Friday, July 27, 2012

Breasts Are Not Genitalia

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Silly me, I thought everyone knew breasts are not genitals. Earlier today I realized that Americans rarely understand this concept. You see, it has long been taught in schools and homes that our bodies are not to be explored or discussed. Often abstinence only programs, or no health programs at all, are offered in public school. No wonder people consider their bodies to be taboo. We, as a culture, have encouraged this idea.

Here is the definition of genitals and the definition of breast from in case you were one of the souls who was not able to learn this information in school or at home. I am sorry if someone led you to believe that breasts are genitals. I am so very sorry if someone pushed you to believe that children copying nursing is sexual, because it is not.

gen·i·tal[jen-i-tl] adjective

1.of, pertaining to, or noting reproduction.
2.of or pertaining to the sexual organs.
3.Psychoanalysis .
a.of or pertaining to the genital phase  of psychosexual development.
b.of or pertaining to the centering of sexual impulses and excitation on the genitalia.
1350–1400; Middle English  < Old French  < Latin genitālis  of birth, equivalent to genit ( us ), past participle of gignere  to beget + -ālis -al1

breast[brest] noun

1.Anatomy, Zoology . (in bipeds) the outer, front part of the thorax, or the front part of the body from the neck to the abdomen; chest.
2.Zoology . the corresponding part in quadrupeds.
3.either of the pair of mammae occurring on the chest in humans and having a discrete areola around the nipple, especially the mammae of the female after puberty, which are enlarged and softened by hormonally influenced mammary-gland development and fat deposition and which secrete milk after the birth of a child: the breasts of males normally remain rudimentary.
4.the part of a garment that covers the chest.
5.the bosom conceived of as the center of emotion: What anger lay in his breast when he made that speech?
Women's breasts are for nursing. If you use them any other way then bully for you. Just keep in mind that the intended use is for our young to receive comfort and nourishment. If, after being given the information above, you think for a minute that a child copying a mother who nurses is pornographic then you may very well be a pedophile or fetishist. A child pretending to nurse means he or she understands why women have breasts thus creating a nurturing environment for their future offspring.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Success...Well A Step in the Right Direction

My son has had issues for a long time. He was diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction and also food allergies which both make him very sensitive in some ways and not sensitive at all in others. He only feels pain in his face/lip area and would happily bang his head on the tile for hours if I allowed this behavior.

He cried nearly all day when we used to have a nanny because I worked full time. He usually cries if I leave for 5 minutes to get gas and he is with his dad so that rarely happens. When we moved to California I no longer worked outside of the home, but we chose to find the cash to pay for a sitter to come by once a week for 3 or 4 hours. My girls LOVE this. My son HATES this. He is still allowed to hang out with me but can choose to play with Ms. Melissa and his sisters as well. Until last week he refused to even look at Ms. Melissa even though she has been visiting once a week for six months.

Last week he chose to go outside, though I was inside cleaning, and play with the Ms. Melissa. He talked to her, also a new behavior, but did not accept directions from her. I was very happy to have a few minutes without him climbing me and crying to be away from her, he often does this wit new people or if he thinks I will leave.

This week was even better! We went to the free movie, he slept and the girls watched. When we arrived home, Ms. Melissa offered to make sandwiches for lunch and he said,"Yes, please." Holy cow! Yay! So I stayed in the other room and just listened as I checked email, cleaned, etc. He did very well with her. He got upset when he wanted me to put his shoes on instead of do it himself, but he used his words and I came to help. He then played outside for nearly an hour without me but with the girls and Ms. Melissa.

This is huge folks! I may actually get to go on a date night sometime soon! Oh wow, I could even go get groceries or buy clothing by myself! There are several steps we still need to take in order to get him comfortable staying with Ms. Melissa. If she ever moves I am screwed. For now though, I will be thankful for little steps in the right direction.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

U.S.A. Kids Cup

Recently I had an opportunity to test and keep a free U.S.A. Kids cup. They did not ask me to write about it, but I wanted to share our experience with other parents. My son is 26 months and rarely uses a "sippy cup" because he likes to copy his sisters who use regular cups. When the free cup arrived he actually did a little dance. I asked him why and he said he liked the animals on the cup. Actually what he said was "monkey, giraffe, good, feel happy".

