Wednesday, October 30, 2013

My Child’s School Does Not Need to Know What Medications I’m Taking

Yesterday my 7-year-old brought home an assignment that was to be completed with the students’ families and returned to school the next day. We’ve had many of these over the years. We’ve decorated turkeys, created timelines, and made family trees. I know the assignments are just to encourage families to do something together. For some kids, I’m sure it offers some much-needed interaction with their parents. However, we do things together as a family continually, and searching for feathers, buttons, felt, and markers to decorate a turkey isn’t a fun activity; it’s a pain in the butt. 
Nevertheless, we participate anyway. Yesterday’s assignment was a little different. When I read the instructions I was left a bit dumbfounded. And by ‘dumbfounded’, I mean I was saying, “What the crap? This can’t be real!” See for yourselves:

I understand why this activity was sent out. It makes perfect sense that a 7-year-old should be able to identify and know the difference between prescription and over-the-counter medication. There’s no reason why a 7-year-old should simply be taught that medicine should never be taken unless your adult caregiver or a doctor gives to you. They should absolutely know the difference and be able to tell what condition each medication is used to treat. It’s never to early to start training our future doctors and pharmacists. It’s also important that this personal health information be shared with the students’ teachers and classmates. I mean, how else will they know which houses have the “good drugs”?

The last part of the assignment is the best. “Discuss with your child the responsible way to take prescription medicines and how they help the person for whom they were prescribed.” It doesn’t even mention OTC medicine. Yes, let’s confuse the kids and teach them that only prescription medications can be dangerous. You can take as much OTC stuff as you want. It’s practically candy! But like the activity suggests, I think every parent should have the following kinds of conversations with their 7-year-olds.

“Well Johnny, this is your father’s Viagra. It helps him … perform. And these are my birth control pills so I don’t have any more babies. And these are my antidepressants because without them, I’d jump off a bridge. And this here is your father’s hemorrhoid cream because he has ouchies on his butt.”

Under the “RX” and the “OTC” columns, I was going to list the following medications: Vagisil, anti-fungal cream, painkillers, Preparation H, prescription dandruff shampoo, wart medication, anti-psychotics, more painkillers, Viagra, Ex-Lax, anti-diarrhea medicine, more painkillers, lice shampoo, Rogaine, more painkillers, anti-flatulence meds, and finally, some more painkillers. I decided I’d create a third column labeled “illegal” and list things like: marijuana, crack, molly, heroine, LSD, bath salts, and ecstasy. In the end, I decided against that plan however, because I don’t especially want DCFS knocking on my door. I had friends tell me to call the school, complain to the principal, take it to the school board, and call in the media! People screamed “HIPAA violation!” That’s really not my style though. I didn’t think this was an assignment created by my child’s teacher to search out drugs, or garner a bit too much information about the families of her students. I didn’t think it was an underhanded way for the government to keep tabs on us. I thought it was nothing more than a poorly thought-out activity assigned as a drug awareness exercise during Red Ribbon Week. A VERY poorly thought-out activity.

Instead, I emailed my daughter’s teacher and wrote, I’m curious about last night’s home activity. Who came up with that assignment? (I’m guessing it was something every teacher was told to pass out.) I felt like it was inappropriate on many levels. In my opinion, a 7-year-old doesn’t need to differentiate between prescription and OTC drugs; they just need to know that you don’t take any medication unless your adult caregiver gives it to you. They don’t need to know who takes what prescriptions and why, nor does anyone at the school need that information. I opted not to do the activity, but instead talked to Brooklyn about not taking any medication unless I give it to her.

Her teacher responded, Yes, I understand your concern about the family activity that was sent home last night.  This work is given if the parents want to do the activity with their child-IT’S NOT MANDATORY. :) I completely understand what you wrote to me addressing your concerns.  I also told the students that the only thing they take is if their parents give it to them when they are sick or if they go to the doctor and have to get medicine to make them well.  We were all given these activities to send home to the parents in case they would like do them with their children.  Don’t worry about not doing the activity.  It’s only optional.  :)  I hope this makes you feel a little more at ease about this.  Please let me know if you have any more questions or concerns.

I like Brooklyn’s teacher and know she didn’t come up with this assignment herself, but I’m a little disappointed that, optional or not, it was handed out at all. Whoever thought this was an appropriate activity didn’t use common sense, in this parent’s opinion.

