Thursday, September 13, 2007

How Would You Feel if I Sprinkled Rat Poison on the Climbing Structure at the Baldwin School?

Seriously, how would you feel about that? You'd probably think I was a monster. But these are strange times when many children have anaphylactic allergies not just to peanuts but to dairy and eggs as well. Children's Hospital estimates 1 in 80 children have celiac disease, and auto immune disorder that makes you unable to digest gluten. Gluten is the protein found in all wheat, rye and barley. Even the smallest particle of gluten ingested by a celiac kid causes several days of stomach pain, intestinal damage and diarrhea. I know because my four year old son, Eric is one of these kids. I know three other boys who can potentially go into anaphylactic shock from touching dairy or eggs.

I was in the park at the Baldwin school on Oxford Street in Cambridge recently with my (so far) allergy free daughter. I watched, cringing while a couple were a sharing a bagel with cream cheese with their young son while he sat on the swing and climbed up and down the toddler structure. The child was around 2 and the cream cheese was all over his hands and the crumbs from the bagel fell willy nilly around the platform he was playing on. I watched cringing thinking that my gluten intolerant son would likely be playing there later that day.

No, this child was not sprinkling poison on the structure in the traditional sense, but those bagel crumbs are poison to my child, and that cream cheese is poison to somebody else's.

Parents, please keep in mind the parks are for everyone, and they all have picnic tables and benches for snack time. There is no reason you have to feed your child while he or she is playing. If your child isn't hungry enough to sit and eat at a table for five minutes, then perhaps he can eat later in his stroller or in the car.

I urge all parents to keep all food off the play structures at public parks. Because as far as I'm concerned, you are sprinkling poison on that slide, that swing or those stairs. We do what we can with hand washing. But sometimes, like any preschooler, my son will randomly put his fingers in his mouth. And if you've been feeding your child where he is playing he could be in pain for days.

I don't know what it is in our environment that's making kids so horribly allergic to such common foods. But these allergies and food intolerances are out there and they're very common. So please, show a little compassion for these children and keep your food in the designated areas. They just want to play at the park like everybody else.

I submitted this to the Somerville Journal today. The editor wrote me back within about two minutes and asked if she could print it. So, yaay!

Monday, September 10, 2007

Transitions, and FINALLY Some Downtime for Me

Eric had a birthday party yesterday. We had over 50 people here and there were at least 20 kids running around my backyard. A lot of the people from our daycare don't really live here. They're here for a couple of years, and live in Harvard owned housing and then they move on. Or they're still living in the condo they bought before they had kids. So our house with our huge strangely shaped back yard is a bit of a surprise for them. I get a little embarrassed about it. I love my house and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't feel incredibly grateful to live in such a spacious, beautiful home. It took ten years worth of real estate finagling to get to this place. But it was oh so worth it. Sometimes I feel a little awkward when people compliment it. I don't want to sound snooty, but I am very proud of it. There is a fine line there.

The party was wonderful. I made a gluten free lemon cake that went down very well among the preschool and adult set. I also made some gluten free chocolate cupcakes that went down smooth as well. The food was more challenging than we did for similar parties in previous years. I usually made a few dishes and let the guests bring whatever they wanted. However, we had to stipulate that the party would be gluten free, so I had no idea what people would come up with. I made a couple of ziti's and a few pounds of my favorite maple balsamic grilled chicken and a couple of green salads. I also made mini pizzas with gorditas (thick corn tortillas). People brought fruit, salads and all kinds of foods that they knew would be safe. We cut it closer than usual in terms of the food. There was about a spoonful of ziti left and one mini pizza and that was about it. I had to make scrambled eggs for dinner because we were out of food.

And in other news, I am finally getting a break. Kaylee started family daycare today and I am thrilled. We went over to the woman's house, and I filled out the same contact information on about ten different forms while she played. Then I said goodbye! and walked out the door. I paused on the porch to see if there was any yelling and there was none. Technically I shouldn't need any childcare. But so many days I'm interacting with them from six in the morning until six at night. I can't do laundry, dishes or anything. In Kaylee Brain, a pile of laundry to be folded (assuming I can get it in and out of the Death Trap Basement with a completely mobile 16 month old) is a pile of laundry that would look much better strewn about the house. Dirty dishes? Mommy an open dishwasher is a Bad Thing! I don't care if the trays are open. I must close it now. Well, you get the idea.

The closest thing I got to a break was when K took her nap from 1-3 while Eric demonstrates what it is like to spend time with a non self directed four year old. He just can't entertain himself at that time of day. I can't blame him. He hasn't seen me for four hours and wants to play with ME. Rich is gone 12 hours straight most days and I was getting pretty miserable. So, she'll do 4 mornings per week and I think this will be a good thing for everybody. I'm supposed to be doing some writing during my down time. If I can't come up with a manuscript I can submit by next September, I have to get a job. That's the deal I made with myself.

So, things are basically good. Nighttimes have been tough. Kaylee wakes up crying a few times per night until we manage to force some ibuprofen into her. She used to just suck it down, and as of last week she HATES it. Her molars are gradually deciding to make an appearance, and cause her pain in the night. Plus with the change in weather Eric has been waking up at 5:30 again. He's been doing this whether he goes to bed at 7 or 8. So, I'm a little fried at the moment and am most grateful for this time alone.

The laundry pile is shrinking as I type. If you're really quiet, you can hear it melting away in a gentle whirring rhythm.