The valve is different than the valves I am used to seeing, but after a few sips he had the hang of the cup and valve system. Also when I cleaned the cup later in the day, it was not tough to get the valve clean. The cup is BPA free which is a plus. The cup we received is insulated and is one solid piece with two walls and injection molded instead of using two cups that are attached. I suspect this will prevent wear and tear as well as leaking that I have seen with other cups styles.

My son likes the cup and I found it to be not only easy to use, but also a talking point because of the design using real world colors for the animals. My son said "monkey" so I replied "yes, a brown monkey". He then said "horse" and I said "you see the giraffe". Many cups have blue horses or green bears which is fine, I suppose, but we do try to make every moment a teachable moment so the cup design fits into our everyday lives as well. I am not a great photographer but included a picture above. The website is below in case you want more information.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Why Do We Homeschool Our Children?

I used to work as a teacher in an at risk elementary school. I was there for about eight years. I worked with children as a nanny and in daycare setting before I worked as a teacher. I took the time and care to earn a master's degree while raising two children and working full time. Even though I have to pay back student loans and stay on a fairly strict budget, my husband and I have decided that I will home school our children. Many people voice concerns about this choice. I wanted to address those concerns and explain why, as a teacher, I was concerned about my children being in public school.

When my first child was attending kindergarten she was quick to learn and often given work that was too easy because her teacher had to work with a mostly one size fits all curriculum mandated by the county.  I also taught kindergarten at the same school and was able to observe her teacher attempt to find enriching activities for my daughter but this mostly consisted of reading chapter books and completing computer games. Her teacher was hand picked by me and to this day we love her and keep in touch. However, she was unable to meet my child's needs in kindergarten. What does that say about what an upper grade teacher would be able to do for my child should she continue to be a quick learner or ahead. During intervention groups, created to help those who had never been to school and were then considered behind if they could not catch up to those who had an academic prekindergarten class, my child was always in the computer lab because she tested out of the intervention groups immediately. This meant months of the same games, basically keeping my child stagnant because, at the time, there was not enough money to hire another person to teach an enrichment group for children like her. At the end of the year, due to the academic issues and some issues with other student snot being disciplined for dangerous behavior, my husband and I chose to change her to a local charter school.

When my oldest enrolled in the charter school, her sister also attended the prekindergarten program at the school. Aside from the whole class being punished when a few acted poorly, she had a decent year. She was enrolled in gifted because she was bored in class and we consented to have her tested in order to try and find her some enrichment activities. Unfortunately my four year old had a less successful year. She arrived as a four year old who was beginning to read. Her teacher refused to link what she already knew to their curriculum so my child basically started over memorizing the picture cards that went with the curriculum instead of building on her current knowledge. We saw immediate regression in her learning and her attitude. She is a spirited child and was diagnosed with sensory integration dysfunction toward the middle of that year. The teacher originally said she did nap time BUT that my child could do puzzles or read during that time because she is so hyper and busy all the time. She had not napped in over two years when she began prekindergarten. Midway through the year, after her diagnosis, we found my daughter throwing her body against the wall over and over after school. She could not make herself stop. It was so bad that she bruised her shoulder and I had to hold her in a bear hug for nearly thirty minutes before her urge to bang into things was gone. Turned out she was made to lay down for over thirty minutes by the teacher even though we had all agreed this was not acceptable for my child and we had occupational and play therapist notes backing up the no rest time no nap policy for my daughter. The principal and I had a few chats about this and basically I was given my money back for the afternoon charges and found a neighbor who could help with my daughter after the morning prekindergarten class was complete. The principal told me that she would make sure my child rested during the kindergarten day as well whether I liked it or not so we obviously would not continue at that school. All the other schools in our county did not rest or nap because it is a waste of academic time.