Has anyone else gotten any assignments like this? I’m curious if other schools participated in this ‘Learning for Life Substance Abuse Prevention Education Program’. If so, did you do the assignment? Were you outraged and did you go to the school board? Or did you just skip the activity?

Monday, October 28, 2013

Before I was a Mom (27 Things I Remember from my Pre-Mom Days)

I love being a mom and wouldn’t trade it for the world. I honestly have a hard time remembering what life was like before I had kids. My oldest child will be 19 this week, and considering I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast, it’s not surprising I can’t remember those pre-mom days from nearly 2 decades ago.

Before I was a mom…

my jeans fit.
I drove a Mustang, not a church van.
there weren’t any fruit snacks smashed into the seatbelts in my car.
there weren’t any drawings on the furniture in my house.
I had never tried the delicacy of a chicken nugget.
there wasn’t a single strand of gray in my hair.
I didn’t know that blue food coloring could make a kid’s poop to neon green.
I never uttered the phrases, “Don’t put that lizard in your sister’s bed,” “Why did you shove a Tic Tac up your nose?” or “Stop trying to fly; the ceiling fan has a weight limit, you know!”
I slept all night without any feet in my face.
I could go to the bathroom without seeing fingers poking under the door.
I was smart. And then I was presented with 6th grade math.
I took showers that lasted more than 2 minutes and when I left the bathroom, I never discovered the dog covered in pink yogurt.
my floor wasn’t covered in toys.
I ate food while it was still warm.
I knew the perfect way to raise kids.
I didn’t have any Barbies, Legos, or Happy Meal toys in my purse.
There wasn’t Play Doh or nail polish permanently stuck to my carpet.
I did my hair and makeup every day.
my name was Dawn, not Mom.
I had money. Or well, more money than I have now.
my time was my own and I never used that time to sit at a football field for 12 hours straight.
I never considered making a diorama of the Potawatomi Indians the night before it was due.
I arrived at destinations on time and with matching shoes.
I had never heard of The Wiggles, Super Why, or Bubble Guppies.
I didn’t know what it felt like to be a role model.
I didn’t know how amazingly incredible it felt to hold your own baby.
I didn’t know I could love anyone as strongly as I do now.

How about you? Fill in the blank. Before I was a mom____________.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Beauty is Pain (the things we women do in the name of glamour)

A couple days ago I posted the following status on Facebook. Lunging around the house to loosen up my jeans. In a matter of minutes, I had 195 likes and many comments saying, "Been there, done that." All by women. One man said, "Or, you could just do what guys do... we buy pants that actually fit us." Clearly, he doesn't understand how this works. We can't just buy a bigger pair. That's like giving up. We're not quitters! We will do what it takes to fit into that pair of jeans or die trying. And that's not all. Here are some of the things we do on a regular basis to look bee-you-tee-ful. 

Yes, I know (before anyone comments) a woman’s self-worth shouldn’t be tied to her physical appearance. We need to teach our daughters to love themselves no matter how they look. A woman doesn’t need makeup to look beautiful. Blah blah blah. But here in my world, this is how things happen and this is what I do most days . . .


Friday, October 4, 2013

I Can do Home Maintenance! (Sort of. Mostly.)

After my amazing job of fixing my washing machine (you can read all about it here), I’ve come to the conclusion that I can fix anything. I’m awesome. I’m amazing. Home Maintenance is my middle name! I’m like Bob Vila! Or Ty Pennington! Or some other astonishing home improvement guy! Or Ty Pennington (he deserves to be mentioned twice because he’s Ty Pennington!)

So when my washing machine started leaking, I thought to myself, No problem! I’m an expert! I can totally fix this! See? You give me a small taste of success and it goes right to my head.

Unfortunately, I hadn’t had time to take a look at the washer this week. I figured it just wasn’t draining properly again and I’d probably have to take the whole thing apart once more in order to figure out where the leak was. Last night, I finally found a few minutes to take a look. I opened the laundry room door and a tidal wave of water came sloshing out over my head, engulfing everything in its path. Or so it felt. I slogged through the piles of sopping wet laundry on the floor, stagnant, smelly water squishing up between my toes with every step I took. I grabbed onto the washing machine and tried to pull it away from the wall, but given the fact that I have the upper body strength of a gerbil, I lost my grip and fell back into the puddle of wet clothes. Still, I’m Master Builder Meehan; I can do anything! I tried again. “I know I pulled it out from the wall the last time,” I said through gritted teeth while heaving with all my strength. It didn’t budge. Wow, my gerbil-like strength might have to be downgraded to that of a jellyfish, I thought. Then I realized the washer was full of clothes.Yes! I’m not a weakling, after all!

