Thursday, 28 November 2013

Lesson 7: Don't forget to pat yourself on the back.

Update!  In last week's post, I ranted about the sugarless birthday policy at my son's preschool.  Most of you agreed that having a birthday with no cake is a sacrilege.  Yet I was forbidden from bringing anything other than fruit or yogurt for Z to share with his classmates on his special day .  So I complied and brought in fruit and yogurt... sort of.  I mean, the really yummy mini cheesecakes I made contained some fruit and yogurt, along with lots of cream cheese, gelatin and graham cracker crumbs.  Of course, I didn't divulge the real recipe to anyone at preschool for fear of having my cheesecakes banished.   Instead, I told an itsy bitsy lie.  I said the graham cracker crust was crushed All Bran mixed with spices and I didn't even mention the gelatin or the two pounds of Philadelphia.  I felt like a drug mule smuggling in some powder from south of the border.  I was sweating and shaking as I handed over the goods to teachers.  But they bought it!  And the kids loved every morsel. Victory is sweet.

Now back to the lesson.  My husband and I had a meeting at M's school yesterday to discuss his IEP.  M is in first grade and has sensory processing disorder  which means he needs a little extra help to get him through a long day of school.  We sat down with his homeroom teacher, resource teacher as well as the principal to go over strategies that will help him become a more successful and well adjusted student.  Although I was stressed going in, it was a great meeting and I was elated to discover that M is surrounded by such supportive individuals.  

Being a parent of a special needs kid is tough.  There is a lot of guilt involved ("Is it my fault he has these issues?") and there is a feeling that if you keep looking hard enough, you can find that magic cure to make your kid "normal".  So you don't ever stop thinking about the next kind of therapy you can try, or the next specialist you can visit.  It becomes consuming. And it's never enough because, if you stop worrying about your special needs child, then it's like you are giving up or giving in.  And I don't want to admit defeat.   

Obviously, I sometimes I feel like an inadequate mom.  At the end of everyday, I reflect about all the things I could have done differently.  I rarely take time to highlight the really good things I've done for my children.  This critical internal dialogue goes on day after day. I'm my own bully.  Trust me, she can be a mean bitch.  

M and I were talking after school yesterday and he said something that made me want to stand up to my cruel self.  "You came to visit Mrs. I today.  You know, my teacher said I have really nice parents.  She said you guys help me a lot and let me express how I feel.  She thinks I'm a lucky boy.  I am lucky, mom," he blurted as he looked me straight in the eye. We hugged.  I teared up,  and at that moment I realized I have been too hard on myself. Here was this brilliant, happy, insightful little boy telling me he loved me and his dad unconditionally.  Sure we've screwed up at times, but we have succeeded in making our kids feel special and loved.  Now that deserves some praise. 

I resolve to give the bullying the boot, and I challenge my fellow mommies to do the same. Be your own cheerleader.  Give yourself a pat on the back each day for a job well done.  I've earned it, and so have  you.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Lesson 6: Give your kids sugar.

Someone call child protective services.  I feed my kids sugar.  Gasp!

I put sugar in the sweets I bake for my boys.  I buy Lucky Charms and let them pick out the marshmallow shapes.  We have ice cream for dessert at least once a week, smothered in chocolate sauce.  After school, we sit around the table and dunk Oreos in milk while we talk about our day.  I stash chocolate bars in the pantry and use them as bribes to get my boys to a doctor's appointment when reasoning doesn't work.  And damn it, I love having cake with gooey frosting on birthdays... with a scoop of vanilla on the side!  

My son is turning four next Tuesday.  This morning I asked his preschool if I could bake something for his class to celebrate.  I know they have a heath food policy in place so I didn't suggest chocolate cupcakes, my usual birthday go-to.  But I figured an apple pie, oatmeal raisin muffins or even banana bread would be fine.  After a whole 10 minutes trying to plead my case, I was politely informed that the only thing I could bring in was fruit skewers or yogurt.  My jaw dropped.  Pardon my French, but what the FUCK?  Who blows candles off a fucking fruit kabob?  How blah.  How pretentious.  I was pissed.   I'm sorry, but kids should eat cake on their birthday.  It's tradition!  Why are we obsessed with feeding our children low fat, low carb, low sodium, no sugar everything?  Why does their food have to be organic and all natural.  Hell, let's make eating totally boring and just give them vitamin supplements instead of real meals.   