The next year my oldest was in second grade and my middle child was in kindergarten and we decided to try our neighborhood school. We hoped they could handle the few special needs my middle child had and also meet the needs of my oldest who was not only in gifted for extra enrichment but also very bored in general in school. The year went well for a while. Eventually there was an issue with the kindergarten teacher expecting the children to be silent while eating snack which is in very poor design when teaching these mainly at risk children who have rarely had experiences outside of the home. Toward the end of the year there was also an issue with the teacher telling my middle child to undress in front of other adults and children on water day because the teacher wanted to get to her lunch on time. So the teacher took advantage of my child's documented anxiety and sensory issues so she could have her break. During water day at my former school, I did not get a normal break, instead we had a paraprofessional come through every kindergarten teacher's room and give us a few minutes to eat and use the restroom as the day progressed. No one changed in front of others in that situation. I spoke to my principal who said that was insane and not something a principal can defend. Sadly, the principal yelled at me over the phone and said I could not attend a field trip because I complained. Obviously this ended up being a huge issue and I did contact the state. No child should have that happen ever. No principal should defend such behavior.

At the end of the school year my husband and I began looking at private school sand discussing home school options. We decided that we would move to another state, he would get a job and I would stay home with the children. At the time we expected to use public or private school for the children, but we live in an area with some questionable characters in some areas. Our area is nice and fairly crime free but the schools here are in areas that are not as safe. I urged my husband to agree to virtual public school and he agreed. Sadly the curriculum was not challenging enough and there were some other issues with shredded paperwork and also threats of attendance being deleted if we did not take standardized tests even though this state legally allows a parent to opt children out of such tests. In the end, we decided it would be easier and less of a fight to home school the children. I was already doing most of the work anyway, why not do the work but also make it tailored to what the children need.

Let me be clear, we do support public school. We just do not agree with the way things are right now. Our children are not guinea pigs to be tested or sat in a corner at a computer for hours on end. We are happy to pay taxes and attend local functions that support teachers and schools, but our children will not attend those schools until some huge positive changes are made. 

I also want to mention that if your child is in public, charter, or even private school please drop in from time to time, talk to the teacher often, volunteer or have a friend or family member volunteer. You need to be aware of how the school is run and who is with your child daily. You may think your school or teacher is the best, but, sadly there are many things a parent who rarely visits the school will ever know about how their child is treated and what he or she does all day long. Please do not blame the teacher if you see an issue unless he or she is clearly the problem. It could be that his or her hands are tied and the teacher has to do things a certain way or lose that job. Sometimes the principal is the issue, but more often it is the school board or state legislature that is enacting rules and regulations without funding them.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Yet Another Fixation

I have written about my son's preferences/fixations before. He used to enjoy stacking and sorting hangers, at the age of six months. He also, more recently, had a fixation on lip gloss and even slept with it in his hand. Well he has a new interest at 25 months of age.

It started with his choice to wear more than one shirt at a time, usually two shirts. Then, it became a situation where he wanted to wear several pairs of underwear at once. Many times he wore four pairs or five. He would have a "sensory" breakdown, yes they are different than tantrums, if he did not have enough shirts or underwear on his body.

Tonight he insisted on putting on two diapers for bedtime. Underwear is very light and airy. I can understand wearing more than one pair and being somewhat comfortable. However, for the life of me I just do not understand wearing two bulky diapers and feeling at ease and comfortable.

As I have said before, I will always support my children whether I understand why they do what they do or not. He is special, unique, and intelligent. He is so very wonderful and parenting has been a true adventure thus far.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

I Don't Raise Boys or Girls, I Raise Children

I often hear people say that their daughter loves dance class, at 2 years old, or their son loves football, at 1 year old. My question is always, Great, what else does your child love? Our children are not one trick ponies as we all know. They have various talents and interests. However, problems can arise if they show different interests than those we wish for them to have. Even the best parents sometimes have a vision of their children's futures and if the child's vision is different, well that can cause conflict.

