On Monday, my son gave me quite the scare. I was talking to another parent at his day care while he and his friend played in the cubby area of the classroom. He was tugging on his friend’s shirt and when his friend broke free, my son fell backward and hit his back on the cubby.
I was consoling him (he was crying pretty hard) when all of a sudden his eyes glazed over and his body went completely limp and lifeless in my arms. I tried shaking him to snap him out of it, but he was completely passed out. His teacher called 911 and he woke up about a minute later, disoriented and crying.
When the EMT/firefighters arrived, they checked him thoroughly. They put him at ease by talking to him about things he could relate to so he wouldn’t be so frightened. In the end, they think he just hyperventilated from crying so hard. His doctor wants to run more tests, but hopefully, that’s all it was.
After about 45 minutes, when all seemed back to normal, the firefighters invited my son and his friend to go outside and see their fire truck. You can only imagine the excitement on the boys’ faces.
They gave them stickers, blew up rubber gloves, showed them the super-humongous ax and let them sit inside so they could show them all the bells and whistles.
Then came the best part.
“We’re taking them with us.”
I thought the firemen were joking.
Then the doors to the truck closed, and off they all went for a ride through the parking lot, flashing lights and all. Their first ride ever in a real fire truck. I think that made my son’s life complete. I don’t remember ever getting to ride in a fire truck. But these two boys would surely be the envy of all their classmates the next day.
So to the Oklahoma City Fire Department: You guys have the biggest hearts. Thank you so much for taking the time to turn a scary situation into something my son will always remember. Thank you for putting this smile on my boy’s face.
What does your day care know about swine flu (H1N1 flu) and what measures are they urged to follow? The Centers for Disease Control have recently issued updated guidelines to day cares on how to combat the spread of this virus.
Here’s what your day care should have been told:
1. Encourage all staff to get vaccinated.
2. Make sure children’s and staff’s hands are washed often with soap and water, and especially after children cough or sneeze. Keep alcohol-based hand cleaner nearby if a sink isn’t readily available.
3. Remind children and staff not to touch their eyes, nose or mouth as germs are often spread this way.
4. Clean the environment regularly. Dirty areas and items should be cleaned immediately, especially play areas and toys.
5. Day care staffers deemed to be high risk for flu complications and parents of children younger than age 5 who become ill with flu-like symptoms should call their doctor immediately to see if they are in need of antiviral treatment.
6. If a swine flu outbreak is severe, staff should consider closing the day care center to decrease the spread of infection. A decision to close should be made in conjunction with local public health officials.
7. Remind staff to stay home and parents to keep a sick child at home when they have flu-like symptoms. Send sick staff home immediately. If a child become ill at the day care, move them to a separate, but supervised, area until a parent can pick them up.
If an outbreak becomes more severe or symptoms more dangerous as the fall and winter season approach, the following guidelines should also be considered:
1. Let high-risk staffers stay at home.
2. Increase the distance between children; separate children into small groups of six or less.
3. Have children stay home if there are others in the child’s household who have the swine flu.
4. Inform parents of sick children and sick staff members that they should say home for at least 7 days.
5. Close the day care center either as a reaction to the outbreak or even as a preventative measure.
For more information about swine flu, go to http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/.
Here’s to hoping we and our children stay healthy this flu season.
School starts back next Tuesday for my kids.
Anyone else ready for their children to get back into school?
I wouldn’t have expected to be so happy about this. But our house has seemed even more chaotic than usual. I’m not sure that it’s actually that the kids are out of school. I think the strain is partially caused by the stress of preparing to go to school.
Beyond the usual requirements of getting school supplies and some added clothing items to round out their wardrobes, we also are dealing with three information day sessions we need to attend, band meetings, band camp, doctors’ appointments, daycare enrollment, transportation issues with busing my young son to and from daycare, freshman orientation, both daughters’ worries that they won’t have friends in their classes, orthodontist and dentist appointments, approaching birthday party planning, passports for an overseas band trip …
And did I mention the frenzy of cash flowing out of our pockets to pay for many *incidental* things?
Last night, as my daughter asked me a question repeatedly after I had answered twice, I started to count to 50 … not 10, but 50.
At first, I thought, “What is happening to our family?” For several days we had all been snapping at each other, voices were being raised. Everyone, except maybe for the youngest member of our family, was ready to get away from each other.
Then, it occurred to me that maybe the stresses, anticipation, extra this and that were taking their toll.
So, yes, I think we’re ready to start school.
Then, we can deal with sleep issues, homework, ballgames, teacher conferences, lunches, juggling schedules and mealtimes …..
– Linda Lynn
My son is in the midst of a transition right now. He is getting ready to start a new day care and after talking to another provider, I learned that there is much information available about the place my son will be cared for.
I started my search for information at www.okdhs.org. From there, you can click on the ‘child care locator/summary of facility monitoring’ link and type in the name of the day care you want to know more about. But you’ll only see general information. It doesn’t cite specific complaints or violations.
