What Really Matters

Accidents come in many shapes and sizes. Some are bigger than others obviously (like a car accident) and some are very minute. But when you really stop and think about it, if you can say no one was hurt, a good bit of them really aren’t so bad.

One of my first so-called accidents that I remember was when I was about 12 years old. I was cleaning the house and I picked up my mom’s crystal vase.  As I was walking through the living room, I turned the corner and accidentally hit the vase on the corner of the wall, shattering it into several pieces. I was so upset and afraid that I would get in trouble.  To avoid being yelled at in person, I called my mom at work to tell her what happened. My mom’s reply, “Did you get cut?  Are you hurt?” Was I hurt? Really? I was waiting for her to yell at me, but instead, I got “did you get cut?”  Now this entire incident may not seem like a big deal to any adult, but to my 12-year-old mind, it was mind-blowing. I broke an expensive vase, and I didn’t get in trouble.  I never forgot that moment or my mom’s reaction.  Fast forward a few years and several bigger accidents (car accidents) of my own.  Each time my parents would show up, my mom was always focused on my well-being.  Never did I hear about how careless I was or the amount of damage I did.  Perhaps there is a slight chance these incidents and how my parents reacted to each changed the way I view what is important life (and what a true accident is).

My kids think I yell a lot, but if they stopped and gave it some thought, then they would realize that I yell when I have repeatedly told them to do (or not do), only to be met with attitude; When they are being deliberate in being defiant.  If they break a glass or plate – and they have many – no big deal.  Like my mom, I have responded “don’t cut your yourself” as I quickly moved to clean up any glass.  A year and a half ago, Virginia totaled her first car in an accident.  As we sat the accident scene, I hugged her and told her not to worry, it was just a car. And yes, I truly believed that. If you had seen this car, you would understand…  All that mattered was that She was OK.  I didn’t care about the damage to the car or the amount of money it was going to cost me (especially since she did not have full coverage on the car).  All that mattered was that she did not get hurt. And even though most parents understand, my child was taken aback by the fact that I was not mad.

Fast forward to now.  Things still get broken, and when they do, I still don’t yell.  I yell when the rules are broken; and then I am still the “angry mom” that always yells according to my kids.  But last night, my girls had a small reminder of how understanding their mom can be; and more importantly, what is truly important.  Last night, Klara (with her learner’s permit) drove she and Virginia in Virginia’s car to Petsmart.  Then I got that phone call. Virginia was calling me to tell me that Klara wrecked her car. Of course my first thought was one of panic, but then Virginia went into the details of how they were parking and Klara hit the accelerator instead of the brakes and drove into some bushes. That’s it? I was relieved. But apparently it was a little worse than it sounded.  The car was stuck.  It was damaged, and Virginia was yelling at me on the phone about Klara.

I drove to the accident scene to see this car suspended over a median that had some very “strong” bushes in it. Both the front end and back-end wheels were off the pavement.  There would be no driving the car out of there. Klara was crying.  Virginia was yelling.  I had to remind Virginia about her accident.  I also reminded her about how upset she had been and how I did not yell at her either.  This could have been so much worse.  It was just a car.  It could be fixed.  And the scene was a little ridiculous looking.

A very generous couple stopped to help.  The man hooked the car up to his very large truck and pulled it off and out of the bushes. The police showed up to take a report. Klara was visibly shaken which is understandable, so the police officer joked with her about whether or not the buses would make it.  He was very nice.  I hugged Klara and told her it was all right.  All that mattered was that no one was hurt.  We all make mistakes.  We all learn from them, and hopefully we don’t make them again.  Unfortunately the front bumper was in bad shape, making the car undriveable.  As we waited for a tow truck to hook up the car, I sat in my car with the girls. Virginia had finally calmed down and was ready to joke about the situation. Klara was not quite ready to joke yet, but was much more relaxed. By the time we got home, we were all able to laugh about it and the fact that none of us had thought to take a picture of the ridiculous situation.

Before going to bed, I reminded Klara that I loved her no matter what mistakes she could make.  Mistakes are going to happen, and WE will always get through them.  Klara told me she loved me and said she felt a lot better knowing I was understanding and calm about the entire situation.

As I lay in bed, I was taken back to that simple moment when I was 12, and my mom’s words, “are you hurt?”  I’m so very thankful that my mom taught me what is truly valuable in life, people….not things.  Things are replaceable.  People are not.  Never take what is important for granted.

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My Child…

Between a new job and a new puppy, I have been quite busy these days and haven’t had any time to write.  But I wanted to share something that happened about a week ago.  I did share it with friends on Facebook, but I also wanted to preserve this memory.  And with it now being Halloween, it seems fitting.

