Friday, September 19, 2014

Eat 'Em and Weep

I am a junk foodaholic and a carnivore. I also abhor many vegetables, with only few exceptions. This makes me the worst possible example of healthy eating for Little L. Like, if I could just have chocolate cake and chips for a meal, or maybe a few pieces of deep fried dark meat chicken (with skin, of course), I would be in seventh heaven. My tastes run distinctly juvenile when it comes to nutritional meals.
My Butterbeer a few years ago at Universal Studios Florida
Having said that, and realizing that I have a problem that must not be passed to the next generation, I have made it my goal to incorporate more veggies into our meals. I hope that somehow the constant exposure will lead to experimental eating, which will then lead to a lifelong love of healthier food. It's a long shot, I know. Genetics work against Little L, since Hubbs could easily down a pint of ice cream in a sitting, and I have my junk food anti-veg leanings.

Some of the veggies I've been trying to bring into our lives, with mixed success, are:

- salads with ranch dressing (a hit with Little L)
- salads with honey vinagrette and sugared nuts (a hit with me)
- caesar salad (a hit with everyone but Little L, who only eats the croutons)
- Fresh Express Santa Fe bag salad (a hit with everyone)
- carrots with ranch dressing (a hit with Little L)
- roasted brussel sprouts (a hit with all grown ups)
- sauteed or steamed broccoli with savoury garlic sauces (all)
- roasted asparagus with garlic and parmesan (all)
- spinach and kale chips (all)
- mini cucumbers and ranch dip (can you guess? Little L)
- roasted zucchini with parmesan (all but Little L)
- tempura vegetables (everyone likes deep fried veg, right?)
- garlic buttery corn on the cob (all)
- green peas (the little round frozen sweet ones, enjoyed by Little L)
- tomato slices (Little L)

Apples, carrots (and dip), and a PB banana
I haven't included potatoes, because they're so high-starch and low-fibre that they almost don't count as a veg. Note that this list is, however, abysmally short, and worse yet, half of the items aren't really on Little L's "eat" list. Also note that none of these veggies are being served plain, with the exception of tomatoes, which aren't actually vegetables. :/ Here's the thing, though: without the distracting yumminess of condiments, I wouldn't be able to stomach any veg at all. None. Not even baby carrots. I think this has become the case with Little L as well.

So what's a girl to do? I want to eat more vegetables (and my body can't handle peppers, which is why they don't show up anywhere in our meals), but gagging on naked raw greens is just a recipe for tears (mine) at the dinner table. Include all of my additional condiments, and I'm pretty sure the nutritional value of these veggies goes down several notches, although at least the greens do also go down my throat without my hurling them back up. 

Sometimes I have hidden the spinach or kale in smoothies, or lasagna, or my favourite orzo parmesan pasta, but Little L is not fooled by this and will not eat the wilted greens unless they are invisible (like in the smoothie).

Frying up onions, zucchini and yellow peppers for the veggie spaghetti
This is why I am begging ya, if you have any easy-to-make delicious veg ideas, please share! Kid-friendly ones are best, and ones that use an oven or a frying pan to prepare are preferred over those that use a BBQ (we don't have one) or deep fryer (don't have that either).  I promise I will try anything at least once, provided it is fairly simple to make and very appealing to consume. Otherwise, we're all going to stay in this veggie rut for the rest of our lives.

Are veggies a struggle in your household? For you? For your kids? How have you managed to balance your kids' meals?


Seller Beware - On Reviews and This Blog

Recently, I've started getting offers to review stuff on my blog. While this is very flattering indeed, I have mixed feelings about reviewing things that I have been somehow compensated for. My issue is that I believe that most people, when given something for free (or paid for something), will be more inclined to write a favourable review even when it isn't merited. This has been proven in sociological studies; when someone does something nice for us, we tend to want to reciprocate. Welcome to human nature.

I polled some of my blogging mommy peers on the matter, and the general consensus (from those who replied) was that they either didn't review things anymore, or if they did, they would give the companies who comp'ed them the "right of refusal" to not publish a post if it was negative.

My wonky-eyed ugly face, because I'm honest like that. 

This is where it gets tricky, because I can't just do what everyone else does. My stupid convictions and strong opinions get in the way! In this case, it is this: I cannot in good conscience write a favourable review when something isn't favourable, and I also cannot self-censor a review or allow it to be censored when it is negative, simply because this skews online content and doesn't allow for an open and honest examination of products. It also undermines my credibility if I only post glowing write-ups, and never allow myself to be critical about anything.

