Tag Archives: safe

Keeping kids on The Safe Side

23 Oct

The Safe Side

Seven year old Somer Thompson was abducted, murdered, and thrown away with the trash this week.

There seems to be an endless barrage of tragic news about abducted and abused children. I don’t know if it is happening more frequently, multiple media saturation, or if now that I’m a parent my ears are tuned more toward news relating to kids. We try to regularly review our “stranger safety” plan and emergency plans with our kid, but the necessity of increasing the frequency and intensity of reviewing these plans and practicing our emergency plans is highlighted this week.

Somer’s mom told NBC’s The Today Show :

“It takes just a couple seconds to tell them you love them,” Thompson said. “Tell them you love them because you don’t know what’s going to happen. And just make them aware of stranger danger. I tried with Somer. I feel like I failed — obviously.”

Our little guy tends to be pretty black and white, so when we first discussed the concept of strangers, we found that people like his grandma’s friendly neighbors fell into that gray area and he would just totally freeze up and then freak out- not knowing how to handle the gray area. Because of our extra challenges in teaching our kid so he can actually use the information, I looked long and hard at what was on the market (and online) that could help us explain “stranger danger” to him effectively.

After a little research I found “The Safe Side” a program by John Walsh and Julie Clark (you know- the Baby Einstein lady). They do have a website, but the DVD really helps get the point across in a fun and friendly way, that even my kiddo could understand. It teaches what to do in certain situations and most importantly uses a simple “traffic light” system to help kids remember the rules.

We enjoyed the DVD and I highly recommend it to any parent (kids 9+ might find it cheesy or goofy, but it still brings the message home).
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Remember, try as we might, we can’t be everywhere all the time. Teaching kids safety doesn’t lock them up in an isolated tower, but rather opens up the world to them by giving them the tools to navigate it safely. I remember a time when kids roamed the neighborhood free and only showed up at dinnertime. We do not live in that world anymore and we, as parents, need to educate our kids in different and more intensive and extensive ways than our parents educated us.

Amazon carries the DVD for under $10 (Amazon purchases through this link send a tiny percentage back to us. Woohoo! Thanks in advance!).

TheSafeSide.com’s website also has downloads and printables for parents and kids.

The whole safety thing reminds me of the parable about teaching a man to fish and feeding him for a lifetime. You can isolate your kid and keep them safe (and miserable) by exclusion, or you can teach your child to be safe and you will help keep them safe for a lifetime. The murder of that innocent little girl and the interviews with her mom in the media underscore the importance of frequently reviewing safety information and making sure it is information that our kids can actively use. I am also reminded of all of the “don’t touch, tell an adult” rhetoric given to kids about firearms and matches and lighters and the hidden camera news reports showing the kids doing the opposite of what their parents told them. We need to make sure our kids understand and can actively use and recall safety tactics.

There is nothing neurotic about quizzing your kid before a family outing, visit at a friend’s house, or even using action figures to play out scenarios (we use Playmobil figures as they are pretty generic and equally sized- underscoring the concept that you don’t know who is good or bad or dangerous by appearance alone).

We don’t want to scare our kids, but we owe them, and ourselves, their safety. My son knows about Somer. Her mama sang, with others at a candlelight vigil, “You Are My Sunshine”. I cannot imagine what Somer went through, I cannot imagine what her mama is feeling. I cannot imagine a world without my sunshine.

A little girl named Somer died this week, at the hands of a bad/evil person. Her mother wanted people to know how beautiful and sweet she was and how she wanted to be friends with everyone. (from the NBC Today Show interview)

Let’s do whatever we can to keep kids from being a statistic and another tragic story on the evening news.

Hugs all around.
xo
Bek

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ASK. Just ASK.

18 Jun

My attention was recently called to the Ask campaign. ASK Day is on Father’s Day (June 21, 2009).

The campaign proposes that parents ask about the presence of a firearm when their kids go play in another family’s home. Seems logical, but really, if we teach our kids about firearm safety (do not touch, tell an adult, etc) shouldn’t that be enough? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s safe to assume all other parents are raising their children in the same manner as you choose. Or that even if you know your child well, that you can estimate the amount of impulse control or safety rules another child may have in their arsenal.

This statistic shocked me:
Nearly 1.7 million children, under the age of 18, live in homes with firearms that are both loaded and unlocked in the United States

(Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Findings From the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, 2002, published 2005.)

You can read more at the Ask/Speak Up site

I don’t think anyone can argue with the frightening reality of that one statistic. The risk is there and it is real, and our kids are too precious to make assumptions.

Please share the AskingSavesKids.org link.

Hugs all around,
Bek


Fixations….

14 Feb



Plumbing

Originally uploaded by CleverIndie

Alex’s most recent fixation is bathroom plumbing…
To be more precise, bathrooms have been a fixation for a long, long, long time- to the extent that I was planning on making a zagat’s type guide to public restrooms/coffeetable book with him, but then his interest waned, but it’s back more than ever…

but now it’s not just the volume of the flusher (we are constantly briefed on the loudness of various flushes in different locations)…

It’s how the plumbing actually works.

