Child Invites Entire World to her Birthday

Happy birthday lit candles on brown background

How do you have a kids’ birthday party for sixty 7-8 year olds?

YOU DON’T! Ever.

That’s why I put a limit on my overly social munchkin’s party this year. She wanted to have it at the zoo where “Dan – the Touch my Animals – Man” would be sharing information about all things animaly. Don’t correct me. It should be a word.

25 guests maximum is the policy for zoo parties. This includes kids and the immediate family. This number sounded crazy, but actually (don’t tell Munchkin #2) I think it will be a lot like school, but with loads of sugar at the end – right before we send them home to their parents. Heh, heh!

So the itinerary is set, the guest list consists of only the girls in her immediate class and Girl Scout friends. End. Of. Story. No surprises. No changes. No gluten free.

However, I didn’t realize that my child was loudly talking about her party outside of the classroom. Lunch and recess were a dangerous for her and other’s feelings.

Why did I think she could keep her lips shut? She never does at home. I assumed she would chat with the girls in her class and no one’s feelings would get hurt.

WRONG!

I joined M2 for her birthday lunch at school. This is where once a year I take whatever the munchkin wants and drink a diet coke while she ingests crap. I used to eat items from beneath the golden arches, but now I feel like my tongue is coated in oil at the end of my meal.

Anywho…both munchkins love this tradition and have grown to expect it. We were sitting at the “parent/child” table. It’s kind of like the “Peanut table,” but more kids come up and beg us for French fries. Charles Dickens would be proud of these little urchins.

So as each kid faked a trip to the bathroom to come see what Munchkin #2 was eating, and tried to give her the signal she should share some spuds, she would say something about her birthday being over the weekend and that she was REALLY excited about her party at the zoo.

“M2, not all of these kids are invited to the party!” I urgently whispered.

“What? They are one of my best friends!” she loudly announced. I have no clue where this kid got her volume!

“We could only invite the girls in your classroom and those who are in Brownies. Don’t you remember that?” I asked.

“My class-ROOM! Oh, not my whole class – like all of 2nd grade!!” she finally understood.

“I thought you were clear on this. How many people have you talked to?” I hesitantly inquired.

“Don’t worry, Mom! I only talked to all the girls in 2nd grade. I didn’t tell anybody in third!”

She was so proud of her restraint. Explaining to a child who is not ready to understand how their words can upset others is challenging. I thought we had it squared away weeks ago.

M2 likes to be friends with everyone. Not such a terrible quality.

But she better get a job at McDonalds to start saving up for next years party. She might just have the upper third of the elementary school on the invite list!

Do you have a kid that airs all of your dirty laundry? Got yourself a blabbermouth?

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Embracing Your Weirdness is What Makes You Awesome

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Mama, I can’t do that! I don’t want the kids to think I’m weird.

My daughter’s words struck my abdomen, like a knife plunging into my soul.

“Weird!” She said the “W” word.

The first time I heard my child fearing others’ opinions, similar memories of mine were stirred up. Childhood fights on the playground, bickering in the girl’s room, or even worse … debating whether “Babe” cologne or “Love’s Baby Soft” was the best fragrance. It could get nasty.

Recently, I read a quote by Meryl Streep, which struck a nerve.

“What makes you different or weird — that’s your strength.”

Seriously, if I’d heard that advice when I was young, I might have avoided 25 percent of my childhood angst. I was a professional weird kid. If they had turned our fifth-grade spelling bee into a standing Weird-Off, I would have gone to Nationals. I was that proficient. In college, I tried to major in weird, but was denied. Theater and Film was an adequate backup.

With Halloween around the corner and people’s gory, graphic yard art popping up, one starts to ponder weirdness. (Oh, and thanks for my kids’ nightmares. I really enjoy a tiny foot in my face in the middle of the night.)

My journey of weird started at an early age. Lip-synching to Donny Osmond, into my purple hairbrush, with a red sequined tutu on my head. This was standard fare at my house. The kids in the neighborhood came to expect it, as did my parents.

Although the only day I could parade my weirdness was Halloween. Costumes mandatory? How glorious!

