Thursday, 28 March 2013

Injuring Children who aren't your own

It's a big enough responsibility when you are looking after someone else's children, but the guilt that you feel when you do something bad to them makes you feel terrible!

Within a week, 2 such incidents occurred.  One was ME doing it to someone else's child and the other was someone doing it to MY child.

I went to the Sydney Royal Easter Show on the weekend, and every year I take my kids and last year I took my nephew.  He really enjoyed it so I thought it would be nice to take him again this year.  It was going to be fun, we would go on rides, go see the animals, look at the stalls and arts and crafts, eat crappy food, all that stuff you love to do at the Easter Show.

My nephew, O, has multiple allergies, some of which are severe.  I am usually very careful what I give him.  I know he is allergic to wheat/gluten, chicken, cow's milk, eggs, nuts, but I didn't know/forgot that he was allergic to fish.  He has an epipen (injectable adrenaline) and has been to hospital with severe facial swelling after exposure to his allergens.

My first stop at the Easter show is usually the Woolworths Pavilion.  I love looking at the food there and buying our snacks for the day.  We bought honeyed macadamias and I told my kids E and J not to give any to O.  He had all his own food packed in his bag including apples, sushi rice with pork, fruit sticks, special biscuits and water.  I fed him some of his own food.  Then we bought donuts, and when E offered some to O, I told her no, he can't eat that.  Then we had some beef bulgogi, yoghurt... all these things O can't eat.  I walked past a sushi stall and bought some salmon nigiri sushi for the kids.  Hubby said to me I could share that with O.

I went to offer it to O and he told me he can't eat fish.  I didn't know he was allergic to it.  I took the fish off and gave him the rice.  He took 2 bites.  Then within a minute, he complained he was itchy, and was scratching his mouth.  I didn't realise he was allergic to fish, so I checked him, wondering if he had gotten contaminated with nuts that I had eaten.  No airway swelling but his lip was starting to swell.  I rang O's mum and she told me he had SEVERE fish allergy.  I was horrified.  She told me she had forgotten to pack his antihistamines and I should give some to him and if he didn't get better within 30 minutes he should go home. I told hubby and HK to watch the kids while I ran to get antihistamines from the chemist just around the corner at the Easter Show.  O took his medicine and we all sat eating our lunch whilst I watched him  His lip was now very swollen on the left side and he had itchy lumps/hives forming around his mouth.  His left eye was getting swollen and also had small allergic lumps.  He was still itchy but no tongue swelling.  I told him he should walk only with me because I had to watch him (and I was paranoid he'd have a swollen airway and the only person who could look after him then would be me) but within half an hour the hives had gone and the swelling remained but the eye swelling went down. The itchiness subsided as well.  I felt SO bad.  I am usually so careful with him!  I apologised profusely to his parents at the end of the day (we were out at the show for about 7 hours) and they reassured me everything was ok.  But I still felt bad!

Then yesterday, my sister R and her husband S were looking after the kids after school and one of S's fave games with my son J is to drop him on the couch.  They love that game.  So they were playing that and Uncle S was a little to far to the right and brought him crashing down onto the arm of the chair, knocking J's head with a resounding thump that was frightening.  Instantly J was crying and an egg sized lump was on the back of his head.  J was crying most of the evening in pain and would cry any time anyone tried to touch it.  S felt so terrible, and so did my sister, they nearly cried.  I quickly checked J, he hadn't lost consciousness when hit in the head and his gait was still steady and his pupils were equal and reactive, so I wasn't too worried about him.  A cracked skull would probably be the worst thing and that would be treated conservatively anyway.  J had difficulty sleeping because he couldn't lie down on that part of his head, but once he got comfortable on his side, he slept soundly all night.  I slept with him to make sure he didn't have some kind of head injury and die in his sleep but he was bright and chirpy this morning as if nothing had happened.  My sister and brother in law had a bad night worrying about J so they didn't sleep well.

I think it's important to be up front and honest if you do something to someone else's child.  Hiding or not mentioning it is like lying, and if you lose trust in the people who are caring for your child or they lose trust in you, then it's never going to be good.  Fortunately both times nothing truly horrible happened so it was ok.  But.. it can happen to anyone!

