Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Week Ahead: Poker, Screenplays...and a Fish Tank?

It's been quite an eventful summer.  So it's not all that surprising that the week ahead offers the possibility of many interesting stories for you peeps.

What's on the docket?

Coming up: girls playing poker, coming to you live....

Well, in a rare nod to the name of this blog, we'll be talking about poker.

That's right, yours truly will be headed to Vegas in a few short days to live it up relax with her old friend, K-girl, aka the only other girl we know who could kick someone's @ss in poker.  She may not know it yet, but she shall be playing in a poker tournament this Friday with PC.  Will either of them win? Will they play blackjack in the pool? More importantly, will there be dancing? What about a crazy fish tank? Stay tuned for these answers and more in a few short days.  Perhaps if y'all are interested we can convince her to do some live guest-blogging from the event.

What else lies ahead this week?

Only two of the biggest screenwriting competitions in the business, who will break the hearts of 95% of  aspiring writers this week, probably convincing at least 40% of them to give up on their writing dreams entirely.

(That's our not-so-subtle way of asking you to be nice to us this week, peeps).

And finally, rounding out our highly anticipated week is the alleged launch of a website update we've been working on at work for over a year and a half.  Will it launch this week as planned or will it be delayed yet again?  Is anything in it for you either way? (that was rhetorical, peeps).

Now that we've sufficiently bored you by asking and answering our own questions several times, we hope we've at least planted a bit of a seed of anticipation for the upcoming week.

Stay tuned for some interesting stories.  In the meantime, we're off to take mini and her friend bowling. Not as exciting, but equally fun.


Monday, July 23, 2012

When Are Allergy Accommodations TOO Much?

Any mom of a child with food allergies knows the anxiety that comes with the word "camp".  This summer, for the first time, mini is attending a camp outside of the city, leaving home each day on a bus for the 40-minute journey that will take her out of the city into "nature".  Even more concerning for this mom: the cafeteria (by the way, one must read "cafeteria" with the proper intonation to get the full effect, those familiar with the term Voldemort will know exactly the right tone of terror to hit).

Now, we could write a whole post about the level of coordination required to send mini there AND live without constant heart palpitations, but we've done that on smaller scale in years past.  Suffice it to say we are now on a first name basis with the head of the grade, the nurse, the head of catering, and might even have a few personal cell phone numbers.  It can be done.

In fact, the camp has been so good about accommodating mini at lunch that she is starting to take advantage of it.  You see, like many kids, mini is a picky eater.  She might be allergic to sesame seeds, eggs, and nuts, but when you throw in the fact that she refuses to eat fruit, doesn't like leftovers, and generally avoids foods that aren't white or brown, you can see how lunch might be an issue.


The counselors and kitchen staff, worried about making something she'd eat that was safe, bent over backwards to try and please her.  They sent the camp driver to buy a bag of a safe brand of fish sticks so she could eat what the other kids had (the bulk fish sticks had egg).  They made her her own pizza bagel when the frozen pizza bagels had egg.  They made a special batch of egg free fried chicken drumsticks on fried chicken day.

Experienced parents will see where this is going.

Yes, that's right, mini declared the safe fish sticks "disgusting".  She wanted a plain bagel and cream cheese instead of the pizza bagel, which was "mushy".  And apparently she does not like fried chicken, and the kosher kitchen will not serve it with ham and the green eggs...well, you can see how those might be an issue in this case.

The staff, who is absolutely wonderful, offered to make her a bagel and cream cheese or pizza every day, the two things she has eaten that are safe.  And truth be told, with the amount of physical activity they get at camp every day, she needs to eat.  So it makes sense to just say yes.  But here comes the parenting dilemma....when are the accommodations TOO much?

It's one thing to say she can have a bagel and cream cheese on fish stick day if the fish sticks aren't safe, but if she can have what the other kids are eating, why should she be special? After all, if a kid without food allergies declared the fish sticks "disgusting", he or she wouldn't have a special meal made for them.  So why should she get special treatment?  She's using her allergies to game the system!

So this is where we struggle.  She needs the food.  And on another hand, with mild sensory processing issues (typically these go hand in hand with food allergies), one could easily argue that she should eat whatever you can get into her.  But at what point are we as parents over-indulging our kids and letting them take it too far?  At what point do we invoke the age-old rule" You get what you get and you don't get upset!"?

