CBC Radio Interviews – Lice, Kids and School

by Samantha on October 11, 2014

Your kid comes home with lice. Who's responsible?

n-KID-LICE-CHECK-large570

We as parents wait with bated breath for the dreaded letter.

It usually starts out something like this:

A case of pediculosis has been identified in your child’s class…” yada, yada, yada. You get the point. Someone in your kid’s class has LICE! You are freaking out, especially if you are a first-time parent and never have had to deal with this scourge.

As a mother of four, I have had the dreaded letter sent home one too many times, and have dealt with it – and more. Let’s just say that it’s no fun and yes – it’s a hassle to say the least.

Lice - those pesky little critters that get into hair and so much more – have become the scourge of parenting in the 21st century. Not sure what happened but there’s been a proliferation of the dreaded creatures and our kids – and oftentimes their unwitting families –  are the victims.

But who’s to blame?

  • Is it the parents of the children who are bringing these horrible little bugs to school?
  • Is it the kids themselves who, through their actions (innocent or not) perpetuate the proliferation of these dreaded creatures?
  • Is it the school board for not having a more comprehensive educational program to teach both parents and kids how to avoid the scourge of lice?

The reality is that it’s a combination of all of these factors, but I strongly lean towards the third as a key component that is not being addressed as much as it should be. There needs to be a concentrated effort on the part of educators at the school level about how to deal with lice as, let’s face it – it’s at school that kids usually pick up these pesky creatures and bring them home to their families.

CBC Radio Metro Morning

I was recently back on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning to discuss this timely and touchy topic. Because of copyright reasons (segment was not included in the daily podcast so I’m not allowed to share the clip at this time), I can’t share the audio segment but can provide what my position was on the topic. And you know I had a lot to say! As a result of the interview, I was asked by CBC Radio’s sister program Ontario Morning to discuss the topic, which I can share with you – scroll down for a link to the clip below.

Some other points that were addressed during both interviews was the rise of “Lice Squads” – enterprising entrepreneurs who – for a fee (often more than $200), will come to your home and delouse your child of the dreaded pests. In many cases, “Lice Parties” are taking away the stigma – and the pests – by normalizing the infestation and by making the delousing actually fun – parents are having wine and cheese in many instances while their kids are getting nits and eggs removed from their heads. I guess this is an example of life giving you lemons and you deciding to make lemonade…or sangria, as it were…

Anyway, all be well and good for those who have the money (the cost is per child, so if you have two or three kids, you can do the math and figure out that delousing the family could get pretty pricey), but what about those who are struggling financially and can’t come up with what would be considered a very expensive way of getting rid of a difficult problem? The issue of inequality of opportunity arises – in other words, if you don’t have the cash, you may have a much more difficult time dealing with ridding your family of these horrible critters. And we haven’t even touched upon the question of stigma – because we all know that those kids who have had persistent bouts of lice and have had difficulty getting rid of them are stigmatized, at least to some degree.

Finally, let’s not forget what all of us parents who have been in the trenches of parenthood for years have known – the “lice letter” that comes in the fall is often one of many that occurs throughout the school year. Again – do the math and these pesky critters can cost a family a lot more than inconvenience.

So what’s the solution?

Ontario Morning

You can listen to my interview with Ontario Morning here (link to iTunes Ontario Morning feed) – The episode is from September 30th 2014 – skip to 40:25 for my segment (it’s at the end of the program):

Ontario Morning Interview – Lice, Kids and School

Of course there are many natural ways of removing lice which don’t cost an astronomical amount and don’t employ the usage of very caustic and often toxic chemicals. Who wants to put that on a child’s head? Some advice and tips on details about natural lice removal can be found in the links below:

How to Kill Lice Naturally

Natural Lice Treatment

Home Remedies For Lice

So what are your thoughts? How do we deal with this yearly, pesky problem that occurs in our schools and spreads to our homes? Who’s responsible and how do we rid ourselves of these horrible critters? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image courtesy of www.huffingtonpost.com

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Messed-Up Kids’ Songs

by Samantha on September 20, 2014

A peek behind the curtain of classic children's songs shows a surprisingly darker side

baby singing

One of my sons’ favourite songs is “You Are My Sunshine.”

It’s a classic – a perennial favourite amongst parents everywhere. Perhaps it’s the metaphorical comparison between lightness and the object of the singer’s affection (You are my sunshine). Perhaps it’s the seemingly positive message of hope offered in the chorus:

You make me happy when skies are grey.”

And what child doesn’t want to hear this proclamation of absolute adoration, almost desperate in its pronouncement:

You’ll never know dear, how much I love you, please don’t take my sunshine away.”

