Thursday, October 16, 2014

While the World Watches the Synod, I...

My husband left Tuesday afternoon for a series of different meetings/presentations.  He doesn't get back until Saturday (okay it's like around midnight Friday basically Saturday).  Naturally my house looks like two tornadoes hit it.  And I'm too tired to fight that affect, not with all the stuff that I've been dealing with lately.

Yesterday the school called and asked me to pick up HB because he was being defiant.  Same thing today.  It's getting quite ridiculous.  I get that they have other students in the classroom, but shouldn't they be taking steps to help him?  Shouldn't they be seeking out professional help??

Nope.

They told me today that their hands are tied.  They can't get any outside help (essentially) until I take him to the family doctor and get an evaluation to rule out any medical problems causing the misbehavior (or is it misbehaviour since they are Canadian). 

Lovely.

My family doctor changed hours again (for like the fourth time I think).  Now its Sun 10-2, and Monday-Wedesday 3:30-8pm. 

So I called the Children's clinic in town who said they need a referral from...the family doctor.  *headdesk*

In the meantime I expect to send him back to school and to receive another call.

I'm starting to like homeschooling more.  Speaking as a fellow teacher, teachers and administrators can be so incompetent.  In this case it's the administration and the school board who don't seem to have the proper resources to send in an observer to his classroom for an evaluation.  This is downright nutty.  How many months are they going to torture this poor boy to finally get him the resources he needs to thrive?

Thursday, September 25, 2014

HB Update

Sorry.  I've been preoccupied.  First I got a call back from the behavioral specialist and then the principal.  And then HB vomited that night and promptly came down with a cold.  Because that's HB's m.o.  Then Knee got the cold and woke up every two hours for three nights straight moaning and thrashing about.  Yesterday I went to the family doctor because they keep the oddest hours.  Open Mondays from 3pm-8pm, Wednesdays 5pm-8pm, and Friday 9am-8pm.  And not open Tuesdays or Thursdays.  He has an ear infection.  I gave him his first dose of amoxicillian and mercifully he slept all last night.  He seems less whinny today too.  Although he periodically keeps touching his ear, but I think it's because it's popping.

So back to HB...

I saw the specialist on Monday.  She gave me some ideas for helping HB deal with his feelings.  As she put it, he has a low tolerance for frustration and he's highly emotional.  And at age 4, it's really hard for him to regulate his feelings even though he's sincerely trying to.  She gave me some techniques to get him to express himself and also calm down.  She also suggested a communication notebook with his teachers because I have no idea what's going on.  It's nice that they read books to him, but I have no idea how he's socializing and they're not exactly forthcoming.  They also aren't trained in behavior.  She said to keep on keeping on with them.  They may not be using my suggestions but it'll keep biting them in the butt if they don't.  Since it's only 3-4 weeks of school, they are still trying to figure him out.  She said that I need to emphasize that what he does to stay calm at home equally applies to school since children compartmentalize.  In other words, they have trouble understanding that what happens in one situation applies to all situations. 

So we're working on getting him to talk or scream rather than lash out physically and to also count to 10.  She said distractions will keep him from getting too emotional and will help him keep himself calm.  He also likes to hold onto little things as a security blanket (which is why she thinks he's trying to calm himself down) and so we should use this too.  So I told him to hold onto his stick and count to 10 when he's angry.  We discussed some other things that I'll start with him this weekend (it's long one as they have a professional development day).  More along the lines of bio feedback so he can recognize that he's getting upset earlier.

The principal said he'd get in touch with the school district's specialist for an evaluation.  Then he sent me a packet of parent classes and an e-mail asking if that's what I was looking for.  Head desk.  I really am not looking for a class.  I'm looking for something more personalized then that.  I think the specialist was most helpful and understanding.  She deals with kids who are like HB on a regular basis.

