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Do Needles Always Hurt?

This past Wednesday I took my 3-year old daughter, “Beanie” to the doctor for her annual physical. It is that time of year again when doctor forms have to filled out and immunizations have to be given. Side bar: Thank God for her school reminding me when her medical form is about to expire. I would never remember when these types of things are due.
Either way, I was fortunate enough to get an appointment in the evening so I didn’t have to miss a day of work. So that morning, my daughter and I began with our regular morning routine. As usual, I began by letting her know what the plans for the day were going to be.

I explained to her that after school, we were going to visit the doctor for Dr. D to give her a check up.

As she brushed her teeth, she just nodded as if to say “Got it, sounds like a plan”.  When she finished brushing her teeth, she gave me a rundown of questions as she tried to get an idea of what her visit was going to entail “Is the doctor going to look at my eyes?” “Yes, I’m sure she will”, I responded.  “And my nose?”, “Yes”, “And my ears?”, “Yup, everything. She is going to make sure that your whole body is healthy”  She smiled, jumped down from standing on the toilet seat and we continued to head out the door.

After school let out, I picked her up and we were off to the doctor.  At Dr. D’s office Beanie was her usual quiet and observant self which she becomes in settings that she is not very familiar with. Occasionally, she asked me questions, pointing to the equipment hanging on the walls. “What’s that mama? Is that to check my mouth?”  I explained as much as I could, hoping that I got it right.  Ophthalmoscope, Otoscope, Stethescope. They all scope something!

After her check up, we were sent to the lab for bloodwork, so I explained to her where we were headed next. She looked at me quizzically, as if to ask, “what do you mean?”

So I went on to explain that she is going to have a chance to see her blood go through a really long tube and into a long glass container. “They are going to take your blood to make sure that your blood is healthy” She simply replied “oh”, and we continued on to the lab.

When we got there, the lab technician immediately informed us that she was ready for us, so we went straight to the back. “Mom, you need to sit here and put baby on your lap” the lab tech instructed me, “Then I will need you to place your arm around her body like this” she demonstrated, holding my arm gently. As she prepared her tools, Beanie watched quietly. I also watched quietly as I held her in what felt more like a soft embrace than a restraint.

Just as the tech moved the needle towards Beanies arm, I said “Okay, now you are going to see your blood go through this tube right here.

What color do you think it’s going to be?” “Red!”, she replied with a smile. “Do you think so?”, I said smiling back at her, “Let’s see!”

As the blood flowed through the tube, she watched it, mesmerized to the point of salivation, then she broke from her trance and said excitedly, “I told ya it was gonna be red!”  “Yup, you were right!”, I gave her a big squeeze as the tech took out the bandaid.

“Wow”, said the tech as she placed the bandaid on Beanie’s arm “You were so good with that needle.” Then the tech looked at me and said, “I have never seen this before.  She didn’t even flinch!”

Then my child actually said grinning from ear to ear, “I like needles!”.  While I found that reaction to be a bit awkward, I couldn’t help to also acknowledge that she had a huge smile on her face, which was the total opposite of what was obviously  the norm in that lab.  And guess what people? They didn’t even give her a sticker OR a lollipop. She was genuinely happy because of her amazing experience.

My technique may have encouraged a little bit of a strange reaction but it worked to prevent a flood of tears.
The nurses acknowledgment of my big girl’s casual behavior made me realize that none of my children have ever cried over receiving any needles. So I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some very important things that I DONT do and other things that I always make sure to do, which definitely contribute to a calm, cool, and collective visit to the doctor:

I always let my children know that we are going to the doctor on the day of their appointment. Knowing what to expect helps one to prepare in whatever way they need to.

I am very careful with the answers to the questions that my children ask. As my children got older, sometimes they would even ask, “Am I getting a needle today?” My answer would usually be “I am not sure” because the truth is I never really did know. However,
there was no point in answering definitively, which could lead to disappointment and mistrust or unnecessary anxiousness.

And, I also never ever answer the question “Is it going to hurt?” with any definitive answer, because the truth is what’s painful for one person is not necessarily painful for another.

