When Play Date Snacks Go Wrong

When Play Date Snacks Go Wrong

On Thursday my youngest had a friend over for a play date.  Let’s call him Jack.  Jack has been to our house many times and is a sweet little kid.  He usually comes over, asks for pretzels and juice, and spends several hours entertaining my child and keeping him out of my hair, because let’s be honest, the whole purpose of a play date is for mom to get a little down time.

 During a play date the rules are allow to be broken.  Video games for three hours?  Okay.  An extra cookie at snack time?  What the heck!  As long as they stay in the family room playing nicely, or in the bedroom, it’s all good.  The kids are happy and two moms are very happy.

Then there was Thursday.  Like I said, Jack had been here several times before so I had no reason to expect that today would be any different from any other play date.  I was wrong.

I knew Jack did not like chocolate or too many different sweets.  Luckily we always have a giant container of Costco sized pretzels, Quaker Granola Bars, Annie’s Organic Cheddar Bunnies, and assorted nuts in the house.  Praise be, no one in my family has food allergies, but because no one in my family has food allergies my house is not really “food friendly” for a child who does.

Thirty minutes into Jack’s play date he comes to me and asks me to make him lunch.  Huh?  You mean a snack, right?  No, he wants lunch.  Mom forgot to feed him.  Okay, no problem.  Two PB&J’s coming right up.

Oh no, no peanut butter, he is allergic.  Oh, I did not know that.  But, that’s okay, I have deli turkey and organic cheese.  Two turkey and cheese sandwiches coming up.  NO!  No, no, he doesn’t eat bread or sandwiches of any kind.

Huh, yeah…okay.  Okay, just give me a minute to look here.  I can make a box of Annie’s Mac & Cheese.

No he doesn’t like mac & cheese.

I can’t lie.  At this point I am now starting to get a little annoyed, and I can’t seem to get a straight answer from him just what is his allergy and what is a food dislike.

I offer to microwave him a bean and cheese burrito.  Nope, he doesn’t want that.

I decide to offer up one of my favorite go to foods that are easy to make in a pinch.  How about I scramble you some eggs I ask?

His eyes open wide and a look of horror spreads across his face.  He can’t have eggs and I can’t even cook them while he is in the house because he forgot to bring his inhaler and just the aroma will trigger an attack.

Holy shit!

After several more strike outs he finally settled on string cheese, a banana, and a hand full of pretzels.  Not much of a lunch, but at least he didn’t up in a hospital.

When Jack’s mom came to pick him up I politely asked her to list Jack’s allergies for me and let me know what he CAN eat.  She looked a bit confused and asked why.  That’s when I explained to her the half hour it took to find a suitable lunch her child could eat without having an allergy attack.

She just kind of blinked her eyes and replied, “Oh, he eats pretty much everything at home.  He’s really only allergic to eggs and peanuts.  Sometimes it’s serious but other than that he’s fine.”  I could tell by the look of total bewilderment on her face that she could not figure out what the problem was.

Moms everywhere, if your child has serious food allergies, please feed your child BEFORE taking him to someone else’s house for a three hour play date.  I am perfectly happy to provide a snack.  I am perfectly happy to provide a sandwich and some cut up fruit, but it is not my responsibility to spend a half an hour trying to find something for a child to eat with the real fear that I could kill him if I feed him the wrong thing!!

Was this mom wrong not to feed her child first, or at least warn me that he had all these food sensitivities, or am I being over sensitive?
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When Mom is Temporarily Broken

When Mom is Temporarily Broken

I have often joked that if I were a horse I would have been shot or put out to pasture years ago.  Luckily for me I’m not a horse.  I have rheumatoid arthriti.  I have had it for 22 years in fact. I have been fortunate to have good health insurance and receive the best treatments available.  Most of the time my disease is in remission, with just an occasional flair up.  Still, even when the inflammation and disease is under control often it is the other stuff that really takes its toll on me.

The chronic fatigue is the worst.  Sometimes no matter how much sleep I get it doesn’t matter.  Exercise helps, some, but there are times when doing exercise is really hard because even though my RA is well controlled, the osteoporosis in my feet and knees from two decades of disease is permanent and that pain almost never goes away.  I have had multiple surgeries on my foot trying to piece the bones back together.  This summer I will likely have my first knee surgery.  Sometimes I feel like Humpty Dumpty.

Then there are all those lovely side effects from the meds that allow me to live.  Most days I go about my life and I can almost be oblivious to what is happening inside my body.  You would be amazed what you can get used to and even learn to ignore when it becomes your daily version of normal.

Then there are days like today.  Today is not a good day.  Everything hurts just a little bit worse than usual.  My neck is stiff.  I can feel the heat of the inflammation on my upper back and in my shoulders.  Add to this a lovely headache with a topsy turvy stomach and it makes for a rather unpleasant day.