Every child wants to hear that. A mother or father declaring their absolute love for their offspring – it’s a child’s dream, isn’t it?

Yet when we actually look at the full lyrics of this popular song, things aren’t as rosy as they seem. Check out the full lyrics here:

CHORUS:

You Are My Sunshine
My only sunshine.
You make me happy
When skies are grey.
You’ll never know, dear,
How much I love you.
Please don’t take my sunshine away

The other night, dear,
As I lay sleeping
I dreamed I held you in my arms.
When I awoke, dear,
I was mistaken
And I hung my head and cried.

REPEAT CHORUS

I’ll always love you
And make you happy
If you will only say the same
But if you leave me
To love another
You’ll regret it all some day;

REPEAT CHORUS

You told me once dear
You really loved me
And no one else could come between
But now you’ve left me
And love another
You have shattered all my dreams

REPEAT CHORUS

Louisiana my Louisiana
The place where I was born
White fields of cotton
Green fields of clover
The best fishing and long tall corn

REPEAT CHORUS

Hmmm…

Sounds like the tune is a spiteful ode to a possible cheater, with overtones of threats (“If you leave me to love another, you’ll regret it all someday”). Let’s also not discount the apparently unequivocal callousness of the person about whom the song is intended, as evidenced by this beauty of a verse:

“You told me once dear, you really loved me, that no one else could come between, but now you’ve left me and love another, you have shattered all my dreams.”

Doesn’t sound very happy to me…

Yet we sing the song unwittingly to our kids, often. At least I do. And I know I’m not alone.

Funny, when we dig just a little bit deeper in to many kids’ songs, we find out information that may not fit in with our ideas about what’s appropriate to share with our children…or not. “You Are My Sunshine” is a classic and sung numerous times daily, around the world. But how closely do we listen to the words that we blithely recite to our kids? Is it the fact that because these words are accompanied by a sweet tune, this fact alone may somehow negate the clearly unfavourable message that is being told?

You Are My Sunshine” is not the only seemingly innocuous song that has a darker side. Witness this classic – “Clementine” – which is about every parent’s worst fear: drowning.

In a cavern, in a canyon,
Excavating for a mine,
Lived a miner, forty-niner
And his daughter Clementine

CHORUS:

Oh my Darling, Oh my Darling,
Oh my Darling Clementine.
You are lost and gone forever,
Dreadful sorry, Clementine.

Light she was and like a fairy,
And her shoes were number nine
Herring boxes without topses
Sandals weren’t for Clementine.

REPEAT CHORUS

Drove she ducklings to the water
Every morning just at nine,
Hit her foot against a splinter
Fell into the foaming brine.

REPEAT CHORUS

Ruby lips above the water,
Blowing bubbles soft and fine,
But alas, I was no swimmer,
So I lost my Clementine.

REPEAT CHORUS

How I missed her! How I missed her!
How I missed my Clementine,
Till I kissed her little sister,
And forgot my Clementine.

REPEAT CHORUS

Then the miner, forty-niner,
Soon began to peak and pine,
Thought he oughter join his daughter,
Now he’s with his Clementine.

Again – some questionable content.

So distraught is the author of this song about losing his beloved Clementine, that he promptly took solace in the arms of the dead girl’s little sister, which apparently made everything better.

Nice.

Now let’s move on to another classic children’s ditty – “Rock-a-Bye Baby.”

Rock-a-bye baby
On the tree top,
When the wind blows
The cradle will rock.
When the bough breaks,
The cradle will fall,
And down will fall baby
Cradle and all.

Am I the only one wondering who on earth puts their baby in a cradle on a treetop? The situation is precarious at best, tragic at worst and yes – of course – the bough will surely break in the event of a strong wind or two.
Neglectful parenting, child endangerment and possibly the charge of premeditated you-know-what is very real in this scenario. Yet we sing it to our kids without batting an eye.

What gives?

I’m not completely sure but here’s an idea:
Perhaps we’re so caught up in singing to our kids, trying to calm or soothe them, or entertain them for a moment that we can’t see the forest for the trees. These and many other songs (hello, “Ring-Around-The-Rosy“, about the bubonic plague) – so many of them – have been ingrained into our consciousness for as long as we can remember and we sing them without batting an eye.

We pride ourselves on being loving and forgiving to our children yet these words don’t sound like either:
But if you leave me
To love another
You’ll regret it all some day;

Threatening and ominous for sure – not the type of message that we usually want to send to our kids.

