Archive for the ‘parenting’ Category

Be The Dad She Needs You To Be – Dr. Kevin Leman

Blog arise!

So it’s been a while, but life can get busy sometimes. My DW gave me this book for Father’s Day, and I intend to read it. Soon. We’ve been enjoying listening to Dr. Leman’s podcast, especially his “Have a New Kid by Friday” segments.

If you’re a father, or if your husband needs a little push, check out this book.

Be the Dad She Needs You to Be: The Indelible Imprint a Father Leaves on His Daughter's Life

setbacks in “growing out of” food allergies

Today we went out for lunch after church. To Vietnamese, where you can get rice noodles, and grilled meat, and if you ask they’ll leave off the peanuts on the order.

On paper, the dishes seemed safe.

According to the waitress, the dishes should be safe.

Unfortunately, just an hour and a half after eating, she started to complain that her nose was itchy. Then her underarms. Then her elbows. Then she started crying that she was itchy all over.

Time to get the Benadryl.

Then it was into the bathtub for a cool water bath.

Then it was no end of trying to distract her from scratching herself raw by letting her play with my Blackberry. Eventually she fell asleep with me holding her. At least then she wasn’t scratching anymore! Kind of heavy, though. And as we were sitting at the kitchen table, on a somewhat uncomfortable chair… sigh.

On a side note, if you want the kids to be knocked out, Benadryl will definitely do it… not that I am advocating that you should use it for any reason other than its intended purpose… ๐Ÿ™‚

When your food allergic child is having a reaction, it’s a bad feeling as a parent. Bad because you know that it was your job to make sure that she doesn’t eat anything that she’s allergic to, and bad because YOU SHOULD KNOW BETTER, and bad because your child is crawling out of their skin with itchiness, and bad because you just may have caused her to be allergic to whatever it is for the rest of her life because of your carelessness. “Aaugh!!” as Charlie Brown used to say.

The prevailing thought is that how a child ‘grows out’ of an allergy is through complete non-exposure, and given that a child’s immune system is not fully mature until around age 5, if the child has not been exposed and has not had a reaction, when the body’s immune system does ‘set’ itself, it will do so with a reduced reaction or possibly no reaction to that particular allergen.

You can see how our anxiety is pretty high about these accidental exposures, and how disappointing it is when she does get exposed. I kind of view each one as a sort of setback, and it’s painful because you don’t know if this will be just a setback, or the straw that broke the camel’s back.

As I write this our daughter is sleeping peacefully, the bedtime dose of Benadryl having its effect. Hopefully the symptoms will stay away. I guess I can’t dwell on it too much. We just have to try our best.

would you like a baby?

So I was with the kids at my parents house in the burbs today, and we went down to the park to spend some time on the play structure and just hang out.

As we were about to leave, I turned and saw a baby crawling down the hill.

By herself.

With no adult following behind.

Anywhere.

This is every parent’s nightmare. Warning bells are going off in my head. I looked around to see if anyone was coming, but there wasn’t. I turned to the other parents at the playground and asked if the baby belonged to any of them, but they all looked as confused as I was. As she reached the bottom of the hill, she stopped, and sat down. And then she started to cry. So I bent down and tried to soothe her with some comforting words, at which point she decided I was ok and lifted her arms up in the universal baby body language which means, “Pick me up!!”

She seemed to settle down, and I again looked around the playground to see if anyone was missing a baby. Nope. I headed up the hill in the direction from which she had crawled, and I noticed a flurry of activity in the backyard of one of the houses that backs onto the park. Hmm, I thought… does it look like they’re looking for a baby? I felt like the kid in “Murmel Murmel Murmel” who finds a baby and goes looking for someone to take care of it.

I walk towards the house. I think to myself that the house is a good 100 feet away, at least. As I get closer to the house, I see a large-ish man come hurrying out of the backyard gate and come towards me. I don’t remember exactly what I said, something to the effect of, “Is this your baby?”. He looked relieved.

Then he called out to a teenage kid, well, more like yelled at him, to come over and get the baby. As the man got closer to me, he said that the boy had left the gate open. The boy didn’t seem to see me, and was walking around aimlessly. The man yelled at him again, and as he reached me I passed the baby off to him. As he took her, he thanked me (I think, now that I’m writing this I can’t remember) and just kept berating and yelling at this kid as they walked back towards the house.