On a day like today I don’t want to cook.  On a day like today I don’t want to clean.  On a day like today I don’t want to play Uno with AJ when he asks me or read Jigsaw Jones to Casey when he asks.  On a day like today the children have learned that Mommy is temporarily broken and my body just needs some time to fix itself.  AJ is pretty understanding on days like today.  At thirteen he understands that sometimes I have limitations as well as good and bad days.  Its harder for Casey.  At six he doesn’t get why I was able to play with him yesterday but not today when I look just the same.  He doesn’t understand that sometimes a person can be sick on the inside and not look sick on the outside…but he is learning.

Luckily for me my husband picks up the slack and loves to play with the boys.  Still, it is a little sad to watch them all hop on bikes and go for a ride when I haven’t been able to ride a bike for at least a decade.  The boys will ask me to sled down the big hill and I would love to, but I don’t dare.  A wipe out for me isn’t just a laughing matter.  A wipe out for me can mean months of PT or some other serious injury.

Still, I know there are so many people in this world who are so much worse off than I am.  I try hard to focus on my blessings.  I am still able to walk and go about daily life most days, I’m not dying anytime soon (God willing), and they are always improving medical advancements that just might put this Humpty Dumpty back together again.

So today I will let the boys play a few extra video games to keep them busy, microwave a somewhat healthy lunch for them (they made their own cereal for breakfast), and try to take it easy so my body do whatever it is it needs to do to feel better.  But tomorrow?  Tomorrow I will play Uno with AJ and read the next couple of chapter of Jigsaw Jones to Casey. Tomorrow I will stand at the top of the hill and cheer my boys on as they slide down at break neck speeds, because life goes on.

I Gave My Three Year Old Chocolate Laxatives…On Purpose

I Gave My Three Year Old Chocolate Laxatives

I was a little nervous to start potty training my first child.  Sure, changing diapers kind of sucked, but the truth was, they were convenient.  Plus, I was a girl and my child was a boy.  We had different “plumbing” and I wasn’t sure how to go about teaching my son to pee in the potty.  I mean, was I supposed to teach him to pee standing up or sitting down.

Like all first time moms I did what we all do.  I bought a book.  Okay, I bought several books and read them cover to cover.  Eventually I decided to start him out sitting down, this way he could play on the potty for a bit and hopefully something would happen.

Two days later and that idea wasn’t working so well.  Then I had the idea to take him to the bathroom and try to teach him to pee standing up.  I led him to the bathroom, pulled his pants down to his feet, and told him to pee.  He looked at me a little funny and then he did it!  Seriously, he peed standing up the very first time I told him too.

I all but did a somersault I was so excited.  He was dancing up and down and clapping along with me.  From that day on he never peed his pants again.  By day three my child was potty trained to pee in the potty every time.  I was an awesome mom!  I totally rocked!  If peeing was this easy we would have that pooping thing figured out by the end of the week no doubt.

Shockingly, at the end of the week he still wasn’t pooping in the potty.  Every day I would sit him on the potty after meals, after naps, while watching a cartoon and nothing, nada, zip, zilch, zero.

No sooner would I take him off the potty he would hide and poop his pants.

The baby books talked about giving a small reward for using the potty.  Out came the M&M’s.  “Just poop in the potty and you can have a candy,” I would say with forced excitement.  “Okay,” he would reply, eager to get his chocolaty goodness.  Five minutes…ten minutes…fifteen minutes…still he would not poop in the potty.

After a month we gave up on Pull-ups.  Everyone told me that Pull-ups were too much like diapers and he would never learn if he didn’t feel uncomfortable when he had an accident.

So I went to the store and loaded up on training pants and plastic pants.  We still spent large amounts of time sitting on the potty while watching Rollie Polie Olie or The Wiggles.  The bag of M&M’s waited patiently to be eaten.  Plastic pants were horrible.  They leaked and made AJ a sweaty mess.  Still no poop.

No, let me rephrase that, we had plenty of poop, just not in the potty.  Now every day I had the pleasure of removing soiled underpants from him and then dunking them up and down in the toilet trying to get the squished poop out of them before hosing them off in the basement sink where they would collect in a bucket waiting to be washed.  The smell!  Good grief the smell!

After two more months of this I was advised to give up on the training pants and just stick him in little boy underwear.  I was getting desperate.  So I drove to Target and loaded up on cute little Batman and Superman underwear and made a big production of showing them to AJ and getting him excited to finally wear “big boy” underwear.

To make a long story short, the big boy underwear ended up being as useless as the training pants.  Not to mention I was doing load after load of laundry because he was ruining so many outfits every day.

This went on for almost a year.  For the life of me I didn’t know what I had done wrong.  How could a child who mastered peeing in three days be so stubborn about going poop?  He would clench those little butt cheeks for an hour or longer to avoid using the potty.  Once he was free of the potty he would run and hide and poop his pants.