Now, granted – many of us don’t follow through to sing each and every verse to our children when we’re trying to soothe them or put them to sleep. For the most part, much of our singing includes repetition of the main chorus without much thought or time given to the more disturbing other verses. But do we not owe it to our kids – and ourselves – to at least know the full story and the intended background of these songs? Is it okay to blindly sing these tunes to our kids, relinquishing all responsibility for these songs’ content due to our willful ignorance?

I likely won’t stop singing “You Are My Sunshine” to my son but may shudder a bit inside every time I do so, now that the real intention behind the song is known. Ditto for “Clementine.” And “Rock-A-Bye Baby?” I’ve never been in support of ditching babies in trees…but that’s just me.

What do you think? Are these songs harmless or should parents play closer attention to the lyrics and intentions of popular children’s songs? Do you sing these songs to your kids? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

VIDEO: You Are My Sunshine

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Image courtesy of http://get-your-baby-to-sleep.com

Learning With Netflix

by Samantha on September 15, 2014

Family entertainment can be used as a learning tool

DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own. 

The kids are back to school and hopefully, they’ve have settled into a routine by now, at least to some degree. Sure, there are bumps along the way (sorry teacher, the forms are not signed on time) but the day-to-day craziness of getting kids off to school, then managing the evening whirl of dinner, baths, homework and bed has hopefully become somewhat manageable (somewhat?).

And speaking of homework, it’s likely part and parcel of the evening mix. I know it is in my family – heck – even my twins who are in Senior Kindergarten have work to do. With all of the kids, learning is a priority in our household and we try to support any opportunity to teach them lessons that they can use in life.

One thing I’ve realized is that oftentimes, learning doesn’t need to take a traditional form. There are many ways of teaching kids lessons without having them

a) Whine about having to do homework or

b) Roll their eyes when you suggest yet another round of spelling/math/writing/[insert subject here]

Sometimes, learning can occur under the guise of relaxing, which suits this lazy mom just fine ;)

Cue up Netflix and the kids are primed. They think that they’re getting some “fun time” and “entertainment” – which they are – but little do they know that they’re also learning as well. There’s a method to this parenting madness after all!

For my little guys, there are some great shows where they can both learn and be entertained.

The Lorax is a favourite and my boys have watched it repeatedly. Lots of good lessons in this one, beyond the obvious ones. And the colourful landscapes and lively characters keep the kids engaged as well.

lorax

For younger kids just learning to read, Super Why is another fave. My boys love the superhero aspect of the show and willingly make attempts to spell and read – just like the main character.

Super Why pic

Sometimes we just want to chill out and watch the tube as a family and during those times, it’s important to find a movie or show that the kids of all ages can enjoy. For family movie night entertainment a couple of good bets are The Pursuit of Happyness as well as The Karate Kid. Both have some great life lessons that can be uses as discussion points for the kids as well.

Sneaky mom – I take it as an opportunity to let them learn while watching tv. Smart, huh?

The Pursuit of Happyness

 

Karate Kid

Sometimes learning takes on different forms and it doesn’t always have to be through the conventional means such as reading, writing and studying. By choosing an educational program that the kids will enjoy, you’ll kill two birds with one stone: your kids will be engaged and entertained and they’ll learn something new. Sounds like a “win-win” situation to me!

What are your favourite educational Netflix shows to watch with the kids? Leave me your thoughts in the comments section below.

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CBC Radio Interview: Kids and Email

by Samantha on September 4, 2014

Should parents allow their children to have email and online accounts?

Gmail Does your child have an email account? Why or why not?

This is a question that I addressed on CBC Radio’s Ontario Morning program about kids and online access. Following a discussion on CBC Radio’s Metro Morning show on a similar topic, I delved more deeply into the questions that all parents face about when they should allow their kids online access.

cbc_radio_logo

 

Some topics discussed:

  • Should kids under 13 have an email account and online access?
  • How young is too young to be online?
  • How has parenting a child in the digital age changed from raising a child before the Internet was the norm?

As digital technology becomes the norm both at home and at school, kids are increasingly expected to have some type of access, whether it be via email or otherwise. This reality raises a number of issues and concerns for parents who worry about the safety of their kids as they venture online.

Is it okay to let a child under the age of 13 have an email account or online access? What are some of the considerations that parents should make before allowing their children online? These are just some of the questions that need to be addressed by all of us who are raising our kids in the digital age.

To listen to the full interview, click here:

What are your thoughts? Do your children have email accounts? Why or why not? How much online access do you allow your kids? Let me know your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Top 5 Tips to Help You Send Your Child Off to School For the First Time

first day of school

For parents whose kids are entering Kindergarten for the first time, the stakes are high. Not necessarily for the child but oftentimes more so for the parents. Having been home with their son or daughter for a number of years makes the prospect of sending them off to school particularly anxiety-inducing. Though their kids may have gone to selected preschool classes, play groups or similar social situations, Kindergarten signifies “the big leagues.”

