Lice Claim They Need Some Respect

lice story with itching hand

I need to air my recent grievance to the public. Truly, I try to be the wine-glass-is-half-full type of gal, but I had a bomb dropped on me that brought out the cynic in my Syrah.

There is no way to sugarcoat my woe. In fact, I’m pretty sure I would prefer a root canal than wish this on my worst enemy. At least there are drugs that can help you get through mouth surgery. I’d rather have an endless laundry pile rather than experience this again.

Wait, I take that last one back. That’s partially what’s been causing my panic attacks.

Just rip off the Band-Aid, and spit it out…

We had lice. Parasites. An infestation, if you will. The secret L-bomb!

Never before have I so vehemently practiced sterile technique, and I’ve worked inpatient in a children’s hospital.

If you’ve never experienced these little bugs from hell, you will. I hate to be the bearer of horrific news, but it’s inevitable. Either your kids or your grandkids will drop off these itchy nuggets while you’re watching reruns of All in the Family in your comfy living room recliner – and those suckers will klatch onto your hair follicles and (shh!) re-pro-duce.

Oh, yes I’m sure many of you were like me. “I’m too clean to get lice,” I boasted. “They are for peasants and third-world country dwellers!” Well, I’m here to tell you my clean head and various princess heads in the neighborhood have never itched so badly. This pest war has entered my suburb and I’m ticked!

After much personal research and costly visits to the “experts,” I am a professional louse executioner. I might even start up a lice removal version of Stella and Dot jewelry or Jamberry nails home parties.

The reason why I’m jumping on my tea tree oil box is it is about time we stop shaming our kids. I want to break through today’s social barriers and go all “Norma Rae” about kicking the stigma to the curb. I’ll be yelling it from the rooftops, from church steps and various factory union meetings – whatever it takes to get my message out.

Lice is not a four-letter word! (waits for applause)

OK, maybe it is, but shouldn’t we be able to discuss infestation outside of school nurse room curtains and dark alleyways? What’s so shameful about having bugs taking residence on your noggin? I agree it’s gross, but shaming others is unjust. If you are brave enough to discuss it with friends, you will find out that about every house in your zip code has experienced the insanity that comes with the territory.

Especially now, that there are teenaged-mutant lice running rampant in many states. The stories are plastered across all media. These buggers are resistant to over-the-counter drugs. They have built up such resistance to old-school treatment, that everyone’s going to have them. It’s the new fad.

“Did you hear? Becky’s family has lice.”

“No! I’m so jealous! You know that lice is the new black stink bug.”

“Yes, it’s all over Facebook!”

Maybe lice infestation isn’t pleasurable. Unless, you have some twisted love affair with washing every fabric item in your house, vacuuming daily for three weeks, or twice a day picking nits out of your loved one’s tresses.

But can’t we give lice a break? Nits happen. Deal with it, stop the blaming and quit laughing at the downtrodden.

And remember, paybacks are an itch!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Teen Drivers and Summer Road Safety

Whether your child is running to the neighbors, the pool, riding his bike in the street or high-tailing it to catch the ice cream man; summertime brings out scads of children on our residential streets. So as parents, we need to remind our children, our new teen drivers and ourselves to keep a watchful eye and share the roadways.

 

Educate Child Pedestrians

Safe Kids USA reported in “Remind Children and Teens of Pedestrian Safety” (D. Kohnle, May 2011) parents should discuss with their kids about street safety several times throughout the summer:

  • Obey traffic signals and signs.
  • Pedestrians must stop, look left, right, then left again before crossing street (paying watchful attention while crossing.)
  • Always walk against traffic on a path or sidewalk.
  • Whenever sunlight is faint, take a flashlight while wearing reflective clothing or gear.
  • Take the safest route to a regular destination, such as school or a friend’s house. The route should have the fewest intersections.

Parental Tips for Teens

“Adolescents aren’t the best defensive drivers,” says the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “This is a time where teen’s brains aren’t capable seeing consequences for their actions.”

Teenager car crashes are responsible for approximately 3,000 lives each year. The CDC reports, “Car crashes are the #1 killer of teens.”

With this frightening statistic, makes you want to hide the keys to the family car, huh? However, the problem is teens must learn to drive defensively and attentively, so they will grow into responsible adult drivers. And practice is the only way for them to perfect this skill.

1. House rules: Parents need to be crystal clear with their teen driver on the rules of the road. These are the family rules, not the state troopers. For example, no cell phone usage or texting while driving (however, texting is now illegal), only one other friend may be in the car when on the road, limit time on the highways to non-rush hour periods, no drinking, drugs, etc…)

  • Teen drivers are four times more likely to be involved in a crash than experienced drivers.
  • The risk of a fatal crash increases when teens have friends in the automobile.
  • Night-time crashes increase 50% for 16-year-olds in comparison to daytime percentages.