First I will say that I have some pretty unique girls.  I’m sure I blogged about the fake blood my girls made when they were younger by bleeding the ink of various markers until they had just the right color combination – which then ended up on my carpet.  I never did mention my youngest shaving her head.  Then there are the freaky, goth and bloody selfies they like to routinely create.  So to assume my girls are like other girls their ages would be a false assumption.  I never know what to expect with them.

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So about a week ago (also my first week in my new job), I received a text message from my youngest, Klara:

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She had gotten into a fight?!  Not my baby!  This seems out of character for her, but is it really that far-fetched?  My first thought was “oh shit”.  From the angle of the photo, I assumed she sent me the text as she was being walked to the principal’s office at her school.  My responses immediately started flowing:

Why?”  …..Was she being bullied, because she is unique?….nothing

“Did you Win?” ….wait I’d better not ask that unless I know if she started it first; message deleted.

Call me” .…and waited…and waited….. No text from her, no call from the school.

With who?”  …..Not that this really mattered, let me at that kid….nothing

Who started it?” ….Dying to know, because if it wasn’t her, I hope she won!….nothing

How is your face?” ….If her hand looks this bad, I can only imagine….nothing

What’s going on?” ….Is the school going to call me?….nothing

Call me

I was getting more and more anxious.  I couldn’t believe I was going to have to leave work during my first week.  This was the only thing that kept me from taking off for the school right away; I was going to wait until they called.  Still, I needed to be prepared for that call.  I went to the school website to look up the disciplinary policy on fighting.  Fighting – a category 3 offense, comes with five days of out-of-school suspension and possible referral to DHA.  Oh shit.  There goes my AP student’s grades.  There’s a black mark on her school record for college.  But worse than her school punishment, look at that hand – it looks broken!  That is going to require a hospital trip and x-rays.

She finally responded, “It’s special effects day”, and “You signed the permission slip for it“.  Special effects day!!!  I remember signing a permission slip for something, but who really reads those?!  When my girls want to do something that requires a permission slip, I figure it must be alright and let them enjoy whatever they like.  I rarely read the slips, and most of the time I am more annoyed that I have to give teenagers permission to participate in school activities.  I think they are old enough to decide what they do or do not want to participate in.  Then she added another photo indicating she got burned too.

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Ha Ha Ha.  Relief set in, but I still could have killed my child for scaring me like that.  I told her to make sure her teacher knew she deserved an ‘A’ for her prank, and from what I understand, the teacher was quite amused.  I’m glad someone was!  Ok, I was too…after several minutes had passed. All I can say is, I am glad I didn’t run out the door at work since this was my first week in my new job!!! Kids!!

Let the College Search Begin!

college-preparation

When you have children, amid the sleepless nights and multitude of diaper changes, it’s hard to imagine that your precious little baby will someday be college bound.  When your preschooler is busy exploring the world and learning their ABC’s, you still cannot picture the day you will be planning their flight out into the world.  While you watch your elementary school student sing in school performances and start venturing out to their first sleepovers, you still cannot picture the day when their “sleepover” will extend into months, or even years.  During the middle school period, when standardized testing is being pushed, you start to get an inkling that college will be coming, but it’s still barely a thought in your head.  Even when your “baby” enters high school, it still seems so far away that you may not give it very much thought.  Then one day it sneaks up on you. Maybe you are lucky and have this in mind at the beginning of your child’s junior year (or before).  Or just maybe you are like me, and out of curiosity you start looking into it mid-way through their junior year, only to discover you are now behind in planning.  That’s right, I said BEHIND.

Here it is, February, mid-way through my eldest’s junior year, and I thought I was making an early move by scheduling a local college visit for her.  Sure the timing for visiting colleges may be right on target, but there is so much more to consider than just the visit.  We scheduled our first visit for non other than Vanderbilt University.  Why Vanderbilt?  Because Vanderbilt is my family, my employer, my own school (albeit graduate school), and it is local.  We arrived at 7:30 on a dreary Monday morning.  Even though it is early February, the last few days were like spring, almost summer really.  I expected the same of this day.  We went to the grand ballroom where hundreds of other families assembled from all over the country to learn just what Vanderbilt has to offer (like I don’t already know), and what to expect from their admission process.  We were very fortunate that not only did they explain their process, but they also explained the overall admission process as it would pertain to the majority of colleges and universities across the US.  The session was very informative.  For my daughter…it was also very disheartening.  For as they explained their process and their order of importance for certain categories, they hit a few sensitive spots for her.  Here were the expectations that were outlined for us, in addition to points of importance for me that I will keep in mind for my youngest.

