This is a difficult post to write, because usually topics on this blog are more lighthearted and positive. But I am going to try to turn a tragic situation into one I hope to learn from, and maybe other readers will as well.
Friday night, my 2-year-old son, my mom and myself attended a hayride at the Orr Family Farm. On the same ride as us was an 18-month-old girl and her mom. My son and this little girl were picking out pumpkins in a pumpkin patch just five minutes before both our worlds were changed forever. We were witnesses to that little girl tragically losing her life immediately following that very ride.
This has been a near impossible thing to wrap my mind around. It’s something that causes shock and disbelief one minute, and despair and sympathy the next. It’s something I never thought I would have to see, and now is something I’ll see for the rest of my life. I can’t begin to imagine what her parents are going through and my heart and prayers have been with them since. Their lives are changed in ways I can never imagine.
I took a very hard lesson that night. Life really is so very fragile. The unthinkable can happen in a split second. Treat every moment with your children and family as a precious gift, because that is what it is. Give those you love an extra long hug and extra big smile next time you see them. Tell them you love them, and love them unconditionally.
If you’d like to know more about Zoe Madeline Montgomery, please click here: NewsOK.com. And please keep her parents in your thoughts and prayers.
I used to cringe when my kids were babies and they had to get shots. Now, I realize, it’s so much easier when they don’t know what’s coming. A couple of years ago when my daughter was 3 going on 4, I had to hold her down in the pediatrician’s office to get her flu shot and she ended up with a needle scratch on her leg. Last year was better, but she was still a little panicked this year despite the promise of a new toy. I’m not beyond bribery. My son, who is almost 2, still didn’t know what was coming and cried only for 30 seconds or so after getting stuck. By next year, I doubt he’ll be so cooperative. At least I managed to get their shots free this year!
We have a ritual at our house. It involves picking up his toys several times throughout the day. Why? He loves to throw his toys and books across the room.
He’s actually better than he used to be. His tendency to throw is common among some Down Syndrome children. Physical therapists have said he did this because he liked the sensation of throwing and that we should direct his impulse toward acceptable items – bean bags, socks, soft objects – and have him aim them toward a basket.
His aim is really good, too. A pink paper fish with a colorful tail of streamers had hung in a doorway for several years – until this past month when Cade zeroed in on the floating fish and successfully knocked it from its place after several times of pummeling it with balls, cars, pillows and other toys.
We should stop him, and we do, but sometimes we just give out. And it’s these times when we say cade, Cade, CADE! … and then duck when a remote or favorite book comes hurling toward our heads. Unfortunately, sometimes we’re not so quick or we’re oblivious to the incoming plastic missiles.
But we love him. And, our living room will continue to look like a whirlwind just plowed through. (I wonder what my daughters’ friends’ mothers must think about my little pit. – If only they had stopped by three minutes earlier)
We continue to try to correct him and encourage him to restrain from chunking the DVDs, newspapers and toys across the room.
It’s encouraging that he’s better. His throwing habit has evolved into mostly tossing across the floor or carrying toys from one location to another.
And, also promising is his willingness to clean up while he sings the “Clean Up” song.
But don’t be surprised by the socks and toys thrown in our entertainment center, behind the furniture and pushed beneath the couch if you drop by. Oh, and, Duck! — Linda Lynn
The oldest has researched on the Internet. The youngest has had deep discussions with classmates. Some of the comments they’ve made at home have been “very interesting.” Their father and I have explained that you can’t believe everything you read on the Internet, and sometimes people make incorrect statements about candidates.
But, overall, I’ve been impressed. I’m very proud to hear them talk about current events and show an interest in our nation’s future.
I remember a ride on a dirt road, sitting beside my dad in our pickup. As he drove past the peanut fields, I asked him, “Daddy, what does impeachment mean?”
I had spent many an hour watching Watergate hearings on TV. Yet, in my mind, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the politicians’ discussions had to do with PEACHES!
I’m sure my daughters’ newfound interest in politics is influenced by several things: TV news reports, their parents’ conversations, friends’ comments and school discussions. Katie, who is in a middle school yearbook class, has been assisting her classmates with short, informational election videos called “The Election Minute.”
I think Katie and Kaci’s interests in the presidential election have caused me to be more thoughtful about the candidates, their values, their goals if they become president. I still think what you read and hear can be confusing, but this national event has spurred some amusing as well as thought-provoking conversations in our home. — Linda Lynn
This “reality” show chronicles the lives of the rich and spoiled. This week’s episode showed one of the housewives throwing a birthday party for her 11-year-old daughter. The price tag? $18,000.