I mean, I'm a consumer who likes to Google stuff before I buy. I love that I can read up on a product on Amazon, or check out TripAdvisor reviews before I book my hotels, or consult Urbanspoon and Yelp for my dinner reservations. In all of these cases, I am so grateful for the folks who took their time to write about their experiences, good bad and ugly. It helps inform my choices, and I trust that if an overwhelming 480 voters tell me that a restaurant only has 38% approval, I'm probably better off eating elsewhere. Likewise, the hotels we've stayed at that are often very highly ranked on TripAdvisor always turn out to be a good choice.

What happens, then, when bloggers who have been provided with free "stuff" only post the glowing reviews? I would never know about the allergic reactions, the faulty parts that break off easily, or that something is a total waste of my money. I would never discover that the upholstery makes my kid overheat or itch, or that the snacks actually taste like styrofoam or contain questionable ingredients, or that the hotels are actually very filthy and the service is crap. The right of refusal would mean that these kinds of reviews simply aren't posted, since what business is going to want the blogger to go ahead and slam their stuff? And to be honest, I'm fairly certain that most folks who have received something for free simply don't want to post any negative reviews anyway.

So here's my policy for this blog:

1) Reviews on items (books, cosmetics, baby gear, etc) that I have purchased on my own have not been vetted by any affiliated companies. They don't even know that I exist. The reviews are 100% my own, good bad and ugly! And usually, they are favourable, simply because I'm blogging about it out of a passion to share what I've discovered with others.

2) If I do receive any compensation for my opinions, either in discount or free product or whatever, I will fully disclose this. Readers deserve to know exactly how much wooing I've been subjected to.

3) In cases of comp'ed reviews (like my recent series on the Clek FLLO), I will provide "sneak peek" access to my post to any affiliated companies upon request, but will not give them right of refusal. This means that I will still post my opinions, even if they are bad and ugly, even though I may have been given the product at a discount or for free. The only editing I will honour will be for factual discrepancies (e.g. weight or measurements, how a technology works, etc). Therefore, companies who wish to approach me to write a review will understand and accept the risk that their product may be negatively promoted on this blog.

Sellers beware! I'm going to be honest on my blog because I want my opinions to be considered trustworthy and credible. If a product or service is sh!t, then that deserves to be noted online just as much as if it is amazing. Therefore, unless you are absolutely convinced that your shizz is gold, I would advise against approaching me to review it. You might be sorry (but I won't be).

Monday, September 15, 2014

Top 5 Modern Toddler Books - 2.5 Year Old Edition

I'm not a book snob. While I think that there is something beautiful about literary children's "classics" like Goodnight Moon and The Snowy Day and anything Frog and Toad, I'm just as keen on some of the new stuff that has come out. In my mind, reading is reading is reading, and whether it's a graphic novel or a chapter book or a non-fiction book about dinosaurs, as long as there are words and these are being consumed with enthusiasm and great pleasure, I think it counts.

Of course, as Little L gets older, I will want her tastes to be diverse, and I will want her to try out different genres and styles of writing to figure out what she likes and doesn't like. I will want her to challenge herself with "harder" books, or ones that don't look appealing right away. Sometimes books surprise us, despite their covers.

Growing up, I was a voracious reader. Through many Saturdays spent browsing library shelves, I discovered that I loved stories with female protagonists, which is why I've read every Little House book a million times, except Farmer Boy, which I haven't even read once. I also learned quickly that I wasn't a fan of dragon-laced fantasy books; it was torture to read Tolkien, even though I know the man was brilliant. I did, however, speed read through all of L. Frank Baum's Oz books (and I'll bet that you didn't even know that there was more than one)! My personal preference leaned toward modern day settings and books that dealt with hard issues, and I remember dreading having to dive into Homer's Odyssey and Bronte's Wuthering Heights for AP English. As it turns out, I tolerated the former, and loved the latter. I also discovered that I really enjoyed Shakespeare. Throughout my formative years, I went through a horse book phase (Black Beauty and Marguerite Henry's books), the orphaned children phase (Boxcar Children), the celebrity autobiography phase, the choose-your-own-adventure and solve-it phase (Encyclopedia Brown), the angsty pre-teen phase (every book by Judy Blume), among many others.

Point is, I wasn't always into the cultured classics and Newberry / Caldecott winners, sometimes preferring a book that was interesting, but without literary merit. This is still true today; in recent years I've enjoyed both Sense and Sensibility and the Twilight series. I want Little L to be free to form her own preferences and go through her own "phases" as she explores the very diverse landscape of children's, and adult, literature.

