Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Life in Perspective

A few years ago, I was on a parenting forum with other parents of other children around my kids ages. There was nothing particularly special or unique about us. We just formed a web community, filled with unique individuals with similar parenting styles and a connection that you just can't explain.

We cared about one another, kept some track of our kids progress, laughed at the silly stuff and rejoiced at each others milestones. We're still a relatively close community, though as the kids age there's less and less to unite us online.

But there is one moment that changed us all, forever. One member, whose daughter was just a few months older than mine, awoke to tragedy. Her toddler had crawled out of bed in the middle of the night and attempted to climb the dresser. It fell, crushing her.

There was no second chance, and worse...nothing that anyone had done "wrong". She was asleep in her room, with the door closed to prevent accidents if she happened to wake and wander. It was a setting like thousands of other households in the United States. She wasn't neglected, she wasn't abused, and no one had "accidentally" left something dangerous within reach. It just never occurred to anyone that a dresser might tip over.

In Earthquake county, we bolt our bookcases to the walls and protect our knick knacks. Nut never had I imagined a full sized dresser might tip. I've tried to move one, it's not easy.

But what happened to this child isn't unique. And this weekend, tragedy struck again, when a young boy climbing a dresser tipped it over. He was fine. But, it fell on top of his 6 month old brother, who didn't survive.

According to the CPSC, at least 8,000 children are injured in furniture tips and falls every year. In the grand scheme of things, it is unlikely for a child to be fatally injured by a falling dresser. But when it's your child, statistics don't matter.

There is something we can do to prevent further tragedy. In households with young children, all furniture should be securely fastened to a wall. It doesn't matter how closely you watch, or how careful you are. Accidents happen. We can be "overly cautious" with a few extra nails. And we can pass the word on to other parents, so they can anticipate the unfathomable and prevent another nightmare.

Monday, June 04, 2007

Girl Scout Fun

This week end my daughter went on her very first Girl Scout overnight.

Like any Brownie, she was nervous. But unlike most Brownie scouts, she also had to be concerned about what she could eat. She has to avoid dairy and blue dye in order to avoid a nasty migraine.

I must admit, I was concerned as well. I feel so caught up in the whole food allergy jungle, that I'm never quite sure what "normal" is anymore or where we all fit in. And there are many nights when I look at the clock, know the kids are hungry and just can't fathom what to fix. (My youngest is allergic to nuts. I need to avoid gluten, corn, potato, squash, beef, most legumes, cruciferous veggies and olive oil. Maybe more, it gets overwhelming.) There's not a lot left, especially when you want it to taste good enough for a picky 5 year old palate.

How was this trip going to happen without her feeling that much different?

Thankfully my worries really were for nothing. There is another girl in her troop avoiding dairy (and gluten). The leaders really did provide the food; for everyone. In fact, my daughter came home with not only her own emergency snacks (I hid some granola bars in there, hoping that if worst came to worst, she could at least have her own calories on hand.) but a bag full of leftovers. There were Newmans dairy free cookies, dried fruit and koala crisp cereal. All items that are uniquely special treats in our household...she fared quite well!

Most precious to us, however, is the fact that the troop cared enough to make the trip safe for her. The one thing she did not bring home was an upset stomach, which she assures me time after time is much worse than any peer pressure or feeling of being singled out her 9 year old mind can imagine. Thank you Girl Scouts!