First, obviously they will place heavy ranking on ACT scores.  Now she is a very smart girl and has not even attempted to take the ACT as of yet; however, she feels that despite her awesome grades, she does not test very well.  I have tried to assure her that she doesn’t know until she gives it a shot.  The school even said that you can take it multiple times, and they will ONLY consider your highest score.  She doesn’t seem convinced.  Lesson #1:  invest in ACT practice literature – these usually come with software to take practice tests.  (Ours is now on order).  

As our lecturer continued on with their entrance requirements, their second emphasis was placed on letters of recommendation.  My girls just changed high schools because of our move, but I quickly noted for her that she should contact her former high school teachers, who know her very well, and ask them for letters of recommendation.  I am also pretty sure that some of the teachers at her new school will have a good idea of who she is by the time she submits her college applications.  Lesson #2:  think ahead and remember those important people in your child’s life that may be able to write a glowing recommendation for them when the time comes.

Next in line came the written essay.  Now, here I have no doubt that my daughter will excel. She loves to write and does very well with essays.  But this also tied in to the next requirement:  extra-curricular activities.  Here was our first major blow.  When my girls were younger, I exposed them to a variety of activities that ranged from girl scouts, music lessons and dance lessons, to ice skating, gymnastics and even bowling.  They were happy to have these experiences, but as they decided each one was not for them, I did not force them to stay in anything.  I was just happy to provide them with the opportunities.  By high school, I wanted my girls to be themselves and enjoy being kids for their final adolescent years.  As such, neither has pursued any “extracurricular” activities as a normal person would define them, and I was not one to push.  But now we were starting to panic.  There were no clubs to list on her application.  There were no outside music or physical activities to list.  After digging in and doing my research, I learned that there are many things that constitute “extracurricular”, not just organized school activities, these include:  Part-time jobs, volunteering, hobbies, any many other interests that your child may hold outside of school.  We feel better about this now, and can now breathe a sigh of relief.  Lesson #3:  Keep your children (or encourage them) to remain active in activities regardless of how old they are.  

So now we know the admission process for one of our school choices (probably the most difficult one), and we also know that many other colleges may have similar requirements, even if they are weighted differently.  Now comes the task of deciding which schools have a concentration in my daughter’s academic area of choice (she’s interested in neurosciences), and which of those we wish to visit.  Once we narrow that down, we can proceed with the fun part – VISITING!

We left our orientation information session and proceeded on our first campus tour just as it began to rain…without having umbrellas. There have been many points in my life where it seems rain brought good luck, and even though we were thoroughly drenched after our tour, I chose to believe this would be one of those lucky moments.  My belief was cemented when we proceeded to take a tour of one of the neuroscience labs here at Vanderbilt (thanks to my connections).  This little tour provided us with more information and insight into my daughter’s chosen career field than any ordinary college tour could ever provide.  Here her spirits were lifted, and she regained her enthusiasm for the future.  We now have two more campus visits already scheduled (within driving distance), and are looking to add a couple more that may even require travel by plane.  Even though it will be bittersweet in the end, after all it will mean that she will be moving on in life, I am looking forward to having this little adventure with her.  I am so proud of her, and I am truly blessed to be her mother.

 

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The Election Fiasco – and Kids

This started as a post on my Facebook timeline, but I think I want to add it here as well and add just a little bit more to it.

We have watched so much ugliness go back and forth in this election it’s unbelievable. It seems like everybody wants to spew hatred and play the blame game and point fingers, yet the very people doing this do not take responsibility for their own actions or even see the faults in their own candidates actions.  Let’s face it, there isn’t a good choice this go-round. And now I am seeing the most ridiculous commercial out there regarding this election and it has to do with elementary school children watching what is going on during this political circus. That brings me to what I posted on Facebook about kids.

The funniest part of this whole election are the comments people make or the ads I see about what our kids are seeing and what they will think. I’ll tell you what they see and think – and it has nothing to do with the election! I guarantee you there is not one child out there who is sitting and watching debates or paying any attention to presidential elections. They are too busy being kids, just like we were when we were in elementary school. As for them “respecting” whoever is elected….I can also pretty much guarantee that at their age, it doesn’t matter one bit to them. So stop putting this election off on what the “children will see”. They are too busy with video games, snap chat and enjoying life to care about politics.

Now what do they see? YOUR behavior. They hear YOUR hateful speech. They see what YOU do, not the candidates!

But let’s pretend for a moment that they do pay attention. Do you not think they don’t already deal with this kind of crap in school? Do you not think they won’t deal with this kind of behavior among people as they grow up in venture out into life? If you don’t think that they will, you obviously must lead a very sheltered life – or – you are one of those liberals that feel that colleges need to be a safe place where feelings shouldn’t be hurt. That’s just not reality. In a world where we have religious fanatics killing other people because they don’t have the same beliefs that they do, I don’t think shielding your child from hypocrisy or the like is a good idea. Use it instead. Make it as a teaching tool. Use it to help them learn how to rationalize and cope logically with these issues in life so that they grow to be respectable adults.