At a scant 2.5, she seems to already be doing so. Last year around this time, she was *obsessed* with the Munch Bunch books. This year? Not so much. However, I have found some seriously awesome books that she will read and reread many times over. Her top picks this summer have been:

1. Pete the Cat series - great for building resiliency, repetitive in form (for easy "memory" reading), colourful pictures, with a great rhythm to the simple rhymes and melodies

2. Little Pea/Hoot/Oink - simple stories that are funny and invert the "norm," are beautifully illustrated, and great for discussion or reverse psychology ;)

3. Pookie books - super simple rhyming stories that are fun to read and discuss; Boynton's little animals are very amusing and the books are silly and cute and have a good rhythm to them

4. Little Critter "I Am" series - lots of illustrations and not too much text, the Little Critter series in general is fun and engaging for young kids. This particular series is simple to read and "memorize" and I suspect will lend well to recognizing sight words due to the fairly repetitive nature of the text. Little L and I spend a lot of time talking about what is happening on each page, as she examines the illustrations in detail

5. Pigeon books - my dear friend the kindie teacher Sharon first introduced me to Mo Willem's "Elephant and Piggie" series. Little L hasn't quite gotten into them, but has really loved the "Pigeon" books by the same author. The genre is more comic book/graphic storybook since it uses speaking bubbles, but the simple illustrations are easy to replicate, the humour is quite endearing, and the storylines are simple and charming.

As a teacher, I've had formal training on literacy and on how to teach kids to read and understand. Most non-educators, however, don't have the advantage of all of that coursework. I recently came across an article that I thought was really great at pulling together some tips for pre-reading, post-reading, and during reading. I love that this author seems to be very much in tune with modern approaches and pedagogy on early literacy and learning. She favours a child-directed approach, with an emphasis on the value of play. This is consistent with a lot of what I've read and what my peers have been implementing in their classrooms. Check her out, and see if you agree!

Anyway, point is - please get your kids immersed in books that appeal to their interests. These don't have to be great literary works, nor do they need to be "advanced" books for your child's age. They just have to cultivate in your kids a love of the written word, and somehow engage their minds in more than just what appears in print (the million dollar word is "metacognition").  Help your littles think about what they're reading, what they see on the page, what it reminds them of or what questions it invokes. Get them connecting with their books, inferring what will happen, visualizing to make the story come to life, questioning "what if's" and other details from the text and the illustrations, and allowing the stories and characters to transform them and excite them and inspire them.

And happy reading!

Monday, September 8, 2014

How to Survive the Shutdown - A Free Guide for Parents

As a teacher, I stand with my colleagues in the BC public schools in demanding a fair contract that meets the growing and diverse needs of students in BC's schools. As a parent, I watch with growing concern as the Liberal government continues to slander the BCTF, all the while refusing to take responsibility for actions that stripped teachers of their contractual right to collective bargaining, despite Supreme Court rulings. It worries me because I don't want to see a two-tiered education system in my province, and I also don't want to see classroom conditions deteriorate even further. It is a scary time in BC right now for teachers and students and parents. The only ones who don't seem to find this strike very alarming are those governing our province.

Anyway, the reality is that things are in a stand-off right now, leaving parents feeling helpless and kids feeling anxious. My professional training as a teacher gives me much to work with in the event that I needed to homeschool my child to prepare her for high school or university or even elementary school. However, I recognize that not everyone has the benefit of the years of university training and classroom experience that I was able to enjoy.

Luckily, there are resources out there for parents who want tips and pointers on how to help their kids continue to make academic progress, despite the shutdown. I was approached by Kevin Paul's representatives to let you know about his free online guide for parents, called the "Parents' Guide to Surviving the BC Schools Shutdown." Its purpose is to give parents some strategies to keep their middle school (and high school) kids from falling behind during this difficult time. These are not rocket-science strategies, but for some parents out there, this could prove to be new and useful information. The 25-page guide is super easy to read, common-sense, and free of charge. A simple visit to their web page is all it takes to get the document sent to you as a .pdf.

