Thursday, September 27, 2012

We Thought He Was Allergic to Strawberries...

My son has a great many food sensitivities and allergies. He did not have them at birth, they are a result of a vaccine injury. We thought we had a list of all his allergens. Then, one day, he had strawberries and began to rash up everywhere. I believe he was about one to one and a half year old at the time.

So I dutifully kept the rest of the family from strawberries because even a kiss with the juice on our lips would cause him to have a rash. He didn't seem bothered by the rash and he did not go into anaphylaxis, thank goodness, so I figured he had a chance to grow out of this allergy.

Not long ago, sometime last spring, we found a local certified organic farm nearby our new house rental. They have a u-pick field with many different fruits and vegetables depending on the time of year. I decided to allow my son to pick strawberries, Benadryl was in my bag just in case. Lo and behold, he did not rash up though juice was on his hands. When we got home I rinsed the berries and allowed him to have two small ones. Again, no rash. I waited several days and then allowed him to have a couple more berries with a meal. Still no rash.

At this point I figured we were in luck! He can have organic strawberries! YAY! So the next week, instead of trekking three kids to the farm on a hot day, I took them to the farmer's market. Most of the booths had certified organic produce and I was able to purchase strawberries that were organic. My son tried these berries and immediately rashed up but only on his face, not all over his body.

The next week I went back to the organic farm and asked if there was a difference between the way in which they treat their plants and the way other organic farmers grow. They told me that yes, in addition to not having genetically modified plants, they chose not to spray the plants AT ALL. They did not even use organic sprays while other farms may.

So apparently my son reacts greatly to genetically modified strawberries,mildly to sprayed strawberries, and not at all to organically grown and NOT sprayed strawberries. Know what you are eating folks. And keep in mind that an allergy may not be to the food but rather to the genetic modifications OR the soil, spray, or type of water used to grow the plants.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Parenting at the Park

My children are homeschooled. In order to stay busy, active, and have fun we frequent local parks. Sometimes my children enjoy playing together or alone. More often, my three kids want me to watch them, talk with them, and explore with them. While I do sometimes chat with other care givers at the park. my children do come first. If I happen to be talking to someone and on of my children needs me, then I end the conversation and go to my child.

I would love to say that I don't judge the parents who are not present for their children at the park. I am happy when moms or dads can get together with their friends while children play. The thing is that I often see children upset because they want help and the parent is on the phone or talking to a friend. I have also seen children harm others while the parents were busy doing other things. I often see parents who would rather sit or stand in one area, than walk to the child and see what he or she needs. Screaming across the park is not really doing anyone a favor. It just makes a parent look like they don't want to be a parent. This behavior teaches the child that the parent does not care about his or her needs.

If you need a break from your child, perhaps letting the child play in a fenced in back yard or watch a movie inside the house is a safer and more responsible choice than going to a park. Save the park for a day or time when you feel recharged, refreshed, ready to take on the world. We all have times when we are tired or need a break. I have those times often, too. I would love to stand and chat with friends all day long, but I chose to be a mom of three so I cannot always have what I want.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Myth of Parents' Rights

Many times I hear people speak of parents' rights. Here in the United States we have a love affair with power and telling others what to do. No wonder we assume that with age or with higher degrees a person has authority over others. The problem is that we do not actually have rights over others. I often come back to the 14th Amendment because it established equal rights under federal laws. This amendment does not discriminate between sexes, ethnicities, jobs held, amount of wealth, or any other factor. Yes, children do have equal rights under the law.

To be clear we have no rights over our children. Instead, we have responsibilities to them. Each child has his or her own hopes, dreams, mind, and body. Our only job is to keep them safe from harm until they are old enough and wise enough to do this for themselves. Rarely does this responsibility require a medical decision to be made due to imminent death. This responsibility never requires hitting a child or calling a child names.After all, discipline comes from within, not from punitive measures.