Call me crazy, call me old-fashioned, but I think every kid deserves a little sugar now and then.  It tastes good, it makes everyone happy and it doesn't hurt anyone.  Our family exercises and eats balanced meals and snacks.  We are not overweight or diabetic.  We have a sweet tooth which we indulge, in moderation.  No one has grown a third arm from it yet.  Even my dentist condones the sweet stuff, so long as the kids brush their teeth twice a day. 

When did sugar become so taboo?  My generation grew up on the stuff, along with hot dogs, Nutella and so much Lipton Soup it's a miracle our skin didn't permanently yellow from the salty bouillon.   We all turned out all right.

So let's all loosen up and let them eat cake!  

What do you think I should bring in next week?  Should I smuggle in some good stuff?  Do you have any sugar free cake recipes?  HELP!

Happy Birthday!  Have a fruit skewer kids.  Mommy ate all the cake.  

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Lesson 5: Kids will spread disease and nits faster than pigeons.

Anyone in my inner circle knows I am a complete germaphobe and suffer from anxiety.   As you can imagine, being a mom to two young boys can often gross me out.  And with flu season right around the corner, I am on high alert.  I've stocked hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes, disposable gloves and every flavour of fever medication.  

Every September, my mommy friends and I dread back-to-school for two reasons: gastro and head lice.  Last year, my oldest caught gastro three times within six months.   And guess what?  No one in this house went unscathed.   That shit (no pun intended) spreads like wildfire.  No amount of Lysol or bleach saved us.   Why?   Because kids have absolutely no sense of timing or aim when it comes to puking and crapping their pants.  They pooped and barfed on every square inch of this house... except for the toilet!

Our elementary school sends home a note about lice each fall.  They advise parents check their children's heads for nits at least once a week.  Every Friday night I turn in to a friggin mama chimpanzee.  I put on rubber gloves, stick my kids in the bath and search through their hair with a fine-toothed comb.  Any time they scratch their heads I jump on them and inspect their scalps like the CDC would jump on a sick chicken during a deadly bird flu outbreak.  Just the thought of these teeny tiny creepy crawlies makes me itch all over.  What's worse than the itching is that lice are a giant pain to get rid of.

Let's be honest here.  Kids are pretty disgusting.  They may look cute and sweet, but I assure you they are disease ridden.  I had an inkling this was the case way before I had kids.  I'd see them at the park or at the grocery store.  They almost always had snot dried up under their nose, dirty fingers or weird crust caught in their tangled manes.  But now that I've caught almost every documented communicable illness from my own boys, it's clear I didn't understand to what extent children could be a health hazard.

Fact: Children are vessels for germs and bacteria.  (I read an entire chapter on the subject in one of those parenting books childless friends like to give expectant moms.)  Here's the proof.  For some reason,  kids like to lick things that shouldn't be licked.  My oldest's tongue is strangely attracted to everything from bank machine keypads to elevator buttons.  But give him some grapes and he'll suddenly dry heave.  Preschoolers enjoy sharing sippy cups at playgroups with the most mucousy children in attendance.  Boys and girls alike can't keep their hands to themselves in public washrooms.  They are obsessed with touching every toilet seat and used paper towel.  And sometimes- I speak from experience- kids like to fish out turd from their BabyBjorn potty and bring it to you as your cooking to prove they've gone poo-poo like a big boy. 

My unexplained rash this summer.  It spread all over my back.  Could my children have been the cause? Probably!

Clearly, I know what I'm talking about.  Based on my experience, I've come up with some practical advice for parents to stay healthy. Here are some tips to keep those viruses, bugs and diseases at bay:

•   Wash your hands frequently.  You get used to the chapped, stinging skin after a while.
•   Always carry hand sanitizer.
•   Never eat the icing on a kid's birthday cake.  Chances are the birthday boy or girl, and all the underage guests, unintentionally spit on the cake while blowing out the candles.
•   Don't sniff any unidentified hard or dried out matter on the floors or walls of your home.  I can tell you from experience that it's probably poop.  
•   Don't share a tube of toothpaste with your little ones... it's most likely been up a nose or for a dip in the toilet.  
•   Never eat from your child's plate... you don't know where that mouth has been.
•   During a bout of gastro, line the beds and sofas with plastic.  It makes them easier to clean.
•   Keep your distance.  You can love your kids from afar.  

I'd like to know if you have any tips for keeping your household healthy.  Also, let me know your grossest kid stories.  Thanks for sharing!