience since Lilly's been in Kindergarten, though, and I hate it.  My approach is "Hi, how are you, I'm Sara, Lilly/Madeline/Victoria's mom.  How's the year going so far.  Any issues?  No, good.  Well, I'll see you later!" And then I say "OK, Lilly/Madeleine/Victoria, show me what you want me to see".  I get a kid guided tour where I oooh and aaahh privately over what they show me and then we go home.  It just sucks the energy out of me to listen to all of the praises a lot of the parents heap on to their kids.  But, let's face it, the yellow, red and orange finger paintings all of Madeleine's class did all looked pretty much the same.  Really, I do care about your kids artistic ability, but only in the same way that you care about my kid's artistic ability.  So, just keep it to yourself, mmmkay?  (Yes, I am a bitch.)

Any other mommies with school aged kids out there experience this?  Am I being a big crank?  Let me have it, I can take it!

So, on with the pity party.  We set out last night at 6:30. Living right behind the school, it took us less than a minute to get there, but by the time we got there I was ready to inflict great amounts of harm on the kids. I told Lilly and Madeleine I would meet them in their classrooms and they took off.  But Victoria and Rosemary took off with them.  No, that was not the plan!  So I yelled for them to come back and told them that they will stay with me or I would chose a family at random and they would go home with that family.  (OK, no I didn't tell them that, but I was tempted. They were bouncing off the walls since about 4:30 that day and I was at the end of my rope already.)

We get to Victoria's class and... no teacher.  OK then.  We wait around a bit and... no teacher.  I decided to go out front to buy them the one cookie each I said they could have and there is Victoria's teacher at the bake stand selling goodies.  OK, then, let's go see Madeleine's teacher.

We get to Madeleine's class and I say hello to Mme. Grouette and took the time to tell her about Kevin's condition.  It's usually something I tell the teacher's during the first week of school, but I forgot this year.  So, we said hi and I told her that from time to time there will be a note saying there was an emergency and it's always having to do with Kevin's brain, but I that I like to keep the teacher's informed of things like surgery etc. when life is a little more hectic for us.

Then on to Lilly's class.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  But for both of those visits, all four of my kids were out of control.  So, we get outside of Lilly's portable and I send the kids away to play for a bit, hoping it would burn off some energy.  I chatted with some parents I knew for about 10 minutes and then gathered Victoria and Rosemary to go to Victoria's class.  I told Lilly and Madeleine to stay out of the classrooms and just go home when their friends did.

We get to Victoria's class and there's still no teacher.  So I have Victoria show me stuff around her class, show me some stuff she did, grab her shoes that she's supposed to bring home every day and then we head on home causing Victoria and Rosemary to dissolve into a fit of tears because they want to play with Lilly and Madeleine.  But, it's 7:15 by this point and they have to get to bed.  So, I go home and tuck them in to bed and go to collect Lilly and Madeleine so they can have a shower before bed.

I send those two home and go for a walk to hopefully ease my frame of mind.  I walk around the park for about 20 minutes, and head on home.  On the way home, I see a plastic fireman's hat that I pick up to give to the school, thinking they could use it.  When I get back to the school, I see them tearing down the baked goods stand and ask if they want some help.  And in turn for that I get attitude.  Big attitude.  This is from the teacher whose class Victoria was supposed to be in but ended up needing to be switched.  Thank. God.  She is a royal bitch.  I was met with resistance from everything I talked to her about the one day Victoria was in her class.  A friend of mine had an awful experience with her.  And then she bitched at me when I asked if she wanted my help?  So, I just held my hands up and said "fine" and walked away.  (She was pissy that there were a bunch of unlabelled containers that people didn't pick up and when I asked if she wanted help she said in a snotty tone "Well, unless all of these are yours, there's nothing you can do."  So I jokingly said "You know, I live right over there (pointing to my yard) and I can easily take them off your hands!"  M. Baugley laughed, she glowered.  "What, are you going to go get a container?  I don't have time for this."  So, that is when I walked away.)

I went to see the principal to ask her a couple of questions and to give her the hat I found, which she said could be put to good use in one of the Kindergarten classes.  And then she complimented me on my jacket (for all of you visiting from The Parent Path, yeah, that jacket. The upholstery one.  See, Joann and I are not the only ones who think it rocks!)  I then left and went home.

So, along with my usual "Meet the Teacher" issues, I had the extra bonus of super hyper kids, being overly tired from the ER visit the night before, having to solo the visit and a snotty teacher.  I am going to add another level to my own personal hells.  There is buffet hell, and now there is "Meet the Teacher" hell.  But, on a plus side, I really like all of the kids' teachers!

Zombies and cats together. How perfect is my day?

I love kitties and have a strange obsessions with zombies.  So, imagine my delight when icanhascheezeburger has this today.

funny pictures of cats with captions
see more Lolcats and funny pictures

How cool is that?

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

He's such a fun guy

Hi!  I like your garden!  Do you mind if I just hang out here for a bit?  I won't be much trouble, I promise!