My costumes started off innocently. A bunny, a witch with a big rubber nose, and a picturebook-perfect Raggedy Ann, complete with a full wig constructed of red yarn. But those costumes don’t sound so weird, do they? It wasn’t until I had the choice of what to be, instead of my parents choosing, that my flair flew.

In the fourth grade, I was Phyllis Diller. Yes, I teased my hair high, put on obnoxious makeup and hot pink-framed glasses. I was a dead ringer for the comedienne. The best part was the reaction I would get at neighbors’ doors.

Trick-or-treat!

(gasp) Oh, my. What are you, honey?

Phyllis Diller.

The answer was either followed by laughter or absolute confusion as to why a young girl would choose this over a cute pumpkin or ghost outfit. A boring ghost uniform would have been booed from my bleachers.

Junior high was a time for many kids to bow out of costumes in my town — but not for me. I still wanted to take my younger brother around to houses, so I could steal his candy later. What was his costume? A werewolf, of course. And living up to high standard “weirdo” expectations, I was a full-term pregnant ballerina.

There were countless kooky costumes, too many to list. But those were the years I embraced my weirdness. However, at some point I began to worry what others would think of me. I’m certain this is a developmental stage that all humans face. It’s how you react to it and learn from that uncertainty that defines your character.

So when my munchkin said she was afraid of what the other kids would think, I pulled her over to my computer to teach her about Meryl Streep. I wanted my daughter to see someone who is famous — a great role model — and learn that a woman of that caliber knows being “weird and different” is awesome!

I never imagined Ms. Streep would help me with my parenting skills. Makeup and acting tips, maybe. But her lesson is being practiced in my house now.

Mama, I don’t mind being weird, if when I grow up, I like myself.

Standing ovation, my munchkin. Standing ovation!

previously printed in The Kansas City Star October 29, 2014

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Teaching Children about STRANGER DANGER

LillieThe other day I heard a young grade schooler say to her mother, “I can’t talk to them. They’re a stranger.” Initially, I thought what an excellent job that parent did educating her daughter; but then I quickly realized the mother had instructed her child to ask a store employee a question, who was only 3 feet away, yet the child was paralyzed. If all adults are the enemy, what are children to do when they need help in an emergency or are lost?

WHO SHOULD KIDS TRUST?

The phrase “Stranger Danger” has been pounded into our kids’ heads so much that possibly some parents may have done reverse damage. Children need to be able to talk to adults, and that includes strangers. KidsHealth.org says, “It’s better to teach kids when it’s appropriate to talk to strangers and when it is not.” Let them know when they are with you it is appropriate to talk to people they may not know because you are there to protect them. “But if your child is alone and approached by a stranger, that’s a different story.” The American Academy of Pediatrics offers, “Instead of teaching (your child) that he’s surrounded by danger, teach him that he is strong, capable, and can count on you to keep him safe, as long as he can tell you about it.”

EDUCATING YOUR CHILD

Question: What do molesters and abductors look like?

Answer: Like everybody else walking down the street. These predators don’t look scary, but sometimes appear friendlier to kids – that’s how they are able to draw them into their web. If a stranger comes up to your child while he or she is alone, they need to have the tools to protect them. Tell your kids if they are approached, they don’t have to be polite or say a word. Dr. Laurie Fisher, Overland Park, KS says, “Children don’t have to say anything. They should run away and tell an adult.” She also stresses that kids have a buddy system. “If they are going to be alone, make sure that they are not out after dark. And if they ever feel threatened, they need to yell loudly (that they don’t know the adult – “this is NOT my Daddy!”) and run away as fast as they can to a safe location.”

If an adult tries to touch their private area or asks them to touch theirs, they also need to know how to react. “I tell my patients it’s okay for parents and the doctor to look at their private area but it is off limits for anybody else,” says Dr. Fisher.

She also shares with her patient’s parents that they need to begin teaching their children their full names and their parent’s names by the age of 3 or 4. “By four or five years of age, children need to know their phone number and address.”


HELP, I’M LOST!

