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Today, I took T. to an audiology appointment. His hearing is fine. We are still trying to figure out whether it makes sense to do the auditory processing test. When I get the report from the audiologist, I will consult with his speech/language therapist at the school and get an understanding from her whether she thinks there might be a useful recommendation that could come out of the more complex testing. If even a positive result produces no actionable advice, what's the point? (His current school placement does as much or more than most recommendations that might come out of the test: sound treatment, fewer people in the room, one on one instruction from an appropriate distance, etc.)

I had hoped to somehow wedge a phone call in with K., but it didn't happen. I also missed a call with A. earlier in the week. It's been one of those weeks. I think K. has a really bad cold. So does my walking partner M., which is (part of) why no walk today.

We stopped at Subway to get lunch on the way back to dropping T. off at school. I eventually called S. to describe the issues we have been having with one of the kids' therapists (<-- look, anonymization!) and what we have been doing and asked her for advice. She's going to do a little investigation. She confirmed that we will not have to deal with this therapist after this school year, which is in itself a pretty comprehensive solution.

After the call, I decided that 4 p.m. was not too early for a drink. Then A., R. and I all went to Julie's Place for dinner, and I had another drink. But I wasn't driving.
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Hard to believe that it is time for A's 3 year re-eval. Apparently other people lost track of time, too, so forms came out a little late. I am unconcerned; it'll get done, and there will be more of the same and progress will continue.

I got some housecleaning done; things are finally shaping up a bit. Between the holidays, travel and being sick and other distractions, I got behind.

Minor trigger warning for some of my readers: this next bit is about family.

I woke up this morning with a weird realization. I was raised in a family and a religious organization with a very rigid set of ideas about family structure. And I don't just mean one-man-one-woman-no-divorce, either. I mean, man is head of household, woman obeys, etc. And in case it wasn't completely obvious, there is never, ever, ever supposed to be any difference of opinion between the 'rents. I absolutely don't agree with any element of this (why exactly two 'rents, why of opposite genders, why no differences of opinion, etc.). What I realized this morning is that children who are raised by otherwise loving caregivers who have important differences in values _and who place those differences front and center in their own relationship_, thus influencing the children to take sides, kids can get stuck in an awful insecure attachment loop with parents who otherwise probably would provide secure attachment structures. Because of the yo-yoing between I'm on this one's side, no I'm on that one's side.

Differences of opinion can be profound, but as long as they are not perceived by the kiddos as a side-taking sort of situation, I don't think the effect is particularly bad. The problem is the impact on attachment.
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Recently, I watched my daughter’s friend tell my daughter that she absolutely could not answer a question I was asking her, because, “It’s a secret.” Neither child would tell me. I didn’t want to make a fuss so I let the playdate end after getting a category and no more out of them (“It’s a thing.”). The reason I’d walked in in the first place was because I’d heard my daughter nagging at her friend about, “When are you going to tell your parents?” I mean, I was going to stop my kid nagging about whatever it was — on some level, I didn’t really want to know. And I figured I could find out once the playdate was over.

Afterwards, I couldn’t get my daughter to tell me. I tried everything. There was a lot of crying. And I went from being a little worried about my daughter not telling me what it was that she was nagging at her friend to tell her parents about to being a LOT worried that anyone had this much power to stop my kid from telling me anything … anything at all. She’s 8. She has autism. This is terrifying.

I told the parents of the other child that my daughter was distressed about a secret and asked them to help out with the dilemma. They asked the other child about the secret. Apparently, the friend basically said, “There is no secret.” I was non-plussed. I had spent several minutes trying to drag it out of both of them, then even more time with my daughter. There was a secret all right. But I told my daughter, your friend says there is no secret, which means it isn’t a secret any more, which means you can tell me. Out it spilled, as stupidly trivial as anything could be. The friend wanted something. My daughter wanted her friend to tell her parents so they would buy it. The family finances are tight. And the friend said a lot of nasty things about her father’s unwillingness to spend money. That was it. The whole secret was basically a kid calling her dad names for not buying her toys. Boring as fuck. Also, the dad’s a good guy, doing everything he can for his family. Kind of mean to be calling him names.

I’m allergic to secrets. Part of why I am allergic to secrets is because I (and I wasn’t the only one) was sexually molested by a family member and obviously there were a lot of secrets involved. I got to wondering what the current consensus on kids and secrets is.

Here is the national Crime Prevention Council page on kids and secrets.


This one really stood out to me: “Make sure they know that no one has the right to ask them to keep a secret from their parents.”

Wanting to know the content of the secret doesn’t make me a bad mother.

The primary exception to the No Secrets rule is clear and common, and exactly the one I came up with when talking to my daughter after the dust settled.

“It's okay for children to keep surprise parties and presents secret because these secrets will make someone happy and won't be a secret forever.”