I emptied the washer and tried again. It took me a few minutes of scooting the washer this way an inch, then that way an inch, then this way an inch, then that way an inch. Sure, that method is time consuming, but it’s effective. As I angled it out, it jammed up against the wall and I thought of Ross. “PIVOT!” I yelled to no one in particular. (You get bonus points and will be my new best friend if you understand that reference.)

No sooner had I moved the appliance away from the wall then I saw where the water was coming from. It wasn’t the washer that was leaking at all. It was the hose that runs from the wall to the washer that had a small, steady stream of water pouring from it. Hallelujah! I don’t have to take the whole washer apart again! I just have to tighten up this thingy that screws these two hoses together. I can do that!

I unplugged the machine and turned the water off before I began because I’m smarter than your average bear that way (and because I may learn things the hard way, but I do tend to remember those lessons.) I gripped the pieces and twisted with all my might. Nothing happened. Well, actually something happened. My hand turned red and got indentations from the screwy part. But I couldn’t tighten it. No problem. I’ll ask Austin. I’m pretty sure the Hardware Rule Book states that I don’t have to abdicate my title as Amazing Fixit Guy just because I need a little help in the manly muscle department.

Austin got a grippy tool and was able to tighten the part. I turned the water back on. The good news is that there was no longer a steady trickle of water. The bad news is that the water now sprayed out in an impressive arch kinda like when you were a kid playing outside with the garden hose and you put your thumb over the nozzle so you could shoot your sister from across the yard. Yeah. Being the quick-thinker I am, I took less than 5 minutes to realize I needed to turn off the water again.

Okay, plan B. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that you always need a plan B when fixing stuff. It’s usually a pretty good idea to have a plan C, D, E, and F as well. You know, just in case.

I had Austin use his grippy tool to take the hoses apart, then I inspected them as if I had a clue what I was looking for. There was a black rubber thingy inside one of them. “Aha!” I exclaimed. I bet I need a new one of these. This looks like something that could make a washing machine leak,” I informed Austin who looked disinterested in the whole process.

I grabbed the black rubber thingy and headed to Ace. I assume everyone ran and hid when they saw me approaching because it took me several minutes to find someone to help me. It might have something to do with the weed whacker incident.

When I finally found someone, I produced my black rubber thingy and said, “I need one of these because my washing machine is leaking.”

He looked at the little black circle in my palm and said, “You need a new washer.”

“Really? It’s only two years old! I don’t think I need a new washer. I’m pretty sure I can fix the leak if I get a new one of these thingys,” I countered, indicating the rubber circle.

The guy just looked at me.

“What?” I asked innocently obliviously. “You don’t think this is the problem? This couldn’t be causing the leak?”

Realizing that I wasn’t being a smartbutt and that, in actuality, I really am this stupid, the guy said (in very small, simple terms), “This little black circle is called a washer. You need a new washer. And yes, this is probably why it’s leaking.”

“Isn’t that a little confusing? A washer for the washer?” I asked. “It should really be named something else. Like Little Black Circle. Now that makes sense.”

He stopped and looked at me again. I got the feeling the other Ace guys had tipped him off about me.

He led me to an aisle with plumbing type stuff, grabbed a pack of orange washers off the wall, and handed it to me.

“These aren’t the same,” I informed him.

He wrinkled his brow and took the black washer from me, comparing it to the ones in the package. After a brief moment, he assured me, “Yep. They’re the same.”

“It doesn’t matter that these are orange?” I asked. In hindsight, I guess it was stupid of me, but at the time, I didn’t know. I thought maybe they were color-coded. You know like the hangers at Target. Each size has its own color tab on top. I understand clothes shopping. I don’t understand hardware shopping.

So I went home, jammed the washer into the screwy part of the hose and tightened it all up again. I turned the water on full-blast, proud of myself for figuring out what was wrong and fixing it all by myself. (If Ty knew about my skills, he’d be all over me.)

Water spewed from the hose, spraying my face, the wall, the dry clothes stacked neatly on the dryer, basically everything.

I calmly turned off the water again and declared, “It’s unfixable. Time for a new washer, and not the little rubber circle kind either!”

I suppose I could’ve Googled how to fix this sort of thing. I could’ve messed around with it until a lightbulb appeared above my head. But instead I ran to my neighbor’s house. “Help? My washing machine is broken and I don’t know what to do.”