2. Increase supervised driving time: Even if you think your adolescent is prepared for solo trips on the road, keep supervising them. Not only are they learning the physical techniques of driving a vehicle, but mentally they may have issues with not knowing the roads and the town like you may assume they know. With the anxiety of getting lost, on top of reading road signs and heavy traffic, it can be overwhelming even to a seasoned driver.

3. Hold child back: If you don’t think your child is a safe driver, there is nothing wrong with holding them back from getting behind the wheel alone. Plus, the more accidents for these young adults, the higher insurance premiums to deal with for YEARS to come.

4. Parent/teen contract: These can be effective for many families. Contact your insurance company or check online for these contracts so you can discuss expectations of your child.

Slow it Down!

Just remember this summer when you are rushing your kids to baseball games and practices, we all need to slow it down in residential areas. My grandfather used to always say,

“When you are driving down any residential street, you should be concentrating on looking for little feet underneath parked cars. If you see feet running under the front of a parked car, you can stop your vehicle before the child will get out in front of you.”

This “visual” leaves quite an imprint, and I hope it will for you as well. Please pass this story on to your new teen drivers and hopefully all of us can make our streets a bit safer for our “little ones” who haven’t learned to stay out of the roadways!

(Update to article: Please check out Safe Kids Worldwide’s guidelines printable for summer safety)

previously published in Simply KC magazine in July 2011 issue

 

Baby Staying Safe in the Summer Sun and Understanding SPF

SPF101

Do you miss the sun throughout the winter but in the summer months feel like you should live in a cave to protect your infant’s delicate skin from the sun? You are not alone in your frustration. A cave may not be necessary, but the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says that sun protection should begin in infancy and continue throughout life.

However, the AAD warns, “It may only take 15 minutes of midday summer sun to burn a fair-skinned (child).” Dr. Aundria Speropoulos, a pediatrician at Child Care Limited in Kansas City, MO, also warns parents, “Infant skin is more likely to burn in a short time. I have seen infants with second-degree burns (blisters) to their faces because the parent thought the baby would be safe on a cloudy day at a sibling’s soccer game.”

Consider these American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) Recommendations:

Younger than 6 months
Try to keep out of the sun. If complete shade is unavailable, use sunscreen on small areas of the body, such as the face and back the hands. (Light colored clothing that is tightly woven, covered strollers and sun umbrellas are also recommended.)

Older than 6 months
Apply (sunscreen) to all areas of the body, but be careful around the eyes.

What is SPF?

Dr. Trisha Prossick, a Shawnee Mission, KS dermatologist with American Dermatology Associates, says, “Sun protection factor (SPF) is a measure of protection against only UVB rays. It does not reflect protection against UVA; but both UVA and UVB are damaging to the skin.”

How Much Protection Is Enough?

“Most baby products on the market have an SPF greater than 30: The higher the SPF, the higher the UVB ray protection,” Speropoulos says. “Parents need to buy a product with ‘broad spectrum’ coverage, which means UVA and UVB ray protection. Products with a physical barrier such as zinc oxide or titanium dioxide offer even greater safety from the sun.”

Five young friends in swimming pool smilingApply and Reapply Sunscreen

Prossick suggests, “Sunscreens should be applied 20 to 30 minutes prior to sun exposure and should be reapplied after 2 hours or after any swimming. Even water resistant sunscreens lose efficacy in the water after 40 minutes and should be reapplied.”

Treatment for Sunburn

“Once you get the sunburn, you have done the damage, and there is not much to do other than alleviate the symptoms,” Prossick says. “Therefore, prevention is the best medicine. Tylenol or ibuprofen can help with the pain or discomfort.”

NOTE: Make sure to check with your medical provider for correct dosing and use the appropriate measuring device (i.e. manufacturer’s provided measuring cup or a medication syringe from the pharmacy).

Prossick also says, “Cool water or whole milk compresses can be applied for 20 minutes at a time to provide a cooling and soothing effect. If you choose to do the milk compresses, please wash it off afterwards. Moisturizers with or without aloe and over the counter hydrocortisone can also provide some relief.”

Recommended Products for Sensitive Skin

Speropoulos tells parents to look for “hypo-allergenic, fragrance and dye-free sunscreen. There are so many good choices these days, but I like Neutrogena baby, California baby or Aveeno baby.”

Are Darker Skin Tones Safe?

According to Mayo Clinic, “You need to use sunscreen even if you have darker skin pigment, tan easily and can tolerate longer periods of sun exposure without burning. The sun’s energy damages DNA of skin cells.”

