Category Archives: O

Sometimes this little person just melts my heart

Tonight while kidlet and I were looking through an animal picture book, he saw a shark and said, “That shark will eat me all up! And then I won’t have you, and I will be sad.” And he made a pouty face and actually shed a tear. Cue: Awwwwwwwww.

I told him that sharks didn’t eat little children and if one ever tried I would make sure that it didn’t eat him. And he turned around (he was sitting on my lap), gave me a big hug, and said, “It’s so good to have you back. I love you.”

He slays me.

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Not that gender neutral nonsense again.

Gender neutral parenting. It’s a big buzz word these days. Parents who want to give their children the freedom to explore gender constructs on their own terms and without shame. Shocking!

It gets a bad rap sometimes. It seems a great number of parents are perfectly  happy telling their sons that pink, and dolls are for girls, and teaching their daughters that firefighting costumes, and trucks are for boys. I can’t blame them exactly, consciously counteracting the prevailing social norms is exhausting, and confusing, and often leads to alcohol consumption to combat the never-ending feelings of frustration with the world. Walk into any major toy store (and even an independent one) and you’ll be assaulted with the “toy section” and the “pink section.” It’s nearly impossible (nearly? It might BE impossible) to avoid the influence that gender stereotypes have on our children.

I’m gonna wade in with two of my own experiences, one that’s cute and satisfies me perversely, and the other that makes my little feminist heart sing.

Kidlet wears a ponytail. For the last month or so, nearly every morning he says, “Mama, put mah hair in ponytail!” We sit down on the floor together while I comb his hair, and he holds the rubber band. Then he spends the rest of the day checking to make sure it’s still there. Apparently ponytails are the major gender indicator for toddlers, as everywhere we go, people refer to him as “she.” He’s often dressed in clothes from the boy section, though I try very consciously to not buy him clothes that have construction equipment or sports motifs on it, and I know he has a penis, so to ME he looks like a boy. But I guess because of the ponytail, people assume he’s a girl. I’m cool with that. Doesn’t bother me in the slightest. But, HOOO WHEEE does it bother other people. I don’t bother to correct people unless I’m asked a direct question like, “How old is she?” then I’ll reply, “He’s…” Here it is – boys don’t have to have short hair, and girls don’t have to have long hair. It’s really that simple. So, my piece of performing masculinity subversion, acted out through my son. Yeah, yeah, I’m using my kid to further my own agenda. Know what? I’m ok with it.

The second piece is significantly more important to me. This toy is pretty popular in our house these days:

Kidlet calls this toy his FIREFIGHTER. YES!!! A thousand yesses! Instead of calling it a fireman, my kid has picked up on the efforts of his dad and I to speak in gender neutral terms whenever we are given the opportunity and now speaks in them too! I love this. This is so important to me because so many professions represented to children are represented as male, which winds up creating a subliminal understanding that boys have certain opportunities that girls don’t. I think the language we choose to speak in, with it’s ageist, sexist, ableist, homophobic, and violent  roots teaches our children VOLUMES more than we think it does. So, to hear his little 2year old mouth speaking to me in gender neutral terms…well, it just makes my day.

How do you support your children in their gender exploration?

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Filed under culture, feminism, O, parenting

Feminist Friday – Ani DiFranco – 1992

What if no one’s watching

… i always feel i have to
take a stand
and there’s always someone on hand
to hate me for standing there
i always feel i have to open my mouth
and every time i do
i offend someone somewhere

you know i can’t apologize
for everything i know
i mean you don’t have to agree with me
but once you get me going
you better just let me go
we have to be able to criticize
what we love
to say what we have to say
’cause if you’re not trying
to make something better
then as far as i’m concerned
you are just in the way

—————————————————————————————————————-

My mood is matching the grey, cold day outside my windows today. I think Lucy has another tumor on her head; she has an appointment with the vet this afternoon. And kidlet has another rash. This one completely different from the one he had a few weeks ago. He went to the doctor on Wednesday and the doctor sort of scratched his head and said, “Let’s watch it. Call me on Friday.” It’s Friday. Rash got worse. I know rashes can drag you down the biggest diagnostic rabbit hole, but I hate hearing, “Well…let’s watch it.” I hate feeling like there is something wrong with my kid. And I wish I had an instinct that said, “He’s just kind of a funny little kid who gets the weird viruses,” or one that said, “He’s got some underlying autoimmune condition, chase this until you get an answer.” Instead I sit here and wonder if this is ‘normal.’ I feel like I did back in January, wondering what the hell is going on.