My neighbor came over and took a look at the hoses. “I’ve had just enough beers that I think I can fix this,” he said. I remember the time my son, Jackson let this particular neighbor give him a haircut after a few beers.

“Actually, I might not need help after all,” I changed my mind.

“Nah, this is an easy fix. You just need a new hose,” he stated confidently.

“They sell those?”

“Of course!”

“At Ace?”

“Probably. If not, you can get them at Lowe’s.”

I thought about going to Lowe’s, but I figured, They already think I’m unbalanced at Ace; why add a second store of employees who think I’m mentally challenged? I ran to Ace, found the same guy, told him the new washer didn’t work, and asked him to point me in the direction of the hoses.

Long story short (or long story not quite as long as I could make it), I got the new hoses and my neighbor installed them. Not only that, but while he was installing them, Savannah was asking me questions for her psychology homework. My neighbor helped with that too by giving her such helpful answers as “flux capacitor” and “I’m sorry, but that question wasn’t asked in the form of an answer.”

I may have gotten help with this repair, but I’m still retaining my self-imposed title of Fixit Queen of the World. I can do that since I live in my own fantasyworld. And I’ve come to the conclusion that I no longer need a fixit guy. I’ve got this single mom thing down pat! I’ll just borrow my neighbor’s husband now and then and I’ll get cats. Lots of cats. The cats are really optional, but they represent the fact that I don’t need a fixit guy since this single mom is now the Fixit Queen of the World. Unless Ty Pennington wants to be my fixit guy. I’ll ditch the Cat Plan for him.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

For the Love of the Sport - Part Two

I just wrote about how I’ll let my son play football despite the possibility of injuries. I mean, I just wrote it! Literally one day after I wrote that blog post, my child was injured. It wasn’t my football-playing son who was injured, however. It was my cheerleading daughter. Last night, while at practice, she fell doing a basic stunt. Her team does some really crazy stunts that scare me, but last night it was just a very basic lift that went wrong. From a height of about 5-6 feet in the air, Lexi fell backwards. It happens so fast when a flyer falls. About all they can do is trust their bases and spotters to catch them. Last night, Lexi’s bases and back spotter failed to catch her or even cushion her blow. She hit the ground, landing on her shoulder which jammed into her neck with nothing but an inch of foam to help soften the impact.

She lay there, crying, struggling to breathe, moaning about the pain in her shoulder and her neck, then taking great gulps of air and crying that her neck hurt to breathe. Immediately her coaches held her head still and kept her stationary while trying to ascertain where her injury was, and how serious it was. Her right shoulder appeared a little deformed and swollen, but even more concerning was the pain in her neck.

I left the bleachers and made my way onto the field, not aware of how badly she was hurt at first. I mean, I’ve seen her fall dozens of times. In fact, she’d fallen several times earlier that night and each time, she stood up and got right back up in the stunt. When I reached her, I knew immediately how badly she was hurt.

After a few minutes that seemed like forever, the coaches (one of whom is a nurse), called the ambulance. Lexi’s neck pain was scary. Seriously scary. So scary, in fact, that I didn’t even notice the paramedics! Right away they put a collar around her neck to stabilize her head, and strapped her to a board before lifting her to the stretcher.

As the paramedics wheeled her across the field to the ambulance, Brooklyn and Clayton who were practicing right there ran over to see Lexi. That’s when I lost it. I’d been holding it together, keeping my head up for Lex, and silently praying, “Please don’t let her neck be broken. Please don’t let her neck be broken”, but when Brooklyn came over bawling her eyes out, I lost it. It was a heartbreaking scene, Brooklyn’s coach lifting her up so she could clutch at Lexi while crying frightened tears for her big sister.

In the end, after a CT of her neck and x-rays of her shoulder and clavicle, it was determined that Lexi’s spine is fine and her shoulder is a little separated, but it wasn’t a bad enough tear to show up on the x-ray. Her arm is in a sling, she has medicine for the pain, has a lot of neck pain, and will be out of cheer while she heals. The good news is that her injuries aren’t bad at all. The other good news is that this incident really made me feel like Florida is finally home. Friends gathered around the football field offering to take my younger kids home, offering to get my car for me, offering to do anything I needed at the moment. Texts poured in with messages of support, offers of help, and requests to be updated on Lexi’s status. In that instant, it felt like we had a network of family and friends. 