My own recommendations for surviving the shutdown (applies to all age groups):

1. Look up the BC Curriculum Guide for your child(ren's) grade(s).
2. For each subject, look at the "Suggested Achievement Indicators."
3. Find resources and/or activities that compare to these, or would work similarly to help your child(ren) learn the Prescribed Learning Outcomes that correspond to them.
4. Work through these activities and/or resources *with* your children, practicing until they grasp the concepts and can apply them in novel situations.
5. Read to your kids, read with them, and let them read to you. Ask questions, discuss content, and review the new or unfamiliar words.  
6. Find relevant "real-life" ways to apply learning 
7. Review new learning regularly
8. If your children struggle with understanding a new concept, find a different way to demonstrate the idea.
9. Keep track of your child's progress through the curricular content and their mastery of the Prescribed Learning Outcomes

If this seems daunting to you, consider this: the teachers in your children's lives follow these 9 steps, and more, every single day for 10 months each year. However, unlike parents, teachers must follow these steps for 30+ students at a time, even though some of the kids don't speak English and some of them have learning and behavioural challenges that make reading or sitting or listening or holding a pencil a near impossibility. Teachers must complete these tasks within a 10-month year timeline, even when resources are scarce, or interruptions abound, or the conditions under which they teach are so crowded and chaotic that there is no physical space to properly seat kids, much less store resources.

Still, educators do this day in and day out for what seems like a decent salary, until you start counting the evening and weekend hours that are also spent planning and preparing for the teaching day, or the time that it takes to meet with parents or email them to keep them apprised of what is happening at school. Then the per-hour-wage seems pretty low for a "white collar profession."

So parents, take advantage of the free guides and resources, do all that you can to help your kids stay afloat academically, and then do this: write your MLAs, stand with the teachers in your catchment, and rise up and protest the injustices that are being done to your kids and their teachers by a Liberal government that has lost all sight of what really matters. If as a province we actually raised our voices unanimously in favour of helping teachers get what they need so that they can properly educate our children, then this strike would be over.

Let's fight for our children's right to get a quality education. The future really does depend on it.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Out There - My Baby On the Internet

I've mentioned before that I want to get away from doing too many posts on Little L. I love her to bits and am so proud to be her momma, so of course there is a part of me that wants to broadcast her to the world and share her with everyone.

Her new fave book series - Pete the Cat
But she is my daughter, not a commodity to be exploited or fodder to pad my blog or social media. She is a little tiny person who has not given consent, except by being born to me. How do I respect her dignity of person while still being a proud momma?

It's a tricky balance. In my parents' generation, social media didn't exist. They had to print out photos and show them off in person, or write letters and Christmas cards to brag about their kids. And forget about videos; we were too poor for one of those fancy handycams. Nowadays, sharing images and videos and blog posts are just clicks away, and all possible with one minuscule handheld device. This issue is therefore a new one, not one that has been faced by our parents or grandparents. These are uncharted waters.

So I guess there are two aspects to consider when broadcasting about kids: audience and content. I think that these are inversely proportional; the smaller the audience, the more (quantity and private content, within reason) you can probably share, and the broader the audience, the less you should probably disclose.

For a mommy who blogs, this is tricky. For one who blogs about being a mommy and is somehow compensated for having a large readership, that's even more difficult to balance. Thankfully, I still fall into the former category, but I know that many mommy bloggers blog for a living.

So let's explore this issue, shall we? You and I, as I kind of work through these thoughts myself. 

A failed family selfie  

This is the easier of the two variables,  since it is a moot point if the only people who follow your (I mean the general "you" and not you in particular) various social media are limited to those who might actually see you in your living room, and know you well "in real life." Grandparents and extended family, best friends... If that's exclusively your following, then I suppose it doesn't matter what you post about your kids, provided it isn't illegal and a violation of their dignity of person. But a shirtless potty pic? Probably still okay.

However, the guidelines of propriety change when people have easy (or unlimited) access to your social media, like FB accounts that are open to the public, or Insta/Flickr/Twitter accounts that can be followed without your permission or knowledge, or blogs that aren't password protected. At the point when you have absolutely zero control or awareness over who is consuming your content, that is when you really have to be intentional about what you put "out there" about your kiddos.

She was examining the potty
I think everyone agrees that private parts are not for show, even if the audience is just Grandma. Most social media have guidelines against nudity, and offer reporting services to allow viewers to protest images and content that is a violation of those terms. It's not prudishness at work, but ethics to protect the dignity of all people regardless of age. I won't post topless or bare bum shots of Little L either, but I have seen some parents include these in their blogs or other public accounts. To each their own, I suppose, but I guess I just don't want some sicko to come across a photo of my topless toddler and get excited. :S

Are certain moments also too private to write or post photos about? That's a trickier question. I had put up some breastfeeding pics of Little L and I when she was younger (to limited audiences), but I don't know that I would do it now, even though she continues to nurse. I see our time as much more private, special, and not for public consumption or judgment. Likewise with potty-training, an aspect of development that simply doesn't require an audience. I suppose those ones might be no-brainers, though. What about when she's crying or upset? Or when she is sleeping? What about when I'm writing about an area that she struggles with, or one that she excels in? Do I include anecdotes describing an incredibly embarrassing moment she had? Do I tell the world about something that makes her so anxious or fearful that she cannot function? If she has some sort of diagnosis, is that anyone's business but mine? Or do I exclude these, painting only rosy pictures that might end up whitewashing our lives into some caricature ideal that simply isn't true?