But if you feel you must shield them, then start by shielding from political propaganda. While you are at it, shield them from all news, and all sexually explicit or violent media. Now that I think about it, when I was very young, I wasn’t allowed in the room when my dad was watching the news. There’s a thought. What about divorce and ugly family drama?  Shield them from that.  Shield them from video games and song lyrics that may be a little crude or violent.  Wouldn’t that be the most reasonable and logical thing to do? Seems to make more sense to me than feeling you have to bring them into the political issue to begin with.  But hey, that’s just my opinion.

The Age of Too Much Information

There is no doubt that we are living in an age of information. Anyone can receive any information they wish at any time at the click of a mouse or even via a voice question on a smart phone. Sounds great…right?  I am starting to see why this is not so great.

First I have to apologize for I am not going to be able to be 100% forthright in my thoughts here in order to protect someone’s privacy, but I will do my best to explain why I am starting to see that the age of information may be doing more harm than good. While  this may be true for both adults and children, I am going to focus on children.

When I was a kid, I don’t remember ever feeling like I had to  label myself in any way whatsoever. I was simply a kid running about with my friends and enjoying life. Sure I know some kids had identities with various groups (i.e. Let’s say jocks vs hoods), but over all, we were just all kids having a good time.  We faced peer pressure from other kids in our environment, but it seemed relatively easy to withdrawal if need be so that those pressures could be dealt with or even avoided.

We weren’t inunindated with so much information from the media (such as tv, news media, social websites). We didn’t have constant contact with people like we do now. Withdrawing to your bedroom to be alone didn’t mean you were alone on Facebook with thousands of your closest (sarcasm) friends and instant messaging. You may have had a magazine or two with new ideas or human interest stories to contemplate, but it wasn’t to a computer with endless news stories of celebrities making sex tapes or having sex changes.  No, it meant you were truly alone…or maybe on the phone with one person.

Fast forward a few decades, and now there is constant contact. With that contact, information is thrown at kids from every facet of media you can think of. As if being a kid with hormones throwing your emotions out of whack isn’t enough, now they are constantly being bombarded with ideas that were once unthought of to kids but have now become mainstream news stories.  For example, gender identity. Ok, so yes there have always been kids who struggled with their gender. Many girls went through tomboy stages and still ended up being girls in the end. Many girls or boys eventually found that they were gay, and they evolved in their sexual preferences as adults; when they were better able to deal with those changes. But in today’s information society, it seems kids can no longer work these issues out over time and serious contemplation. As the idea of being transgender has become more and more mainstream, now kids feel the need to pick their identity early. Perhaps too early. At a time when their hormones are out of control, emotions are out of whack and they are still trying to adjust to natural changes, they seem to feel that they must strongly identify one way or another before their body has even completed the natural process of deciding for them. A time when being transgender has become mainstream.  If a child’s body hasn’t fully received the amount of hormones it will ultimately receive, this may leave him or her confused about who they are. Enter the dangers of media, and thoughts grow into doubts or become questions of gender identity.

Now forgive me if you are reading this and are gay or transgender, but at such a young age (while there are a few exceptions) not every child is ready to make such strong life decisions such as taking hormones to change what nature hasn’t even completed yet. If a 30 year old can regret a tattoo received at 18, isn’t that proof enough that we don’t always know what we truly want when we are young? Sure we think we do, but then time shows us who we really are. I think over centuries we (people) should have learned by now that time and experience are the best teachers in life, not endless streams of media telling us what we should believe. After all, we are starting to learn relying on sites such as WebMd may not always be the best source of health information, as it can easily make your common cold look like you’re going to die. So too the media is twisting the minds of our young into making them feel they have life or death decisions to make, when in reality they may just need a dose of downtime and a little less information.

 

After I wrote this blog, I came across an article worth reading.  You should check it out here.

Here Comes Peter Cottontail…

Easter 2005

Easter 2005

This weekend is Easter. As I was out shopping with my friend Lori today, we came upon all the Easter items.  Lori asked me if I was going to make Easter baskets for my girls this year. I laughed and said I thought that they were too old for that now. She disagreed and pointed out to me that we only have a few years left before our children are gone from our homes, so she will carry on the tradition until then. I gave it some thought and remembered that, yes, I did make them baskets last year. Why should this year be any different?  Was it because my oldest just obtained her driver’s license and her first car? Was it because my youngest will be starting high school this year? No, Lori was right. We still have a few years left before it will truly come to and end.   As we reminisced about when our teenagers were young, we started picking out items for their Easter baskets.