Surprises parties and presents okay, time limited secrets okay. Everything else, nope. I even went down a list of everyone that my daughter and I both know, and asked her in turn, if any of those people had ever asked her to keep a secret. Ever. Answer: none of them. We don’t do secrets — we don’t even do surprises. And if kids want candy or cookies, they get them. We don’t have limits that are broken and then the violation kept as a “secret” — I think that just causes all kinds of trouble.

Some websites have much more complicated explanations of secrets that are okay vs. ones that are not okay.


I can’t make head or tale of most of that. I have a bunch of policies about confidential information. If the story in question is entertaining, I’ll shave off all identifying information, change some details, and use it as cocktail party fodder. I’ve actually done this in front of the source of the story and had them think it was someone else — they came by and said, OMG, that’s so much like what happened to me! I can’t believe you know two people that happened to! And I’m like, weird, huh? Secret kept. Stories which are too boring to tell at a party are not hard to keep confidential — I barely remember them. A long time ago, I had friends who were really awful people, and so sometimes I’d find out that someone was sleeping with someone else who they were not supposed to be with. And yes, I am the person who will go tell the partner of the person who wasn’t supposed to be doing that. I eventually figured out not to hang out with people who did that kind of shit and thus had to keep that kind of secret.

There are some people who use secrets as a bridge to more complicated sets of rules that are pretty valuable:


Years ago, a friend of mine was dating someone who used to be a friend of mine, but who I had gotten really suspicious of. She was being treated for depression. She was being pressured to do things she really didn’t want to do. I decided that enough was enough, and I contacted a bunch of people who had had some kind of relationship that went bad with the person she was dating. We staged a rolling intervention. Basically, I got everyone to tell her all their stories about What Went Wrong With Him. And that was the end of that. Relationship ended. Cats were rescued. New relationship started. Happily Ever After (look, life is complicated, and nothing is perfect, but they still seem quite happy in their now family of 4). And she will reliably rant about the dangers of a Culture of Silence since that event. More power to her.

She’s right. I’m not opposed to being tactful and diplomatic when we complain about other people doing annoying things. Tact and etiquette are great things. Keeping secrets, however, is NOT a great thing. Just fucking gossip publicly. It’s so much less scary.
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Today, T. had a half day so we went to Starbucks where he had a hot chocolate and I had a soy mocha. He paid. He held the door for me. He didn't rush me out of there as soon as he was done but waited patiently to let me finish. I was really impressed.

At the clinic (small meeting with part of the team to discuss T.'s progress -- we didn't really need a December clinic because of the IEP but T. wanted to attend one of the meetings so we had the clinic), I talked about the appointments I was setting up for T.'s hearing eval (including for CAPD) and vision eval (with a developmental optometrist) I was working on getting set up. The intake on this stuff is on the order of the Lurie Center intake process. Anyway. Much confusion and disclaiming of desire on the part of the team members for me to do this, so I threatened to halt the process and they then backpedaled and said no don't do that. I'm not sure what is going on there. I'm about ready to call S. and ask for advice, because one team member in particular just seems to be not entirely competent and/or sane. I attempted to extract information from anyone there about an adaptive/inclusive martial arts instructor/program in the area -- they exist, but so far I'm mostly finding tae kwon do, a style I have Issues with -- and got all kinds of static from the problematic team member on the topic. They are all going to go track down names/programs and get back to me, because I did get them to acknowledge that they actually had heard of such programs/instructors.

You would think that people who were concerned about proprioreceptive and sensory integrative and motor planning issues would be all over an adaptive/inclusive martial arts activity. You would think that. But apparently, you get a bunch of yoga practicing women in a room with no experience with the martial arts themselves and you just get a bunch of random static. T. can ice skate (in circles, nothing fancy), ride a horse, ride a bike, swim well enough to have a green band and does some gymnastics. Martial arts does not seem like an impossible next step, assuming a 1-1 setting and an instructor with decent patience and good ability to break movement down into very tiny pieces. Really, it turns out that resistance to change is not limited to the kids in that classroom.

ETA: Two sitters, so R. and I went to Bondir. That was really nice -- first time going out since finally feeling better. There was an egg dish with bacon and barley that was really yummy. So was the quince sorbet.
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Today, T. and I went grocery shopping at Roche Bros. After bringing the groceries home, T. and I went to Solomon Pond. We shopped at Target for PJs and button down shirts for him, and accessories for several of us (scarves, gloves, hats). Then we went to Best Buy, where we unloaded three boom boxes, the oldest from the late 1970s, according to R. (recycling). After that, we stopped at Bertucci's for lunch, then went to see the Trolls movie.