As time passed I was growing beyond desperate.  Preschool was two weeks away!  I was returning to work.  He had to go to preschool!  There was just one little catch.  Children who were not potty trained were not allowed to go to preschool.

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  AJ had turned the potty into a battle of wills.  He was NOT going to use it…period.  Plus, he had some serious butt clenching skills.  He would hold it no matter what.  I needed to find a way for him to not be able to hold it.

An idea took hold in my head.  It was a crazy idea.  One I was sure no one would ever do under normal circumstances.  This was not normal.  This was an emergency.  I went to the bathroom and grabbed the bar of Chocolate Ex-lax.  Yep, that’s right.  Ex-lax.

“AJ, do you want some chocolate?” I asked.  He nodded his little head up and down.  Two little squares were quickly eaten up.  I even gave him some of his M&M’s out of guilt for what I was about to do.

Then, I waited.  I stayed very close so I could be sure not to miss my opportunity.  Two hours later it happened.  One second AJ was playing with a hot wheel cars, the next second his stomach let out a loud gurgle and he jumped up off the floor.  I grabbed him before he could run and hide and tossed his butt onto the potty.  He clenched, his stomach gurgled, he clenched harder, then a fart escaped, he clenched as hard as those little cheeks possibly could, but he was no match against a laxative.  Finally, he dropped a load in the potty and a choir of angels sang hallelujah as a rainbow shot across the sky.

There was praise and rejoicing.  Phone calls were made to grandma and grandpa.   M&M’s were eaten between hugs and kisses.  I wiped his bottom and pulled his pants up.  He watched me put the poop in the big toilet and flush it down.

Fifteen minutes later his tummy gurgled again and back on the potty he went.  He dropped a second load and after that he fear of pooping was gone.  Two little squares of Ex-lax worked better than a year of potty training, and AJ was able to start preschool on time.

What crazy thing have you ever done out of desperation as a parent?  I’m all ears!!

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Husbands and Fathers are Not a Joke

Husbands and Fathers are Not a Joke

Long gone are the days of Jim Anderson from “Father Knows Best,” Ward Cleaver from “Leave it to Beaver,” and even Bill Huxtable from “The Cosby Show.”

For the past twenty years or so the big father figures we’ve been given on television include Hal from “Malcomb in the Middle,” Alan Harper from “Two and a Half Men,” and Phil Dumphy from “Modern Family.”

Cartoons have been portraying dad as an idiot for a long time.  Just think of Homer Simpson, Jimmy Neutron’s father, Timmy Turner’s father, heck, even Cosmo, Timmy’s fairy godfather is an idiot.  In these shows it repeatedly falls to mom to come in and save the day or to stop dad from destroying the entire house or whatever situation he has created.

In cartoons where the children are well behaved or cartoons that are semi-educational, you don’t see any parents at all:  Dora the Explorer, Diego, Max and Ruby, and Charlie and Lola to name a few.

In this constant media driven world that we live in it is sad to me that the modern image of today’s dad is that of a lovable bumbling idiot, a complete tool who tries too hard and usually fails, or of a complete boob who is utterly clueless.  Even worse is that I see this attitude playing out in society.  More and more young women are shying away from marriage, more and more moms go it alone (maybe not by choice but some do).  Husband bashing is alive and well on social media, just check out someecards or rottenecards.

Still, what is the harm if a show, cartoon, or commercial shows dad as a total buffoon?  Many moms were once portrayed as being silly, incompetent and disaster prone back in the day.  We’ve shaken off that image but raising up the image of the modern woman did not require knocking down the image of the modern man.

I know the statistics.  Many moms work outside of the home bringing in their share of finances.  Women still do a greater portion of the housework and child care.  Still, that doesn’t mean men today are getting off at 5:00 and heading to the bar before driving home.  This isn’t Mad Men.  Today men spend twice as much time with their kids than their own fathers, do more chores than ever before and chauffer kids back and forth almost as often as the stereotypical soccer mom.

My own husband coaches our boys’ baseball teams.  When he comes home from work he is the one who gets in the floor with the boys to play Uno or Legos while I fix dinner.  My brother-in-law is up long before the crack of dawn to take his daughter to her skating practice and then cooks an amazing dinner while my sister-in-law works late as a nurse.  I see the other dads on my boys little league teams and at their Boy Scout meetings.  They are there, they are hands on, and they are far from being incompetent.

Not that long ago there were shows that had great “sets” of parents:  The Cosby Show, Family Ties, Little House on the Prairie, Growing Pains, and even Beverly Hills 90210.  These parents weren’t perfect, they had their flaws, they butted heads with their kids, but neither the mom nor the dad was made to look like an idiot episode after episode.

Today’s TV mom is smart, strong, and got it together.  I would love to see some new programs that give our kids, especially my two young and impressionable boys, positive male role models, both husbands and fathers, to look up to and to emulate one day because being a husband and a father is not a joke.

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