After we reached the end of our shopping and checked out, Lori realized she had forgotten something. While I waited for her, a younger mother came by with her two year old. I was amused as she corrected him for referring to an older (and unrelated) couple in the checkout as grandma and grandpa. She laughed as she explained to me that they weren’t his grandparents and he didn’t quite understand so many things just yet, providing me with more examples.  I shared how Lori and I were just reminiscing about when out kids were that age. As most people are used to hearing, she reiterated that she was sure the time will fly by faster than she thinks.  Just then, a text message came through my phone from my youngest, Klara. It read, “is it okay for Virginia to shave my head today?” I chuckled and looked at the woman and replied, “yes it does go by very fast, and then one day you get a text from your teenage daughter asking to shave her head.” She gasped, then laughed, and we parted ways.

Just where does the time go?  It is simply amazing how quickly our babies change from these cute little beings who rely so much on us into independent young adults who no longer feel they need you.  I cannot say I miss having little children to care for, but I do miss my children being little.  So yes, the Easter Bunny will return to my home once again this year.  Why not?  They are still my babies, and they always will be.

Oh, and in case you are wondering… my answer to shaving the head?  No.  But when it was fought with “it’s my hair”, and that hair is already blue, I figured where’s the harm?  When I was a kid, it was extreme for kids to dye their hair, yet I did it.  I guess it’s only natural my own kids would kick it up a notch.  Isn’t that what each generation does in order to be more unique than the last?  Besides, it is only hair.  It will grow back.  And if there is ever a time to be crazy with your style, it is before you are looking for or have a job.  Oh, and she wasn’t referring to her entire head.  At least she looks very festive for the holiday! 😉

Happy Easter!

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My Daughter Went to a Tattoo Parlor

My daughter Virginia turns 16 today.  For her birthday, she wanted to get her ears pierced.  No, this isn’t her first time getting her ears pierced.  She had them done when she was five years old, a story that I have always loved to tell.  She has always been so strong-willed, or even defiant of me if you will, that she is always trying to prove me wrong.  Even at five, when I took her to the mall to get her ears pierced, I wanted to give her fair warning that it would hurt.  I told her that when they did the first ear she may feel like crying and she wouldn’t want to continue (as is the reaction for many children), but they would still have to do one more ear.  In typical Virginia fashion, when her first ear was pierced she didn’t even blink.  The second ear was completed and she just took one look at me and said, “That didn’t hurt.”  Of course, this is not the typical responses for many little ones receiving their first ear piercings.

Fast forward many years later and several  infections later, and Virginia had a second hole pierced in each of her ears, again with the traditional ear-piercing gun. Unfortunately one did not quite line up correctly, and I found myself annoyed about it.  Maybe I was annoyed because I had my ears pierced a second time when I was in high school as well, and one ear was pierced to close to the edge of the lobe, so I never did wear earrings in that ear and let it close up.  And just as before, her new piercings got infected.  So she took the earrings out and let the holes close up.

When she told me she wanted to get her ears pieced yet again, I figured there had to be a better solution to keeping her from getting her ears infected and to ensure that they were pierced with the correct positioning on her ear lobe.  After all, I knew it would cost about $50 (or more) and I did not wish to waste my money again.  The more I thought about it, the more I did not like the idea of taking her to a mall jewelry store to have her ears pierced.  I worked at one when I was 16.  As part of my duties, even I pierced little ears.  I received a brief tutorial and there was not much to it.  Knowing this, I didn’t like the fact that any kid off the street could be handed an ear piercing gun and they suddenly were an “ear piercing specialist”.  So I started googling other options. Of course, the first one to come up was that traditional mall store.  But then the tattoo parlors popped up.  Now here was an interesting concept.  I googled more, and I stumbled upon an article by a mother who had taken her 7 year old to a tattoo parlor to have her ears pierced after she too had done her own research on them. You can check out her article here.  This woman made an excellent point: tattoo parlors are regulated by the state and have to follow stringent health codes.  I am not familiar with any jewelry store having to do so. So I decided this was the way we were going to go.  I must say we couldn’t have been happier with the results.  Let me outline the differences we experienced for you:

