My 5-year-old son just started wanting his crackers lined up — perfectly. If one cracker is turned a little to the left or right, he protests.
The first time I noticed this was when he seemed cranky, distressed. I tried everything to appease him, thinking he might be wanting a different snack, might feel bad or maybe was just tired.
Then, I straightened his crackers, and the clouds parted.
This isn’t my first experience with childhood obsessions. My oldest daughter started lining up her toys at a young age. My youngest daughter had to have her silverware laid out properly on a napkin (even if paper) when we went to restaurants. This was rarely successful after our son was born, since he tended to grab anything that was on the table.
My sister tells a story about when our first child spent the night at her house. My daughter was crying about wanting her red socks. Those particular red socks were filthy, but my sister dug them out of the laundry and put them on my little daughter’s feet. … ahh, peace.
This is the same girl who would have me take her shoes off until I could get the little seam on the end of her tights to stay on top of her toes, instead of at the ends of her toes.
It’s these little things that can stress a parent — and a child.
Our son always says, “Thank you” and “Bless you.” But you better be quick with a return, “You’re welcome.” He demands it.
At least he has good manners.
Playing Santa is supposed to be fun, right? I mean, it IS fun. It’s kind of a rush putting together toys at midnight because that’s when you know your 4-year-old is really really asleep. Getting all of them wrapped up, arranging them just so under the tree.
But I couldn’t help but feel a tad guilty. My son and I were getting all ready for Santa on Christmas Eve. He counted out 8 carrots for the reindeer and put them in a bowl on our porch. He picked out 3 Christmas cookies he made himself, for Santa, and put them by the fireplace. He even moved them over from their original position so Santa wouldn’t mistakenly step on them on his way out of the chimney.
The look on my boy’s face was enough to make my heart melt. His eyes were wide, his voice full of excitement and anticipation. But I couldn’t help but feel just a little guilty. I felt like I was putting all this false hope into him, almost lying to him in a way. It’s strange, because as a girl, I held on to my belief in Santa for much longer than my peers. And although I think it had a lot to do with my mom’s threat … “if you don’t believe, you don’t get presents” … I think a big part of me just didn’t want to let it go of the magic.
I asked my mom if she felt the Santa Guilt with me and my brother. She said “No way.” Maybe I’m being a little oversensitive. I mean, it was a perfect Christmas. And there is something magical about a little guy waking up and counting the carrots in the bowl and saying “I really need to thank Santa for my presents.”
What about you? Did you have a twinge of Santa guilt this season? Let me know!
Last week, I wrote about our school district’s policy allowing corporal punishment (click here to read that post). I received many responses on both sides of this issue. Here are excerpts from just a few:
“I’m not sure what part of beating someone begats more beatings of someone smaller or “lower” than you the world does not understand. We have proved over and over again that harsher methods of punishment do not stop the problem and most often make it worse. Many moons ago we didn’t have the ability to understand our inner workings of our minds. Today we have a little bit better handle on it – but we still insist on using archaic methods to bring people “in line” with society’s rules.” -Linda Houck Maloney
“I am in total agreement with those who believe that corporal punishment (spanking) of disobedient, etc., children in schools, from grades 1 through 12. … I am a Christian, fairly conversant with the Bible, believe what it says, and it says in my Bible, “If you don’t chastise your child, you hate him.” That says it all. … As a retired counselor, I have always asked a new parent this question: “Do you want to train this child or do you want the child to train you?” -Arthur P. Long, Guthrie
“Lady, you are so wrong -wrong – wrong. I taught in the public schools for 31 years, and i am proud to say I have spanked many children – I am prouder to say I never hurt a single one physically.” -Larry Cooper
“If I were you, I would write a letter to the school stating that you do not wish for your son to be corporally punished under any circumstances. Make a copy of it for your records, and send it registered mail (or certified w/return receipt). May sound like a hassle but it’s a worthwhile precaution.” -Tom Johnson
“The overwhelming evidence shows that corporal punishment is related to increased aggression, more antisocial behavior, increased criminality, more mental health problems and increased adult abusive behaviors later in life. In the states that have abolished paddling in school, school violence has declined and academic achievement has increased. And common sense tells us that when big people hit little people, the message is clear that this is the way we solve problems and it’s okay to do this. I refer you to the website stophitting.org.” -Fran Morris, State Coordinator, Oklahomans Opposed to Corporal Punishment
“I grew up in California and before the mamby pamby psychologists took over, corporal punishment was used and used often. I believe its a great deterrant to further trouble from the student and the students that know what will happen if they get out of line. … The non-corporal punishment era is full of smart or foul mouthed students that have no respect for authority because the teachers have no authority in schools anymore.” -Mike DeFeo, Edmond
“I and many other concerned citizens have been working (sadly for DECADES) to ban physical/corporal punishment of children in schools. My teenaged son was threatened with a paddling for going outside for supervised free-time when he was supposedly told to stay in, but thankfully, we have always taught our children that “No one has the right to touch them, they can say “No”, get away and tell someone” which is why he told the Assistant Principal to call us. … We’ve never had any trouble with out kids, they’re reasonable, well-behaved and intelligent.” -Julie Worley
I learned a lot from many of your responses, so thank you for joining in on this discussion.