Some parents blog about their children who are sick. I'm not sure where the line should be drawn between communicating with concerned loved ones, and exploiting the condition for increased leadership. Others keep their cameras rolling all day long, blitzing every minutiae of their children's lives to the internet. I've seen instances when blogs and other social media accounts are completely accessible by random strangers, and yet the content doesn't seem to be toned down to accommodate for these unknown consumers of their posts. I've read, in detailed account, the many procedures that some sick kids have had to endure. Is this education or exploitation? They say that once it's "out there" on the internet, it is forever there. Forever is such a long time.

I'm not sure where to draw the line. I haven't been able to do it super well, but some of the things I've been intentional about are: a) not posting Little L's real name anywhere on the blog and IG, b) limiting access to my FB and IG to people that I know online and in person, c) limiting the type of content and images I post about Little L, d) not tweeting Little L's images, and e) thinking about how Little L might feel if she were to see what I've posted/written, one day. These are not fool-proof measures, but they do seem to keep me active on social media without feeling like I've somehow compromised the privacy and/or safety of my darling daughter. I'm not sure that I have enough readers to warrant this sort of caution, but it just makes me uneasy to think that there is even the remotest possibility that someone could be reading about Little L who has less-than-awesome intentions.

So yeah, I guess that's where I'm at. My IG and FB require approval to view, and I no longer tweet Little L's images. Though my blog is public, I am quite intentional about the pictures that I display on each post. And every day, I seem to blog or post just a little less about Little L. Maybe one day I will find that blessed balance between public and private, but until then, my baby girl is mine to protect.

What about you? Where do you draw the lines of propriety and privacy when you blog or use social media? Have you ever been squeamish about something that someone else has posted? Have you ever been targeted as a mommy blogger, because of your content? What are your ideas on social media, access, and children?

Friday, August 29, 2014

Gimme Face - A Cloud Vitamin A Cream Review

I'm fairly picky about facial creams. I don't like when it's too tacky, too thick, too runny, too stinky, hard to spread, and hard to apply make-up on top of. So, when Cloud approached me to review their Vitamin A cream, I was skeptical. Was it an anti-aging cream, a sunscreen, or a corrector? The literature seemed to suggest that it was this miracle do-all cream, and let's face it, I don't know of too many creams that can actually live up to that kind of hype.

Well, it has been a week. Let's see what I've noticed so far:

The Good
- It's fragrance free, paraben free, preservative free, fragrance free and doesn't test on animals.
- SPF 23, plus the active ingredient (retinyl palmitate) is a naturally-occurring Vitamin A that acts as a barrier between your skin and the environment's damaging toxins (93% of the sun's harmful rays, smoke, pollution)
- It feels like your skin is "plumped up" after you've applied it - the way a facial feels on your face when you're done
- On wet skin, it applies very easily and smoothly. A little goes a long way.
- It claims to reverse sun-aging, smooth skin, reduce hyperpigmentation (I hope so!), stimulate collagen production, and tighten flabby jowls - all of which would be great results to have
- It comes in a tube with a pump! I love the pump, which reduces waste.
- It is supposed to be an everything-all-in-one kind of product, which saves time for those who don't have a lot of time to go through multi-step skin regimens every morning.
- It was developed by Dr. Gordon Telford, a local dermatologist. Yay for supporting local businesses!
- After about a week of using Cloud Vitamin A, I do feel like maybe my syringoma isn't as "bumpy" or noticeable. My plastic surgeon/dermatologist disagrees, but to me, it has helped improve my under-eye texture.
- I also feel like my sun spots / hyperpigmentation are lighter. Again, it could be psychosomatic, but either way, it has helped me feel better about the random dark spots on my mug.