After returning home, T. and R. went ice skating while A. and I hung out and I did some laundry. We all had dinner at home, altho we did not all eat the same thing. R. and T. had the beef taco that I'd made a couple days ago. Apparently I overdid the chipotle, and T. was, "This is hot!" and stuck his head under the kitchen faucet. I said he could have something else and he said, no, that's okay, he'd just drink a lot of water. R. put some shredded mozzarella on it; that seemed to help. On the one hand, even R. thought I'd overdone it with the chipotle (I couldn't find the new mexico red). On the other hand, I'm so proud of my boy! He likes spicy! Woot!
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This morning, I had a short walk with D., then we had coffee. W. came over to pick up the Radio Flyer wagon and the metal ride on fire engine toy. R. reminded me about the wagon (we still have the folding wagon); I had been at a loss who to move the fire engine along to. So this is very exciting! W. and D. know each other, so it was like a little mini-party for 10 minutes. W. left and M. arrived; M., D. and I all walked along and chatted about some possible TV series that D.'s daughter might enjoy. Then M. and I continued with our walk (reversed). A widdershins walk on the Day of the Dead. It must be lucky, right?

It was T.'s half day, so I picked him up. His clinic was canceled, so after gymnastics we went to Whole Foods. He keeps asking about what songs are about and if you listen to pop music, you know a lot of pop is about sex, one way or another. I got out the books I bought about puberty and changing bodies and so forth and we took a quick look at them -- before, when he was asking these questions, he shied away from any detail, but lately he has been persistently asking for more information, so more information was provided.
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For regular readers: I'm a little behind on blogging; I'll do catch-up posts in the next day or so. I wasn't out of town, but there was a bunch going on. Unrelated to this event.

This morning, T. came in to wake me up (a second time -- he'd been in once already to make sure it was okay for him to go around the loop) and say there was someone in the garage to see me. I grabbed a robe and crocs and muttered, "It'd better not be Witnesses," and headed downstairs. I could hear the door to the kitchen from the garage was being held open and a man speaking in my kitchen before I was even down the stairs. A police officer had followed T. home.

He was extremely courteous and entirely supportive. A neighbor had called the police because my son was walking around the neighborhood -- he'll do the loop, and also walk down Spencer to a friend's house. Two marked cars stopped near him (slow day, I guess!), offered him a ride home, which he declined. He had a conversation with them and they grasped they he knew where he was and he knew where he lived so everyone came over to the house, where one (thank goodness only one) officer came in to chat with a parent to establish that yup, we know he's out and about.

This isn't precisely like walking to school. That's a timed, point A to point B, with an expected arrival time. T. walking around the neighborhood is not directed and can be repetitive. (Heck, it's pretty repetitive when I do loops around the neighborhood walking.) On the other hand, he is 11, careful around cars, polite to people and pets and generally well known. The police had no issue at all with what he was doing and the officer said, please get exercise every day, this is a great thing he is doing, kids need to get some independence, etc., everything you could possibly want.

We're not sure who called this in, or why. It's possible it is someone who has known T. and I for years, saw he was alone, wasn't used to that, wondered if perhaps I was lying unconscious somewhere and called it in on that basis. It's possible it was someone who saw T. the first time, thought nothing of it, saw him three more times and concluded he was lost and needed help finding his way home. Lots of kids with autism get lost or wander off, so it's a Good Thing to make sure an unattended kid who is wandering around has a safe point of contact to ensure that everything is okay, and calling a community helper like the police is better in many ways than approaching the child yourself.

But it was still pretty weird that someone called the cops on my kid. T. is excited and sort of hopes it happens again. He's going to accept a ride home in the police vehicle next time. "I'll get my own private police ride!", he said.
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T. recently complained his boots -- size 6 -- were too large. And those 6s were hard to find in riding boots for boys. So he is now in riding boots for men, and it's surprisingly not easy to find English for men (pants or boots). R. talked to a friend who rides (and who is a Real Adult) and he says they all wear western boots and jeans. All righty then. I ordered T. some new jeans (which needed to be hemmed, because he's not quite that tall yet and he is resistant to cuffs altho softening a bit on that resistance), and the same boots in the men's size that he had most recently had in boys -- and they are more than twice as expensive. Ugh. They are very, very nice tho, so that's something.

A. said she couldn't wiggle her toes in one pair of shoes recently -- 1.5 Disney sneakers. So I pulled out the size 2 in Disney sneakers, and she wore those for a while. But today, we were back to, "I can't wiggle my toes!". So I contemplated going back to the Stride Rite 2s, but they are showing a lot of wear and when I felt her toes, they were really close to the end. I went in search of the size 3s (a combination of things T. never wore and things I couldn't pass up at the consignment store just because they are too big to fit while I'm looking at them), and pulled out some Wazowski/Monsters U sneaks and she liked those. I also found a ton of other shoes in sizes 1, 2 and 3, and am now in the process of figuring out where I'm gonna send the obviously too small ones and where to store the ones that currently fit so they actually are used.
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Expect an update, because I'm determined to actually start blogging regularly again so I'm just gonna post and update rather than wait for some magical moment where the day is over and I can blog about it yet somehow I have not toppled over from fatigue. Because those magical moments are not happening currently.