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Childhood Memory: Last Day with Nanny M

It was the kids last day with Nanny M.  We knew this day was coming, and it seems so strange that after almost 3 years, they won't be going to her house anymore.  Hubby brought flowers for her, so that the kids could give it to her.

She texted me saying Thank You for the flowers, and she went inside after the kids were gone and had a little cry.  Awww!  I knew she would miss them, they love going to her house, and she talks about my children as if they were her own, proudly showing off pictures of what they had been up to and what they are doing.  People at work would often tell me stories of my own children, and I felt so lucky that I had someone who cared so much about my children, being involved in their care, and that they also loved her and cherished her in their own way in return.

All the bags of clothes we had to take back!  And the car seats!

However, she and I know that it's not like she will never see them again.  We will drop them at her house for a few hours to play so we can go and watch a movie at the awesome cinemas near her place.  I think she'd like that.  In fact I know she would, and the kids would too.

I have thanked her many times, profusely, for the great care she has taken of my kids.  But I just wanted to write it out again here, so I can remember, on their last day officially with her, just how much she loved them.

(This post was written in January but somehow never got published!)

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Realising your child has learning difficulties

It's funny, because I have been so focussed on my son's lack of talking that I haven't paid that much attention to my daughter's prowess.  I thought she was totally fine, an intelligent little girl, who learned to speak at an early age, and sing the national anthem at age 2.  She could do her alphabet and numbers from an early age, and we would read books and she learned to recognise words but I noticed she would often do predictive wording - saying the word without really reading it, but saying what she thought it should be.

She didn't really like daycare but she was having difficulty following instructions so I thought it was good for her.  And then she started Kindergarten and she really loves going to school.  She loves to show me her books from school and her new words books.

However, she has always had difficulty with phonetics.  Even when I tried to teach her she couldn't do it last year, I thought she would grow out of it.  She can do simple phonetics for each one of letter of the alphabet, but she couldn't join the phonetics together.  I thought it was her being stubborn, but I realised tonight when I was trying to do her words with her that she really struggled with it.  And she got bored when she kept getting them wrong.

It dawned on me, does my daughter have dyslexia?

Dyslexia does not mean you're retarded. Wikipedia defines it as:
Dyslexia is a very broad term defining a learning disability that impairs a person's fluency or comprehension accuracy in being able to read, and which can manifest itself as a difficulty with phonological awareness, phonological decoding, processing speed, orthographic coding, auditory short-term memory, language skills/verbal comprehension, and/or rapid naming.
At first, I was a bit shocked.  My daughter, who is the progeny of two intelligent parents, has a learning difficulty?  Then I shook myself.  It doesn't mean my daughter is stupid.  It just means that she learns differently.

However, my own relatives think I am being paranoid.  My husband thinks our daughter is just mucking around.  I can imagine that my own mother would say that I haven't been encouraging her properly.  However, I can see that if I don't intervene soon and make it easier for her, she will be left behind and then she will not enjoy school anymore.  She told me today, when we were reading, that she didn't want to do the hard words, only the easy ones.  I told her that all words are easy once she learns them.

So, I have a meeting with her teacher on Thursday.  It's probably nothing to do with dyslexia, it may have something to do with her testing that she did early in the year.  But whatever it is, I think it's important that I have an active role in my daughter's education.

On the flipside, I took my son for a hearing test, as a workup for him going to speech pathology.  His hearing was perfect.  And he did the task very well.  He was asked to hear a sound and then drop a ball into a slot and watch it roll down the hole.  I have never seen him so interested and concentrating so hard.  I guess you just have to find what the right way to engage him is.  The audiologist said that my son was very good and had excellent concentration - I nearly thought, who is this child and where is my son?  My son still only has about 100 words, but he has been stringing 3 words together now but still has a lot of unintelligibility.  He understands what I'm saying and can do complex tasks like making breakfast and using the microwave when I tell him to.  I hope that he turns out ok as well.