Well, 11-years-old is sort of a big deal, right? It’s almost 12 after all. But this poor child is soooo spoiled (and ungrateful) that she’s sure to turn into a spoiled, superficial adult. She’ll probably be on that MTV reality show, My Sweet 16, when mom throws her a million-dollar party in five years. (Hopefully Mom’s stock investments are as shored up as her not-so-natural physique.)
Then I read today about a wedding dress encrusted with diamonds that will be part of a bridal show at the Skirvin Hotel. The price tag is a mere $100,000, a modest take on the million-dollar diamond gowns that other designers have produced.
Even if you could afford such a gown, is it the socially responsible thing to do when our country is on the verge of economic collapse? People are losing their life savings, their homes (many worth less than the dress in question) and facing a future of sheer poverty. Maybe a portion of that price tag — a few diamonds really — could go to help organizations in great need.
The Alzheimer’s Association of Central Oklahoma is trying desperately to raise $10,000 to continue an arts program that helps late-stage patients express themselves through art. For these patients, the ability to communicate through paint and paper is more precious than all the diamonds in the world.
Let’s get our priorities straight. Sure, turning 11 or getting married are momentous events. Let’s celebrate — by setting aside our own vain and giving to others.
Those of us celebrating this fun holiday with a toddler, may be thinking “My child is too young for trick-or-treating, but I can’t let the day go by without some festivities to create that picture perfect moment of my little one in full costume.”
Here are some ideas that might be a bit more toddler-friendly than trick-or-treating.
Have a get together at your house. This works especially if you have other friends with toddlers. They can have food and games just for them.
Go to the zoo. The Oklahoma City Zoo sponsors “Haunt the Zoo” every year, and we go … every year. You won’t see the exhibits, but you’ll meet alot of friendly zoo employees who will be giving out all kinds of goodies. They also provide plenty of picture opportunities. Go to www.okczoo.com for more information.
Festivals. There are plenty around the metro. It seems that every church, YMCA and other community center is hosting a fall festival or carnival. Take advantage of these, as many are free and they’re a fun, safe alternative to trick-or-treating.
Hand out candy. Dress your toddler up in their costume and let them pass out candy to visiting trick-or-treaters. Chances are, they’ll just love the opportunity to show off their costume to neighbors. And you’ll get to watch Halloween specials on TV.
And if you do decide to brave the neighborhood for goodies, just be sure to follow the basic rules of trick-or-treating:
-Wear light-colored clothing and/or reflective tape on costumes. Don’t cross streets between parked cars.
-Go in a group, and while it is still light out. Use flashlights if it’s dark. Don’t go to any house that has the lights turned off.
-Inspect all candy carefully and discard anything that has a torn or missing wrapper or could have been tampered with in any way.
If you have any more good safety tips or suggestions for Halloween, post them here or email firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll post them for you.
Bonnie Harris, author of the new book “Confident Parents, Remarkable Kids: 8 Principles for Raising Kids You’ll Love to Live With (Adams Media, September 2008),” has plenty of tips for parents seeking solutions for morning time struggles between children and parents.
Several are listed in today’s Life section of The Oklahoman. Here are more of Harris’ tips to transform stressful mornings:
1. Decide what the best morning routine is for everyone. Make a chart. If you have a white board, write each agenda item with a box next to it for your child to check off when done.
2. Pick out clothes the night before.
3. Make lunches the night before.
4. Go over the next day’s schedule the night before.
5. Remind children to get backpacks ready before the bedtime routine starts — don’t expect this to be done without reminders unless you have an especially organized child.
6. Establish a rule that anything you have to do concerning homework is done the night before or it doesn’t get done.
7. Get up earlier and get your personal routine done before waking the children.
8. Ease your child awake with a smile and a back rub — unless she uses an alarm clock.
9. If you’re creative, prepare a “fancy” breakfast menu to present to your children when they get up. This can be a once in awhile option.
10. If things are not going smoothly, even silently acknowledge everyone’s agendas.
11. If your child is cranky, validate how hard some mornings are to get going and that you often have the same problem. Each day is different.
12. If there is a particular problem your child is dealing with, acknowledge the problem, and offer help and support without trying to fix it.
