Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Needle Day

I am home from work today because this afternoon, we are off to the doctor for a needle.  Sounds easy, right?  Not for me.  As anyone who knows me will tell you, I can't ever "go with the flow" and the whole needle thing scares the crap out of me.  I feel like I can't win.

Needles were something that I always hated but never really thought about.  You just did them, they sucked but they kept you from getting scary diseases.  I had heard a tiny bit about some people connecting vaccines to autism but that seemed a bit out there to me.  I really didn't think about it.

When PK was two months old, we went, had them done, had the sucky sleepless night and I didn't really think about it.  Same at four months.

In the meantime, I started doing some yahoo groups with some wonderful, anti-vax ladies.  I appreciated their opinions and a few of them had some great links to some info that sounded interesting but it still all seemed very "out there".  I mean, love my ladies but who gets this information on major health stuff from a bunch of moms, many of whom are stay at home and haven't gone much past high school?  Doesn't really sound like a qualification for making sound medical judgements.

Unfortunately for my peace of mind, the things I was reading started to make more sense.  I bought Dr. Sears' Vaccine Book, which provided some interesting reading and seemed like the most rational approach to me - delay vaccinations and spread them out and avoid those that really aren't necessary.   Unfortunately, his protocols have limited benefits for Canada and in the meantime, my chiropractor and my naturopath and several of my friends who are very rational expressed concerns about the safety of vaccines.

Here's my struggle.  Vaccines contain chemicals and additives that are dangerous.  Live-virus vaccines contain viruses that are dangerous.  Even those who swear that vaccines are safe will admit that there are mild to fatal reactions to vaccines.  They are NOT SAFE.  On the other hand, vaccines came about because some of these diseases are potentially life threatening.  I think of one mama on one of my lists - totally well meaning but ridiculous in her approach - she tried to aggressively argue with me that measles have never killed anyone.  I had two great aunts who died from it.  Is that normal?  No.  Can it happen?  Yes, it can.

I also really struggle with the sources of the information as to whether they are unbiased and reasonable or not.  As I said before, I find it hard to accept the opinion of some mother somewhere who has no medical training.  Natural health practitioners have a very set outlook and let's be frank, they also make a lot of money from people who want to boost their immune systems to fight off diseases that they have opted not to be vaccinated for.  On the other hand, governments certainly don't have my child's best interest at heart - they are thinking from a general public health standpoint and if my child is injured or killed in order to protect the rest of society, they are going to be o.k. with that.  Then, there are drug companies, greedy men in suits who have no contact with the people they are potentially harming with their stock options, big cars and bank accounts - sorry, I have a hard time thinking that they have my child's best interests at heart.

So, what's a worried mom to do?  Fortunately for me, I live in Canada and have a fantastic doctor, who, instead of threatening to drop me as a patient when I raised this (as I have heard from lots of my U.S. yahoo group mamas), was very open to discussion, suggested which vaccines she was less comfortable with (she won't give the new gardisil one) and was totally willing to have us postpone or even forgo the MMR (which was have decided to do).  Her only request was that she really wanted us to protect our daughter against meningitis but she would give the older formula since she felt more secure in assuring us it is safe.  I am not entirely comfortable with our decision but really, I don't think that I will ever  be comfortable on this one.  Shocking your child's immune system with a cocktail of toxins and viruses just doesn't seem like such a great idea but having her brain damaged for life due to a horrible disease doesn't strike me as something I can risk.

Cross your fingers for me that it doesn't interfere with her sleep tonight.  We get little enough as it is.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

What is it with kids these days?

So, do you ever ask yourself this question?  I do.  All the time.  I teach grade 2 so I don't suppose it is that surprising.  There isn't a day that goes by right now that it doesn't come into my head at least once.  I am not talking about the "what's with the kids with the pants hanging around their knees?" kind of wondering, either.  I am seriously wondering what is wrong with children these days.  I wonder whether this is just a natural feature of nearing middle age but somehow, I don't think so.

I just went back to work after two weeks off. Take a peek into my classroom.  This week, a new student started in my class.  He was in a different class until December, when he attacked his teacher and hurt her so badly that she was off for a week and wouldn't have him back in her classroom.  He is actually a very sweet, interested, curious child who is a joy to work with, most of the time.  He has an anxiety disorder and whenever he feels even the littlest big unsure, he goes crazy and runs away or attacks.  It's pretty scary for all of us.  

I have 21 students in the class and rather than it being a case of the one or two with a problem, it's a case of the one or two who are pretty stable.  How did we come to this?  I honestly want to know.  I knew it was bad when I was on yard duty yesterday and found myself pondering whether it might be better to homeschool my daughter.  Don't worry, I am not seriously considering it - I can't get her to allow me to put a shirt on her right now without a battle - the last thing I want to do is try to teach her all day, every day.  That would not do our relationship any good at all.  On the other hand, I, who used to think that homeschooling or even a Christian school, was for people who belonged to bizarre militias and stockpiled weapons or who were on their way up the mountain to wait for the end of the world, is thinking that it isn't so crazy after all.  Now, I am looking at the environment my daughter would be entering and I am filled with fear.  I believe in public education but I don't believe in the damage that is being done to our children.

I used to teach in the inner-city and I mean truly inner-city.  It doesn't get much worse than where I worked.  It was hard but on the other hand, things made sense.  People who don't know any better and who had no examples of parenting make mistakes and they make big ones.  That is logical.  Drugs make people do stupid things, poverty makes people do stupid things and that environment makes people do stupid things.  It hurt but I understood it all.