Sure, that's what he tells you, but then you're woken up at 3:00am when all of his friends are drunk and refuse to leave. Don't fall for it people!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


It's articles like this that make me want to give up on society.  Yep folks, we had a good run at it but I'm sorry to break the news to you, we failed.

Health and safety ban coffee morning pensioners at public library - because they could spill hot drinks on children

A group of pensioners have been banned from holding a coffee morning at a public library for health and safety reasons - in case they spill hot drinks on children.

The seven members of the Over 50s coffee morning have been meeting every Tuesday for the past four years without incident at the Eye Library in Eye, near Peterborough, Cambridgeshire.

But council officials have now axed the meetings claiming that toddlers from a nearby nursery who use the library at the same time could be injured if hot coffee spilt on them.
Yes, it's true.  The children could have hot beverages spilt on them.  So, instead of having the toddlers in one area and the Over 50s coffee meeting at a table in another area, we'll just ban the coffee.  After all, one of those little cherubs could get away from the group and could run over to the table and could bump into the table and could have a hot beverage spilt on them.  And then we'll take all of the books off the shelves because one of the little tykes could climb the shelves and could pull a bunch of books down on top of another munchkin.  And then we'll be sure to remove all doors from the facility because one of those sweeties could get their fingers caught.

I'm going to take heart in the fact that this happened in the UK and pretend like Canada is immune to this kind of thing.  I'm going to go steep me a pot of tea, sit back and read in the family room with blatant disregard to my kids' health and safety as they roughhouse right next to the table with my cupa tea.

Monday, September 21, 2009

For my friend Angel who shares a love of all things fuzzy and purring with me

This is my cat Bobby.  He's 30+ pounds.  Isn't he sexy?

This is how that sexy beast eats.  We should all be so lucky!

And so my other kitty doesn't lie on my face and suffocate me in a fit of rage tonight, I must include a picture of him.  This is Scully.  He likes to walk around with trolls in his mouth and yowl.  I have yet to get a picture of him with one in his mouth, but here he is looking all evil troll killer, right after letting one go.

And, here is dearly departed Mulder.  Yes, I had two cats names Mulder and Scully.  Mulder, sadly, suffered acute kidney failure in May of 2007 and had to be put to sleep.  *sniff*  I miss him. He was the softest, cuddliest cat ever. He he is on his last day of life (because the rest of my pictures are on the external hard drive in a box somewhere) laying beside his water dish, being all sick and dying. :(

A slight name change for this blog

I made a slight change to the name of my blog.  Well, OK, it's not slight at all, it's a completely different title.

When I first made this blog, I was not in a creative mood at all.  I wanted a space to write some thoughts and articles on parenting, my life, depression, narcolepsy, God and anything else that effects my day to day life.  While the old title "Living my life... one catastrophe at a time" is certainly apropos to my life*, I didn't ever really like it.  I was just not in a creative frame of mind and even considered call this blog "Not Very Creative", but I just stuck with the original title.  I had thought of "Out of the frying pan and into the fire", but turned that one down too.

One of my all time favourite books is Watership Down by Richard Adams.  It is a story of optimism, triumph, nature and the natural order of things and what happens when an outside force interferes with it.  When I am in a funk, I like to read bits and pieces of it.  I read it in its entirety at least once a year.  Hazel's optimism and determination is contagious.  Add that to his all-too-human ability to make a large error in judgment and his none-too-human ability to learn from those lapses.  Then add Bigwig's simplistic nature and his willingness to do what it takes to keep the warren from extinction.  Throw into the mix each rabbit's ability to recognize their own weaknesses and strengths and their reliance on each other without the jealousy that certainly occurs too often in our human culture and I feel very uplifted when I read this story.

I got the new title from Watership Down:
Human beings say, ‘It never rains but it pours.’ This is not very apt, for it frequently does rain without pouring. The rabbit’s proverb is better expressed. They say, ‘One cloud feels lonely’: and indeed it is true that the appearance of a single cloud often means that the sky will soon be overcast.
 The clouds in my life are always in good company.  The blue skies between are the times when we are waiting for the next storm, but aren't the blue skies just beautiful?

* I feel like I should explain why I feel this way about my life.

My life has been a difficult one, but a happy one.  I have been hit with life experiences that most people have not.  Some have been my doing and some are completely random.  It has been the case that when one situation ends, another is just around the corner.  When things are going well for me, something is sure to go wrong.  Always.  I don't mean this in a negative way, but I am just stating a fact.  I can roll with these punches and adapt to almost anything thrown at me.

I have yet to reach my breaking point and my faith in God has not wavered through anything.  I have not "turned it over to God" as those who live lives that are uncomplicated suggest we do.  I am forever grateful for what I do have and am forever thankful that I have persevered through everything.  I thank God for that, but in no way to I believe that God has "pulled me through" situations.  And in the same way, in no way do I believe that God is responsible for giving me a life that has been filled with more downs than ups. I don't believe God micromanages His creation that way.  I believe that miracles do happen, and I give God 100% credit for those!  But if I give Him credit for making all of the good stuff happen, does that not also imply that He is responsible for all of the bad stuff as well?