Mall Store

Tattoo Parlor

Any unskilled kid can (and will) do it, even in the midst of still learning how. A trained professional, who has pierced many various body parts would be taking on this task.
The salesperson doing the piercing does not take sanitary precautions (i.e. wear gloves). The piercing specialist takes sanitary precautions that include wearing surgical gloves.
While the earrings come in sanitary packages, the ear piercing guns cannot be truly sanitized. Every item used in the process is sterile and used only once, including the needle.
This method uses a “gun” that pushes the earring through the ear, essentially tearing the skin.  The back of the earring is then affixed (by that unprotected hand…allowing bacteria to enter the new wound) in such a way that it can be on too loose and come off, or be on too tight and cause an infection. In this method, a clamp is put on the ear that provides as a stabilizer for the area to be pierced.  Then a hollow needle is pushed through the skin in the center of the clamp, removing a small core of the ear tissue.  The earring is then inserted through the back of the ear, and the front is screwed on.  The earring cannot become too tight.
Clients are told to “spin” their earrings often.  But more than likely, this is done throughout the day, at various places and with dirty fingers.  Welcome infections. My daughter was told NOT to “spin” her earrings as it was not necessary.  Doing so would cause an infection.
A cleaning solution is provided.  This solution will heal the outside of the ear quickly, but cannot get to the inside as effectively, thereby trapping bacteria inside, once again causing infections. We were told NOT to use any sort of cleaning solution (and why – see left). Instead, simply cleaning the area with saline solution was best.
The piercing gun noise….can be startling, adding to apprehension of the experience and making one jump.  I can only imagine how this adds to the new tear.  It may also contribute to misaligned earrings. My daughter informed me that the process was much calmer and less “startling” because a needle was simply (and quietly) pushed through and it was not met with the loud “click” sound that the piercing gun makes.  She also added that the atmosphere was also much more pleasant (no people wandering around, shopping, causing a commotion or staring).  Not to mention that the specialist did not have anything to distract her.
Most of us are familiar with the stinging pain that follows ear piercings with the gun. According to my daughter, there did not seem to be as much pain as when the piercing gun was used.  Perhaps this was because her ear was clamped?  And when she had a second earring in the same ear, she said she even felt it less.
Cost – We were told piercing was free with the purchase of earrings….that start at $50 (so much for free). My daughter had three piercings done (two in her left ear and one in her right), and the total for all three (with all three earrings) was $50.

 

Please keep in mind, that you should be sure to use a reputable tattoo parlor.  As with any business, there is always that one who may not be on the up and up.  You will also need to take your child’s birth certificate with you if they are under the age of 18.  As always, please do your own research.  Your experience may be slightly different than ours.

For more information on the type of needles used:  http://www.livestrong.com/article/120030-types-piercing-needles/

Rights of Passage

It never ceases to amaze me at how quickly our children seem to grow.  One minute they are a tiny infant or a rambunctious toddler, the next minute they are a rebellious teenager and running out the door.  With each new phase there is a right of passage of sorts.  Many of my own trials with my girls’ “rights of passage” have been outlined here in my little blog.  The big ones that parents seem to notice the most are when a child becomes mobile and can run around on their own, then comes kindergarten/elementary school, then middle school, and obviously high school follows.  Then you think you have about four years to breathe.  But wait!  Don’t forget learning to drive!!  My adventure in this new territory began today.

I am aware that teaching your child to drive can be quite stressful.  However, I did not anticipate the stress beginning just by attempting to obtain the permit.  When I was entering the driving realm…way back when I won’t mention…I remember taking driver’s ed classes after school, some behind the wheel time with a driving instructor, then taking the actual test.  I do not remember the part where I had to obtain a permit.  It must have been quite easy if I do not remember it.  Well, it seems it is no longer that easy.

I prepared my daughter Virginia weeks ago by giving her links to sample tests she would have to take.  I remember taking tests that reviewed recognizing signs and determining who had the right of way.  The information she had to study included “what are the fines and penalties for….”  Really?  Why would you need to know unless you break the law?  What happened to focusing on not breaking the law?  Ok, so it’s tougher now, but she was ready.  Having done my own homework, I learned that I had to obtain a form from the school that attested to her regular attendance.  It’s summer.  Why wouldn’t her report card suffice?  Oh well, yet another adjustment for me.  So I contacted the school system to obtain this form.  I was told that I needed to obtain it from her school.  I was also told that even though it is summer, there would be someone there at 7 :30 am to assist me.  I chose to do all of this today, on a Wednesday morning. Why?  Because studies have shown mid-week and mornings were less busy days at the DVM.  So I took the morning off from work, thinking I would run to the school, get the form, go to the DMV for her to take the test, then head on in to work.  I figured I’d be to work by 10 am.  Wrong.