Many people say that boys like to be rough and girls do not. Not true. Children who have extra energy or special needs and are not allowed to do activities that enable the use of this energy are rough. My second daughter is very rough also because my husband thinks it is great fun to wrestle a bit or play keep away. This is not because my child likes to rough house per is because her father taught her to interact with him this way. I have taught many students who must move and keep busy in order to feel happy and complete their learning each day. If given coping skill,s they can and do succeed daily. If they are repeatedly ignored or told to calm down they fail. It never hurt anyone to have a morning recess or physical education class. It never harmed anyone to have a stress ball in hand while at carpet time.

Folks also often speak about girls enjoying quiet calm activities, but have YOU ever been to a slumber party with a bunch of girls? Yeh, not quiet or calm in most cases. The slumber parties I attended, and I was a shy introvert by the way, were loud affairs with tons of chit chat, loads of laughter, games, and more.

This does not mean that a female should ignore a love of making jewelry if she enjoys this activity. Nor should a male ignore sports if he is intersted in them. It does mean, however, that people who think they are not raising children with preconceived notions may want to stop and reassess their daily activities and conversations. Does your child like the activities in which he or she participates? More importantly did your child ask to be a part of the activity or did you choose it?

My children are all three, girls and boy, welcome to participate in any legal and productive activity they wish. All they have to do is ask. We expose all three of them to as much of the world as we can so they can choose what their interests are. We do not force them to attend activities they dislike and we do not require a girl to do ballet at the age of 2 or 3 or a boy to play t-ball at the age of 3. After all, we are raising children, not boys and girls.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Good Morning Sunshine...Nevermind

Every morning is the same. Our mornings rarely vary. After bed-sharing all night on a fairly uncomfortable bed, because my husband uses sleep medication for quite a few medical reasons and we cannot bed-share a child with a person on sleep medicine safely, I wake up to a 25 month old child crying next to my face. "Oh. no", you say? "Poor little guy", you say? I agree, it must suck to be that unhappy and uncomfortable so often but this post is a little more selfish than that. You see I have kind of had it. I need to vent.

I HATE being woken up this way by a two year old child. I recognize that this is not his fault and that he has learned some coping skills BUT he is not yet old enough to really get a lot of expertise from play therapy or occupational therapy like his sister did when she was first diagnosed with sensory issues. She was four and a half and we had weathered storms but none as tough as what my sensory son deals with daily. So when I see that someone is vaccinating their child or feeding their child McDonald's daily, I become agitated. Not because I dislike the person but because I know that environment affects the genetic coding we have from birth and can very easily cause our children's brains and bodies to change. Admittedly vaccines caused two of my children to become ill and then have food allergies and sensory integration dysfunction. As a matter of fact, my son only had one vaccine the day his reaction happened so when I see folks doing even a minimal schedule I get upset for their children.

Do people KNOW what I go through daily? Do they KNOW the hell that my children go through? Do they know what it is like to be awake for 72 hours straight with a screaming baby? I wish what we have gone through on no one. Unfortunately there is still work to do. We still have to teach my son how to cope with he emotions and mood swings as well as how to communicate without falling into a never ending tantrum. Sadly his issues are far more concerning that a typical two year old's issues. Some sensory children take around two hours to fall asleep, this is how BOTH of my sensory children were as little ones. Thankfully my daughter has improved greatly with patience, modeling, and routines as well as therapy.

My sensory children become upset over a small issue like how many pieces of potato are on a plate. If they do not choose to cope with the feelings they have, the situation can and often does escalate into a full blown screaming, crying, head banging situation. Often this lasts for an hour or more if not caught early. No, normal discipline does not work most times. Usually they are not even aware that others are in the room once the sensory tantrum begins. I can model working out the situation all day but if the child is screaming and not aware of my presence, then it will not help. The only way to discipline is to help them calm down, usually with a deep pressure bear hug, and then discuss the behavior or at that time model a proper choice. Sometimes they refuse to be son often rolls over and over on the floor until he hits a wall, I try to get between him and the wall or put a pillow there, then he rolls to the other wall all while screaming. This most often happens at night.

So, no I do not sleep well. No, we don't vaccinate anymore. Sure, I feel grumpy often. I WILL suck it up and go out with my family today as planned. And yes, I love my children. Thank you for letting me vent, I feel better already.:)