It is raining today. However, people have not canceled anything yet. Yay! It's pretty warm (mid-high 60s) so not painful to be out in the wet and it isn't pouring it's just a straight up Seattle style medium rain, light by NE standards.

Since we missed last week's soccer due to being out of town, it was nice to get to see all my new friends one last time. There is a general desire to continue with soccer, but this group doesn't do summer soccer because it is too hot. However, they are planning on some basketball and track stuff ("Kick with care" is connected to "Hoops with care" and "Run with care" -- hey, if it's all the same people running it, I am on board because these people are _wonderful_). I found the websites but they don't have dates/locations yet, which is unsurprising because they told us in person they don't have dates/locations yet.

T. is having leftover pizza today from yesterday's lunch at Bertucci's. He's planning on following that up with leftover ham and cheese sandwich from yesterday's dinner at Pub on the Common. Since I took T. to Bertucci's (part of the Apple Store outing), R. took him to Littleton for dinner last night.

The latest episode of My Little Pony, "Flutter Brutter", is riveting. On balance, I think I approve, altho I'm going to have to think about it for a while. Summary here: http://mlp.wikia.com/wiki/Flutter_Brutter

I was concerned that there was going to be a See It All Works Great If He Just Tries ending, but in fact it was a lot more realistic than that. The discussion about fear of failure and thus wanting to not even try was decent. The Tough Love sequence in the forest included enough supervision to not be a Bad Idea, and it did get its point across. The show found a reasonable balance between depicting Fluttershy's brother having genuine problems that he could not readily compensate for (and that had flummoxed his otherwise loving and supportive and intelligent family as well) and Fluttershy's brother using those problems as a reason for putting substantial effort into failing cartoonishly so people would just take care of him and let him do what he wanted. Best of all, Zephyr Breeze's problems existed in a family dynamic that actually made sense. I love that MLP exists. It is amazing, that a "children's" show can take on this kind of issue with a sense of humor and get it mostly right. It's not perfect, but it's hard to think of anything better out there. I particularly liked that the solution was basically, let's go with what Zephyr Breeze had a passion for (Mane Therapy) and help him develop more tolerance for the possibility of failure so he could persist and then succeed. I also appreciated that Fluttershy did not dismiss her brother's fear of failure but instead validated it and normalized it by pointing out that she, too, had these fears.
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My daughter's school uses the following chart to help them decide when to have indoor recess vs. outdoor recess. It's an interesting chart, and I thought I would share it.


The chart doesn't say _when_ to keep kids in vs. let them out; it instead quantifies risk. When I've read national coverage of regional variability in when to have indoor recess, the trend that has stuck out in my mind is that indoor recess basically happens whenever the day's low drops about 10 degrees below local _average_ low (for winter, that is); wind and precipitation is obviously a significant factor as well. Local average low is surprisingly variable -- it's not impossible to find two locations separated by a dozen or so miles with local average lows that vary by 10 or more degrees.

Areas with very low local average lows in winter will routinely send their kids out in temperatures which are rarely if ever experienced in more temperate regions and, when experienced in more temperate regions, may lead not just to indoor recess but even to school closure. If you sit around trying to figure out why they don't do it the same way in New Jersey that they did it in Michigan, well, yeah, you're gonna be confused. But if you factor in the local conditions, it makes a lot more sense.
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Today, R. took both kids ice skating. He had bought T. new skates earlier in the day. I went to retrieve A. later, but both kids decided they'd had enough at that point so we all came home.

A. is a little too tall for the pusher devices, but she says she only fell one time, and she fell on her butt. She did not seem at all discouraged. While ice skating is not at all My Thing, I'm happy that the kids have another activity they both like doing with their papa.
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A few years back, I found this amazing wall calendar that doesn't have pictures, so it spreads the boxes for the month over the facing pages, leading to Enough Space to write stuff legibly. Most of the time. Of course we're all trying to move towards digital calendars, but that just hasn't worked completely for me (altho I'm getting closer), and the wall calendar communicates to people like sitters who we don't share calendars with (sure, you can make the case that we should be sharing those events, but when you don't know when the sitter will be sitting when you create the event, it's hard to know which events to share and I'm just not inclined to share my whole life with child care).

Anyway. The calendar has advice on each month about stuff you should do this month. This advice is irrelevant to my life so I ignore it ("Organize store coupons"). But sometimes it gets me thinking ("Begin collecting summer camp information"). I won't do what it _says_ (my kids' IEPs have summer programs, and I have yet to find a summer camp that would be compatible with that schedule AND our summer trip to the Cape), but it will occur to me that there is a relevant thing to think about.