The Bad
- You have to apply it to wet skin. Wet, not just damp or slightly moist from washing and drying. This is weird and kind of inconvenient. Also, if you try to apply it dry, it feels like trying to spread cold butter on soft bread. It just doesn't work.
- It doesn't contain fragrances, but that doesn't mean that it doesn't smell. It smells like the compound that the doctor prescribes and the pharmacist mixes together in an unlabelled white jar.
- Because it only contains SPF23, you will need to use an additional SPF if the UV outside is intense.
- It will set you back $48 for a tube.
- Because it is readily available over the counter, you know that its active ingredient is not so concentrated that it would warrant a prescription. This means that the concentration of retinyl palmitate must be relatively low enough to be safe for the general public. Which means it might not work.

 The Ugly
- It contains mineral oil and white petrolatum, which are safe emollients but petroleum by-products nonetheless. This might be a deal-breaker for some.
- It's called "Cloud Vitamin A Cream." The name is lame. Even something like "VitASkin" would have been better. Maybe.
- The packaging, which is of course in keeping with the name of the product, is really cheesy. So is the copy (see image below, and shudder).
- Dr. Telford has been in the industry a long time, but the reviews you find online for him are not favourable. This has nothing to do with the product, obviously, but I can't help but associate the professional with his product.

Retinyl palmitate is the 4th ingredient, after the petroleum by-products.

BOTTOM LINE: I will probably finish off my tube of Cloud A Vitamin Cream, since it seems to be having some slight, positive effects on my skin and couldn't possibly do it too much harm. However, I will probably not be spending $48 every few months to buy more. Lots of moms do love this cream, however, so I guess it is one of those products that you just have to try out and determine for yourself if it works or not.

Disclosure: I was contacted to try Cloud A Vitamin cream by the media relations specialist at Reformation PR. This product was provided to me at no charge. The opinions, of course, are entirely mine.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Benefit of Teacher Friends

Because I am a teacher, I know lots of teachers and count many as friends. Although I cherish all of my friends of various professions equally, there are unique and awesome qualities in my teaching friends that I really appreciate - their expertise and knowledge of kids, and their ability to give me professional (and objective) feedback concerning my own tot.

Whereas most friends only have the frame of reference of their own kids (or no reference at all), teacher friends have had the experience of working with and educating hundreds of kids, usually in 8-hour blocks of time every day over the course of a year at a time. These are specialists in pedagogy, well-versed in human behaviour and experts on the science of child development. Though they may not know everything there is to know about about kids of all ages, they do know a great deal about kids at a specific age. I, for example, know a lot about 9-10 year olds and 13-15 year olds. My "K" friends are experts in kindermunchkins, and my high school teacher friends are in the know about budding adults and older adolescents. All of us share the common understanding of how kids learn, what works and doesn't work to build rapport and relationship with them, and how to spot areas and behaviours that should be of note and concern.

Sometimes, even though I've got several years of teaching under my belt (not to mention a degree in psychology and one in education), I still have blinders on when dealing with my own child. I mean, I may know what "best practice" means and I may know how learning happens, but I am so close to Little L and so partial to her that I cannot assess her objectively, nor recognize when behaviours might be out of the ordinary or concerning.  To me, she is perfect and brilliant and awesome in all ways, even though the rational part of my brain knows full well that she is probably just a normal, slightly-above-average kid with some advanced verbal ability ;)

I see it in other parents, too. There are folks out there who are so convinced that their children are geniuses that they miss the weird social quirks that might qualify their kids for placement on the autistic spectrum; in their delusion, they only see the achievements as "proof" of giftedness, and not the other signs that are indicators of something amiss. Others see no wrong in their littles, indulging bad habits and practices that will prove to be a disservice to their children once they reach school age. Some mommies and daddies are so sensitive to every little antic and quirk of their progeny that they end up being paranoid that something is very horribly wrong with them, when in actuality their kids are just going through a phase of development that sometimes brings out the crazy. 

Teacher friends are great at grounding me. They help me see when a behaviour I am deeming to be weird or odd is in fact completely normal for that age group. They offer helpful feedback on how to build social skills in my rules-oriented, anxious toddler. They recognize Little L's need for space and comfort, and know how to respond accordingly. They remind me when my little "genius" is simply being average, and also give me feedback when Little L is performing far above her same-age peers. My teacher friends are important villagers that help me raise my child better.

And I love them for that.

If you have a teacher friend, please give them some extra love today, especially if your teacher friend works and must now picket in BC. Listen to them, and learn from them - they are professionals who know kid, and their feedback is invaluable. And if you don't have many teacher friends, try to find some! Living in a bubble does such a disservice to you and your kids. 


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