What God does in my life is comforts me.  When I ask for comfort, I am given it.  When I ask for peace of mind, God gives it to me.  When I ask God to let me know that everything will be fine, I can almost feel His presence physically.  I don't ever ask God to let me know what I should do, because then I will be left unfulfilled.I believe that my happiness is a choice.  I could easily despair.  When I feel myself going down that path, that is when I need the comfort and peace of mind. God is not here to micromanage our lives and will not tell us what to do and will not make us happy.  But when we "turn to Him" (as my evangelical brothers and sisters like to call it), He is there to help us.  And so, I can't give God all the credit for my life, but neither can I give him the blame. 

Many don't agree with me, and that's fine.  We can't all live in a world where each person thinks the same way.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The story of the beginning of Kevin's special brain powers - Part 1

Two years ago at the beginning of September, my family's lives changed forever.

I was working nights at Sparton Electronics (yes, I spelled Sparton right) and called Kevin at my supper break at 9:00 as I normally did. He told me he had fallen asleep and had a strange dream that he was lying on the floor and not able to get up. In his dream, he tried to yell for Lilly to call my mom but couldn't get the words out. He told me that before his dream, he had a weird feeling in his arm and leg. He told me he didn't know he even fell asleep and the next thing he knew he was in the bathroom. I told him to just get some rest if he wasn't feeling well and I would call at my next break at 11:30. I told him if he was sleeping to not bother getting up to get the phone.

I got home at 2:00am and read for a bit to get some down time. Then I crawled into bed with Kevin, Rosemary and Victoria. Kevin woke for a bit and said he was feeling strange still, I told him to get some sleep. To tell the truth, I was kind of annoyed with Kevin right then. I can't really explain why, just a feeling of frustration that he can't even take care of his own issues and had to foist them on me. I was tired, it was past 2:00am, I was just getting off my shift, I was irrational. I drifted off to sleep.

At around 4:00, I woke up because the bed was shaking. I nudged Kevin and told him he was kicking in his sleep. He responded that he wasn't doing it on purpose and that this had happened before he had his strange dream. I have to admit that even at that point, I was annoyed with him. I told him to stop it. Then his arm left arm started shaking. He grabbed his left wrist with his right hand and tried to stop the shaking and told me he was trying to make it stop.

Then, he lost consciousness.

As he fell back on his pillow, his left arm went straight out to his side and continued convulsing, all the while hitting poor Victoria in the head. I scooted her out of the way and then called 911. They told me it sounded like he was having a seizure and an ambulance was on the way. They asked me if he had ever had a seizure before, and I told them no. They told me to make sure he was breathing OK. I said he was making strange noises and how do I know he's breathing OK. They asked me what did the noises sound like. I told them like gurgling, choking kind of noises. They asked if he was choking on his tongue and I said "How the hell should I know! He's never had a seizure before!" Then the shaking began to lessen and so I told them I think he's stopping and hung up on them. That is when the adrenalin really kicked in.

I have had many people say to me that they would have lost their head if that happened to them, and they wouldn't know what to do. They give me compliments and praise me that I was able to remain so level headed while all that was going on.* I let them go on about how great I am, all the while thinking in my head "if you only knew..."

I got off the phone with 911 and Kevin stopped shaking. His seizure lasted two to three minutes, with him being unconscious for a good chunk of those minutes. When he stopped shaking, I sat down on the edge of the bed and started talking to him. I told him he had a seizure and that I called 911 and an ambulance was on the way. He just kept on looking at me and not saying anything. Kevin was catatonic and kept on tapping me on the leg and then tapping himself on his head. Kind of like this tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on my leg then tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on his head. Over and over and over. I talked to him but he couldn't talk in his catatonic state. I said "Are you OK?" Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Kevin, are you OK?" Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Kevin, please be OK..." Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. I told him that I was going to move Victoria and Rosemary out of the bed and I would be right back. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. I moved the two girls into their own beds.

I ran back and sat down by Kevin again. Then I thought "Oh crap! I better go unlock the door for the paramedics!" So I told Kevin I was going to unlock the door and that I would be right back. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. I ran down the stairs and unlocked the door. You see, I didn't want the doorbell to wake the kids. Yup, that was my thought process. My brain was just going a mile a minute at this point. Then I thought "I better call my mom. She's going to have to take the kids tonight!" So I ran into the kitchen and picked up the phone and started dialing. Then I thought "Geeze Sara! What the hell are you doing! You need to go make sure Kevin's OK!"