In this case, I got to thinking about that summer Cape trip. I booked the house months ago, but my son really wanted to go back to Cape Cod Campresort. I thought, maybe I should talk to him about this again, let him get his arguments out and start working his way around to thinking the new place might be fun. I also thought, hey, sharing a kitchen with my mum-in-law and my sister and her family is going to be Fraught. Maybe I should collect some info from them: what range of time do you usually have breakfast and how much time does it take you to prepare and clean up from that breakfast. Then I could rough out a schedule for who gets the kitchen when in the morning, which is likely to be the Most Fraught meal. I could also talk to my sister about planning who is producing which meals; that has worked well on previous trips when we weren't sharing a kitchen, and would probably be helpful here. Bathrooms are not a problem in this particular house, so I don't have to work out a bath-or-shower schedule.

After ruminating over this while having an insanely good dinner at Bondir in Concord (they seem to be preferentially carrying Umpqua wines for their Oregon selections. Apparently Willamette is moving into the Too Many People Know About It category. *sigh*. The Brandborg was excellent -- they were covered last spring here: http://www.winepressnw.com/2015/03/16/3450849/oregon-winery-of-the-year-brandborg.html), I had a conversation with my son in which he asked me:

How long does it take to drive to the Cape?
Where is [name of house we rented]?
How far is it from there to the camping place?

Some further discussion ensued, mostly me answering questions, and when I pulled up a picture of the house, he said, very excitedly, "I like that. I want to try that."

Okay then. That was easy.
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If you are unfamiliar with the term, "startle" actually has sort of a technical meaning.


That is, if you are startled you aren't just, oh, how surprising! No, this is more of a, jump up out of your seat, move involuntarily, make noise, heart races, etc. sort of thing. (Training a startle reflex to do something really useful is core to some martial arts training.)

Lots of things can startle a person. A loud or unexpected noise or sensation, for example, might make you jump and cause your heart to race, even if it is not, objectively, frightening once you know what it is. This morning, when the van came to pick up A., I had lost track of time and was startled by the horn honking. It wasn't just the horn -- it was the oh, shit, I didn't get A. out to the driveway and now I need to make sure she has on her shoes and jacket and backpack and pause the TV show and so forth.

If you are very attached to a person (again, there's a technical meaning here, in which your autonomic nervous system and their autonomic nervous system become synchronous, at least when you are breathing the same air. When they are calm, you feel calm. When they are agitated, it is hard not to become agitated as well. Happiness, sadness, irritation -- all become contagious in the context of this kind of relationship), and that person startles, you might startle, too, even if you didn't have the same experience they did. So, for example, if a (HEY TRIGGER WARNING FOR ARACHNOPHOBES HERE) spider drops on them and startles them and doesn't touch you, you might still jump out of your chair in a panic because they did.

I know perfectly well that my daughter is that attached to me. But I'm still always kind of amazed when my startle gets reflected in her. The horn honked, I jumped up, and she jumped up and starts describing her feelings of surprise and being scared. And she doesn't even know _why_ she's suddenly surprised and scared, so I'm explaining to her what happened as I pause the TV show and get her jacket and shuffle her on out the door.

Parenting is so ... odd.
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The whole world is judging the "childless" aunt who sued her nephew in Connecticut court for damages that resulted some years ago when he, as an 8 year old, jumped on her to give her a hug. He is described in the article as weighing 50 pounds at the time, which honestly sounds very light for an 8 year old boy.


She lost. Duh. Her position was that a "prudent" 8 year old would have known better than to jump her. The jury's position was probably representative of the population at large's opinion that "eight year old" and "prudent" rarely belong anywhere near each other in a sentence.

However, because we don't necessarily want to encourage 8 year old (especially ones who weigh more than 50 pounds) children to jump on unsuspecting fifty year olds (my daughter tried this with her great aunt J. recently. J. had only recently recovered from a shattered pelvis and is in her 80s. I about had a heart attack, but J. is savvy to the ways of children and knew to dodge), the media has seen fit to make the plaintiff sound extra special ridiculous: "childless" is in quotes because it appears in all the coverage, as if this was either additionally damning or somehow explanatory or possibly both; having trouble holding a plate gets the full treatment: “I was at a party recently, and it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvre plate,” she said." So in addition to no kids, suing a relative and eating something called "hors d'oeuvres" (instead of apps, the way any reasonable adult would say today, or, if you are square, appetizers or conceivably small plates), she lives in Manhattan (and we know about THOSE people), etc.

If the media had wanted to sympathize with this woman, she would have been described differently: having trouble with activities of daily living, such as carrying a plate of food, living in a cramped apartment in a building without an elevator, and probably some text associated with the extent of the medical bills not covered by insurance.