Up bright and early, we headed to the school.  We arrived at the enrollment office of the school, rang the bell and waited.  A man answered and told us we were at the wrong place.  We needed to go to the schools’ central office.  So we drove around and arrived at the front of the school.  It was 7:45, but the doors were still locked.  We rang the buzzer.  No answer.  Rang it a couple more times.  No answer.  So I called the school.  First I received voicemail.  I hung up and called again.  The secretary finally answered and told me the door was open.  I told her it wasn’t.  She said she was just by there (when?) and opened it.  Again, I insisted it wasn’t.  She said she would be right up.  As we waited, I jerked on the door.  Well hell, it was open.  It was just the door handle didn’t turn so I thought it was still locked.  Oops.  We entered the school and met the secretary half way through the giant building.  We followed her back through the humid, empty hallways to one of the offices.  Then we were told the computer system was down.  I would not be able to obtain the form I needed.  But then a glimmer of hope…if we had her report card, the woman could fill out the form using the report card.  I did not have it on me.  Still, I had already taken off the morning, and it was still early, so I decided to run home to find said report card and told her I would be back.

When we got home, I was faced with the sad realization that I had not kept up on my own personal filing.  I had no idea where this report card was.  I had Virginia start looking in specific places while I searched through my stack of paper chaos.  Nothing.  So I went through it all a second time.  Luckily the second time I found it, still in the envelope it had arrived in.  With the report card in hand, we headed back out the door.  Now driving on an empty tank of gas, I had to stop to get gas before we could continue.  We then proceeded back to the humid corridors of the now barren school.  You know what?  Schools can be spooky when they are empty!  Anyway, while making small conversation with the principal about his days of being a driving instructor in Texas, the secretary completed the attendance form we needed and we were once again on our journey to the DMV.

Now Nashville gave us three choices that I knew of to obtain a new permit.  One location was west of downtown.  I did not wish to head anywhere near downtown around 9:00 am.  One was in an area northeast of Nashville, but no where convenient to us, and one was about 20 miles out east.  We opted for this one since it would seem like the easiest traffic-wise.  We arrived at the DMV at about 9:30 and found that it was already packed.  We had to wait in line to state our reason for being there and to obtain a number – A034.  The counter was on A013.  So we sat and waited, filling out paperwork as we did so.  It was almost 11 am when we were finally called.  Virginia took her eye exam then went into a separate room to take her test.  I had to go back to the waiting area.  It was another 30 minute wait before came out of the testing room to get me.  Her photo was then taken and she was handed her permit.  We left the DMV at 11:45 am.  All total it had taken six stops and a little over 4 hours for this adventure.  Simply ridiculous.

Now we move onto the next phase….actually teaching her how to drive.  No, the schools do not offer classes any longer, so it’s up to parents.  Please pray for me!

Excuse Me If I Choose Unexcused

I recently read an article in which a man was told that his children’s trip to the Boston Marathon with him was deemed as unexcused by the school.  I highly encourage you to read the article here:  “Principal Shames Dad over Kids’ ‘Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience‘”.

I love that this man stood up for his children.  I wholeheartedly agree that living life to the fullest and experiencing what the world has to offer is the greatest education a person can ever have.  A parent should be able to take their children out of school at any time they find appropriate, and it SHOULD be EXCUSED.  No one has the right to determine what a parent deems to be a reasonable excuse for keeping their children home.

Last year I received a letter from our school’s truancy office indicating that my youngest had excessive absences.  What happened?  She was truly out sick several times, and I simply forgot to send notes in.  When I did, she did not always remember to give them to the office.  Yes that was poor planning on my part, but to say she is truant while I was aware of her absences and when she continued making straight A’s is a bit absurd.  I started attempting to email my notes, knowing I could rely on email more than my child.  Email worked for me, because I could also send my email in at any point the next day when I remembered, instead of having to remember the night before or early in the morning when we are all rushed.  As if the truancy letter was not silly enough, I was shocked when I was told by the principal that emails were not accepted, because my notes needed to be in “writing”.  Excuse me?  Was an email not “written”?  How did this man get to become a principal of a school if he does not know the definition of written?  I did take it upon myself to point this out and I have continued sending emails ever since.

I do understand there are rare circumstances where parents have no regard for their children’s education and would let them miss school excessively for what may be deemed as “no legitimate reason”.  However, I think we can all agree the majority of parents do take an interest in their children’s education and do not just arbitrarily let them stay home.  I think in most cases, a child’s grades may be able to reflect what should be constituted as being an excessive amount of absences. As for me?  Well, as long as my children continue to excel in school, I (their parent) will continue to be the one who determines if their being out is excused or unexcused.

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Worry, Don’t Worry, No Keep Worrying

Children.  A blessing.  A joy.  A wonderful part of life.  Also a major headache and a grand source of stress and worry.

