Monthly Archives: November 2010

A terrifying first walk

Yes, I like to write about firsts. Maybe because as a parent there are so many of them.

I remember how terrified both my wife and I were when we first walked in the door to our house with a fresh, new baby girl bundled in our arms. We both just stood there, shell shocked from the seismic change that had just occurred in our lives, unaware of what having this new baby would really mean or even what we should do next. That feeling does gradually wear off. But it occasionally rears it’s quease-inducing head when we are presented with a new challenge we have never dealt with before. In the early days, it was the basics – first diaper changes, first solid foods, first baths. Today, it’s first day of classes, first time on skates, and first sleepover.

This week’s episode of This American Life, the excellent radio program from PBS, has a story of a Dad who undertakes a first with his four month old daughter – their first walk around the block together. This doesn’t seem like it should be terrifying. But for Dad Ryan Knighton, it was. His story is the first one in this weeks TAL (about 6:30 in in) and it hooked me. Don’t worry. No one gets hurt. It’s just a compelling story of a first for a Dad who experiences life from a different perspective.

Besides being a dad, I do have this in common with Ryan. I have also been asked if I am looking for Mom when pushing my kids in a stroller :).

Ryan has written a book about his parenting experiences called C’mon Papa: Dispatches from a Dad in the Dark

The Bickersons

Ever seen a cat kicking a dog's ass?

The things you learn when you blog.

I went to write this post and, on a lark, Google’d the term “bickersons”. I have heard that term used throughout my life to mean two people who do nothing but argue. Turns out, The Bickersons was actually a post-WW2 radio comedy series starring Don Ameche and Francis Langford as two married people who do nothing but argue.

I feel like I know this radio play well. No, not my wife and I. It’s the kids.

It has gotten so bad that we have taken them to our family doctor to see if there is anything medically wrong with them. Turns out that was a good call as it appears that The Boy is suffering from a severe bout of LBS (Little Brother Syndrome). LBS symptoms include an incessant need to sit on his sisters half of the couch, poke her in the back and then run away, and mess up perfectly ordered lines of crayons.

His older sister has also been diagnosed with OSPMS (Older Sibling Parentitis Münchausen Syndrome), whose symptoms include assuming the proxy role of a parent when none are in the same room, an unnatural desire to strictly enforce all rules (real and imagined) and maintain extreme control over all living beings smaller than her who live within close physical proximity.

The Doctor has assured us that this is quite normal and that the symptoms will decrease in occurrence the closer to December 25th we get. However, the long term prognosis does not look good, and we can expect both conditions to flame up again early in the new year, with possible spontaneous outbreaks over the next 10 to 20 years.

Photo: Ever seen a cat kick a dogs ass? by Charles Nouÿrit used under Creative Commons license.

Kids with allergies bullied

Well, as a parent of a kid with allergies entering the public school system next year, this new report from Dr. Scott Sicherer, professor of pediatrics at the Jaffe Food Allergy Institute at Mount Sinai School of Medicine doesn’t fill me with warm, gooey thoughts.

According to the report, nearly 1/3 of kids with allergies have been harassed, teased or bullied about their condition. 80% of the time it is by their classmates. As a result of this, 65 per cent of kids with allergies report feelings of depression and embarrassment.

While this study does give me even more resolve to continue to educate my son about the realities of his allergies, it still fills me with worry. Overall I do think that things are getting better for parents with allergic kids, at least where I live. There is more acceptance by schools (even if there is tacit and often unconscious singling out of kids with allergies by teachers, as the study shows), and many have adopted peanut free policies. I am happy our schools are willing to take a stand on behalf of our kids.

But I still run across the occasional parent who resents – sometimes vociferously –  the minor restriction on their kids eating choices. Every once in a while I run into someone who believes that our sons condition has somehow impinged on their personal freedoms, and that it is their God given democratic peanut loving right to send whatever friggin food they wish for their kid to eat. It seems so out of proportion in my mind. I know packing lunches and snacks for kids is a hassle, and that having to make choices based on the safety of a few kids seems restricting. But the alternative?

Suck it up, itchy boy. Yes, I have heard that. Just last week. Along with “helpful” advice to a Facebook friend that they shouldn’t worry about sending a peanut butter sandwich for their kids to school despite it being against school policy. They won’t get in trouble for it because all the lunch room monitors are Grade 5 kids and they don’t care what the little kids eat.

So, part of me has to wonder how many of those kids doing the teasing, excluding and outright bullying are getting fed a diet of resentment from their parents? How many parents openly talk in front of their kids about what a hassle or pain it is to pack a lunch or snack each day that has to accommodate little Billy’s allergy? How many still believe that, really, it’s just a couple of hives. Our kids listen. This stuff trickles down.

I know that isn’t the case with most parents. The vast majority of people are fully supportive and understand that the risks are more than just a few hives. But it just takes that one parent who decides, for whatever reason, that their kids need to eat a peanut butter sandwich for lunch trumps my kids right to learn in a safe environment to wreck havoc in our life.