And yesterday, the teachers told us that HB was shoveling dirt in his mouth and asked us if that was normal.  Maybe they were concerned he has PICA, but he doesn't.  He doesn't tell people he's hungry.  He instead starts eating weird stuff like dirt and paper.  That's the tip that he's hungry, very hungry and needs to be fed.  So I told his teachers.  I had warned them that he does not say he's hungry.  So when I said the dirt thing was because he was hungry, a light bulb went off.  One of them suggested boost shakes, but I told her the dietician in the states doesn't really promote that because of the sugar content.  Boost is for children who are having much more severe health issues not children who are clearly hungry (but are being finicky). 

We'll see.  We'll see.  HB seems real accepting of the specific emotion regulators.  It will just take more practice for it to become a habit. 

In the meantime, Hubby had a job interview for a job in Alabama so we may be moving again.  Cue having to prep HB for yet another upheaval.  I'm hoping his brother, Knee, who is the zen of the duo can help him out.  Believe it or not Knee is the most empathetic kid and will hug and hold his brother should he need it.  Parents only do so much; having a peer makes a huge difference. 

Special thanks for everyone's support and help.  I feel more confident now that I know my instincts are good, but the teachers', who you'd think have encountered kids like HB, are clueless.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Something's Disordered

When HB was two, I noticed something.  His behavior was getting beyond the normal.  He was kicking, screaming, scratching, biting, and head butting.  It was the head butting that was getting my attention.  Once he realized just how much damage he was doing, he started using it as a weapon.  Instead of soliciting empathy for those he was hurting, he was cheerfully inflicting pain.  But he was two. 

His teachers, at the time, were child psychologists.  They expressed that empathy was something that didn't happen until 4.  They said his behavior, while not good, was not unusual.  They gave us tools and simply told us to do our best until he was older.

When he was three, we moved.  HB was getting more and more violent.  He'd erupt kicking his brother viciously and gleefully.  I'd put him in his room where he'd get even more angry/upset and take his fan (and any other objects) and throw it down the stairs.  When CAS came knocking on our door, we asked for help.  She referred us to another agency who said it was normal behavior particularly after a move.  She said to keep what we were doing but not isolate him.  After a fashion his outbursts were less.  But they were still there.

After his first week of school, HB was having tantrums.  "Is this normal?" his teacher would ask perplexed.  I shrugged my shoulders.  I wrote her a letter detailing as many things I could to help deal with his emotional outbursts.  We ended up having a meeting.  I asked them "Is he fighting with the other children?"  They told me he wasn't.  I warned them that he would.  "Right now he doesn't know them so he'll be fine.  The longer he's around them though the more likely he will."  I said.

Today I was at the library with Knee.  During a quiet moment, I heard the tail end of the phone ring.  The secretary had a left a message saying that there was an incident and that we needed to pick up HB.  When we got to school, he was still fuming and scratching at me.  Apparently, he had scratched another child's face and drew blood.  He's also been kicking and scratching at his teachers.  Nobody witnessed him scratching the boy.  HB said that he had done it.  I warned them, but they weren't really watching him closely enough.

There's something wrong.  And I feel utterly helpless to fix it.  Everyone wants to say it's behavioral as though we're not doing enough as parents or that he's young.  But my gut tells me while I'm not the most perfect parent, this is not normal.  I can see it in his eyes.  He can't seem to illicit empathy when he does something wrong.  And I can't get him to face the situation. 

Perhaps we're doing something wrong.  I'm sure there are tons of areas for improvement, but I've done what people have told me to do.  This includes getting him to eat better, and we know his diet is terrible and he doesn't eat enough.

Maybe he has an allergy that's showing up behaviorally.  Maybe he has some underlying physical condition.  Maybe it's psychological.  His brain isn't able to process his emotions well.  So he struggles and lashes out.  I just want answers and I don't think the ones that people are giving me so far have improved things.

We're waiting phone calls.  I self-referred to a behavioral center.  I also called the principal.  I'm hoping he knows what channels I would need to go through to have some sort of evaluation.  I want to rule out the possibility that he has a psychological disorder.  Considering my husband's family suffer from suicidal depression and my family from anxiety than it's highly likely that he has something going on.  It's better to rule that out now than to keep hammering away at behavioral modifications that thus far are just band-aids.