So I ran back up the stairs and sat back down on the bed. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "You had a seizure Kevin, I called an ambulance." Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Do you understand?" Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "I don't understand what you are trying to tell me." Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Kevin, can you understand me?" Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. "Are you OK? Does your head hurt? I don't know what you're trying to tell me." Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. Right then, I was more worried than I had ever been before in my life. I didn't know if he would ever recover, if he would ever talk again, if he could understand me, what he was trying to tell me. So, I decided to ask him to wave his hand in front of my face if he understood what I told him. He waved his hand in front of my face and then tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head. I was relieved. I said to him "I am going to go downstairs and check for the paramedics. Wave your hand in front of my face if it's OK if I leave you for a couple of seconds." He waved his hand in front of my face and then tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on leg, tap-tap-tap-tap-tap on head.

I ran back downstairs and went outside, no ambulance. Then I thought "I better get the girls shoes and coats ready to go!" and started to gather their things. Then I stopped myself and said "No! Call mom! She'll need to meet me at the hospital!" and ran into the kitchen to call my mom. I got to the phone and stopped myself again and ran back up the stairs and into our room to be with Kevin.

When I got in the room, Kevin was trying to sit up. I ran over to the bed and gently pushed him back down. I told him that he needed to wait until the ambulance got there before he got up. He was able to talk at that point and told me he had to go to the bathroom. I told him to lay back down until the ambulance got there. He snapped at me and said "I'm not going to the washroom in the bed!" Those were his exact words. I was worried for two reasons. One - Kevin never snaps at me. Never. Two - His wording was a little strange. I would have expected something like "I'm not going to pee in the bed" or something. I was so shocked and worried, but I helped him get out of bed. He could barely walk. I helped him into the bathroom and told him he had to sit down to go pee. He refused. I made him. He could barely stand and I was afraid that he was going to fall over just trying to pee. I didn't want him to bang his head on the toilet, counter or bathtub so I told him if he needs to pee, he can sit down to do it. I helped him with his pants because he couldn't even pull down pyjama pants on his own and helped him to sit down. That's when the doorbell rang.

I ran downstairs and let in the paramedics. I told them what had happened and that Kevin was in the bathroom sitting on the toilet. Now, see all of that that happened above, from when I called 911 to when the paramedics arrived? All of that was in the span of less than five minutes. We lived really close to the station at that time that I'm pretty sure all of that transpired in under three minutes. I know that they strive for less than four minutes between a call and the ambulance arriving. Now, does any of that sound level headed? No, the only level headed thing I did that night was to call the ambulance. The rest of it was just the adrenalin telling me that I needed to be doing something, then something else and keeping me distracted from what I should have been doing - staying with Kevin. Not that I blame me, but it's not the picture of calm that, for some reason, most people think I had that night and I can't convince them otherwise.

When I let the paramedics in, I was ready to collapse. I was so ready to just turn the whole thing over to them because I was in way over my head. One went up the stairs while the other talked to me. I filled him in on what happened and that Kevin had no prior history of seizures and then we joined his partner and Kevin upstairs in the bathroom. The paramedic who was with Kevin was asking him a few questions. I must say right here how much I admire paramedics. When he was done asking Kevin his questions he said to Kevin "I'm going to let you finish up in the bathroom, and wait just out here for you. I'm going to close this door and your wife will help you. Don't forget to wash up after you're done." Why do I admire him for that? Well, he basically told Kevin how it was going to go, what was going to happen and left no room for argument. But, he did it in a way that was commanding but so kind. I asked my paramedic brother just how you learn to talk like that and he told me it just goes with the job. (The reason he reminded Kevin to wash up is because people just coming out of a catatonic state aren't quite able to remember these things on their own.)

So I helped Kevin finish up his business in the bathroom. All the while he kept asking my why the paramedics were there. I kept telling him he had a seizure and needed to go to the hospital. He kept on insisting he was fine.

One of the paramedics asked me to go downstairs to answer a few more questions for him while the other helped Kevin down the stairs. I'm glad that they got there before I attempted to take him down the stairs because both of us would have taken a tumble if I attempted it. Kevin could barely walk, but he was able to go down the stairs slowly, all the while the paramedic went backward down the stairs in front of Kevin with his hand on Kevin's chest to keep him from falling. I never would have thought of that, and that's why these things are best left to the professionals, kids.

While one paramedic helped Kevin, the other asked me some more questions. Just basic ones - what did he do today, what is his job, how many kids do we have, to what hospital did I them to take him, was I bringing my kids or did I have someone to watch them, did I want him to call the police to sit at my house until a sitter got there. Those are the only ones I remember. I answered all of them, told them to take Kevin to Victoria hospital because it's close to my mom's house and my mom can meet me and the kids there and take them over to her house. Just let me call her first. While all that was going on, Kevin and paramedic number two made it down the stairs and paramedic number two sat Kevin on the couch. He and his partner discussed a few things.

While they were talking, I called my mom. I told her Kevin had a seizure and that he was going to Victoria hospital. I was babbling and not really talking straight and she said "Tell me what you want me to do."  I told her that she and Paul (my step-dad) need to drive to Victoria Hospital and wait for us there and then one of them will drive the van back to her house. I told her that she would need to come back sometime to get clothes etc. for the kids because I wasn't going to have time to pack anything and not to bother taking the kids to school the next day. She said OK and we hung up.