More information on corporal punishment
1. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, 20 states still have districts that allow corporal punishment. That means 30 states are using alternative forms of discipline that don’t involve paddling or spanking.
2. A bill was introduced to Congress on June 29, 2010 (H.R. 5628) to end the use of corporal punishment in schools. Click here to read the full bill.
In short, the purposes of this bill are to:
(1) eliminate the use of corporal punishment in schools;
(2) ensure the safety of all students and school personnel in schools and promote a positive school culture and climate;
(3) assist States, local educational agencies, and schools in identifying and implementing effective evidence-based models to prevent and reduce–
(A) corporal punishment in schools;
(B) aversive behavior interventions that compromise health and safety; and
(C) physical, emotional, or psychological abuse.
My son is starting pre-K this week and last night we had our “meet the teacher” night. He will be attending school in the Putnam City District as a transfer, because the district we live in doesn’t have pre-K.
Last night, as I’m reading through Putnam City’s Elementary School Handbook for 2010-11, I notice an entry under “conduct” called “corporal punishment.” I’m expecting the entry to say something to the effect of “we don’t tolerate it, allow it, use it” … something along those lines. But it says something very different. It says:
“The district recognizes corporal punishment as a means of discipline.”
I have to say, I’m shocked. As an Oklahoma “transplant” from Connecticut (where corporal punishment is banned), I did not expect that this was a means of discipline in any school district, in any state, but sure enough it is. And not just small-town rural districts. We’re talking one of the biggest districts in the state.
I’m not necessarily upset about my son being subjected to corporal punishment, because I don’t believe it’s readily used on prekindergarteners. But what about other elementary school-age children? Is this an effective and appropriate form of discipline for children while they are in school? Or is this something that should be reserved for parents to use, in the privacy of their own home?
In the handbook it says it “shall be used only as a last resort and only after other reasonable corrective measures have been used without success.” And to be fair, they do consult with parents first. But as a parent of a young child, I find it hard to believe that schools can’t take other action when it comes to a “last resort.” There are many more states and school districts that don’t find the need to use physical force on students. Why should this one?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Please e-mail me or comment below.
For all workshops, pre-register by calling 425-4412.
Unless otherwise noted, all sessions are for parents and caregivers of young children.
Here’s what’s in store for this summer:
Terrific Two’s: Learn about your 2-year-old. Focus is on their developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 1, Choctaw Library
June 16, Midwest City Library
June 22, Southern Oaks Library
June 19, The Village Library
Sibling Struggles: Learn methods to prepare children for the arrival of a new sibling and how to deal with sibling squabbles. Find out about sibling rivalry and what normal behavior is. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
June 2, Midwest City
June 30, The Village
Just for Fun: Games People Play(for children ages 8-12): Includes active games, quiet games and brain teasers. Kids will play games from the past and games from other cultures. Both are 1:30 to 3:30 p.m.
June 14, Southern Oaks
June 21, The Village
Toileting Triumph: Toileting doesn’t have to be a major challenge. Focus is on signs of readiness, why it can be frustrating and much more. All are from 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 16, Edmond Library
June 29, Warr Acres Library
July 20, Ralph Ellison Library
Making Your Morning Manageable: Time to eliminate chaos and come up with a routine. Focus is what parents can do to make this part of the day more calm and enjoyable.