So I called the local DHS office and found out that anyone can go take a look at a daycare’s complete file. Just call the DHS licensing division at 767-2650 at least 24 hours in advance so they can prepare the file for you, and you’ll be in the know.
Most of the information should also be available at the daycare itself. You can ask any provider to see their compliance folder and they are obligated to let you look through it. If they won’t let you or if they say they don’t have one, contact DHS and let them know.
You can never be too careful or thorough when it comes to your child’s daycare.
Nearly every weekday morning for the last two years, I’ve had a little friend ride with me to and from work. We’ve had many conversations via the rearview mirror – my youngest child, now 5, buckled into a car seat in the back, and myself in the front as I drove to work and dropped him off at daycare just across the street.
We’ve talked about his school, his friends, his fears, his toys, how much we loved each other — googleplex plus googleplex times infinity plus 180 or so – and, most recently the latest superpowers that he acquired from a friend, including his laser eyes, ability to spawn tornadoes and hands that could freeze anything they touched. Some days, all he wanted to do was clench his green blanket and suck his thumb, a relaxing end to a long day, but now, at age 5, he’s growing up and moving out of that stage.
So today, I’m sad, as I have been for the last several weeks: I dropped off and picked up my youngest son at the OPUBCO Child Development Center for the last time. Today was his last day, and after next week, the doors to the wonderful facility will close for good. The teachers and staff and aides are outstanding, and I hate to say good-bye to them and the happy place that’s done so much good for children through the years.
As families have found other places for their children to attend, it’s become more and more like a ghost town lately, but the teachers still there continue to be dedicated and committed to the well being of the remaining children.
I’ve loved the childcare center (thanks, OPUBCO, for running it all these years), but I’ve cherished even more this one-on-one time with my son, daily alone moments that are hard to grab with any of my children, since there are three of them and only one of me. As the youngest, he’s had even less of me than the others because I’m spread thinner, now single and working full time, which I didn’t do when the older two, now 8 and nearly 10, were his age.
So for now, that daily one-on-one time is over. I’m so thankful I had it and hope to figure out a way to carve out more of it with each of my children amid the daily busyness. Any ideas?
~ Lillie-Beth Brinkman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
So my 3-year-old son has been getting in a bit of trouble at day care lately … for saying (gasp!) a four-letter word …
Yep, heck. Now at first, I thought maybe he shouldn’t be saying it so I didn’t really respond when his teacher told me (well, spelled out) what he had said and how she handled it (she put him in timeout).
But over the weekend, as we watched the kids’ movies Madagascar and Cars, I realized that they say “heck” in those movies (both of which they’ve actually watched at day care).
So what do you think? Do you think his teachers are overreacting or do you think “heck” should be considered a bad word?
Comment here or email me your thoughts.
~Erica Smith, Copy Editor
Here’s just a few things that are on my mind now: London, yogurt, the Jonas Brothers movie, nightmares caused by school required reading of some books, potty training, finding daycare (see Erica’s post), time change, the one chocolate donut on my desk, Twitter (I still don’t understand it), that I need to wash my van, whether to buy a lottery ticket, what load of laundry to wash and throw on the couch next, high blood pressure, cholesterol (the donut package says it has no trans fats, but it has 25mg of cholesterol), my family photos need to be scrapbooked, what are we going to do Spring Break, what are we eating tonight (no donuts), temper tantrums, my sticky kitchen floor … how nice it is outside.
Let’s all take 20 to 30 minutes and go for a walk and clear our heads.
– Linda Lynn
Recently I have had to search for a new day care center because the one I’ve had my toddler in is set to close the beginning of July. Since I didn’t really have to search when I placed him there, I was trying to figure out the best way to approach finding a new center.
Oklahoma Child Care Resource & Referral Association, Inc. and Oklahoma Department of Human Services published pamphlets full of helpful tips on choosing the best possible care for your child. Here are a few of their guidelines:
1. Start early. As soon as you think you may need child care, start the process. Finding a suitable center takes time and some have lengthy waiting lists, especially for infants and young toddlers.
2. Make a call (and go online). The Oklahoma referral service is free and can provide facts and lists of options in your area. The number is 1-888-962-2772 or you can go online: www.oklahomachildcare.org.
Also, you can go to okdhs.org/childcarefind to search for different day cares based on your personal preferences (how may stars the center is accredited with, ages accepted, type of facility, etc.)
You can also call DHS to request reports on the day cares of your choice. They will detail complaints and violations. For Oklahoma County, the number is 767-2650.
3. Visit & ask questions. Look at important factors in deciding on a facility such as:
-Adult to child ratio. The fewer children to caregiver, the better.
-Group size. Smaller groups are safer and more calm.
