Thursday, August 15, 2013

And so it begins

One more week until the kids go back to school.  One more week of kid summer, and then the routine starts again.  If you had asked me in May, I would have said that I was counting down the days, but now I'm feeling a little differently about it.

We have had a good summer full of playing and ice cream (sorbet for Dallas) and friends and family.  We haven't had enough time at the pool: thanks for that Mother Nature.  We have laughed a lot, and the kids, being kids, have fought a lot.  They're ready to get back to school to see old friends and have a chance to miss each other.

Oddly enough, I'm not ready, and my reasons are selfish.   My kids are fascinating creatures, if I do say so myself.  I learn something new from them every day.  I'm not quite ready to let go of that.  They say and do funny things, and I never quite know what will come out of their mouths.  Routine is good, but it will take them a while to get used to being in bed early, getting up early, and being gone all day.

This year will be the first year that both kids will be gone all day.  Lottie is going to be in first grade, and Dallas is going to the full-day preschool program at Montessori.  He'll be gone from 8:00 AM to 2:45 PM; Lottie's bus picks her up at 8:10 AM and drops her off at 3:30 PM.  For those of you doing the math, that means I will have six hours and thirty-five minutes alone each day during the week.  Three hundred and ninety-five minutes.  Holy cow.

Every since Lottie was born, I have been a stay-at-home-mom.  My recent life  has been devoted to caring for my family and making a nice home for them.  I have been a teacher, nurse, chauffeur, chef, playmate, disciplinarian, and soother.  With my kids out of the house, I'm struggling a little to define my role.  Obviously I will always be a mom and take care of our home, but for those three hundred and ninety-five minutes, who am I?

I will definitely be busy; there's no doubt about that.  I'll continue to volunteer at Dallas's school once a week to help kids polish their reading skills.  I have great plans to go scorched earth on this house so I can get rid of the clutter and junk we seem to have collected in a year. I fantasize about parking a dumpster in the driveway for a month. I'll keep exercising every day, maybe have the occasional lunch date, take a class at the Y, and perhaps even read a book in the middle of the day. However, after defining myself as a mom for the last six and a half years, I'm not sure how that definition changes next Thursday when both kids are in the hands of their capable teachers.  First world problems, huh?

So it begins.  A fresh new school year for the kids, and perhaps some fresh, new activities and insights for me.  It's going to be a good year.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Disappointed Smurf

Credit: Silver Arena

I had the unfortunate extremely lucky chance to take the kids to see Smurfs 2 today at the local theater.  Watching anything involving the Smurfs is rarely a cinematic pleasure, but this movie annoyed me more than the typical Smurfiness would.  Speaking of being annoyed, why on Earth would the Smurfs make a comeback?  There are better things that could be resurrected from the 80's like Swatch watches or tight-rolled jeans or Jem and the Holograms.

The movie is pretty silly and harmless overall, but there is one scene in particular that really got to me.

In the scene, the main human characters are having a birthday party for their son, Blue.  (BLUE?  Neil Patrick Harris and Jayma Mays loved the Smurfs so much in the first movie that they named their son 'BLUE'?  I mean.)

Anyway, it's Blue's birthday, and we see the presentation of the cake.  NPH makes sure the parents all know that the cake is vegan, gluten-free, organic, BPA free, and that the baker had never touched a peanut, much to the obvious joy of the parents of a child with a peanut allergy.  Later in the scene, the child who is allergic takes a bite of a corn dog fried in peanut oil given to him by someone who doesn't know about his allergy.  Watching the parents' horrified response to their son's (unseen) allergic reaction was hard to watch, especially because I have a son with a food allergy.  There isn't a direct or obvious joke about the kid with the allergy, though.  Somehow, the Smurfs managed to be a little more subtle than one would expect.  Instead of mocking the allergy itself or the kid, the movie mocks the grown-ups.

What I really hate is the way parents of food allergic kids are being portrayed in this load of crap, bunch of bunk movie.  The mom and dad come off as smug, overreacting freaks who are making up their child's allergy for attention or novelty.  The truth is this: parents of children with food allergies HAVE to be proactive for their children because many, many people still believe that food allergies are silly or made up or simply not that bad.  To those people, I say zip it.  If you're living with it, you have NO idea what it's like.   I'm not whining or complaining, but the fact is that I have to advocate for my child because no one else is going to do it.  And why should they?  Dallas is my son, and I do what any parent does for his or her child: I keep him safe.  It doesn't make me smug or sanctimonious or hysterical: it makes me a mom.

When Lottie was in preschool in Lexington, we met A, a girl in her class.  I was lucky enough to become friends with A's mom, E.  A is allergic to peanuts, as well as other foods, and E is a wonderfully proactive, caring mom.  Even with all of the precautions E has taken, A ended up in the ER due to anaphylaxis from peanuts.  I cannot imagine how E must have felt watching her daughter struggle to breathe, and I can't imagine how frightened A must have been.   This past Saturday, a 13-year-old girl named Natalie Giorgi died after taking ONE bite of a Rice Krispie treat.  Natalie didn't know that the dessert contained peanut butter. As soon as she tasted the peanut butter, she spit it out, but it was too late.  Her mother gave her Benadryl, but twenty minutes later, Natalie went into anaphylactic shock.  Her  physician father administered three EpiPens in an attempt to help her, but she stopped breathing.  Natalie died due to laryngeal edema which is a fancy way of saying that her throat swelled shut and prevented her from breathing.

Natalie isn't the only person who has died from an allergic reaction this year, and horribly, she won't be the last unless people start realizing that food allergies are genuine and on the rise.  I don't expect people to cater to my kid, but I do expect people to be honest about food ingredients and preparation.  (And, really, shouldn't we ALL want that, food allergies or not?)

Credit: FARE

I'm disappointed that Sony chose to keep a scene in the movie that teeters on the edge of mocking kids with food allergies and jumps all the way off the cliff mocking the parents of those children.  We're all just doing the best we can, you know?

( Before you shake your heads and wonder why I'm writing about the food allergy issue yet again, go back and re-read the part about Natalie Giorgi.  Then go to the Food Allergy Research and Education page for more eye-opening information about food allergies.)