I have received many needles in my lifetime and none of them ever hurt to me so, from my perspective, the answer is “No, they don’t hurt (me)”.  But I know some adults who cry at the thought of a needle for one reason or another, in which case, from their perspective, needles hurt a lot. Either way, as parents, we must be mindful of projecting our own fears of things onto our children.

And last, but certainly not least, I don’t make sad and nervous looking faces at the idea of a needle. I like to keep a “nuetral” face, which looks rather blank. Children can read faces and they look to us more often than most people realize to determine how to react to a situation. Therefore, it’s important to avoid misleading them based on an experience that is very personal to you as an individual. It’s best to let them come to their own conclusion about and based on their own experiences.

Talk to you soon!

-Serene “Sweetpea”

Share with Me: Are there any experiences that you and your child react to in very different manners?

 

Confidence is My Kinda Thing

Words cannot describe the feeling I get when people comment, “Oh my gosh, she looks just like my…!”

My name is Aniqua Wilkerson and I am a crochet artist/designer specializing in doll making. About two years ago I quit teaching in pursuit of a more creatively free career. Art had always been the tool I used to be a more effective teacher, but being a classroom teacher was a bit too rigid for me!

I didn’t have a real plan. I just wanted to be as creative and as innovative as I could possibly be.  You see, crochet is an old art form and millions of people do it. I didn’t realize at the time, how important it would be to stand out.

My real journey didn’t start until I decided that I wanted to make dolls. I began by looking in different places for inspiration and discovered something very interesting.

I couldn’t find many African American crochet dolls. I saw lots of white dolls, but brown dolls were scarce.

There were two ladies on Etsy, that made really cute African American dolls, and both designers were white women. I wondered why there were so few brown crochet dolls. I knew there were African American crocheters, so why was it so hard to find African American crochet dolls?

This discovery led me down a path that I hadn’t anticipated when I set out to be artistically free! What do you do when you don’t find what you’re looking for? You create it yourself!

Even though the two designers I found made decent brown girls, there was so much more to be seen. Different shades of brown, and different types of hairstyles; afro puffs, braids, beads, coils, curls, afros, etc. The variations were huge, and the obstacles were enormous!

Artistically, this was an awesome challenge because I had to start from scratch. I had to figure out innovative ways to manipulate yarn to resemble all the different ways little brown girls wear their hair. It became a real project for me. But I learned so much more.

Biggest obstacle, “Is this brown too dark?”
An absurd question, but yes someone really asked that! Would you believe that some people feel that way? My immediate response was “absolutely not!” I have a beautifully brown niece who just happens to be that shade, it would be utter betrayal to say yes, not to mention offensive and untrue! It made me think about the attributes to a “pretty brown girl”. I gained what has become my golden rule for creating these girls, “No brown is too dark!” The shade of brown NEVER matters.

My Kinda Thing pic 1My Kinda Thing pic 2

From that point on, I had a mission. A wonderful and scary goal. Being a girl is hard enough when the world shows you imagery of who you should be and how you should look. What happens when you don’t fit the model presented? Our girls not just brown girls are being taught to alter and adjust physically and mentally in order to meet the “standard”. No longer are we taught to love who we are.
Dye your hair, straighten those kinks, enhance this and cut away that… the list goes on. Self hate is on sale every where! There are payment plans for these “enhancements” and some of us have suffered heavily in the name of beauty.

What if we teach our girls that who they are is much more wonderful,
What if you knew, that being you is already beautiful?

When I create these unique dolls, my head and my heart goes into it. My head says, “make it resemble a little girl”, and my heart says, “make her uniquely wonderful!”
And so begins a conversation between the creation and creator:

Only make her once. I never use patterns so they’re always different.
In that way, she won’t ever have competition.
Keep in mind the person she is created for, her purpose, because my dolls have been gifts of love, comfort, healing, support, and encouragement.
I know it sounds funny but yes, we talk! And by the time I am done she is a whole 360 degree depiction of someone who is beautiful because she was created with a plan and a purpose. She goes to her new home with a hand written note that says so. If this is true about my dolls, couldn’t this be even more true about you?

I create these dolls because I want to encourage pride and confidence in girls. Show them that they are beautifully and uniquely made, like my creations, only much much better!