So then, what should a parent do? A parent must be sure a child has clothing, a school, food, can participate in his or her interests, and is kept from allergies or harmful animals to name a few basics. The great thing about this ideal, is that we lay the ground work of respect, kindness, and positive decision making while our children learn from our example then go out and create a life for themselves bit by bit. None of this has to cost a lot of cash but it does take time. But as a dear friend often says, "Why have children if you don't want to spend time with them?"

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

How to Survive a Sensory Meltdown

In light of the horrible meltdowns my son had last night, I thought I would write a quick list as a reminder to myself and others that these meltdowns do end and we can get through them. I will say that prevention is key, but then again you cannot always prevent every trigger a child may have. For example, my son flipped out at one point because he thought I had my husband's pillow downstairs when really it was my pillow. My son is 27 months and did NOT get this concept in the midst of his meltdown.

1. Take deep breathes. Just do it. It works.
2. Be patient, though this is easier said than done.
3. Walk away if your child is in a safe place and you need a moment to calm down.
4. Give a bear hug or take a step back depending on the signals your child is sending regarding how close he wants you to be.
5. Remember, meltdowns may be resolved quickly or they may drag on. If it takes time, then it takes time. BUT the meltdown WILL end eventually. Sometimes endurance is necessary.
6. Make sure you have enough to eat and drink. If your energy is low, you will be less likely to deal with the meltdown properly which may escalate your child's behaviors.
7. Get support from friends, family, a mom's group, or others. Have someone you can call, email, or invite over if you need support.
8. Remember, this will pass. It will be okay. There is no emergency, though your child feels as if there is an emergency. You must be calm to show your child that it will be okay. By showing a calm example, your child will see that it is possible to calmly deal with stress. Keep in mind that it takes a long time for some sensory children to get this concept. Consistency is key.

You can do this. The meltdown will end. You are an awesome parent!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Free Range Kids

I have, for many years, been a free range mom. My children are allowed to play on their own, make their own fun, choose how much or little food or TV they have, and so on. While I do keep an eye out for my children, I do not micro-manage their day or lives. I model good decision making and allow them to make their own mistakes when necessary. Yes, my children are free range and I do believe that MOST people are good. However, there are situations where being a free range child is not necessarily safe. As a parent I have to realize that my children's mind swill not be totally formed until their early 20s. This means that my children still need me to watch out for them though I may choose not to interfere unless they are truly in danger.

For example, two of my children have sensory issues. One time my daughter living with sensory issues heard a train at the park and tried to jump from the highest point on the playground equipment. Thankfully I ran and caught her in mid-air. She would have broken an arm or possibly busted her head open very easily from that height because the ledge was taller than me and she tends to get hurt just be walking normally. Thankfully she was not at the playground with just her sister or alone.

My son has food allergies, but he is 27 months. I often have to be sure that his food choices are free of allergens so he does not begin bleeding from his intestine or break out in a rash. One of my daughters gets hives from spiders so she will not ever be too far from a caregiver in case she has a restricted airway and needs medical attention. A friend of mine has a daughter who often walks off with strangers if given the opportunity. There are times we must keep our eyes open while still allowing our children to explore and make their own choices.

Some will say that I am crazy because this is, in their eyes, not truly free range parenting. However, a HUGE part of having children is recognizing what they are capable of and what they are not. Many states also have laws regarding how old your child must be in order to be left unsupervised or in charge of another child. If you ignore the laws you may be putting your child in a situation where he or she will be in a more strict environment than you would like because you may then be "in the system". The key here is to be mindful of your area and what the norms happen to be. perhaps being at the park but not right beside your child is more appropriate than dropping a five year old off and leaving for a run.

I love having free range children. I encourage all parents to try this idea out. Just be aware that there may be age restrictions in your area. Also be aware that sometimes unforseen situations come about and your child may need you to be around the corner or across the park.

You do not have to like my way of free range parenting, nor do you have to do the same. Just keep in mind that there is nothing wrong with keeping an ear or eye out for your children while allowing them to roam as long as the distance they roam from you is developmentally appropriate. As you can see above, my daughters were fine crossing a log they found. However, my son wanted his dad's help. They let us know what they could handle and we were there in case they wanted or needed us.:)