If your child wanders away from you in a public place, they need to know what to do. Go over these instructions with your child often, so she clearly understands the directions. Officer Gary Mason, Public Information Officer with the Overland Park Police Department says, “Have your child go up to either the police, security officer or a store employee and let them know they are separated from their parent. Also, a mom or dad with young kids is usually a safe place for a lost child to get help.”

THE CODE WORD

Creating a family “code word” which is not easily deciphered by a dangerous stranger is helpful to give your child the extra confidence needed to make a good decision. If you need someone to pick up your kids unplanned outside of school, there should be a password that your child knows. When the adult says to come with them, the child should be trained to ask, “What is the code word?” If the adult doesn’t know it, the child needs to run the other direction to get help from a trusted adult.

Having “stranger danger” discussions are never easy for parents; but putting it off for another day is just another day where your children could be underprepared to face a dangerous situation. Build up their self-esteem with these tools, review them often, and hopefully they will grow up confident and not fearing the world around them.

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You’ve Got Lice Now Back Away

kidwithlice

Happy first day of school, class! I am Mrs. Happy-to-be-Here and I will be your 1st grade teacher.

This is my first teaching job, so I am thrilled to have you all as my first students. Before we go sit on the happy rug in criss-cross applesauce to sing our school’s motto I have a few announcements:

First from our Principal, he says, “Go Chipmunks!! We’re going to have a nut-free year!” Well, that’s cute, right?

Next our school nurse, Nurse Mitsy has also sent me a little note. (reading aloud) “Please tell your class discreetly that there is an outbreak of head lice in the first grade. Try not to scare…”

“Holy guacamole!” (running to the back of the room, edging tightly to the wall) “Nobody move or touch anything!! I’m going to find a fly swatter and some Purell! Do NOT Move!”

This is not far off from many elementary school scenarios across the country. My overly creative brain is causing me to scratch the daylights out of my flesh every couple of minutes. And don’t think I’m not putting my daughter’s hair into a braid, so it won’t swing around and brush into a lice-ridden classmate. 

I’m not harvesting these lock-busters as of yet. YET.

For those of you who are not as fortunate, and your family has been given the Cinderella treatment plan: The don’t pay attention to your sister, and let’s make her do so many loads of laundry, so she will have a nervous breakdown. I want to say, I’m so sorry!! I’m sure it feels like the end of the world, but really it’s more like a prison sentence that you will be released from in 2 weeks. Here are my nurse tips on how to treat and rid lice from your family and home…

Stacey

Whether you have them, are treating it, or just reading this article, I bet your head starts itching and your face contorts into unphotographic poses by the end.

Even though the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) says, “Head lice are not a health hazard or a sign of poor hygiene, and are not responsible for the spread of any disease,” the public still dreads talking about it. “No healthy child should be excluded from or miss school because of head lice,” says the AAP, “and no-nit policies for return to school should be abandoned. Your child can return to childcare or school after one treatment with anti-lice shampoo,” is the policy.

Treatment:

As always check with your medical provider first for their advice. Over-the-counter treatments are effective, but it’s mandatory you follow directions explicitly. Also, do NOT over treat. Studies show if some treatments are overused resistance to some of the medications can occur.

Leslie, an Overland Park mom, said she had lice in her home a few years ago. She was brushing her daughter’s hair and saw a louse “moving really fast. I put it on a piece of tape and took it to a practitioner who agreed to start treatment.” Leslie suspected her daughter might have picked it up from sharing t-ball helmets, so she notified the team.

Then she used one of the common Lice Elimination systems containing shampoo, comb-out gel and the home control spray, for furniture and car surfaces. Luckily she said, “it was only a mild case and no one else got it.” If you see the critters:

  • Wash all bed linens and clothing that were recently worn by anyone in your home who’s infested in very hot (130° F [54.4° C]), then put them in the hot cycle of the dryer for at least 20 minutes.
  • Have bed linens, clothing, and stuffed animals and plush toys that can’t be washed put in airtight bags for 2 weeks.
  • Dry-clean anything that can’t be washed (like stuffed animals). Or put them in airtight bags for at least 3 weeks.
  • Vacuum carpets and any upholstered furniture (in your home or car), then throw away the vacuum cleaner bag.
  • Soak hair-care items like combs, barrettes, hair ties or bands, headbands, and brushes in rubbing alcohol or medicated shampoo for 1 hour. You also can clean them in hot water for 10 minutes or just throw them away

(Source: Nemour Foundation 2014)

Lice Facts:

  • The nits (eggs) hatch into lice in 1 week.
  • Off the scalp, nits can’t survive over 2 weeks.
  • Adult lice survive 3 weeks on the scalp or 24 hours off scalp.
  • A louse is the size of a sesame seed.
  • Live lice can transmit lice to another child.
  • Transmission is from direct head-to-head contact. Lice cannot jump or fly to another person’s hair.