June 25, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
Lullaby & Goodnight: Find a routine that includes reading to your child, to ease bedtime and naptime challenges. Sleep challenges will also be discussed. Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
June 30, Edmond
August 17, Ralph Ellison
Look Out, I’m Three!: Learn more about your 3-year-old. Focus is on developmental milestones. All are from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 7, Southern Oaks
July 8, Midwest City
July 13, The Village
July 20, Choctaw
Toddlers at the Table: Turn common concerns about toddler’s eating habits into opportunities to teach healthy habits. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
July 12, Midwest City
July 21, The Village
Those Playful Preschoolers:Focus is behavioral characteristics and developmental milestones of 3- and 4-year-olds. Activity ideas will be shared to keep little ones busy. Learn it’s OK for your preschooler to be “out of bounds.” Both are 3:30 to 5 p.m.
July 27, Warr Acres
Aug. 25, Edmond
Baby Basics: Main focus is typical concerns of parents. Colic/crying, separation anxiety, sleeping through the night and other issues will be discussed.
July 28, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Reading Readiness: Workshop will explore the necessary reading readiness building blocks and parents’ roles in helping children become readers. Both are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 9, The Village
Fun to be Four: Learn about your fascinating 4-year-old. Workshop focuses on developmental milestones. All are 6 to 7:30 p.m.
Aug. 3, Southern Oaks
Aug. 4, Midwest City
Aug. 10, The Village
Aug. 12, Choctaw
School Readiness: Facilitators will talk about support, encouragement and opportunity all children need for school success.
Aug. 10, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Warr Acres
Tripping Through Toddlerhood: Topics include, tantrums, biting, sharing and other common toddler challenges. Parents will learn how to minimize frustrations.
Aug. 11, 3:30 to 5 p.m., Edmond
Teaching Children to be More Cooperative: Focus is on when to discipline or ignore unwanted behaviors. Learn guidance techniques used by experts.
Aug. 27, 10:30 a.m. to noon, Warr Acres
To see the Oklahoma City-County Health Departments newsletters, including schedules for upcoming play groups, workshops, and health and child guidance screenings, click here .
Back in October, I wrote a post about the importance of water safety for infants and toddlers. (Click here to read that post.) In wake of another drowning, I want to reiterate the importance of taking the best safety measures we can to prevent another tragedy.
Drowning is a leading cause of unintentional death for children. The American Academy of Pediatrics has for years discourage swim lessons for children age 4 and younger. But this morning, they have changed their stance. According to their news release:
“New evidence shows that children ages 1 to 4 may be less likely to drown if they have had formal swimming instruction. … The new guidance recommends that parents should decide whether to enroll an individual child in swim lessons based on the child’s frequency of exposure to water, emotional development, physical abilities, and certain health concerns related to pool water infections and pool chemicals.”
You can read the entire news release by clicking here.
You can also watch a segment from the “Today” show that features different ways kids learn to swim and about the Infant Swimming Resource program that is available here in Oklahoma. To watch the “Today” show May 24 clip, click here.
As the Memorial Day long weekend approaches, now is the time to get your child familiar with the water and the ways to survive if he or she were to fall in.
And remember, nothing can replace a watchful and attentive parent or guardian. Don’t take your eyes off your children for a moment if there’s water nearby. Be sure your pool has the proper fencing/barriers to prevent your child from getting to the water unattended.
For everything water safety, go the AAP website: http://www.aap.org/healthtopics/watersafety.cfm.
Have a fun, but SAFE summer.
Within the past few months, my 4-year-old son has come into a new obsession: Tornadoes.
While you and I are scrambling for cover in a tornado siren, this kid’s eyes get as wide as saucers and the excitement level gets beyond control. Everything he sees is tornado-related.
But not all kids are ready to brave Mother Nature’s fury. Especially if those kids have had to go through an actual tornado and witness firsthand the destruction and injuries it can cause.
To help parents and caregivers explain how a tornado works, what to do when one is coming and how to deal with the destruction and aftermath of these storms, the Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Office has put out a coloring book called “After the Tornado.”
It’s a good read for parents and kids of any age and children will surely appreciate the fun-to-color pages.
To download the coloring book, click here.
For more information about the book, click here.
And for all your severe weather information, coverage and safety tips, go to the Know-It: Severe Weather page by clicking here.
If your family has any tales of storm survival or tips to help kids get through storms, comment here or e-mail me.