The hardest part of protecting your child is remembering to get the sunscreen on the child and then reapplying at the correct time. A sunburn can take up to 24 hours to fully develop, so don’t think if you don’t see a pink tinge on your child, she is safe.

Finally, before you leave for your sun outing, don’t forget to check expiration dates on your sunscreens. They lose potency after expiration and will be ineffective for proper sun protection.

(previously posted on NML on 6/16/10)

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Help Kids Cope with Grief after Losing a Pet

Vinnie

 

How to help kids cope with grief after losing a pet

In many families, a pet is more than just a dog or cat; they are members of the family.  Just ask my kiddos about their favorite frog that got murdered or our kitten that “Mommy gave away for no reason.” Pets are loving and offer unconditional love for your family.

So when an illness, old age, or an accident occurs to your pet this can be devastating for everyone.  Especially for children who may never have experienced loss, it’s essential to teach them how to cope with grief, instead of brushing their emotions under the rug.  Nemours Foundation says, “Because a pet’s death might be their first time losing a loved one, the grieving process can help kids learn how to cope with other losses throughout life.”

BREAKING BAD NEWS TO KIDS

Find a location where the children feel safe, comfortable, with limited distractions (preferably without the pet nearby). According to your children’s ages and their developmental needs, you may need to have separate conversations if their ages are far apart.  Toddlers and teenagers obviously cannot process loss the same way.

Dr. Melissa Minor, a veterinarian at Nall Hills Animal Hospital in Overland Park, KS recommends, “I think it is important to be honest with the child and say the family pet has passed away (using age-appropriate language), rather than finding another explanation such as the pet’s ‘going off to camp.’”

“It’s OK to use words like ‘death’ and ‘dying,’” says Nemours. Or if the pet is going to be euthanized, you could tell the child, “The veterinarian will give our pet a shot that first puts it to sleep and then stops the heart from beating.”

Younger children may need to ask questions, but offering only answers to their direct questions is usually best.  Less is more works with this stage. Dr. Minor says, “My own kids, when very young, asked if our family pet would ever come back.  I think that’s a great question for a young child who doesn’t yet understand the permanence of death.”

The grade school aged child typically has more questions and may want a chance to say goodbye beforehand.  This is appropriate for that age.  The older mature teen might want to be present to comfort the pet at the time of the event.  It is an individual parent’s call to determine if your child can handle this and if it would be helpful for them in their grieving.

COPING WITH HEARTBREAK

Death of a loved one is such a rollercoaster ride of emotions.  Just as in adults, kids experience sadness, anger, loneliness, or even guilt if the child didn’t treat the pet well at the end of its life. Parents need to help the children understand these emotions are normal and will come and go – and that it’s fine to feel that way.  Also, if they don’t want to talk at first, let them know you are always there for them when they need to talk.

Parents must demonstrate their own grief about losing the family pet.  This will help the children know it’s acceptable to feel that way.  Parents shouldn’t cry in private.  Talk about good or funny times you had with the pet, or share stories about your favorite pet growing up as a child.  This will enable your child to openly share his emotions.

Veterinarian with a puppyThere are several children’s books that can be a helpful aid in teaching your kids about what is happening.

Dogs in Heaven and Cats in Heaven, by Cynthia Rylant are two different books that help ease distressed children and adults during the loss of their pet.

Goodbye, Mousie, by Robie H. Harris and illustrated by Jan Omerod is a comforting picture book for children ages 3-5.

Also, asking your librarian which books they have and recommend is a good way to go too.

For other ideas on how families can cope from loss, the Humane Society suggests:

  • Acknowledge your grief and give yourself permission to express it.
  • Don’t hesitate to reach out to others who can lend a sympathetic ear. Pet Partners offers a list of pet-loss hotlines for those grieving over the death of a pet.
  • Write about your feelings, either in a journal or a poem, essay, or short story.
  • Call your local humane society to see whether it offers a pet-loss support group or can refer you to one.
  • Prepare a memorial for your pet.

MOVING FORWARD

After raw emotions have calmed down, and healing begins to take place, it is time to work together as a family and move forward.  There are various creative ways to celebrate the life of the family pet that can be planned by the entire family.  A funeral/memorial ceremony can be cathartic. A tree, shrub or perennial flower can be planted or a family prayer, song, or skit could be performed to share funny times with your missed pet.  Or, create a location in the yard to place an outdoor statuary or a homemade stepping stone made by the kids.  Even making a scrapbook dedicated to the life of the  pet would be healing and create a precious memory for the family to look back on as well.

It is important your children know the pain of loss does not go away overnight.  The hurt will subside eventually and be replaced with happy memories of their pal.  Nemours suggests, “When the time is right, you might consider adopting a new pet — not as a replacement, but as a way to welcome another animal friend into your family.”