At this point I'm just so frustrated.  I want to help him.  I don't want this to keep happening, but I wouldn't be surprised if I have to pick him up from school again.  Something is really wrong and I don't want to hear that it's all in my head.

Having your 3-4 year old hit you so hard with his head that you're lip swells up to twice it's size, is not normal.  He was actually appearing quite calm when that happened.

Monday, September 15, 2014

1st Weeks of School

Well this evening I finally had time to work on my sewing projects.  My sewing machine had been skipping stitches so I took it in for repair about a month ago.  It is still skipping stitches.  :(  Needless to say, Hubby suggested I do something else to distract myself.

I love HB's school.

1st day of school
In case you don't know anything about Canada...children start school the calendar year they turn four.  Because HB's birthday is/was in January he is the 2nd oldest Junior Kindergartener in his class.  In the US, children typically start school at age 5 or 6.  Some enter the calendar year while other schools your child must be 5 before September 1st.  Because Canada starts earlier, they have what they call Junior Kindergarten (which is for 3-4-5 year olds) and Senior Kindergarten (4-5-6 year olds).

HB attends a public Catholic school.  You did read that correctly.  In Ontario Catholic schools have their own school district and they are public.  There were some stipulations about being baptized, but recently they relaxed those rules.  It's public because you have to fill out a form asking that your household taxes be diverted to the school district.  The school district we are in is small.  As a result, they have a number of combo classes.  So while HB may be the oldest, he shares a classroom with Senior Kindergartners.  Thus he's actually somewhere smack in the middle of the age range.

At school, he is assigned a reading buddy, which is a student from one of the upper grades (7-8 combo).  His buddy sits with him at assemblies, helps him walk to Mass (which is about once a month at our local parish), and helps him on the bus and during school trips.  So while the school is somewhat segregated by age, there's a lot more interaction between grades.  The older student gets to practice reading and learns about being responsible for his younger friend.  The older kids do know him.  While walking to his class one afternoon, one of the older students shouted out "Hey, HB!"

He has two teachers:  One is called teacher and the other is an ECE-Early Childhood Educator.  Their school uses play based learning for the younger grades.  They have recess twice a day, two snacks, and lunch.  They also have a computer in the classroom and computers at the library.  They check out library books.  They have music with a special music teacher.  They also are learning French with a French teacher.  It's not a French immersion school, but both the regular public and the Catholic school districts offer those type of schools.  I decided against French immersion.  It's hard enough being a foreign kids and learning the dialect.

HB starts school at 9 am and I pick him up at 3:30.  The first few days he was really excited, but that waned.  This past week he's happier to go to school.  I think the problem was a combination of learning the routine and rules as well as fatigue.  If we continue to live here, he'll have the same teachers next year so it would be an easier first day/week.

The only downside I have is there's no cafeteria.  You can take your kid out for lunch or have them bring lunch with them.  And the school is a stickler for healthy eating.  Not as bad as the US lunch inspections, but the mountains of flyers and food suggestions...ugh!  Periodically they are supposed to offer purchase of a hot lunch.  They are also supposed to be offering a milk purchase option for snacks too.  In the meantime, I've been making HB bento lunches.

Feast of St. Peter Claver (Colors of the Colombian Flag)

It's sideways...But for 9/11.  American flag colors and sandwiches cut into the shape of the towers.

Still sideways...The Most Holy Name of Mary.  The pancakes were in the shapes of the letters of Mary's Name.  Unfortunately my M broke apart.

Our Lady of Sorrows....As you can see it's a tomato cut into a heart shape with pretzels sticking out for swords.  The cheese is the flame.  There are seven swords, but three should have been on the left and four on the right.  Woops!