For first-time parents, there is often anxiety, fear and stress felt by the prospect being away from their child and relinquishing responsibility to someone other than themselves. The unknown – in this case a classroom, other kids and a new teacher – can feel particularly daunting.

I’ve written about the first day of school before from the perspective of the child but realize that oftentimes, it’s the parents who need some support and encouragement. Below are some simple tips for those who are facing the prospect of sending their child or children off to school for the first time.

Sending Your Child to School For the First Time – Top 5 Tips For Parents

1) Your Kids Will Be Fine - Kids are a lot more resilient than we think. Surprisingly, they often step up to the challenge and thrive when they’re beyond the protective gaze of their parents. Have faith in both your child and the teachers who understand the anxiety felt by both parents and children. They’ve been there before, and know how to support your child in feeling comfortable, safe and ultimately excited about being in school. By the end of the day, they’ll have stories to tell, artwork to show you and introductions to their new friends (to you!) to make.

2) Tears Are Normal – Yes, they may flow at the prospect of leaving you. Take that as a given. Also realize that the tears will stop as soon as your child enters the classroom and sees the whole new world that is opened up to them at school. Art, reading, writing and toys await and you will be but a distant memory (in a good way of course) while your child ventures into the (relatively) grown-up world of Kindergarten.

3) A Blankie or Teddy Goes a Long Way – Yes, you’ve been your child’s security blanket for so long but when they start school, they’ll need something to keep them going during the day. Don’t underestimate the importance of your child having their favourite special item, whether it’s a blanket, sleep toy or doll. Having such an item with them during their first venture into the school environment will make their day so much easier.

4) Independence is a Good Thing – This is a first step for your child towards independence. And while it may be a difficult one for both of you, it’s an important and positive milestone in their life. Being able to separate from their parents is key to gaining a strong sense of ability as well as self-confidence. And as much as it may be difficult to push them out of the proverbial nest, it’s ultimately in their best interest. Today, Kindergarten, tomorrow – the world!

5) Get Educated – Fear of the unknown often adds to our stress and anxiety and sending our kids off into “The Great Unknown” – in this case, school – is no different. Assuage your fears about the first day of school through your own education of what will occur. Just as your child will be learning in the classroom, you too can learn everything you need to know about your child’s curriculum before they begin the formal learning process. Where possible, contact the school, meet and/or speak with your child’s new teacher(s) and familiarize yourself with the class schedule. You’l feel better and more confident about your child’s new adventure once you have all of your questions answered.

Are you feeling stressed about sending your child to school for the first time? Or, do you have any additional tips that can make the transition smoother? Tell me about them in the comments section below.

 Image courtesy of www.chfi.com

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CBC Radio Interview: How Young is Too Young to Be Online?

August 23, 2014

At what age is it okay for kids to have an email and social media accounts? Does your child have an email address? How about a Facebook account? How do you feel about your child being online at all? Those were some of the questions posed in an interview that I did with CBC Metro Morning. […]

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Family Adventures With Netflix

August 10, 2014

Some adventurous titles to watch with the family Summertime means many things to many people. To kids – mine, in particular – it’s a time to both chill out and relax as well as to engage in some adventurous activity. Now – keep in mind that my boys are small and my middle daughter is […]

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When Your Child Wants to Become Vegetarian

August 8, 2014

How to support your child’s new meat-free culinary choice You’re a family of meat-eaters. Carnivores through and through. Steak, pork chops, ribs falling off the bone – that’s your idea of a real meal. This is how it is, this is the way it’s been forever in your family. Enter your child. They could be […]

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Oh, Canada! Let’s Watch Some Movies on Netflix, Eh?

July 29, 2014

Canadian-Inspired Netflix Picks For the Family DISCLAIMER: As part of the Netflix #StreamTeam, I will be providing monthly thoughts and suggestions about movies currently showing on Netflix. As with all content on this blog, opinions are completely my own.  In case you don’t know, I’m Canadian. Yup – Canada: land of the moose, home of […]

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Top 5 Tips to Keep Your Child’s Mind Active Over the Summer

July 9, 2014

School’s out and the kids are taking it easy. For many, the morning rush, homework and studying may now seem like distant memories. With the spectre of fun in the sun, summer camp or days filled with inordinate amounts of play on the horizon, schoolwork is one of the last things on the minds of […]

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