Why is Being Short a Bad Thing?

Sad child on black background. Portrait depression girlThe time has come to question our assumptions.

We know that humans come in all sizes, shapes, colors, talents, and smarts. Things would get pretty boring–and confusing–if everyone looked alike and had the same talents and abilities; we need variety to keep the world turning. Who would grow the food and fix the plumbing if we were all rock stars?

Why then do we then pick one or two sorts of humans and define them as good? Why is tall better than short? Why is blond better than brunette? Why is aggressive good in a male and not so good in a female? Who makes these arbitrary decisions?

We need to take a breath and examine our assumptions, because they effect every aspect of our lives. We especially need to consider how they affect our children’s lives.

Thoughtless, arbitrary assumptions can place expectations on our children that will crush their fragile frames.

It is easy to assume that athleticism is good, and slide from there over to I want you to be athletic, and will be disappointed in you if you are not. It is common to assume that girls should be nice, and then wear a dismayed look when a daughter’s competitive streak comes to the fore.

It is equally easy for a daughter to internalize that look of disappointment or dismay, and lacerate her own self-esteem.

So let’s question our assumptions.

I am where I am partly because I was fueled by soul deep anger and competitiveness. I am told these traits are “negative” in a woman, but they motivated me and gave me the power to overcome endless obstacles. Why then are such things defined as negative – should it not depend on how they are used? These traits are part of my whole–should I not embrace them if I am to love myself? Or do I have to embrace only the parts of me of which others would approve, and try to bury the rest? Why? Because society says so? Religion? Because I am a woman and we are assumed to be a certain way? Because they are not happy, perky feelings?

Who defines what is a negative trait, and what is positive? Is it social mores, extended family, religious books, the entertainment industry? These entities don’t even know you or your children, so why should you trust them to decide what you or they should be?

We want our children to like themselves in their entirety, not just selective bits and pieces. We do not want them to feel that they need to hide parts of themselves because they believe those parts to be bad, or shameful. Down that path lies broken relationships and depression.

If your child is short, tall, brunette, round, skinny, bookish, hates books… take this moment to make sure that you are not harboring assumptions about which bits and pieces are “good” and which are “bad.” Kids are experts at reading their parents, and stamping themselves with those unvoiced judgements. Value honesty, responsibility, inspiration–traits that will help them succeed in any field–and all the parts and pieces of your actual children, because every part of them deserves your acceptance and love.

Domesticated Momster

Reading Milestones

ROARlogo2-01This week’s blog comes curtesy of the Reach out and Read program.

Reading together is the single most important thing you can do to develop language skills and learning ability in your children, especially between the ages of six months and five years. Nothing will do more to prepare kids to excel in school: reading increases their vocabulary, their understanding of phonics, familiarity with the printed word, storytelling ability, and comprehension. Snuggling up and reading with your children will also help them feel loved and secure; do this at bedtime and it will help them sleep.

All this is before we get to the actual contents of the books!

For tricks on how to read to tiny people, check out my blog on Growing Brains.

Read, love reading, and encourage your children to love reading and their world will open up with possibilities.

The Reach out and Read people have come up with a very neat chart of reading milestones by age, from six months to five years. I thought I should share. Just click on it to make it bigger:

Reading Milestones

Domesticated Momster

Pesticides: Not a Major Food Group

bleach boy-01A recent statement from the American Academy of Pediatrics suggested that we should limit our children’s exposure to pesticides.

It turns out that chemicals designed to kill insects and rodents are not good for children. Who knew?

In large doses, pesticides cause acute poisonings, with symptoms including dizziness, nausea, headaches, twitching or weakness. Smaller doses over a longer time can harm your child’s brain or hormonal systems. When pesticides injure a child’s brain they can cause developmental delays, and attention and behavior problems. Hormonal effects can impact your child’s growth and perhaps his or her reproductive ability. We do need to limit our children’s exposure!

Children are more vulnerable to poisons than adults, not less. Their bodies are actively growing and maturing and are thus easier to damage, like a gymnast caught mid leap. They have faster metabolisms: their hearts beat more quickly and their lungs breathe more rapidly, allowing chemicals in more quickly and in larger amounts. Also, their protective systems aren’t mature and don’t work as well as those of adults to stop the damage.

So, how do we lower children’s exposure in our day-to-day lives? The most common place for your child to ingest pesticides is in the food that they eat, particularly the fruits and vegetables. This does not mean they can skip their veggies! Just wash them first, eat a variety of different produce (different vegies have different amounts of pesticides), and buy organic when you can. Your local farm stand is, of course, your best friend.

Children are also exposed to pesticides in their homes and yards, so we may need to make some changes there. Keep all of your household pest products in their original containers with child proof caps intact. Just today I had a child drink a degreaser because her mom had stored it in a soda bottle! Store poisons out of reach and out of sight in a locked cupboard. If you are using a pesticide and the phone rings, close the container and put it out of reach while you are out of visual range. I have seen more than a few kids poisoned when mom went to see why the baby was crying, or to answer the door. Kids are quick.

Read and follow the directions on the container. Use pesticides only when there is a problem, never to just prevent one. Less is always better. When you do use them, use crevice and crack treatments, not bombs. Think about how your kids live on the surfaces to which you are applying the treatment: kids lie on the ground, crawl under things, and touch stuff and put their hands in their mouths. Don’t put the rat poison behind the couch – your 2 year old will find it. My amazing, brilliant grandchild found the mouse poison behind the dishwasher. World’s worst grandma.

Change your clothes after you use pesticides, and store your shoes outside.

If you have a wooden play structure that was built between 1970 and 2004 and not made of cedar or redwood, the wood was probably treated with chromated copper arsenate. Arsenic also is not good for children, so you may want to replace the structure.

Read the ingredients on lawn and garden products and any pet products. Organophosphates (most commonly malathion, but there are dozens) were banned from home use in 2001, but many people have old products sitting around, or use commercial products at home. They are also still used in public parks and schools.

In America we use more than 1 billion pounds of pesticides every year in our farms, homes and public spaces. Ask what is used by your city and at your child’s school. There are many newer, safer products that have been developed in the last few years, so suggest alternatives and avoid the organophosphates when you can.

Stay safe and be healthy!