I wish I could say it was a story with a happy ending, but it really is kind of just unsettling. I mean, it’s happy in that the baby is back where she’s supposed to be, and not lost or abducted. I’m glad that I found her and not some ‘bad person’. I’m glad she crawled down to the playground and not out to the street.

But that baby must have been motoring, to have gotten that far out the gate without anyone noticing. When I first saw her she seemed pretty cheerful, crawling down the hill. But when she saw all the unfamiliar faces, I think she realized that she may have gone a little too far from home, and that’s when she started to cry.

I don’t know if the man was the father, grandfather, caregiver, foster parent, or what. And I handed a baby off to him, not really knowing.

I hope that this teaches that family to be a bit more careful in future. I hope that the kid learns from this and matures as a result, and that it isn’t just one more thing in a long list of things to get yelled at for. I hope that the yelling at the kid from the man was just a result of the panic of the whole situation, and not an everyday occurrence. I hope the baby is taken care of.

I hope that I don’t yell at my kids like that.

What it means: constant vigilance

vigโ‹…iโ‹…lance โ€“noun
1. state or quality of being vigilant; watchfulness: Vigilance is required in the event of treachery.
2. Pathology. insomnia.
Origin: 1560โ€“70; alter. ( -ance for -ancy ) of obs. vigilancy L. vigilantia; see vigilant, -ancy Dictionary.com Unabridged (v 1.1) Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, ยฉ Random House, Inc. 2006.

What it means to have a kid with food allergies:

It means that I worry any time I open a packet of instant 3 in 1 coffee, because the fine powder that floats up out of the mug might settle on something I can’t see, and the milk in it will get into her food.

It means that every time I make a breakfast that involves bread or anything that has wheat, I have to wash my hands in between handling our food and her food. And if while I’m eating she needs help, like with cutting her special toast, for example, I have to wash my hands again before I can touch her food.

It means that I’m super anxious about crumbs at the table. I always wipe her spot at the table first when the cloth is the cleanest, then move on to the rest of the table.

It means that anytime we’re serving food, I have to watch to make sure there isn’t any accidental cross contamination into the safe foods. No crumbs, no drips, no using serving utensils for multiple dishes. No touching bowls of plates when serving out the food.

It means that if I’ve been drinking milk or tea, and she needs a kiss, I have to wipe my mouth carefully before I kiss her.

It means that at Halloween, we come home and go through her candy, sorting out all the chocolate and other things she can’t have, and trade her for the bags of chips and the fruit gummies that she can have.

It means that we can only eat out at certain restaurants, and even then only certain menu items are safe. We have pored over many a restaurant’s ingredients list online, and have spoken to many a chef to find out what a certain dish is made with. It means that whenever we find a place that does offer something safe, we make sure we go back there, and often.

It means that I thought about getting a separate toaster for her so that we wouldn’t contaminate it with our bread crumbs. In the end we got a toaster oven that has two racks, and we keep her bread toasting on the top, and ours on the bottom, so the wheat crumbs won’t fall on her special bread.

It means that she wears a MedicAlert bracelet whenever she goes out and she’ll be under someone else’s supervision (at school, playdates, parties, etc.).

It means that for the first three years of her life we’ve had to avoid shellfish (shrimp, lobster, crab) and fish, not because she was allergic to them, but because they are foods that people are commonly allergic to. Since I have a slight reaction to crab and lobster, combined with the fact that she has a lot of other food allergies, we were advised to keep her off fish and shellfish until she was older and could be tested for them.

It means that I go through the ingredients of everything we buy to make sure it’s safe, even those things which we’ve previously vetted, because the ingredients may have changed since we bought them last. It has happened.

It means that she always has two Epi-Pens and a bottle of Benadryl nearby at all times.

It means that at school she has to have her own snacks, her own special cookies and treats, and can’t use certain materials like Play-Doh or egg cartons. It means that I nearly cried when her kindergarten teacher got her whole allergy information from us, and then asked for recipes for wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free birthday cakes, so that she could make cakes for the monthly birthday celebration not only for our daughter, BUT FOR THE WHOLE CLASS. :*)

Odadeo.com: social network for dads

How am I going to be a better dad? on Odadeo, the social network for fathers
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

I just discovered and joined odadeo.com, a social network for dads. The site says it’s in ‘nearly there’ beta, but it’s open to the public now while still in beta. I just created my profile in a few minutes, and added a few badges (describing what kind of dad I am) and a few pledges (what kinds of things I’d like to improve or do to be a better dad).