We have a birthday party to go to tomorrow, kidlet’s two best friends will be there. And one of my very best friends in the world is coming tomorrow night for a few days. Things will look up. What are you all doing this weekend?

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Filed under Feminist Friday, music, O, toddler, Uncategorized

Kidlet – with video!

This is how we spend most every afternoon after getting home from daycare.

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Filed under family time, O

Ahhh…food allergies. The fun that never stops.

Well, kidlet’s allergic! I mean, we knew this. Or suspicioned it anyway. Now we have incontrovertible, medical evidence.

Poor kid!

Positive reactions in order of severity: Egg, peanut, salmon, almond, mixed fin fish, and hazelnuts.

Negative reactions: wheat, dairy, and soy.

The thing about allergy testing for food (and this is about the peanuts, although the allergist says we can take that reaction to the bank) is that you can’t look at a positive clinical test as proof of an allergy. Lots of people (myself included) will have strong clinical reactions to foods they eat without any noticeable problems. You have to take clinical reactions in conjunction with actual ingestion reactions to really diagnose a problem. So, we’re pretty clear about eggs, salmon makes a bit of sense considering the bagel vomit, and almond fits with rash (Maybe. The rash didn’t respond to Benadryl, which everyone seems to think it should have, if it was an allergic reaction). But peanuts? I guess I can’t really be sure because he doesn’t really like peanuts, or peanut butter, so I’m not positive he’s ever knowingly encountered peanut. Ugh.

So the goal is to eliminate all these foods from his diet (no real challenge, with the exception of fish, he doesn’t really eat any of these things anyway) and then “challenge” some of the lesser reactive ones (like salmon) after he’s been vomit free for some period of time.

This made complete sense until I came home and started talking things out with my mom, and friends. I started to remember other episodes of vomiting that I had attributed to ear infections, or that we couldn’t attribute to anything. And we had told the allergist that he’d been vomit-free for months prior to the egg confirming episode in July, except that the more I thought about it, the more I realized that wasn’t true at all.

Am I resisting the “I have an allergic kid” label? Yes. To some degree I am. I was allergic to eggs when I was younger – I used to get hives if I ate them. So my parents just didn’t feed me eggs. No big deal. Now, my kid’s allergic to them, and we have EpiPens stashed all over the place, we’ve scratch tested him (which he HATED), and we’re obsessively reading labels.

We’re pretty nervous to take him out to eat, even if we bring him his own food. Most of the places we like to go serve eggs. What if there is egg on the table and he touches it? And then picks up his food and puts it in his mouth? I’m afraid that any packaged food (particularly crackers or cookies) might have been processed in a facility that also processes nuts or egg products. (I know some labels say, but that’s a voluntary disclosure so if a label doesn’t say, can I trust it?) I’m pretty sure vomiting will be the extent of his reaction; he doesn’t have asthma and kids with asthma are more likely to have life-threatening reactions, but the allergist said he usually advises parents who have kids that are vomiting from food ingestion to use the EpiPen, because vomiting is classified as an anaphylactic reaction. OHMYMAUDE. The more I know, the less secure I feel.

And sending him to friends houses to play? This seems insurmountable to me. Here’s my toddler and his list of allergies, and his EpiPen, and, and, and…who wants that responsibility? Babysitters? You see how this is spiraling.

It’ll all be alright. I just need to adjust, and have a few weeks of no vomiting and give myself  a chance to chill the hell out.

I’ll chill out, right?

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Filed under O, parenting, toddler

Unravelling a toddler medical mystery – more fun that you can shake a stick at.

I’m sitting here with kidlet watching Kipper. We’re having a quiet day. It’s raining cats and dogs outside, and we just got back from the doctor, so I think some lazy tv time is alright for the afternoon.

Last week I alluded to the medical crap we’re trying to sort out, and I swear, like all good mysteries, shit just gets more complicated.

At kidlet’s 24 month well-child exam we talked with his doctor about our pretty clear suspicion that kidlet has an egg allergy (he eats a bite of egg – he throws up, or gets hives. Doc agreed, egg allergy it is!), and we left the appointment with this handy little epi pen.

photo 2

He also had blood drawn to test for Celiac disease. O has been off the weight chart for over a year, and always seems to have a little diarrhea. So anyway, we’ve talked about Celiac with his doctor before and just decided to get the test out of the way. It was negative. So this is good news, because the more I read up on egg allergies, and after the week we’ve had, I can’t handle any more super complicated dietary things.