(Source: American Academy of Pediatrics, July 2010)

So are you itchy yet? Just remember that kids are sensitive to any discussions of their infestation. Keeping names out of, especially around kids who may not be able to censor themselves, will help the mental anguish which goes along with it at school.

Stacey Hatton is a kids RN, mom of 2 feisty munchkins and blogs at Nurse MommyLaughs.

 

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Moms Inner Tomboy Triumphs Over Glamour

myinnertomboy
Since I began writing several years ago, I don’t get out of the house as often as I used to. My office is in my home, and after I shuttle the munchkins around to camps, friends’ houses and extra-curricular events, the last thing the munchkins and I want to do is go hang out in public. There’s no place like home.

Not only are my husband and I both homebodies, but our girls seem to appreciate our time together within our castle walls. We entertain each other well most of the time. There are times when I get to meet a friend for lunch or meet the ladies out for cocktails and laughs, but those occasions are few and far between.

This morning as I sat off-screen, awaiting my TV interview to promote my latest book, “I Just Want to Be Alone;” I had an epiphany. All scrunched up in my Spanx, heels and multi-layers of makeup and hairspray, I realized I do not enjoy getting dressed up. In fact, I dread it!

When I was a little girl, I wore dresses all the time. I don’t know if it’s because it was the time period, the style; or if my Mom preferred me in dresses or I begged to wear them. I don’t remember.

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But sometime between then and college, I had had enough of the fancy. I was done with glamour.

My grandmothers always looked feminine and presentable. My mom looked lovely every day; but give me a t-shirt and yoga pants and I’m one comfy lady. I even partially decided to become a nurse so I wouldn’t have to wear pantyhose or heels. Scrubs are like going to work in your jammies and running shoes.

So why have I been fighting this natural look? Did society play such a large role in how I should appear? I’m too old for that fool way of thinking.

Maybe I’m more of a Tomboy than I had realized. Now the only time I put on makeup and curl my hair is when I’m on TV, going to church, weddings, or funerals. I’m sure there are some of you, who don’t understand this feeling. I’m not judging anyone who feels better with improving what they have. I just question why they need to play dress up in adulthood.

There’s a part of me that wants to be known for the real me. Stacey Warner Hatton. And after playing roles in the theater for 15 years, and changing my clothes thousands of times, I’m ready to strip down to me. The bare essentials. No, Mom I’m not becoming a stripper!

My family, my kids and husband love me just as I am. So if I don’t enjoy getting dressed up anymore, then I’m just wasting my time and energy on something that isn’t right for me.

Of course, I’ll still have my time on KC Live! every month; and I’ll primp up for that. But that is theater. A show for others.

But when I’m away from the spotlight, I’m going to me: natural, comfortable and silly as all get out.

To all the other tomboys out there, please join me in this freedom movement to not worry about what others think. You can start off small. Go to the store without makeup. And you will begin to notice that not everyone is fancy or glamorous all the time.

If you want to get fancy – great for you. Do it. I’m sure people will notice you. But if you make eye contact and smile or laugh with someone, they will see your true beauty and it doesn’t need concealer to be radiant.

So my friends, I’m going to lounge in my t-shirt and sweats and focus on what’s important in my life…enjoying and laughing with my family and friends.

Doesn’t get more beautiful than that!

I’d love to hear from you in the comments. That way I know someone is reading it!

Here is my fancy interview with Jen Man at People I Want to Punch in the Throat. We were with Michelle Davidson from KC Live! This is 5 minutes after my epiphany.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9klbDwg-sNg

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