-Caregiver qualifications. Find out about their training and education. Degrees/special training for taking care of children are key. Look at the turnover – have the caregivers been there a long time? If they are all fairly new, that may be a red flag. Also be sure someone is CPR certified.
-Star ratings. For any center, be sure they are licensed. DHS gives stars to programs for meeting certain criteria. The more stars, the more the center has done above basic licensing requirements.
-Policies. They should give you a detailed description of all their policies, such as meals, behavior, fees, vacations, field trips, medicine, etc.
Drop in unexpectedly to look around the center. Look at the food menus, methods of discipline, activities, playground areas and anywhere else your child will be. See how caregivers interact with the children. See if it’s the environment you would feel most comfortable leaving your child in.
4. Stay involved. Be a part of planning activities for the children (if there are opportunities for this) and attend any parent meetings. Always address concerns with the caregiver and director. That’s what they are there for.
5. Go with your gut instinct. The safety and well-being of your child comes first. I had visited 3-star day cares, day cares closest to my home and centers with good reputations. In the end, I had to go with my instinct. The center I chose is one in which I don’t think I would ever have doubts leaving my son.
If you’d like further information, or a detailed checklist on what to expect from a day care center and specific questions you should ask, call DHS and request a copy of the handbook “The Parents’ Guide to Selecting Quality Child Care.”
As some of you read in Friday’s The Oklahoman, I pleaded with readers to give me advice on how to potty-train a stubborn almost-3-year-old boy. I received many responses – some from moms, dads and even grandparents. I even had a few offer to train him for me. As tempting as that was, I thought it was probably best I tackle it myself.
Here are some good ideas I received from readers:
1. Cheerios. This was an overwhelmingly popular method. Teach the little guy to “aim” and sink the round O’s and it’s almost as fun as Duck Hunt and Battleship.
2. Rewards. Gumball machines, dollar store toys, getting to go with adults on errands because they’re “big kids,” and countless others. Most parents are big on using positive reinforcement – lots of reassurance, compliments and even dancing. Yes, dancing.
3. Timers. Set it for every 20 or 3o minutes minutes and have them sit on the potty. Eventually they’ll get conditioned to go as soon as they hear the timer go off.
4. “Naked and $75.” Let him go around the house without a diaper for a few days to get him to want to use the potty. The $75 is to have your carpets cleaned when he’s done. A few parents really endorsed the “naked” method and putting a portable potty in rooms where the kids are most comfortable (living room, play room, etc.) and maybe using lots of juice to help things move along.
5. Just wait. I got some helpful feedback from parents who were concerned that I was maybe sending the wrong signal to my son by making him use the potty. They suggested waiting until he was ready in his own time and finding a day care who accepted that. One parent said this is his decision, one of the few a toddler has. Another said parents who haven’t had success potty-training their kids shouldn’t feel like failures, that patience is key.
Well, I have big news for my fellow parents. My son is now potty-trained! What seemed like an impossibility Friday afternoon is now a very real accomplishment for my little man. I was all set to get a huge box of Cheerios and kitchen timer after work when my son had a bad “accident” in a public place and I had to rush home with him. We got home, I sat him on the potty once more, gave him some juice and waited for a miracle. It happened. Not just once, but all weekend. I have never been so happy to be woken up at 6:30 a.m. by my son who wants to go potty and stayed dry all night. I never thought this day would come. No more Pull-Ups, no more diapers. What a change.
So I thank our readers for their wonderful responses and ideas. In the end, my son did it in his own time and on his own terms … although the two glassfuls of juice did help him find his own time a bit quicker. It just happened to be the same day as my very public plea (but maybe he planned it that way all along).
I’m at my wit’s end. I am here to solicit advice from anyone and everyone who has had to potty-train a toddler.
My son is near impossible to potty train. I thought I could just back off for a while and he’d get it eventually but his day care center is closing the end of June and for me to place him in a new day care’s 3-year-old class, he needs to be able to use the potty.
Here is what I’ve already tried:
1. Briberies. I’m talking candy, chocolate, cupcakes, Hot Wheels cars and stickers.
2. Big boy pants. He’ll go to the bathroom in them and still want to keep them on. It’s disastrous. Pull-ups don’t help either. He treats them like diapers, even the cold-alert kind.
3. Sitting him on the potty for extended periods of time, hoping he’ll have to go eventually. He’s sat on there for an hour and finally when I take him off, he goes right on the floor.
4. Trying all kinds of ‘equipment.‘ We have the Sesame Street potty seat. The SpongeBob stepstool. The potty chart. We have it all.
5. Making sure he knows all his friends use the potty. He knows, sees them go, and doesn’t care in the least.
6. Giving him things to do on the potty. He’s had books, toys, made a racetrack around the potty rim, had me sit and sing ‘Wheels on the Bus’ on end, played the guitar and eventually unraveled a brand new roll of toilet paper and put it all in the toilet. That was fun to clean up.
What else can I do?
-Erica Smith, Copy Editor