By the time I got off the phone, the paramedics had a stretcher outside waiting for Kevin. Kevin was still sitting on the couch and was looking at me. I recognized the look he was giving me. He didn't think he needed to go to the hospital but was going to humour me and go along with it. They helped him up on the stretcher and strapped him in. They told me that they would be heading to Victoria Hospital and Kevin would be waiting there for me. While they were loading Kevin into the ambulance, I went upstairs to get the girls. I did not want to see them drive away with Kevin.

I woke the girls up and told them that daddy was going to the hospital in an ambulance. Paramedics, like Uncle Mark, took him and I was going to meet him there and g'ma was going to take them back to her house. Madeleine told me all of the noise woke her up and she heard something happening. I'm very glad she didn't go downstairs to see Kevin on the stretcher or anything. I marched the kids down the stairs and as I was helping them with their shoes and coats, the phone rang. I ran to answer it and it was mom asking me if I wanted her to just come to my house. I told her that the kids were pretty much ready and I didn't want to wait that long to get to the hospital, so no please just meet me there. She said OK and we hung up.

I got the kids all out in the van and we drove to the hospital. It's interesting driving in that time of night. There's no one out at all. There's an eerie sense of peace and quiet.  During the drive, I kept on thinking "I guess things were going too well for us."

I got to the hospital and met my mom. Up until that point, I didn't shed a single tear. I was teary, but I kept it together. My mom asked me what happened and I told her everything that I knew and then I said "Things were going so well" and broke down. My mom, who knows that nothing goes well for us without something bad happening after, gave me a big hug and said "I know". You see, two weeks prior to that night, Kevin got a new, really good, job for a really good company. I had started working again after being at home with my kids for eight years and life was good. We had benefits again after two years of having none, so we could take the kids to the dentist (oh the silly things that excite us moms). We were digging ourselves out of some financial trouble, we had money to do fun things now, the stress level in our house was at the lowest it had been in a long time. We were just waiting for the other shoe to drop.

It didn't just drop, it kicked us in the ass.

Part 2 coming soon

* In the two years since all of this began for us, I have discovered that it's better to let people do their gushing without trying to tell them that I am only human and they would have done the same thing in my position. At first, I tried to tell all of the "I could never handle it as well as you!" people that yes they could. When you are offered the choice to keep it together or to let it all fall apart, you really have no choice. You have to keep it together. Humans are amazing creatures and are incredibly adaptable. I used to try telling people that I am no different than anyone else, but everyone always protests and tells me that I am stronger than they are. Now, I just sit silently when people tell me these things because it's just not worth the argument.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Risk your children's safety, for the sake of their sanity - Part 2 Alone in the park

"Hi mom! I'm going to the park! Bye mom!" - That is often the only "conversation" I have with Lilly between the time she comes home from school and supper.

It used to be the case that from the second the end of the day bell rang to when kids had to be dragged home for supper, a park would be filled with kids climbing and playing while a pick up game of soccer was going on in the field nearby. Now, those parks are empty and silent during this time. What has caused this change? Certainly, dual income homes means that kids are going to daycares and after school programmes instead of the park. But then, what about after supper? Why are parks so barren then? The homework load that most children are saddled with means that kids have to spend their time between supper and bed doing their work, cutting into their play time. But, then why on the weekends and during school holidays are these parks so empty? Is it because they are all playing in their yards or on their streets? I see little evidence of that in my neighbourhood, but I suppose it's possible. Mostly, though, kids are simply not allowed to go to a park without a parent - and most parents don't want to go to the park.

Negligent mother example #2

The risk: Letting my kids play out of eyesight at the park or letting them go to the park alone.

When we lived 25 minutes from the school, I would often meet my kids at the park beside the school where they would play from 2:40, when the bell let them out of school, until 5:00, when we finally decided to go home. While there, I would let the older three (then 7, 5 and 3) play on the hill away from the equipment while I stayed with my then one year old. This put them out of my direct line of sight as there are many trees both on the hill and between the equipment and the hill. When we moved to our current house, I allowed my then 8 and 6 year olds to go to the park without me. Before our move, I would let them go to the school playground nearby without me.

The park has many paths that wind around the three baseball fields. I have taken to walking those paths after the school day is done while my kids play on the equipment or on the hill, leaving my 9 year old responsible for my 3 and 5 year old. And by that I mean if they get hurt or in trouble, Lilly has to yell for me and I'll be there, her only responsibility. (I need to get more exercise.)

The precautions: None

I figure that if they are in earshot, I will be able to tell if someone is lying bleeding to death in a pool of their own blood. The thought of someone coming to abduct or hurt them didn't really cross my mind, but we had the "stranger danger" talk before and they knew to scream loudly and fight. I guess I would hear that too. Once they started to go to the park without me, the only thing I told them was if there were any kids there who were making them uncomfortable to just come home. I also told them to come and tell me if they decided to go to a friend's house.

