Why "Running with Bunions"?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Childbirth is the Easy Part

Raising children is a joy-filled love fest rife with terror.

Unless, of course, you're the grandma.

Grandma doesn't count poos per day, measure urine output, fret over developmental milestones like rolling over, walking, talking. It's not Grandma's job to compare school districts, assure Little Darling eats her peas, goes to bed on time, learns to read, gets the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.

Nope. Grandma work is hugs and kisses, breakfast cake, toes in sensory rich blue sand all over the back yard never-mind-who's-gonna-clean-that-up, naked bodies in fall leaves when "there might be bugs in there!"

Failings don't register on Grandma's radar, which is set to the fun in the next encounter: hop to the zoo? Firehouse tour? Bake a cake? Dynamic, energetic, protective, endless. Grandma work is spelled l-o-v-e.

The only rival to Grandma love is Grandpa love: fishing trips, garden worms, armchair sports, hammer and nails, when-I-was-your-age-I-walked-uphill-to-school-in-the-snow-barefoot. (Both ways.)

But what if you're the parent?

You've brought a living, breathing genetic double into the world. If you drop him, he might die. If you don't feed her, she might die. If you don't change his diapers, he might get an infection and die. If you leave her in the cold, she might get sick and die. If you set him down and walk away, he will certainly die.

Relax. Even the most ignorant parent can (usually) keep Baby alive in those early stress-filled just-had-a-baby days. Producing a child is rainbows and sunflowers compared to what comes next.

Parents are responsible to teach Sweet Angel everything: to sit up, walk, talk, use the potty, count to ten, read, write, socialize, succeed in school and business, use a pencil, pen, computer, iPhone, text, take selfies and write deep, meaningful expositions in 140 words or less.

What if he never learns to use the potty - what will the other college kids say? Or he hates meatloaf and that's the only meal you can cook? How will he learn healthy eating habits, to use silverware, celebrate the family table, waterski?

What if there are special needs? Autism, divorce, a partner who won't communicate?

Unfortunately, the ability to give birth doesn't come with a humanity pin. Parents exist who would ignore Baby's health, education and social needs. Refuse to do the hard stuff, like take Baby to the doctor, immunize, socialize, potty train. Who expect school to do the work of parenting, the next-lover-on-deck to manage communication, who put more energy into the dog than the children.

Sometimes it happens that Baby is blessed with just one able parent. Who surrounds himself with a village of grandmas, grandpas, sisters, cousins, friends. To share the rollercoaster highs and lows that is the work of parenting.

Because giving birth is the easy part. With or without complications, with or without love-to-the-end-of-time backup, child raising is hard.

But when all the peas are eaten and your child is grown? Maybe, if you're very, very lucky - you'll get to be the grandma.

So. Much. Joy.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Poisoned by Lead

When he came to live with Super Daddy, Wonder Boy was 5 years old and still
in diapers. He refused to eat anything but frozen pepperoni pizza, had no
intelligible words, did not understand language, regularly tantrummed into
meltdowns, hit himself in the head and rammed his body into walls. He didn't
play peekaboo, make eye contact or sit in a chair to eat. Physically, Wonder
Boy operated at the level of an 18 month old baby.

Amaze Girl was 6 years old. She didn't know her letters or numbers, had trouble focusing, sitting still, following directions, standing on line. She didn't understand how to interact with her Kindergarten classmates and had regular potty-ing accidents.

Neither child slept through the night, used silverware or drank from a cup. They didn't sing nursery rhymes or attend to a story. The muscles in their hands were underdeveloped, making writing difficult. They were terrified of
the vacuum cleaner.

Wonder Boy and Amaze Girl did not have a doctor, had not received any immunizations or enjoyed play dates with same aged peers. They'd never participated in an extracurricular activity and craved sensory experiences like sand and rice baths. Both children gnawed their paper thin fingernails ragged and Wonder Boy bit his disfigured toenails too. Amaze Girl chewed compulsively on dolls, blocks, furniture, walls, whatever was in her hand.

Two important facts about lead poisoning: to cause harm, lead must be ingested, usually by mouth or nose. And lead doesn't stay in a person's blood once exposure to the poison is eliminated.

Adults, with their mature bodies and fully grown brains, may experience reversible side effects when exposed to lead. For example: fatigue, abdominal, joint and muscle pain and a decline in mental functioning.

Children, especially those under 3 years old, with their growing bodies, developing brains, curious mouths, faces near toxic carpets and floors, are at special risk when exposed to lead. Poison courses through little bodies and into growing brains. Where it rewires panels, stifles development, destroys neurons.

When a child under 3 years old is exposed to lead, the damage done to his still developing brain is permanent.

Amaze Girl was 18 months old and Wonder Boy was 4 months old when the children were stolen away to the little lead-paint-and-dust filled house. With its lead-dusty rug, lead-painted floor, doors, walls and windows. Here, Wonder Boy and Amaze Girl would chew lead dust-coated toys. Place moist hands in window sills full of poisonous particles. Insert toxin dusted fingers into noses and mouths. For 5 years.

Because she was older, and walking, Amaze Girl was at lowered risk. However, Amaze Girl's insatiable need to chew increased her exposure to the poison. When the situation was finally uncovered, at a time that both children had aged out of the highest levels of danger, only Amaze Girl still had an elevated amount of lead in her blood.

By the time he was 4 years old, Wonder Boy's blood lead level was nearly zero. It didn't matter. The damage was done.