Children jumping on adults is something that causes very serious problems for some adults. And probably we should all, collectively, come up with some way to protect adults, especially ones who spend a lot of time around children, from this problem. I sort of feel like tourists like the childless aunt are kinda on their own. (One wonders what happens when she's around large, overly friendly, dogs.) I'm fairly certain, however, that the solution will not involve lawsuits. I'm thinking something along the lines of disclaimers, warning labels, signs, etc.: "Warning! This is a Birthday Party! Children Doing Stupid Shit! Maintain situational awareness at all times and be prepared to dodge. If you require assistance in defending against incoming small bodies, please notify the host before arrival."

ETA: Also, how does living on the 3rd floor make a wrist injury worse? I'm really confused about that part. If it'd been an ankle, or knee or hip, sure, but wrist?
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I was raised a Jehovah's Witness. My mother was born into a Holdeman Mennonite community. Trust me when I say, my immediate familial heritage is more anti-abortion than you would readily believe. These are groups which do NOT recognize an exemption for the life of the mother, rape, incest or anything else.

When I was 25, for a variety of reasons which are out of scope of this blog post, I gave up on being a JW, and with it, I gave up having parents or my two older sisters (and I got _back_ my younger sister, and I liked her better anyway). I have been slowly rebuilding a family out of close friends, extended family, and of course my husband and children in the ensuing two decades. Part of rebuilding a family has involved researching my family through public records. A year or so ago, I got death records for many of my extended family who died in Washington State over the last hundred years, give or take.

I've blogged before how I cried, how I had to take breaks, as I learned more about the tragedies that shaped my family through reading public records than I ever managed to extract from the people who were more directly affected by them than me. But there is one that stands out every time Planned Parenthood, reproductive rights, etc. are in the news. It is this one:

Washington state death certificates

There was a substantial age difference between Mr. Smith and Mrs. Smith (he was, obvs, much older). And they already had a child together who, when this happened, was 3 years old. She grew up to be, by all accounts, a strong and wonderful person who married a man she loved and they had three children and many grandchildren and while I only barely know the family from a great distance bridged only weakly by facebook, growing up without her mother and being bounced from one home to another before finally settling into a good place with people who loved and supported her, made her very reluctant to talk about any of this.

What a different life that child would have had, if her mother had had better choices available to her than this one. Let's not go back to that horrifying world, which seems to my eyes so recent (1926!). It's tough enough for a woman to have a 3 year old child at age 19, but to then have so few choices about whether she had to have a second at age 19, that this seemed like the best of them is distant from the minds of every centrist who thinks that they would never have an abortion, so really, why do we need Planned Parenthood when everyone can just use birth control? And yet there are still young women (girls!) who find themselves in similar situations. Today, they can order cytotec or whatever over the internet, but they still die of infection and septicemia, if they don't have access to doctors or are afraid to tell them what they've done.

Planned Parenthood provides important health services to poor woman around the country, sure, and we should keep them around just for that. But we _really_ should keep them around because they save girls and women from deaths like this one. If you want to get rid of Planned Parenthood, you're a heartless asshole, and no friend of mine.
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Recently, T. brought home a printed piece of paper from school. The aides or teacher took down what he told them about his summer vacation. Here it is:

"9/3/15 My School Vacation

First, on 8/15/15 I went camping in East Falmouth on Cape Cod. Before we went, we picked up an RV trailer. We packed the trailor [sic], we looked at the stovetop, oven, bathroom, and beds. Then we went to the cape we visited family while we were there we went to the pool we rode bokes we went out to eat at oysters to [sic] we did not go to the beach and we did not go to the lake my favorite part was riding my bike"

Technically, it wasn't a trailor; it had a cab. Also, the name of the restaurant -- which is an excellent restaurant and we ate there the day we arrived and also got takeout later -- is Oysters Too. Should you find yourself in Falmouth, I highly recommend this restaurant, altho not _quite_ as highly as I recommend C Salt Bar & Grille.

T. does a great job talking about recent events and things he has heard people say, altho he has apparently inherited my tendency to talk way too fast and include details that a better story teller might have omitted. I'm very happy that his communication skills enable him to participate in this kind of school work. Maybe he, too, will blog when he gets a little older!
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A. is going to summer school with twins who she was in preschool with. She had, in an earlier year, attended their birthday party, which was super fun. Their mother called me to set up a playdate. We met at a local playground in the morning and the kids played for an hour and a half before we broke it up for lunch and other things. It is so unusual for my daughter (or my son, but he didn't participate in this) to stick with other children -- moving from one activity to the next fluidly and happily and without having to be reminded that the others have moved on or objecting to what they want to do vs. what she wants to do. Best of all, I had had a good impression of their mother before this, but after hanging out with her for over an hour I like her a whole lot and feel like she is my kind of people. I really hope that we can keep making this happen.
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T.'s last day of school was yesterday, so we spent the whole day together. It started out a little harrowing, but we got the hang of it after a bit. I did not want to give up my several-walks-a-day habit, and he neither wanted to come with me nor did he want to stay home while I went out for 20 minutes at a time. After some emotional discussion and a time-out for both of us to be quiet and calm down, he decided that scootering while I walked might be pretty fun. It is, after all, how we spent several summers together, before he instead spent all his time with babysitters.