For tomorrow/today, St. Cornelius and St. Cyprian.  They are often depicted with a horn and a Bible.  So that's how I cut the sandwich.
If you want to know more details about his bento box, shoot me a comment.  I'll probably upload more the interesting ones.  My goal is to try and make his lunch for the different saints and holy days.  I usually include a note on his napkin saying which day it is.  He tells me nobody is reading them to him.  :(  But he knows they're from me because he can read "Mom". 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Why Affirmative Action is so Belittling

I got into an online discussion about affirmative action.  I have no idea how that happened exactly other than I mentioned that abortion (which was the topic of discussion) was actually detrimental to women's careers.  Essentially I said, women are forced to choose between family and work when abortion is used as legitimate form of birth control.  Instead of promoting better maternity care or child care, women are frowned upon if they have X number of children while entering competitive business fields.  It's also particularly bad for men too.  I've heard that men who take time off work from university settings to care for a sick child get all sorts of nasty comments.  In other words both genders are pressured to choose their careers.  Women just end up feeling more pressure to abort. 

Somehow this turned into a discussion about affirmative action.  And it was disgusting to watch.  Hears why...

1) We need affirmative action to uplift the underrepresented classes- As I pointed out, what affirmative action does is lift those who can already afford to go to college.  Studies have shown that it's socio-economic background that limits a person's access to college.  Race and gender have little to do with it.  It is true that the majority of those in poverty are minorities, but that's not what these admissions are focused on.  Instead you score extra points for how you were born, not how much money your parents can give you to go to school.  That doesn't sit well with me.  Do Obama's daughter's really need extra points over and above a white factory worker's son?

2) We need more role models of different groups-  I think it's nice to desire to have different role models, but....This is problematic because it's setting up a dichotomy of racial/ethnic/gender groups.  If we are truly interested in being color/gender blind, why aren't we acting like it?  Instead we're purposely pitting people against each other.  White males, realize for example, that some of their classmates are there because of their race, not their scholarship.  Recently in the world of academia, I had a friend go for a job interview.  He made the short list of three people:  2 males, 1 female.  Guess who got the job?  Now even if it was because she was more qualified, it still set up some animosity between him and his future colleague and the university.  He no longer views her simply based on merit; he's forced to consider her gender as well.  How's that for role models?

3) We need affirmative action to bring about diversity- I'm sorry but how does one's sex or skin color help with diversity exactly?  Shouldn't it be encouraged to have a diversity of ideas rather than a diversity of skin tones?  And really what happens when we based admissions on skin color rather than academic achievement and test scores, we have those who can hack it an Ivy League University and those who can't but got in because of color points.  How is that helping the University?  How is that fostering more progress in areas of say research?  Instructors spend more time attempting to get them up to speed or those students end up dropping out. 

4) But..but...but...oppression?-  What oppression?  Last time I checked women and people of color aren't barred from attending state-run universities.  Please explain to me exactly where it says you can't apply.  It was a problem in the past, but that's not the case today.  If anything, it's easier for a person of color or a woman to get into a top level school than a white male who has the same academic achievements and test scores. 

As a woman, I find the whole thing so infuriating.  I don't want to be hired because I'm a girl.  I want to be hired because I'm qualified and the best candidate.  Instead if I were to apply to teach at a university, I'm going to wonder if I'm being hired to create diversity of gender.  It's belittling to expect less academic achievements than a man.  I really don't understand why people want to keep encouraging this.  Affirmative action is only furthering hidden resentment. 

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Health Care Rights and Socialized Medicine

Let me just premise this for anyone who does not regularly read, that I live in Canada.  I have no knowledge working or otherwise of other socialized healthcare systems.  So if you live in say the UK some of what I say may not be applicable.

I recently read a conservative US blog in which the bloggers asserted that healthcare is not a right.  First of all, as a moderate I was dismayed.  And secondly as a Catholic I was appalled.  The United States Council of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has repeatedly said basic healthcare is in fact a right.

Some of the most common arguments against healthcare is that 1)it's forcing the physician to perform a service and 2) healthcare is a good or service. 