For more information on Ms. Aniqua’s uniquely wonderful creations, follow her on
Facebook: www.facebook/mykindathing 
Instragram and Twitter: @my_kinda_thing
Talk to you soon,
Serene

 

Pot of Sweet Peas

A Free-Range Helicopter Parent

Recently on Nightline, there was a story about Free Range Parenting. Now, if you are anything like me, who had never heard of this term, then you’re probably saying, “What the heck is Free Range Parenting!? When I think of free range, I think of chickens”. But Free Range Parenting is exactly that same concept.

 Free Range Parents allow their children to roam freely outdoors without adult supervision.

In the Nightline segment this freedom was given to child who was six years old allowed to travel for over a mile with her 10 year old brother . The thinking behind this practice is that it fosters a sense of independence and encourages children to problem solve, thus building self-esteem.

This parenting style is looked at as being the polar opposite of another parenting style known as Helicopter Parenting.

A Helicopter Parent is on who hovers over their child constantly, watching their every move. Helicopter Parents are overly-involved in every experience that their child has from their successes to their failures.

After watching this news segment, I began to reflect upon my own parenting style. What kind of parent am I exactly? Both of my boys who are now 12 and 9 have traveled together through the streets without adult supervision. They have been given permission to go to the store without my husband or I being present starting as young as 8 years old. But I don’t know if that would make me a Free Range Parent. Each time they were about to go on these small journeys by themselves, I was always the one with my nails digging in the furniture and my heart leaping out of my chest. And it was always my hubby saying “They have to experience these things or they will never learn”. So maybe I’m just married to a Free Range Parent. But every time he says it, I know he’s right. As someone who studied child development, I know that there is something to creating these experiences for young children. In school I learned all about the great psychologist Erik Erikson who became well known for his pyschosocial stages of development in children, with one of those stages being Autonomy vs. Shame and Doubt which begins in children as young as 18 months. Children who are given a sense of autonomy gain a sense of confidence, while children on the opposite end feel a sense of shame for their shortcomings and they doubt their ability to succeed at tasks.

So I know that letting my boys travel by themselves is just another one of those things that they have to experience if they are to gain more self-confidence.

So is it so bad if I follow them down the block hiding behind bushes so they never see me following them to the store and back? So what if I get the number to the store beforehand and call to make sure my child reached the destination and left so I could begin timing when they will walk back in the house. And so what, I have beads of sweat running down my neck when my 12 year confidently asks, “Mom, can I go to the store? I need a snack”. What matters is that I don’t show them the panic inside. What matters is that I teach them the dangers that are out their and give them guidance on how to avoid those situations from carefully crossing the street to not speaking to that creepy person on the corner. If I show them my fear, they too will be fearful and fear has never made anyone productive in life.
You see, we are raising children who have to be in school without us and they have to navigate around the school yard and cafeteria without us. And they have to take tests without us and they have to encounter bullies without us. And through all these experiences they will have to make quick decisions without us. I don’t want to give them a false sense of security that makes them think that T and I will always be right there by their sides through all their experiences. Sure, once they are back reunited with us, we will talk about their day and give advice on how to handle some of the things they face. We will even question how they handled a specific situation; and not to judge them on their choices but to gauge their thought process. But at the end of the day, though it makes me sad to say, my children will not be with me forever and they won’t be little forever either. Eleanor Roosevelt said it best when she said, “We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face… we must do that which we think we cannot”. I need my children to feel strong, confident and courageous.

So am I Free Range Parent? I don’t know. Mentally I know it’s the right thing for building character and a sense of responsibility. Emotionally, I’m scared out of my mind because, hey, I watch the news everyday. So how would I classify my parent parenting style? Well, simply put, I have the mind of Free Range Parent with the heart of Helicopter Mom. And there’s nothing wrong with that!

Share with me: What kind of parent are you? What kind of parent would you like to be? What kind of parent were you raised by?

Pot of Sweet Peas

How Are You Really Feeling?

I love my kids! Let me just start by saying that,so once you read on, you don’t think otherwise.