Last week Wednesday, my youngest (Klara) told me after school that she had a horrible headache, because she hit her head on the wall at school.  I asked her how in the world she managed that, and she told me she was walking and talking with her friends, not watching where she was going, then managed to hit the side of her head (temple area) on the corner of the wall.  We both laughed at her clumsiness then forgot about it.  Thursday evening she said her head still hurt and she was having headaches.  I gave her ibuprofen for her headache and once again forgot about it.  Then about bedtime she started vomiting.  My initial reaction was that it was from taking the ibuprofen on an empty stomach.  She threw up a few more times and we all went to bed.  Friday morning when I got up it suddenly occurred to me that she could have a possible concussion.  I stayed home and made her an appointment with the pediatrician for later in the day.  …Worry

When Klara got up, she vomited again.  We went to the pediatrician and it was believed she had a concussion.  The doctor called the “Concussion Clinic” at Vanderbilt and we sat to wait for them to call back.  By this time, it was lunch time and both Klara and I were starving.  The doctor felt bad that we had to sit and wait, so she let us go to get lunch and said she would call us when she heard back from the concussion clinic.  We went to Burger King and had a good time.  Klara was her happy and healthy self.

After we finished eating, with perfect timing, the doctor called.  The doctors at the concussion clinicIMG_2157 wanted Klara to go to the children’s hospital to get a CT Scan to make sure everything was truly alright.  So we drove to the children’s hospital and she had her CT scan.  We even joked that it was funny that I had to wear a lead vest to protect my chest but my head was exposed. She said, “Blonde’s don’t have brains anyway, so you’ll be fine.”  Crazy child.

We waited for the results and were told that they were normal and she just had a mild concussion.  What a relief.  We left, picked up Virginia from school since it had ended for the day and went to have frozen yogurt.  Klara helped me bake cookies Friday night.  She spent the night at friend’s house Saturday night.  It was a normal weekend.   No worries.

On Monday it was work as usual for me – until I received a call from Chris.  The school had called and stated that Klara had passed out and hit her head pretty hard again.  He was on his way to the school.  …MAJOR WORRY.

Through many updates I was told that she couldn’t remember who her friends were and the paramedics were called to the school.  When I was told they were going to take her to the emergency room, I left work.  While in route, I was told that she was doing better and was cognitive so the paramedics did not feel need to take her to the emergency room, she could just go see her pediatrician again.  I made an appointment.  …Don’t worry.

On my way home, Virginia sent me a message that she felt dizzy and sick.  What the hell?  Now I was wondering if there was a correlation between the two.  I stopped at school to pick her up and discovered she had a fever.  Ok, just a virus there, what a relief.  By the time I got home, though, I had a different picture of events for Klara.  In summary, here is what “really” took place.

Klara felt confused and couldn’t concentrate.  She got dizzy and felt like passing out.  I don’t think she actually passed out, there is some confusion about that, but she did manage hit her head against the wall again.  It was believed by the school that she passed out.  Paramedics were called.  She was scared and kept saying “I don’t know” so it was thought she lost cognitive functioning, which was why they were going to take her to the ER.  As I sat questioning her, it felt more and more like a combination of being scared and “milking the situation” for attention.  I was no longer worried, I was pissed.  When it comes to absences at my job, I currently do not work in a lenient department.  Once everything was cleared up, I gave Klara a few chores as punishment for making the situation worse than it was.  After she finished, we put the incident behind us and went back to being happy and joking around.  No sense on dwelling on it.  Oh, and I cancelled the pediatrician appointment. There was no need to go through that when she was fine.  I’m was no longer worried.

Just when I thought it was all over, today (Tuesday) I received a call from Klara’s school.  She was not allowed to be at school without clearance from her doctor. We didn’t go to the doctor, so we didn’t have anything for the school.  Chris was already at work.  I was at work.  Neither of us were in a position to leave work just to run to the pediatrician to get clearance for what we already thought we knew.  The school pushed for me to pick her up.  I pushed back and told them I did not have a note and I was not able to pick her up (and I truly was not able to).  I was informed discussions had to take place and I would hear back from the school.  They called back and stated she would not be able to go back to class, she would have to spend the day in the office.  So Chris went to pick her up.  I called the pediatrician’s office and explained to them the situation as it played out yesterday, why I did not bring her in, and why I now needed clearance from them.  At first the nurse on the phone understood the attention aspect of the situation, and she thought they would be able to give us clearance so Klara’s day could continue.  Unfortunately, upon relaying the information to the doctor, and because Klara did feel confused and had a dizzy spell, the doctor wants her to get more tests.  WORRY again!

So now her tests are scheduled for Friday.  Today is Tuesday.  Between now and Friday she cannot return to school and she has to keep her brain activity limited.  This will be a challenge, because that means no cell phone games and no computer games. The child lives off her electronics.  I am sure it will all work out in the end and she will be fine, but it seems for now outside forces want me to stay worried. Looks like an early Christmas break for Klara.  Oh the joys of being a parent.

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