Let's address the second first.  Healthcare, housing, education, and religious freedom are spoken as rights by the USCCB.  When they say rights, they are talking about access.  If for example a person is stabbed multiple times, regardless of the person's ability to pay, they have the right to have access to life-saving medical care that any wealthy person also has.  To deny that person access is to essentially allow for their murder.  This sort of thing rarely happens in the United States because people, regardless of ability to pay, usually are given life-saving care.  Doctors usually don't rifle through wallets to look for money or insurance cards.  So to say things like healthcare is not a right (but rather it's a good or service that is not guaranteed access to) falls a little short.  In a way, the US already has standards of medical care that require access.  At least for immediate life-saving care. 

For basic medical care that is not immediate life-threatening, that is where the USCCB and conservative bloggers disagree.  Which brings up the first point.

Education is the United States is both compulsory and in that vein having access to basic education is a right.  It is provided for by the individual states.  I was a teacher.  It was a career I chose knowing full well that regardless of gender and race and ability to pay, I would educate children.  I also knew that if I wanted to teach a Catholic-based morality I was safer teaching in a private school setting, which is usually to some extent regulated by the state.  Certainly what I would teach them would also be dictated.  To an extent, I can object to what I teach.  As a music teacher, if I find myself suddenly thrust into teaching P.E.  I could object since that's not what I signed up for.  If I find my working environment not very good (for whatever reason), I'm not a slave.  I'm free to quit and pursue a different career.  And since I know longer work as a teacher, I did quit and pursue other interests, namely staying home with my children.

Likewise being in the medical field has some inherent restrictions.  Doctors and nurses understand this when they sign on for employment.  If a Jehovah's witness wants to be a family doctor, they know that 1) they can't exactly refuse life-saving care to the stabbing victim if they cross paths but 2) they can refuse blood transfusions during surgery since they are trained family doctors, not surgeons.  They also aren't slaves.  They can quit. 

It seems a bit disingenuous to claim doctors are being forced when they know exactly what it is they are getting into and can opt out.  Unfortunately for the stabbing victim, they can't opt out.  They'd die.

This leaves one in a quandary when the medical field is largely privatized and education (which is equally a right) is largely public.  To combat this in Canada, they make basic healthcare something the government takes care of.  This has a number of problems:  1) what is basic and who decides this and 2) loss of freedom of choice.

In Canada what is considered basic has not been strictly defined by the government.  Rather it's the voters of the individual provinces who dictate what is basic or not.  In Ontario, for example abortions are considered basic healthcare even if people object because of religious reasons.  Oddly, things like prescription drug coverage (even for life saving drugs), dental care, and vision care for adults is not considered basic.  In other words, you have to have supplemental insurance that you pay for or pay for it out of your pocket. 

All of this is paid for by taxes.  You cannot opt out.  And what is basic healthcare coverage is the same for all persons (exception made for children who have vision coverage).  This means you loose the freedom of choice.  Someone did tell me that not to long ago Alberta allowed people to opt out of healthcare coverage and instead have their own privatized insurance.  But that loophole has since been closed.

How is that applicable to the US as it moves closer and closer to socialized medicine?

Well I don't think socialized medicine is necessarily a bad thing.  I think that having the voters dictate the type of covered benefits is crucial since I don't think abortion is a basic healthcare right.  I, however, believe that people should have the right to opt out.  The Amish, for example, are allowed to opt out of Medicare and Social Security.  It can just as easily be anyone who has an objection to the type of socialized care to opt out.  Currently we have a system where insurance is privatized and only those who are too poor or above a certain age have the ability to opt into a public healthcare insurance.  Why not open that option to all persons?  Why do we continue to try and run our healthcare as largely private instead of the other way around?  Cannot the two systems work together in a large population that the US has?  A number of countries have done a number of different things to help their healthcare including making insurance private but non-profit based.  Would that also help people gain more access and lower premiums? 