The reaction from other parents: Some didn't care about the hill but most are uncomfortable with the idea of my sending my kids to play alone at the park.

Other parents would let their kids play over on the hill as well. There was three of us who I would group under the "relaxed parent" profile. But, when it comes to letting my kids go it alone, I am again in the very small minority (like the "I'm the only one in the neighbourhood who allows it" kind of small). It is the fear of "what if" that makes other parents reluctant to tread in the territory that I am willing to. I have experienced shocked raised eyebrows when I say my kids go to the park alone.

Why it is worth the risk: Unsupervised play has many health benefits - physically and psychologically

A study by University College London monitored 330 kids aged 8 to 11. They put tracking systems on their wrists and motion sensors on their belts and tracked their movement, direction, calories burned and speed for 4 days, including one weekend. The kids who were allowed unsupervised play were more active and used more calories than the kids whose play were supervised. The unsupervised kids also moved in less direct lines and took time to socialize and explore as they moved from activity to activity.

Lilly has been meeting her friends at the park after school since we moved to this house, not quite a year ago. She did not have friends in our old neighbourhood due to school location and the age of the residents (most of them were empty nesters). I have noticed a change in Lilly's ability to interact with her peers since then. She a bit socially awkward but allowing her to explore social norms on her own in an unstructured environment has allowed her to conform without losing her spirit. I know that conformity is seen as a bad thing to some, but it happens to everyone to some extent. I am glad it happened for Lilly in a way that lets her keep her uniqueness. Could this just be her maturing as she gets older? Yes it could, but unsupervised play aides in the maturing process.

There is a climbing wall at the park that Madeleine loves. She doesn't want to wait until I have time to take her and so her visits are frequently made without me. One day, she came running in the house all excited. "Mom! Mom! Next time we go to the park I have to show you something!" Not only has she mastered climbing the climbing wall, she has mastered standing on the climbing wall. Since the two friends I used to meet at the park have moved away, I don't go as often as I used to. It took more time for Madeleine to learn her new trick than I was willing to spend at the park. Her sense of accomplishment and pride was almost contagious when she showed me. Could she have found something just as challenging in the back yard? Probably, but without having me there to watch over her she got to show me her trick once it was perfected, without me seeing the times that she fell. (I don't know if that was more a benefit for her or me!)

Want to take a risk?: Take your kids to the park and let them loose.

Many neighbourhoods lack a green area or park. If this is the case for you and you don't feel comfortable letting your kids travel to one alone, go with them. Bring a book, park yourself on a bench and read. See what your kids can get up to without you monitoring them. Let them play as far away from you as you feel comfortable with. Sit back and relax and enjoy the fresh air. Or you could drop them off if the park is close by and not a half hour trek from your house. Tell them you'll be there to pick them up in two hours. If you have a park near by, let them go it alone. Give them a watch and let them know that they have until the alarm goes off and then it's time to come home.

An empty field will do just as well as any park. Or a school yard, or a soccer field not in use, or a parking lot of an empty or closed store. There are many places for kids to explore! Giving your child a cell phone can help ease your anxieties, just make sure they aren't the type who will lose it.

Next - Let's talk about sex (offender registry).

Risk your child's safety, for the sake of their sanity - Part 1 The Long Walk Home

I hate it when my anti-commercial stance is put to the challenge. Such is the case with the documentary that my mom recorded for me called "The Lost Adventures of Childhood". My mom frequently records things she thinks I may like and I watch them at my leisure. None of them have ever made me want to get even basic cable. This one, however, makes me think that I am missing out on something. I am probably really biased in my view of this documentary because it reaffirms my parenting style. A parenting style that has people accusing me of being too relaxed and borderline negligent. A parenting style that has a movement behind it called Free Range Kids.

I am in complete awe that what I have felt instinctively is what experts in psychology are now recommending for our kids: Less structured play and the freedom to take risks. The focus of the documentary was unstructured play, but it touched on the lack of freedom in general for the kids growing up in this generation of paranoia. The feedback from acquaintances on my parenting style ranges from incredulous to horror. Here are a few things I allow my kids to do that I get the response "I would never do that!". I will be posting one at a time over the next few days.

Negligent mother example #1

The risk: Letting my kids walk to and from school alone when they were 7 and 5.

Lilly was 7 when I first let her walk home from school alone. Madeleine was in kindergarten and on her school days I would pick the both of them up, but on the days Lilly was alone, I let her make the 25 minute trek to school and the 25 minute trek home. When Madeleine was in grade 1 (she was 5), I let them walk to and from together. The main reason I walked them when Madeleine was in kindergarten is because she was not there daily and I didn't want Lilly to forget Madeleine - Lilly being the sort who would do just that. Had that not been the case, I would have let them walk together starting when Madeleine was in Kindergarten. When I did pick them up, I would often drive. The school day ends at 2:40 for the girls' school and it was right in the middle of the nap time for the younger two, so the car was used often to go pick them up just to squeeze an extra 10 or 15 minutes of napping in.