So with that out of the way, let me just ask: is it wrong for me to tell me children to “Please get out of my room”?, is it mean for me to say, “Hey, I would love to hear your (very long) story but I’m just so tired right now?”, or am I a bad mom for occasionally wishing that I could change my name from “mom” to something that they can’t pronounce so easily? Well, let me answer that for you. No, it’s not wrong, No, I’m not mean and No, I’m definitely not a bad mom. I know these things now, but if a mom would have asked me those same questions a few years ago I would have given her the side-eye all the while dailing the number for Child Services. So what has changed my mind? Reality and an inability to lie (most of the time) to my children about how I am really feeling.
When I was a child, I never knew how my mom did it. How’d she raise us as a single parent, work full-time, put herself through nursing school and never ever grow tired? She came from a school of thought where you “never let them see you sweat” and she didn’t let us see it, AT ALL! My brother and I never knew how our mom was feeling unless she was in pain and couldn’t hide it. It was like living with Robo-Mom. Now don’t get me wrong. I am not complaining. There are definite benefits to having a Super-Mom. My mom was and still is the strongest role model that I have.
But imagine how I felt being a mom of two at the time, raising my children in a two parent household, going to school, working full-time, but actually being tired some days. There were days where I would come home and want nothing more than to climb in bed and cover my head. I rarely did it, but I did feel like it often.

What the heck was wrong with me? Had I not inherited the “Invincible” gene?

After having our third child, I realized that while it would be nice to have the “Super” title, what’s even nicer is to be honest with myself and my children. And the honest truth is I’m human. I get tired, I have headaches, and I even cry. I don’t mind letting my children see me sweat cause guess what, people sweat! As a matter of fact, people sweat when they are working hard. I want my children to know that parenting is hard work. Working a full time job is hard work, and being an adult is hard work. They are all things that I love about my life but they ain’t easy. I want my children to see that things don’t just come so easy.
So do I just sit there whining to my children about the struggles in life? No, of course not. At this stage in their lives they don’t need to know all the hardships that come with being a grown-up. Some things they will have to discover on their own once their time comes. But when they hit a bump in life, I need for them to be able to acknowledge the bump, patch it up and keep moving. When they are feeling tired I want them to be able to say “hey, I’m tired. I need rest” and then they actually rest. I need for them to recognize when they need their own personal space to recharge their batteries. I want them to cry if they need to, but then wipe their tears and push through to victory. And the only way they are going to be able to know that all of these feelings are okay is if they see it at home. Genuine feelings, genuine emotions, genuine perseverance.
Our strength is not defined by our ability to carry the weight of the world. It is defined by our ability to live life to is fullest despite the weight of the world.

Talk to you soon,
Serene

Share with me: Do you think parents should share their feelings and emotions with their children? Why or why not? 

Pot of Sweet Peas

Unexpectedly Expecting

Two days ago I received some very surprising news.  Despite all of my planning and prevention methods, my husband and I are expecting!! Oh…My….Goodness (Jaw still dropping).  The news came in the form of an email as that is how my doctor reveals all blood-work results.  To say that I was shocked is an understatement. There were tears of all kinds of emotions but mostly of astonishment.  We’ve talked about it in the past, having a third child, but my hubby and I have always had slightly opposing views about it.  He comes from a big family so the thought of more children is always welcomed by him.  And I, being one of two children always figured “hey, I have two eyes, two ears, two hands, why not just two children.  With a 7 and a 10 year old, we have all finally gotten into our rhythm and routines.  We know pretty much what to expect from each child. Everyone has his own place in the family and all seems well with the world.  I guess God has other plans.  

I know that we are only in the month of April but this year so far has been a life lesson for me that I have now for the first time truly learned:  No matter how much planning we do in life, we are not and can not be in control of everything!!  Sometimes things happen because they are just meant to happen.  Some call it fate, others call it destiny.  I like to call them miracles and blessings.  

I am still in shock and it will take a minute for me to truly process this news.  But I can now say from the bottom of my heart that I am excited!  Sometimes we just have to let go and let God.  He has never left us thus far and I know He definitely won’t leave us now that He has blessed us with another bundle of joy.  

Talk to you soon!