So. We went once by ourselves. Then once with my walking partner. Then we went grocery shopping. Then we had lunch (no dessert, because he had gymnastics after and he has trouble if he eats too much). Then we stopped at a playground where he played while I walked the half mile loop around the lake. Then gymnastics. Then back home. Another walk. Then dinner with R. Then I went for a walk because the Manhattan at dinner was insanely huge and even leaving a third or more of it, I was drunk and needed to sober up a bit.

The previous night, we had gone to CVS in search of chewable gummy vitamins and canned fruit salad. We'd had another discussion about healthy eating, and how he really doesn't eat any fruits or vegetables and that is a problem. After a wide ranging set of options were explored and dismissed, and there were some tears, he decided fruit salad (the canned kind) was the least horrible option. He had some with breakfast this morning, and more throughout the day. Honestly, if I can get him to be that extra amount of active that he was today (never mind gymnastics -- I'm thinking more scootering and playing at the playground) and eat fruit salad, I would be willing to retire from the field of Let's Improve Some Habits and go back to being the yeah, whatever I do not care parent that I normally am. But he apparently decided to branch out and try Greek Yogurt, too. Which is also fine.
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Threes is a game. It is a puzzle game on iOS and other platforms, or you can play it in a web browser, here:


A. plays Threes sometimes, probably because she has spent a lot of time watching me play it. It is a simple tile movement game. 1 and 2 go together to make 3, and after that, you match numbers with themselves (simple doubling). This is why A. could say the following:

"3 plus 3 is 6. 6 + 6 is 12. 12 plus 12 is 24. 24 plus 24 is 48. 48 plus 48 is 96. 96 plus 96 is uhhhhh (long pause) 129?"

Kinda cool. I helped her out through a couple more rounds, and then told her we should start the calculator on her iPad if she wanted to see what higher numbers were. She declined, in favor of playing with the Furby Boom some more.

In unrelated parenting news, a startlingly awful article by a therapist at The Atlantic.


Don't read it. It's really long, and the basic argument is simple. I see these people in therapy whose childhoods are fine. Let's figure out a way to make it the parents' fault after all, because, you know, looking for a _genetic_ explanation or a functional explanation would be ridiculous.

If I were advising someone who had a great job and a great spouse and a lovely house and blah blah bleeping blah and still felt lost and empty, I'd start by asking them if they were enjoying their food and sleep. If they weren't, I'd point them at that, because, MASLOW. If you don't sleep and eat enough, you're gonna feel empty and over time, despair because probably you are Super Smart and Super Controlled and fundamentally, you are starving yourself. Might as well fix it before it turns into something worse than psychological symptoms.

If your food and sleep were satisfying, I'd start asking how you felt about your friends and if you had family aspirations that were on hold. If you didn't like your friends (if your friends, like in Heathers, were your "job"), I'd say you should experiment with new ones. If your family aspirations were on hold, I'd gently suggest that it was pretty hard to wait for something you wanted badly, and you might have to live with the emptiness if fulfilling those family aspirations right now was Not Possible. But I'd also get you to explore whether you could make progress towards those aspirations now. BECAUSE MASLOW.

If your food and sleep were satisfying and your friends and family were A-O-Good, then I'd maybe poke around at your career choice. If you were making bank (you're seeing a therapist, after all), but wished there was more to life than whatever it was you were doing for money, I'd suggest making baby steps to find a satisfying avocation. BECAUSE MASLOW.

If your food and sleep and friends and family and career were also ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, and I didn't think you were a lying sack of shit (because I would be suspicious at this point), I'd ask you to see the psychiatrist I work with (in the hypothetical world in which I was a therapist, you bet there'd be a psychiatrist I was working with) about an assessment and meds for anxiety or something similar. There might be some chemistry in need of adjustment. It happens. And, sad to say, better parenting practices have removed the excuse of abusive parenting, so we should be taking serious the possibility that that is genetic and should be treated as such.

BECAUSE BLAMING PARENTS IS A WASTE OF TIME. Well, not always. But therapists have been blaming parents for all kinds of shit that wasn't the parents fault (and often the parents suffered from same -- I'm looking at you, autism and schizophrenia). Anxiety and similar disorders are gonna turn out to be the same old same old, and blaming the parents for helicoptering, when mum, dad, and the wee ones just have genetics that make them anxious does NOT sound like sound therapy. Not in theory. And definitely not in practice.

But you know, any article that quotes Jean Twenge is an article that is bound to be Just Awful. Altho I can never quite get over the fact that actual narcissists are _famous_ for not going anywhere near therapists, because they think they are FINE and it is everyone ELSE who is the problem, so the idea that a bunch of people are checking themselves into a therapist's office because generation of parentally induced narcissism seems like an abuse of the language. But whatev.