At any rate, basic healthcare is a right according to the USCCB, and Catholics need to be figuring out better ways to open up access to more people.  Obama thinks he knows how, but I disagree with his course of action.  Forcing people to have insurance is a restriction of freedom.  How about the government loosening it's reigns on healthcare instead?  At any rate, having a physician deny seeing you because of an ear infection and lack of funds is silly and potentially dangerous.  We shouldn't be forcing people to wait to the point that they clog emergency rooms.  Something needs to change.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Sola-Skirt and Perpetuating the Lies

Let me begin by saying I've been debating this topic for a while.  I have an ear infection that I've been battling for a number of weeks, which leaves me feeling tired not to mention uncomfortable.  So I'm not much in a mood to contend with the crazies who come out of the woodwork over modesty standards.  But then Cam bravely wrote a post and so I said, oh what the heck.

I wear skirts.  I've written a couple of posts on the topic.

Before I got sick, I was at a play group with the kiddos.  And my friend R, bravely mentioned that she noticed I wear skirts.  She said I looked nice and asked me if it was part of my religion.  To soften the blow, she said her church growing up also promoted conservative dressing.  "No,"  I replied.  "I'm Catholic.  We don't have to wear skirts.  I just choose to."  And then I indicated that I wore skirts in part to look nicer especially since having children often leaves you covered in spit up and food.  It's one of the many reasons, but I didn't figure she needed the whole list.  She isn't the first to ask me if it was my religion.  My boss back in the day care asked the same thing.  Back then I wore skirts because it was required of me as a teacher to dress nicely.  My boss ended up encouraging us to wear scrubs so naturally I wore scrubs (including pants) for a while.

Some conservative Catholic circles would have you believe that wearing pants or sleeve-less shirts in public is against Church policy.  But that's not true.  Outside of the Vatican posting what is appropriate to wear inside St. Peter's, there is no official dress code for Catholics.  None.  If anyone tells you different they have been seriously misled or lying.  The only mention of modest dressing in the Catechism says it's a matter of conscience based on the cultural standards of where you live.  In other words, what I wear is probably not modest for someone living in Afghanistan. 

The two most common "guidelines" people promote are those on Mary-like modesty and those attributions which make it sound like the Church has some official dress code.  The first one was promoted by an American priest as a return to modesty.  It is extreme with shirts coming down to the wrists and skirts to the ankles, and it is not official.  It's his personal convictions.  As for the second one....  Modesty is talked about by various Popes, but no Pope has ever officially specified a type of dress.  The closest is a Bishop wrote a document to Catholic nuns in Italy about the type of dress in their schools.  The document says something to the affect that skirts should be worn to the knees and shirt sleeves to the elbows.  This was from the 1930s and later in the 1950s someone said that Pope Pius XI agreed.  However, there's no official Church teaching about such a dress code from Pope Pius XI.  In other words, it's not universally applicable.  There is equally an undocumented attribution to St. Padre Pio.  It's said that he would turn away women from the confessional whose skirts were shorter than 8 inches above the ankle.  As I said, there's no reason to believe that's true either.  In other words, the Church doesn't have such guidelines.  To add insult to injury...St. Gianna Molla is depicted wearing short-sleeve shirts and pants.

And it's because people believe this that I've had to give up some facebook groups.  I was part of one for a while, in part, because I enjoyed the modest fashion ideas.  Remember we are called to discern modesty, but there is no official dress code.  I eventually decided after much turmoil that it's periodic promotion of these false ideals as being Church "guidelines" was too much.  I watched horrified as several women including a published author ignored a fellow facebook user explaining that there are no "guidelines."  I mentally threw my hands up in the air and just unjoined the group.  "If this is what modesty is, devolving into pride and lies, then I want no part of it.  It isn't helping me in my discerning any longer,"  I thought.  Maybe I should start my own modesty discernment group.  But that's a big maybe.

Sources:

Blossoming Joy
EWTN:  On Padre Pio's dress standards
EWTN:  No Official Dress Code
FishEaters Forum: Discussion about Modesty pamphlets