The precautions: Making sure the kids knew the way and making sure they knew what to do if the crossing guard wasn't there.

I made sure Lilly knew the way home before I let her solo it. I waited until she was out of sight one day before I started walking home with the rest of the girls to make a sort of test run for her. When she was home waiting for us on the front porch, I knew then that she was comfortable and knew the way home.

The crossing guard we had was less than reliable. When I walked with the kids, there were some occasions where he wasn't there in the morning and a couple of times where he showed up after the bell had gone in the afternoon. I drilled it into their heads that they were to come back home if he wasn't there in the morning even though it would make them late, and that they were to go to the arena right behind the road crossing and to give me a call. It is a busy street with no lights at the crossing and I didn't want the kids to cross it without the crossing guard.

The reaction from other parents: Horror mostly

There was one parent who lived down the street from me at that time whose daughter was in grade seven and was not allowed to walk home from school alone. She was picked up every day because we lived too close to be eligible for the bus. This girl started to tutor Lilly at the school twice a week and her mom had her older brother from high school pick her up to walk home. When I told this woman that Lilly had been walking home alone since she was 7, I was informed that it's a bad scary world out there and I should be more responsible as a parent. Other parents reactions, while not quite as direct and offensive, were pretty much the same. A horrified look.

Why it is worth the risk: Increased exercise, less likelihood of injury and it shows my kids that they are trusted.

With the amount of driving around that kids get these days, adding in more exercise is never a bad thing. I don't think even the most hardcore critics of my parenting style would ever argue that more exercise for kids is a bad thing.

According to an article by Ygoy from July 2009, "nearly 75% of the parents in U.S fear that their children might become victims of abduction." I don't know what the stats on that are for Canada, but we have very similar cultures and so I would imagine that the number would be very close. It is this fear that is the main reason why many parents choose to drive their kids to school. However, the likelihood of a child being abducted by a complete stranger is much smaller than the likelihood of a child being injured or killed in a vehicle collision while a passenger in a car. According to the RCMP, in 2007 60,582 children were declared missing. Of those, 56 were kidnappings not involving a parent and 33 were considered an accident where the child was not found and no body has been found. Compare that to the three children per day who end up seriously injured in the hospital due to being in a vehicle collision, with an additional 100 per year dying according to Safe Kids Canada. 30 kids per year die due to pedestrian/vehicle accidents, while an additional six per day are injured. However, the addition of crossing guards at busy intersections reduces the likelihood of a child being hit by a car to almost zero at that intersection. Studies have shown that more people out and walking on a street increases driver caution and awareness while on that street. The likelihood of a child being abducted is greater if there is a custody dispute. I will never promote dangerous parenting and so if a child is at a greater risk of being taken, then a parent must be cautious. But to the average kid, walking home presents less of a risk than driving home if crossing guards are present at dangerous intersections.

The first day Lilly walked home by herself was the start of a new relationship between us. She now had freedom to travel as slow as she wanted (my goal was to just get home!). She stopped and picked flowers, stood looking at the "happy tree" for a few minutes and got lost in thought about her day (and possibly her life). It was the first time that she was really alone in the world at large (let's face it, the backyard doesn't count). There were days that Lilly and Madeleine didn't get home from school until 3:30. That is almost an hour past the school bell for a 25 minute walk. What they did for those extra 25 minutes, I would love to know! I wanted to be there to see what they do when I'm not around, to hear their conversations when I'm not in earshot. But those moments of freedom that the girls experienced walking to and from school were more important than my desire to experience every moment with my children.

To take this risk: Ensure the school district has crossing guards at all busy intersections (including ones with traffic lights) and teach your children basic road safety.

If your city does not have crossing guards, start a movement to get them. Walk 21 is a good place to start as is iWalk International. In the mean time, you may want to start by walking with your kids if the route is not safe. Help them cross the dangerous intersection and let them go it alone from that point on. You could also try starting a walking school bus in your neighbourhood to get more people interested in it. Teach your children to walk facing traffic on roads with no sidewalks and to stop at each intersection to look for cars no matter how safe it looks. And always model proper road safety yourself.

Part 2 tomorrow - Alone in the park.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Here I sit, not doing laundry

There's a load to be hung out, a load ready to go in and a load ready to be folded and put away. Here I sit with my kids, snuggling under some covers and watching a movie.

There's a load to be hung out, a load ready to go in and a load ready to be folded and put away. Here I sit in a tub full of bubbles with my kids, making bubble hats.

There's a load to be hung out, a load ready to go in and a load ready to be folded and put away. Here I sit with my kids, reading a book all about cats.

There's a load to be hung out, a load ready to go in and a load ready to be folded and put away. Here I sit with my kids, slurping melted marshmallows from the bottom of a mug of hot chocolate.