Of course, I linked my twitter and blog there, so I’m firmly entering into the daddy blog arena, I think. How’s that for a tentative statement, eh? ๐Ÿ™‚

Anyway, now you can find me on odadeo.com. I’m “sillydaddy”. If you don’t see me for a few days, it’s because I’m fiddling around with badges and pledges and stuff.

trouble at school

After dinner, the Linguist came into the kitchen as I was doing dishes. She sat herself down on the step stool.

“I can’t believe I’m telling you this, Daddy, but today I got into trouble at school.”

I put down my soapy dish. the Linguist has never gotten into trouble at school before.

“Tell me what happened.”

“Well, I got into trouble, I was pretending to be a baby, and going where I wasn’t supposed to, and touching things that I know I’m not supposed to touch. And I was playing with my friend and she got into a little trouble, but I got into more trouble.”

“Did you get into trouble for not stopping, getting carried away?”

“Yeah, it was hard for me to stop.”

“So what was your consequence? What happened?”

“Well, it was home time, and so the teacher didn’t have a chance to give me a punishment, but she said she had already given me ‘the look’, so…” At this, the Linguist narrowed her eyes and made a kind of closing gesture with her fingers, touching her thumb to her fingers.

“Hmm. OK. I’m glad you told me. I’m going to talk to Mommy about it later.”

“OK, Daddy.”

And then she left.

I suppose I’m grateful that getting into ‘trouble’ at school consisted of getting carried away with play and not stopping when the teacher asked. It could have been something worse. Another part of me is amazed that it hasn’t happened before now, because this particular problem has been a source of friction for us at home for quite some time.

I have no tips, or sage advice. Just trying to practice a lot of patience and working on not getting carried away myself. We’re giving lots of advance warning when transitions are about to occur, helping her work on planning activities so that she’ll be finished or able to pause the activity when she has to come to dinner, for example.

Mainly I wonder if I’m being too hard on her. It is possible to get into a full blown heels digging in โ€“ stubborn defiance โ€“ screaming โ€“ crying argument with her, and even when my tone is measured and even (I think, anyway) she might react to being corrected with the aforementioned behaviour.

I am reminded of a couple of verses from the Bible in situations like this. “Thou shall not kill…” Just kidding!

Fathers, donโ€™t aggravate your children. If you do, they will become discouraged and quit trying. – Colossians 3:21, NLT

The word “aggravate” is the Greek word erethizo, meaning “to stir up, provoke, arouse; embitter, provoke, irritate.” I hope that my strictness and discipline are not of the aggravating kind, leading to discouragement and losing heart. Being overly punitive, or overreacting to misbehaviour are surefire ways to aggravate the Linguist, so I have to watch myself for these things. And one major thing which really aggravates the Linguist is when I cut her off while she’s trying to explain her reasons for her behaviour. I tend to think “She’s just making excuses,” while she’s trying to express her thoughts and work through her emotions verbally. I should learn, as most men should, when I need to just shut up and listen ๐Ÿ˜

Boys, you can break
You’ll find out how much they can take
Boys will be strong
And boys soldier on
But boys would be gone without warmth from
A woman’s good, good heart

Fathers be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers be good to your daughters too

– John Mayer “Daughters”

the appearance of the school-going monster

our little monster

our little monster

Well, it’s happened, although in a different way than last year. Last year we had a mouthy JK-er. This year our little adorable nearly 4 yo has turned into a stubborn, opinionated, defiant child. Sometimes.

We’re not sure what it is. DW and I theorize that it has to do with the varied stresses on the routine, just being at school, adjusting to new things. We’re not sure, though. But this time around, we weren’t as surprised when it happened.

So what do we do about it? Well, we talk. A lot. Maybe that’s our failure, is that we talk too much. But we sit down and have a time out, and a talk about why screaming “NO!!!” and wrestling with her older sister is not a great behavioural choice. We’ve been successful at getting them to talk about how things make them feel, and how we should express those things to each other. But boy, it can be hard to keep your own head when everyone is screaming at each other! Sometimes you just want to charge in and yell “STOP!” I’ve tried that. It usually isn’t very effective. You’re just adding to the mayhem. Better a calm and even voiced approach.

I guess time outs work for kids AND parents. ๐Ÿ™‚