And for those of you wondering if I’ll allow Lexi to cheer again, the answer is yes. I’m not sure if she’ll want to go back to it, or if she’ll ever trust her bases and spotters to fly with them again, but if she does, I’ll support her. Consider this - in the end, Lexi wasn’t badly hurt. My friend’s 7-year-old daughter, however, was accidentally kicked in the head at school yesterday. She seemed fine and went about her day and went to cheer last night. In the middle of the night, she woke up vomiting. After a visit to the hospital, it was determined that she had a concussion. This is her second concussion. The first one was worse and it happened while playing on the playground during summer camp. Two major head injuries, both the result of non-sports related accidents. In the end, you just never know.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

For the Love of the Game: an interview with my son about the dangers of football

Last week I read an article about a 16-year-old boy who died after sustaining injuries that resulted from a helmet to helmet collision during a football game. Of course I felt horrible for the boy’s family. And as the mom of sons who play football, I feel scared for my own boys’ safety. I mean, I know that injuries can occur in any sport. Heck, injuries can occur outside of sports too. But catastrophic head injuries are much more prevalent in football than in any other sport. Oftentimes, head injuries that don’t seem serious at the time cause problems down the line when repeated head trauma has a cumulative affect on the player. I asked my 15-year-old freshman what he thought about football and the risks involved with playing.

DAWN: What do you think of when you hear about a kid your age who has a helmet-to-helmet injury in a football game and ends up dying from it?

JACKSON: I think that that’s just a way of life. Stuff like that happens all the time.

DAWN: Have you seen any injuries during games or practices?

JACKSON: I have seen plenty of injuries during practices and games and it doesn’t faze me one bit. I specifically remember one practice when one of my teammates broke his arm to where his elbow was sticking out and he needed to be rushed to the hospital.

DAWN: Are you scared of being hurt? Does it make you want to change sports and participate in something less dangerous?

JACKSON: I am never really thinking that I’ll get hurt. The way I see it, it’s either hit or be hit, and if I do that I won’t be the one getting hurt. I keep my head up, pay attention, and do what the coaches have taught me to do.

DAWN: Why do you risk injury to play the game? What do you get out of it?

JACKSON: I risk the injuries of this game because I just love to play football and everything about it. Football teaches so many life lessons such as teamwork, leadership, and discipline, and that’s why I love it.

DAWN: Given the chance, will you play football again next year?

JACKSON: If I got a chance to play football next year, I would sign up without missing a beat, I honestly love everything about football.

DAWN: 500,000 football injuries occur each year, 2 times as many as any other sport. 60-70 concussions occur for every 1000 games/practices. No one would disagree that contact sports like football are dangerous. What if your mom refuses to let you play because she’s worried about injuries?

JACKSON: I’d try to find a way to play. Football is really important to me. I’d play touch football with some friends in the backyard at least if I couldn’t play anything else.

DAWN: What if your best friend was seriously injured? What if he had a bad concussion? Would that make you stop and think twice about playing?

JACKSON:  If my best friend got injured, I’d definitely think twice about it, but I’d still play.

I want to let my son play. He loves the game and he’s good at it. It gives him an acceptable venue to expend his energy and aggression. He feels good about himself when he plays and it forces him to keep his grades up in order to play. But I have to admit, the fear of brain injury does give me pause. I wonder what my chances are of talking him into a less dangerous sport. Then I can move on to my daughter who is a flyer on her cheerleading team. Oy, talk about being a nervous wreck while watching your child compete . . 

What do you think? Should you let your child play the sport they love and remember that injuries can happen anywhere; there’s no reason to worry about what might happen? Or do you put your foot down and tell them to pick a less dangerous sport?

*****Edited to add*****     I’ve had so many people on Facebook state that they would never take a chance and let their child play football, that the risks aren’t worth it, that a parent needs to learn how to say “no” to their child. I hear you and understand that everyone is, of course, entitled to their opinion. But let me say this – my son Jackson has played football for many years and has never been hurt. However, while riding his bike, the tire skidded on some gravel causing an injury that required an ER visit, an overnight hospital stay, and later, surgery to repair the hernia that the injury caused. My daughter Savannah has had 2 knee surgeries and her knee will never be quite right. It had nothing to do with sports. I guess I prefer to let my kids play the sports about which they’re passionate and leave the worrying to things I can control. I can’t control when/how my kids may get injured some day and I refuse to keep them in a bubble in an effort to protect them from every fictitious scenario I can dream up.

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