Bonnie Harris founded The Parent Guidance Center (now The Family Center) in Peterborough, N.H. in 1990, which is dedicated to parent education and support. She is the director of Connective Parenting and has designed and taught parenting workshops and counseled parents for 20 years. Sign up for her e-newsletter by going online to www.connectiveparenting.com.
I was about to pull out of my driveway and head to work when I glanced at my cell phone.
I had seven voicemails! Who could have called me so many times?
I listened to the first message, and it was my youngest daughter, Kaci, distraught and crying. You can never understand her on the phone when she’s upset, but I knew it was her. What could be wrong? So, I listened to the next message. Again, her crying, never staying on the phone more than a couple of seconds.
As I quickly headed to her school, my mind began to imagine the problem. Had someone hurt her? Had the teacher addressed her harshly? … Still, the next two voicemails were even shorter, some with only whines.
I was about in tears when I pulled into the school parking lot. I rushed to the office. “I have to talk to my daughter,” I said with urgency. “She called me on the phone distraught.”
One of the women in the school office told me Kaci was in the gym, so we quickly walked to her P.E. class. (Had she broken her arm? Was she hurt?)
When we arrived at the gym, I saw my little 10-year-old swinging a racquet and playing with the other children. She looked fine, so I was puzzled. I motioned for her to come to the door.
When she was asked if she had called me that morning, she said, “No.” …. But she had called two weeks ago. And then I remembered getting a phone call on our home phone weeks earlier. She had been upset because she had thought an envelope with money for school pictures was missing … It wasn’t. It was in her notebook. So, she quickly recovered from her tears.
Or so I thought. I didn’t realize she had tried calling my cell phone several times. Aren’t cell phones grand? I’m not sure if anyone else’s phone does this, but sometimes I don’t get a message alerting me to voicemails. Then, one day I’ll get one that seems to push all the voicemails forward at once.
So, I left her school that morning, relieved but mentally shaken.
When I retold this story to my family, my oldest daughter reminded me of a time last year when my worry took me a little over the top, too.
I showed up at her middle school with two pairs of pants and a sandwich.
I thought she had ripped her pants (I had seen a dark spot on her jeans when she boarded the bus, so I thought they were torn.) And news reports of tainted peanut butter panicked me because I had packed her a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Well, the rip turned out to be a sticker on her jeans. But I still made her switch out the sandwiches.
My children might laugh at me for my antics, but it’s just my nature. I will always worry about my kids. — Linda Lynn
If my kids tried to get out of trouble by using the same excuse that a criminal scam artist used in court this week to plead for leniency in his sentencing, I might double their punishment out of anger at the flawed thinking. Or I might just have to laugh. The excuses he used in federal court sound more like a child’s than a grown-up’s.
In essence, Phillip Levaughn Raglin argued through his attorney that his crimes weren’t as bad as everyone else’s. And those OTHER people aren’t even getting punished, he reasoned, so the judge should be lenient to him. Raglin bilked investors out of about $900,000 by convincing them to buy into his phony company.
Here are the details, described by writer Tony Thornton in The Oklahoman:
Through his attorney, Raglin said that the judge should give him mercy because his crimes are “minimal compared to the ‘financial bandits’ who caused the Wall Street meltdown but who are ‘getting off nearly scot free,’” Thornton wrote.
By what reasoning? Don’t we as parents teach our children that we are accountable for our own actions, no matter what the rest of the world does? That there are standards in place that don’t change?
I don’t care what everyone else did in this case. Yes, the Wall Street fiasco is a mess and there should be some fallout for those involved.
But that doesn’t matter for Raglin, nor would it matter in our house. If an action is wrong, it’s wrong, no matter who else did or didn’t do it or whether they got punished for it or not. I hope my kids learn that lesson now so they don’t have to learn it before a judge in a courtroom.
If my kids tried to use that logic on me, I’d like to believe I would see straight through it. Apparently the federal judge in Muskogee did, too. He sentenced Raglin to 10 years in prison — the maximum — and ordered him to pay more than $1 million in restitution.
Here’s a related “Mom-ism” for thought: “Doing what is right is not always easy but it’s ALWAYS right.”
And ideally that would apply whether everyone else is doing it or not.
For great reading involving this case, check out the court documents (links below):
Defense attorney Robert Ridenour’s arguments for leniency — ” Phillip is supremely confident and optimistic … (and) wants to be recognized and respected for his inteliigence.”
And prosecutor Susan Dickerson Cox’s arguments for the maximum sentence for Raglin: “He is narcissistic, materialistic and arrogant concerning his financial dealings.”