ETA: I lie. If someone showed up and said their life was just fabulous but they felt awful, what I'd really recommend, first of all, is to sit in a room with a pad of paper and a pen and no other distractions. Try to stick it out for an hour (no eating, but maybe a bottle of water would be okay). No music. Definitely no phone games. Pacing is fine; exercise routine is not. Every time they thought of something, they should write it down. Don't _think about it_, just write it down and tell yourself you can come back to that later. At the end of the hour, you're done, and you can either read over the list, throw it away or share it at the next session, or go over it with friends or whatever the hell you want to do with it. But you have to _do that_ (or something similar involving a voice recorder) until you start hearing what your inner self has been trying to get you to pay attention to. Because if you've got a Great Life and you don't feel good and you don't know why, then you aren't listening to her. She can tell you, but you do have to pay attention.
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I got a fair amount of training about this when I was in school, but it is clear to me now that that isn't typical of most people. So a lot of times when you ask if something can be done, an explanation is given about why it is impossible (like the attempted debunkery of Tim Cook's assertion the iPhone could be used to unlock cars) based on a particular implementation that is not only NOT the only possible implementation, but an implementation that ignores what's already out in the wild.

I ran into another one today over at Jez.


I think the "dying" is hyperbole -- I see no indication that anyone is actually dying.

Obvs, anyone whose kid was mobile before they were verbal has at least _thought_ in passing about chipping their kid the way they maybe already have chipped a cat or a dog.

"The good news is that kids are safe, for the moment, from any surgery that involves a chip being placed under their skin. The Observer spoke to Todd Morris, president of Brickhouse Security, a Manhattan company that specializes in personal and home safety, who told them that it's currently impossible to place anything under a child's skin to track their movements. Not only would they need the chip under their ear, but the child would also need a cellular receiver and battery placed below the skin as well. "

That presumes a very active system! There's no obvious reason you couldn't slap a passive RFID transponder in the kid (just like we've been doing with cats and dogs for like a decade or more) and then setting up a system of readers to ping the passive transponders, the way that, apparently, dog doors do. (Did not know about that. I don't have a dog, but if I did, I'd think about getting one of those!)

Fortunately, the Jez article and the underlying discussion at The Observer does get into clothing and other wearables, so, yay, and there isn't total confusion about what vs. how. Just motivated confusion, which is annoying.

If you're thinking about Tile and similar Low E Bluetooth tags, those actually have batteries in them, just for reference purposes.

I have mixed feelings about the fear of kids wandering off. On the one hand, I know my family genetics. I know how many times my generation's kids disappeared (fortunately, to the best of my knowledge, we did all make it back). I also know how disconcertingly rapidly I've been separated from my son (with multiple adults watching) and my sister from her daughters. I thought this happened with all kids, but I found out after a while that parents who think about installing locks up at adult-only height on the in side of doors to the outside (a huge fire code violation) are parents whose kids are even more prone to wandering than mine. There's a continuum, and chipping some of these kids definitely would make sense.

ETA: The comments thread (and parts of the article) are just silly, getting into stuff like feelings of independence. Seriously? If you could really rely upon a chip or other technology to reassure you your kid was alive and happy and in a reasonable location, I'm fairly certain you'd be willing to ratchet down the other forms of surveillance by a lot. Similar to when you are sitting at the entrance to a playground with a fence with a single entry point. Assuming it's big and there's a bunch of stuff to climb on, a little kid gets to be _way_ more independent in that context than in a place where they could wander off entirely into, say, the road. _Lots_ of parents will let kids play with minimal surveillance in a fenced yard vs. and unfenced yard next to a busy road. 'Course, I don't think independence is really an issue, but that's a whole other thing.

ETA: National statistics on kids reported missing run in the high hundreds of thousands per year, altho a fair number of those are miscommunications, family abduction, kid ran off, etc. The numbers Shrayber quotes -- 20K and 8K are for NY state and NYC, respectively. So Ari Schwartz is dead wrong in the comments when he argues that these should be compared to the US population at 400 million (which that is also wrong -- for a single significant digit, it is 300 million, two puts us at 320 million). The population of NY state is roughly 20 million of which NYC is a little less than half. If you think that 1 kid per thousand population reported missing (often found quite quickly!) every year is "rare" or "really unlikely", well, you probably don't think car fatalities or cigarette smoking are that big of a deal, either.

Cell phones are believed to have been the major cause of a secular decline in missing people in general (adults and children) over recent decades. I believe we probably _will_ do better over time with increasing connectedness and surveillance (even things as simple as Find My Friends and Find My Phone really help a lot), and this may ultimately put an end to people lying somewhere unobserved and dying because they had a seizure or whatever and fell and hit their head and no one knew to go look in that corner until it was much too late.

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