Now I work in a suburb 45 minutes outside of a big city.  The houses are worth much more than mine, the yards are big and while the fences aren't white picket, you get the idea.  These kids are as disturbed as the ones in the city for the most part.  They have seen too much and been damaged by it.  I have issues that I have never dealt with before and kids who are hardened at age 7.  They can tell you EVERYTHING about the latest violent video game, they eat crap all the time and they know more about sex at 7 than I did at 19.  When you talk to their parents, you get comments like, "Well, he won't eat anything else, what I am going to do?" or, "No, I don't think that the fact that he has an X-Box in his room and plays violent video games from 4 until bedtime every night is causing him to beat people daily."  The kids are running things, the adults have checked out and it's all about getting the pretty pictures for the scrapbook.  

Not everyone is like that and, thankfully, I have friends who have stable children and there are some wonderfully stable kids at the school, too.  I also am not saying that it's all about poor parenting, either.  Many of these kids are seriously messed up and it's DSM messed up, not just kids with a few problems.  Soon, they will be putting ritalin in the water and anti-depressants in the air vents.  How did we come to this?

I'm not going to be this negative all the time but I really do get overwhelmed by this sometimes.  What is the cause of this?  How do we find a way for our children to have a childhood in the environment they are growing up in?  How do I let my daughter live in the world without being horrible damaged by things she isn't ready for?  

Friday, January 9, 2009

What's in a name?

So, I started this blog thing and immediately was hit with the question of a name.  It really stumped me.  I wanted to choose something clever, a comment or quip that captured it all.  There is one problem, I don't know what the "all" will be.  

I spent part of this evening washing applesauce off the floor. Pk, my 16 month old, loves unsweetened applesauce with other fruit and of late, it has been either blueberry or pomegranate (I have some guilt about letting her eat it since it is in plastic that probably is full of BPA but there doesn't seem to be anything else available in glass).   She also loves to feed our dogs and applesauce that has dried on the floor is no fun to clean.  As I scrubbed, I pondered what an appropriate title might be.  

Do I refer to the fact that I have become fairly crunchy at this stage of life (cloth diapers, avoiding plastic, no harsh chemicals, eating organic, AP-style parenting for the most part)?  That doesn't really work because the hard-core crunchy types bother me - I think shaving armpits is a good thing, my values are too conventional Christian for that.  I haven't given up on make-up, I say "husband" instead of "partner", I do eat meat, I won't drink or eat anything containing hemp knowingly and EC grosses me out totally.

O.k., so, do I use a hymn title?  The only problem with that is the fact that while my faith is a critical part of my life, many of my friends wouldn't darken the door of a church if the end was here and while I love Christian friends, I am a Presbyterian, I don't think that your brain needs to be checked at the door of the church and for the life of me, I can't understand why creationism vs. evolution is even worthy of discussion.  I guess, as a child of the "politically correct" generation, I am not all that comfortable wearing my faith on my sleeve and I am afraid of offending people.  My faith is like everything else - I don't exactly fit anywhere.  I am more evangelical than not but only to a point.  I struggle on some issues that are black and white for some Christians and I don't believe in a Christianity that fosters intolerance of all that is different or, even more, that creates a fear of everything that isn't like me.  On the other hand, I do believe that Jesus was the Son of God and died on a cross for our sins, I do believe that we are saved by Grace, I do believe that the Bible is an amazing guidebook for our lives and Proverbs 31 is a founding document for who I want to be.  I do believe that living by Biblical values makes human beings happy and that God knows better than we do what will be best for us.

There's the whole Mommy thing, that is a huge part of my life right now.  I love Pk and really, parenting has become a bit of a passion for me.  We are trying for another one (no success so far, which is frustrating given that it was so easy the first time) and I suspect that a little part of that desire is how much fun I have had becoming a "baby expert".  Pk is the most important thing in my life but I don't know whether I can articulate that to others without being really boring and I don't want to be one of those mommas.

So, I am still without a name.  I start running through book titles.  Nothing fits.  Then, I start thinking about songs.  It took a bit and then it came to me - U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For."  That's me.  Searching.  Reading.  Researching.  Making resolutions.  Trying things on.  Wanting to be everything and not really knowing what will make me happy.

What AM I looking for?  That's the question.  Peace is important.  On the other hand, don't want to be bored.  Friendship is critical but don't want to be too obligated.  Quiet is good but not too much.   Stability is good but only if I don't miss opportunities.  Maybe blogging will help me see my life and figure out what matters most.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

New Day

Here we go, I have finally entered the world of blogging.  I doubt anyone will read this but there is some pleasure in the anonymity of blogging.  I like getting to peek into the lives of others and I will be interesting to try and see my life from that neutral third person perspective.  

Life is a real challenge for me right now - going back to work after having my daughter, who I adore but who is not exactly easy going, dealing with the fact that I feel like I am dragged in hundreds of directions each day... wife, mother, teacher, homemaker (that one feels like it is really faltering right now), human being, individual, friend, daughter, Christian... it's pretty overwhelming.  As a consumate type-A personality, I am feeling like I am at a stage in which I have a lot of lessons to learn and I don't feel particularly interested in learning right now - I would much rather curl up with a good book.  This past year, I have done lots of praying, asking God to show me what the lesson is that I need to learn right now and to help me to learn it quickly... sadly, I think that lesson might be patience and learning it quickly would go against the lesson itself.  The worst part is that I am seeing my own traits coming out in my daughter already - I really need to learn these lessons if I am going to teach her well.  

I am looking forward to blogging as an outlet for creativity and a chance to connect.  Thanks for reading!