We'd love to hear if other parents with food allergies struggle with worrying about spoiling their child with too many accommodations.  Heck, we'd love to hear from any parent who struggles with this in a related area.

Feed the kid and spoil the child?  Or do whatever you need to to get them to eat?

What say you, wise peeps?

Monday, July 2, 2012

Pumping Your Child For Camp Deets

Anyone with a school-age child is probably familiar with this conversation:
Hi sweetie! What'd you do at camp/school today?
Nothing.
Nothing? What were the best and worst and most interesting parts of your day?
Nothing, mama. It's the same as every other day.
Sound familiar? Ever wonder how to get the info out of them in ways that don't involve bribing their friends for details?  Fear not! Though pulling teeth can be easier than getting information on what happens at camp from these kids, we have discovered an easy way to have them share.

It's simple, really.

Just try and put them to sleep.

We have put together an easy script for you to follow below.  Behold the brilliant stall tactics in action, and the treasure of nuggets of info that are so deliberately doled out.

8.50.  You have spent the better part of 20 minutes trying to get this child to sleep.
Mama, I can't sleep.
Okay, let's try this. Close your eyes and I'll rub your back for a few minutes, ok? Think about your favorite part of your day and imagine you were there.
Woodworking!
Pause to think to yourself: really!? My child?
Okay, then woodworking.
A minute later.
Mama, woodworking's not working. Can I think about the sing-along?
You had a sing-a-long? (doh! Just broke cardinal rule! Must not encourage stalling!!)
Yeah, we all learned this song, and this dance (she sits up and tries to do it)
Okay, sweetheart. Show me tomorrow, ok? Time to sleep.  Good night.
Mama, will you check on me?
Three minutes.
One minute.
Three. 
Okay, but mama, will you promise to come in and tuck me in again.
Only if you promise to really try and sleep.
I promise, mama. 
Good night, sweetie.
9:05.  First "check-in". She's sitting straight up.
It's not working, mama.
Shhhh..... (stroking hair and whispering). What's not working?
Going to sleep.
Well, remember the rules of going to sleep? You have to keep your eyes closed and your mouth closed too.
But if my mouth is closed I can't breathe. Sometimes when I'm asleep my mouth likes to be open.
Okay, mouth open, but no talking.  Eyes closed though, that's a rule.
But it didn't work.
Sweetheart, your eyes are open.  Of course it didn't work. You didn't actually try it.  Can you try again?
Mama, did you know, that sometimes, at camp, when it's hot, they put the sprinklers on and we can run around in them.  We got to run around in the sprinklers today.
She smiles sweetly, one new tooth sticking out from her gummy smile.  You take a moment to try and force out ("this one time, in band camp...") quote that won't leave your head for some reason now.
I'm glad you like the sprinklers. It's time to go to sleep, okay? One more check in, that's all.
One minute.
Five.
Two minutes.
Shhhh... Five. And you need to follow the rules the whole time, okay?
Sigh. Okay, mama. 
9:15.  2nd "check-in". Her eyes are wide open.  Pull up her covers, give her a kiss on the forehead, stroke hair and attempt to walk away.  Make it three steps.
Mama.
 Go to sleep, love.
My eyes are open.
Yes, I can see that.  Eyes closed, no talking, k? 5 more minutes, okay? Last one. I mean it.
Pause to silently curse yourself for being a marshmallow and vow to read up on how to actually follow through on discipline.   Tiptoe away.  Quiet.  Retain hope she will actually finally sleep.

9:25. 3rd "check-in". Calm, eyes open. Walk in, kiss child on the forehead and try to walk away.
Mama?
Yes, baby. 
Did you know cherry tomatoes were invented in Israel? (calmly)
I did. Where'd you learn that? (doh! another moment of weakness!)
In Shi'ur.
Go to sleep sweetie.
But mama....
Okay, did you nap on the bus? (doh! you did it again! She gets you every time...) 
Try and walk away. Almost make it out.
Mama, one more time? Pleeeeeeeeese?
Sigh. Okay. 
Wait six minutes. Tiptoe in.  She's finally asleep.  Breathe for the first time in an hour.

So there you have it. You may not get your child to sleep until too late, but if you want to loosen their tight lips about camp, just try and enforce bedtime.

Oh, and you're welcome.