After all, kitties and puppies can cure the blues pretty darn well!

How has your family coped with the loss of a pet? Any things that worked well? Leave a comment below and I will love you forever!! 

 

Key to No Barfing on Family Road Trips

Nauseated

The other day my friend and I were discussing how we dreaded traveling with kids and it wasn’t for the reasons most parents have:

“She crossed over the line and her finger is on my side!!”

“Bobby took my headphones!”

“Mom, Sarah won’t stop staring at me!”

Oh, no, we both had the dreaded Car Barfer.

After discussing this malady by the snack table at church, regarding traveling with kids on Spring Break, I realized that after I fought this “uphill” battle for 7 years, I could be considered an expert.

And because of that, I felt it was my public duty to share my tricks and secrets.

When my daughter, Munchkin #1 was a baby, she immediately became what they call in some glamorous social circles, a projectile puker. The girl could hurl it to the third seat area of the van if she produced a good arc.

The hubby and I prayed that she would grow out of this attractive behavior, for she wouldn’t win any popularity contests if this continued.

In fact, we couldn’t go anywhere in the van over 15 minutes without the upchuck routine. This was awful since the grandparents lived 30 minutes away and people frown on covering infants in Saran Wrap or attaching feedbags.

So after many urping episodes, and tempts of fate thinking she could make it 16 minutes, 17 minutes, we tried everything we could think of to make our darling child, feel better, keep unsoiled and not smell like the ladies room on 50 cent beer draw night.

Here are my tips for keeping you and your child happy and considering getting back on the road again:

Medications:

Younger children cannot take any medication to settle their stomachs, so you have to just suffer through. When your pediatrician says that Benadryl is OK for your child, that can be a blessing for some; but you need to be careful and know the exact dose and realize it will knock most kids out into a prolonged stupor. Of course there are some kiddos that have the opposite problem and turn into complete spazzes, but at least they aren’t throwing up. REMEMBER: Don’t give Benadryl without your pediatricians approval.

Dramamine is for kids over 2 years of age, according to the packaging. There are chewables, but they are hard to find. And if you try to get your kid to swallow Dramamine in pill form, and they have not developed that skill yet, they taste awful just sitting on the tongue, so it will be near impossible getting another one in your kids mouth ever again.

However, Dramamine is a blessing from God!! I remember thinking that my daughter would never turn two so that we could use the magic potion of the road. NOTE: Never give Benadryl and Dramamine together. Dramamine contains Benadryl, so you can overdose.

Not all pediatricians will prescribe this for older children, but it doesn’t hurt to ask, but Odansetron (aka Zofran) is an anti-emetic (anti-nausea/anti-vomiting) drug that is often used for pregnant women who can’t keep food down or patients after chemotherapy treatment. Children over the age of 4 can take this, and if your child does not respond to the other choices, Odansetron works beautifully. This drug needs a prescription, so your physician will let you know if this is appropriate for your child.

Clean-up Supplies:

1. In addition to medication, you need to have your vehicle stocked sufficiently. A little package of tissues you carry in your purse is not going to cut it with one of these kids. You need a jumbo box of baby wipes and periodically check to make sure they remain damp. Nothing worse than reaching in for a cleanup job and find dry wipes! Not only do the wipes work well to essentially bathe your child in the car, but also they can clean upholstery, carpeting and the seat belts quite effectively. These are a MUST! My kids are 7 and 8 and I still keep a box in the car just for spills and accidents.

2. At first I asked every person who traveled to bring me back vomit bags from the airlines. I had about 20 of those in the back pocket of the driver’s seat. But you will quickly learn that those are 1) not airtight 2) not leakproof and 3) have a small opening, which proves to be a poor target for a young or inexperienced barfer. Ziploc Freezer Bags with the strong zipper seal are the answer. Aim, shoot, and zip! Toss and you are back on the road. I actually kept an entire jumbo box of those in the car with the wipes.

3. The last thing you want are kitchen trash bags. Many times I stood on the side of the highway with my toddler stripped down to her diaper and I was tempted to just dump her clothes right there. If you have a big bag for clothes or the liner of the car seat, you can close those up tight and toss them in the trunk.

I apologize for those with a weak stomach. I know this isn’t a glamorous post, but hopefully this information can save at least one family some headaches.

The good thing is usually by the time your car sick child is a teenager, she can sit in the front and look out the front window, reducing or possibly alleviating the nausea.

Thanks so much for joining Nurse Mommy Laughs today! If you know of someone that has a child this post could help, please feel free to forward this link. How do you get through traveling with carsick kids? Any other tips you would like to share in the comments below?