There's a load to be hung out, a load ready to go in and a load ready to be folded and put away. Here I sit with my kids, playing a wicked game of Candy Land.

There's a load to be hung out, a load ready to go in and a load ready to be folded and put away. Here I sit with my kids, watching the shadows on the walls change as the trees blow in the wind outside the window.


There's a load to be hung out, a load ready to go in and a load ready to be folded and put away. Here I am, putting the new load in, hanging the wet load out and folding and putting away the dry load. Sigh....

Friday, September 11, 2009

Time flies

It's been eight years. Amazing.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Dusting off the blog :)

So, summer is over. Well, not officially until Sept. 22nd but let's face it, once the kids are back in school and the routine starts again, summer is at its end. I am hoping to get back to a bit more bloggin' now. Not that my one reader doesn't hear my thoughts on a regular basis (hi Kevin!)...

I am calling this post "Narcolepsy sucks and so do people". Not anyone who reads this blog, of course. My awesomeness permeates the screen and rubs off on all who read this blog. Or is it that awesomeness attracts awesomeness and only awesome people gather here? A discussion for later.

One of the interesting symptoms of Narcoleopsy is called cataplexy. Not all narcoleptics have it, but I do. Here is what Wiki says about it:

Cataplexy, a sudden muscular weakness brought on by strong emotions (though many people experience cataplexy without having a emotional trigger), is known to be one of the other problems that some narcoleptics will experience. Often manifesting as muscular weaknesses ranging from a barely perceptible slackening of the facial muscles to the dropping of the jaw or head, weakness at the knees, or a total collapse. Usually only speech is slurred, vision is impaired (double vision, inability to focus), but hearing and awareness remain normal. In some rare cases, an individual's body becomes paralyzed and muscles will become stiff.

In my case, it results in dropping things and getting clumsy when I experience extreme emotions. It seems to be getting worse, but that's par for the course I'm told as narcolepsy just gets worse as time goes by.* I have had paralysis of my facial muscles (I thought I was having a stroke a few times before I was diagnosed) and often the left side of my face feels tingly no matter my emotional state.

OK, so on with the story. Today my kids were really aggravating. They just pick, pick, pick, pick, pick like only kids can do. Victoria and Rosemary were at it all. day. long. Then Lilly and Madeleine joined in when they got home from school. So I was really irritated, aggravated and had had it. I needed to go to the store. Lilly came with me (my mom was here to look after the others) and she was just nonstop complaining and bitching (I don't like saying that about my own kid but hey, it is what it is). And it was over the stupidest things. Like not wanting glasses. We haven't even got her eyes checked for crying out loud! Then it was about Madeleine, Victoria and Rosemary making fun of her for... having glasses she doesn't even have. And then it was this and then it was that. It didn't matter what I said, I was wrong. (Yeah, all you mommies with girls, you say it won't happen to you... but it will. I tried, oh how I tried! But, here we are. Pre-adolescent girl with the mouth you want to smack sometimes.) Of course, I can't get away from it because I can't just leave her (actually, I suppose I could have as we were walking and she knows the neighbourhood.) So, on the way home from the store, during the nonstop bitch fest**, my one foot gives way and I trip and fall. I tried to stop myself, but there I was, sitting on my kiester on the ground, one shoe off (oddly, not the foot that made me trip).

There were people around. Three of them, all adults. Guess how many came over to ask if I was OK. If you guessed none, you were right. It took me almost a minute to regain proper control of my leg and no one came to see if I was OK. Lilly was cool. She put the stuff she was carrying down (the source of her complaint at the moment, being forced to carry a brick of cream cheese and box of stuffing) and rushed to my side to make sure I was OK. I had to reassure her a few times that I was fine, but no one came to check on us. I mean, if I had broken my leg or something, why would an adult think leaving me in the care of a not-quite-ten-year-old is an OK thing to do? One lady was walking right up the same path when I fell and passed us while I was holding on to the fence to keep my balance until my muscles decided that they would listen to my brain again. Walked right on by without saying a word. I simple "Are you OK?" would be in order, I think and it's what I would have done in her shoes.

In order to not get more aggravated and experience yet another malfunction, I am indulging in 260 calorie chocolate therapy.

*Interesting note: Narcolepsy does not progress steadily, instead going in spurts. Narcoleptics will reach a plateau and remain there for a while, often years, and then suddenly, their symptoms will start to worsen. They will continue to worsen over an amount of time and then plateau again for a time. The brain is weird. This is why most teenagers who have narcolepsy are often written off as just lazy. Their symptoms are not yet extreme enough to warrant medical attention. But, as time goes by and their symptoms worsen and new symptoms begin to appear, that is when they are diagnosed. So mom, don't ya feel guilty for calling me lazy all those years? :)

**I am not calling Lilly a bitch. Even the most even tempered person will on occasion bitch about something. Lilly is a wonderful girl who has a free spirit and genuinely kind heart. But, today, she had one major bitch fest.