We know that if O eats an egg cooked on the stove top he reacts. But a few weeks ago he ate a cookie, fresh out of the oven, and not 15 minutes later threw up. (Of course he was in his car seat, and it was 8:30 at night.) Then this weekend we went to eat at our regular Saturday morning breakfast place, where he ate the same thing he eats every weekend, and he threw up. And then again on Sunday morning, eating at home, he threw up.

This throws me into a cross-contamination, and foods cooked with egg tailspin. Did O’s bagel touch the egg sandwich that was on the tray? Did we have egg on our hands, and then break up some pieces of lox for him? And on Sunday I made a scrambled egg burrito. He touched my burrito before I could stop him, but I immediately washed his hands with soap and water. Was I not careful enough? Is this not even related to eggs? Does he have some kind of weird virus?

And then when I picked him up from daycare yesterday, this:
photo 1

Oh, swell. A rash. A rash covering his chest, his back, his butt, his genitals, creeping up his neck, lightly covering his cheeks, and moderately on his arms and legs.

WHAT.THE.HELL. universe.

I hoped the rash would go away overnight, but it didn’t. So I took him to the doctor this morning who told me essentially what I expected to hear, “Well, it could be allergic, or it could be viral.” I wasn’t really expecting an answer, though I always hope someone will say, “YES! This is it. Do this and everything will be okay.”

He’s fine. Really. In fact he’s awesome. He handles the barfing like a champ, and once it’s over, it’s over. There’s no lasting symptoms. BUT, I’m completely paranoid about eating anything now. I’m paranoid about keeping eggs in our refrigerator, I’m paranoid to take him out to eat. I’m obsessively reading the labels for everything I feed him, even for stuff I’ve fed him a hundred times before.

He’s got an appointment with an allergist next week. I’m not sure what I expect to come of it. He’ll be tested for an egg allergy, and I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t come back positive. Maybe he’ll be tested for some other stuff, too. And then we’ll figure out how to keep him safe. Because I’m scared to death that instead of vomiting one time, he’s going to have a reaction that compromises his breathing and I’ll have to use the EpiPen. Which I will, of course, do in a heartbeat, but really would prefer to never have to make that call.

Also? He’s started calling me Mom. Like, “Mooooommm, where are you?” CRACKS.ME.UP.

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Filed under O, parenting, Uncategorized

She’s so, errrr…he’s so…Hair and gender.

We’re sorting through some medical mumbo-jumbo over here that I’ll probably write more about once I know everything. It’s not acutely serious, but kidlet has an egg allergy, and we’re expecting some more test results back today or tomorrow. So until then, let’s talk about HAIR.

Not mine; kidlet’s.

Kidlet has a head of baby-fine, nearly white, blonde hair that curls up in the back and is just the prettiest hair you’ve ever seen. People comment on it all the time. “Look at that hair!” they say with smiles. It’s true, it’s adorable hair.

See the curls?
DSC03003_edit

Except that, lately, people seem to be uncomfortable with his hair. Because we haven’t really cut it. I trimmed his bangs once when he was around a year, and then just a few weeks ago trimmed up the back, but otherwise, we’re letting it grow.

Because we like the way he looks.

Other people, it seems, are bothered by his bangs. A random dude in the parking lot at the grocery store the other day thought it was perfectly reasonable to say to me, “You need to cut his bangs, so people know he’s a boy!” Um..well, no. And you didn’t have any problem gendering him, so…

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Now, I understand that they are in his face, but he pushes them out of the way just fine. Sometimes he even asks for his hair to be in a ponytail.

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And then he looks at himself in the mirror and says, “Pitty!” (Pretty.)

This weekend several people referred to him as “she” which I don’t even bother to correct, unless they talk to me, and then I just use “he” instead. I understand that longer hair is equated with girls in our culture, so I’m not surprised when it happens. I am surprised when other people are mortified that they have mis-gendered him. Yeesh people, you didn’t cut off his arm. Everything’s okay. They jump all over themselves to explain that they called him “she” because he has long hair. Implying, I feel to some extent, that we’re responsible for their discomfort by allowing him to have long hair.

I’m pretty sure no one would care at all if he was a girl and had hair in his eyes.

So, until we decide that his hair is unmanageable, or HE decides that he wants it short, we’re just gonna leave it alone. I mean, he’s cute as hell like this, no?

DSC03322

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Filed under O, parenting, toddler, Uncategorized