In case you haven’t heard, McNeil Consumer Healthcare, in conjunction with the FDA, has issued a voluntary recall of 43 children’s medicines. Among them are brands Tylenol, Motrin, Zyrtec and Benadryl. And chances are, if you have kids, you have one or more of these at home.
So for the safety of your children, and for peace of mind, take a few minutes and clean out your medicine cabinet. Go to the website links below to get all the information you need on what to do with these medicines. The FDA is recommending the use of generic brands for now.
For a full list of products recalled, click here.
For frequently asked questions about this massive recall, click here.
I fretted over how to have everything “just right” – SpongeBob cake, pineapple decoration, SpongeBob balloon, yellow utensils, SpongeBob napkins & tablecloth, “Crabby patties” (mini hamburgers) … my family would have enjoyed the visiting time without any frills.
Birthday parties can be so stressful if you take them too seriously.
I don’t remember EVER having a kid birthday with friends when I was growing up. Although, I did attend two: One was a sleepover (I had to sleep with the light on), and the other had the most magnificent cake: a doll cake draped in green and white icing. All the little girls took turns passing the cake around and taking a bite from the hem of the dress. … Can you say GERMS?
When my oldest daughter turned 5, I joined the birthday parade. It was that “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. And, I continued this insanity when my second daughter turned 5. Here is a sampling of the birthday parties we’ve had:
- At home with treasure hunt, silly string and cake … fairly inexpensive
- Sleepover (with 12 girls!) … exhausting …. juice and drinks spilled all over carpet, door knob broken off of bathroom door, fights among girls, crying birthday girl.
- Mall shopping … this would have been fairly inexpensive, but I had the bright idea of giving each child $10 … and then they needed more … and then they were hungry.
- Gymnastics … a little pricey, but it was “handled” by the instructors, and we had a cake and gift room, so this was a hit.
- Neighborhood park … who would have thought all 30 of the daycare classmates would have attended? Overall, a great success, but the number of presents were obscene. Looking back, we should have donated or said no presents. But my daughter was in heaven. There was an expense to reserve the pavilion, but it was such a beautiful day that all the kids had a great time. (We did this twice. The second time, hardly anyone showed, so you never know. That’s why RSVPs are so important to parents!)
- Overnight stay at a downtown hotel (Do you really want to take out a second mortgage on your home for a party?) This was a big hit with the girls … TV all night, dogpile on the couch and chairs for sleeping, swimming pool, water taxi ride through Bricktown. All of this would have been perfect, except for the chin injury in the hotel exercise room. Note to parents: Don’t let three 11-year-olds get on a treadmill, even if they say they’ll be fine.)
Looking back, our parties weren’t much different from other parties my kids’ friends had. And I’m glad my kids enjoyed the fun and time with friends and family.
But I still remember the simply iced white cake decorated with animal crackers that my mom made for me. The gift also was very modest. No ponies or jumping castles or skating rink or hotel rooms.
And I loved every birthday.
– Linda Lynn
According to Oklahoma Department of Human Services, there were more than 11,700 confirmations of child abuse and/or neglect in Oklahoma in 2008. In 2007, 39 died as a result of abuse or neglect. To read the full report, click here.
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and there are a lot of events and programs planned to bring awareness to this devastating problem.
The Kelsey Briggs Foundation is having a Child Abuse Prevention/Family Safety Day from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Woodland Park in Shawnee. OU football players will be there and there will be car seat checks, live music, guest speakers, booths, food and much more. Click here for more information.
At UCO, Building a Blue Ribbon Tree will start at 8 a.m. April 14 with volunteers tying blue ribbons at 8 a.m. along the trees of Broncho Lake. At 11 a.m., children from UCO’s Child Study Center will lead a parade. Visitors will then be encouraged to tie blue ribbons on trees to represent children who have been abused. For more information, contact Kaye Sears at 974-5786 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can also build a blue a ribbon tree in your own neighborhood. Anyone can do this, anywhere. Click here for more information.
The Oklahoma County Kids Task Force has an abundance of information on child abuse prevention, helpful programs, referrals and hot line. They also have opportunities for volunteers to get involved in the fight against child abuse. Go to http://okcountykids.org.
Anything we can do to just help one child is worth it. Let’s cherish our little ones and remember just how young and innocent they are.