Which is great. He has declared that he will “grow into a plumber”… He is very interested in the function of plumbing and different types… My dad was in the Navy and was stationed in France and experienced a type of plumbing that was a hole in the floor and there was a tank and you flushed and the whole room “flushed”….Alex is entranced by this sort of lore…. I’m just happy that my kid and my dad can connect on something. We made a special call to my dad so he could tell Alex about the “room flusher”. I cannot even begin to describe the sheer happiness and twinkle of Alex’s whole being as he hung on to every word…

This morning he sat down with some heart shaped crayons I gave him for Valentine’s Day and he drew a public restroom….

If you click on the image it will take you to Flickr, I put notes on all of the parts….

If you don’t feel like clicking, see if you can spot some of Alex’s details:
The “rinse” holes on the underside of the rim on a “sit down potty”….The bolt that holds the toilet to the floor (I think Alex thinks that if the toilet is not bolted down it would rise up, like on a cartoon geyser). There is a urinal (“stand up potty”), urinal cake/strainer thing on the drain, a little water, flush levers, a double knob sink, faucet, and u shaped pipe/drain/trap…. Two light switches that correspond to the four lights on the ceiling….

These are the sort of details kiddo fixates on. These are the sort of details that make any conversation about any other topic virtually impossible. There is no room for anything else in his world until he exhausts all of the information and answers all of his questions on plumbing. This sort of fixation could be the thing that pushes him ahead in life and makes him an expert in whatever field he choose. It is also the sort of thing that can make introducing any other information that is presented to a five year old, at home and in school, an effort that falls short. It can be an exercise in frustration.

So we embrace it, what else can we do? But it also means that we have to present information a million different ways and we always have to relate it to plumbing. And there are some concepts which cannot readily be applied, to plumbing. But we push on….

It’s also his adherence to rules that keeps him safe- don’t touch xyz results in him having a dramatic fear of xyz. Introduce any other information about XYZ, any functional or mechanical information and you can forget any rules about “don’t touch”… He understood “don’t touch” with the raclette (table top grill thing….social food prep, like fondu, but with little pans….) until we explained that it heats up to cook the food… Then he had to touch it, and he burned his hand. (not bad, no blistering, but it was a shock to him, now he knows…)

Explain that something has a function, or some sort of mechanical feature, and he has to try it. He cannot hear “no” or understand “don’t touch”, he cannot resist the impulse to touch it and try it. We are very selective with what we introduce, as anything that is introduced with any hint of being a machine with movement and function will have to be explored fully.

Today I walked into the den where my husband and Alex were playing with a log set from kiddo’s uncle. One of the guys that came with the set had a gun.

Alex has seen guns before, on TV and in a section we did on safety. We had left, I thought, his knowledge of guns to: if you see one tell an adult, do not touch, danger, etc… When we did the online safety exercise thing they had a section of picking out the dangerous things and the things kids don’t touch. Alex thought the gun on the coffee table in the picture was a dinosaur bone and his take on it was that you never touch dinosaur bones because they could break and the museum wouldn’t be able to use them and everyone would be mad, so you never ever touch dinosaur bones. We explained that it was not a dinosaur bone but it was still a “don’t touch” and of course we let him know that his dinosaur bone thinking was spot on as well, because hey, would you want a kid with my grace handling a rare fossil? Probably not…

but today my husband was explain to him what the toy-guy was doing. He explained the mechanism the guy was handling.

The mechanism.

I’m so angry and so frustrated.

Guns are off limits. Alex does not have impulse control. He is obsessed with mechanical things and machines.

Now if he encounters a gun I am 99.9% sure that the “don’t touch, tell an adult” rule is going to fade away as curiosity gets the better of him.

He can’t resist.

We have a few firearm enthusiasts in our family, my husband and I had the conversation about guns and our child long ago. We both, at the time, agreed that education is the most important part of the safety strategy.

I confronted him about what he was explaining to Alex. He insists Alex wasn’t listening anyway. Even if Alex got one little word of “fanning the hammer” (which is what Jeff was explaining….Fans, by the way, are Alex’s other obsession, so I doubt all information really bounced off of him) I know that we can no longer trust Alex’s rule-based response to guns. I know that if he comes across a gun he will pick it up and he will play with the parts to figure out cause and effect.

I am furious and terrified.

My husband maintains that he would rather educate Alex than have him try to figure it all out when faced with a firearm. This was our original plan. But this was before Alex. Before we knew him.

I just want to know why the frick this is the only of all of our original plans that survived? Everything else changed. Every plan, every dream was rewritten or erased or replaced. There’s a book out on parenting special needs kids called “You will dream new dreams”, and I do, and we also make new plans, that are appropriate. I want to know what else has my husband not edited or rewritten, in consideration of the fact that we don’t have a regular, neurotypical kid, we have Alex.

And I don’t want to lose Alex.

Assuming Alex can use information appropriately, when it is relating to something mechanical, something with cause and effect, one of his fixations, is as erroneous as thinking that he can land a jumbojet blindfolded. I spend my days reworking our world so that Alex can thrive. I’m furious that the person whom I thought was in this with us is comfortable enough that he can forget for a moment and put my kid, OUR kid, at risk. I’m exhausted because there is no rest. There is never a moment where I can lay my head down and not think and be peaceful. Every moment is full of what I have to do. I guess I’m just jealous that my supposed partner gets to take breaks(mental and physical) and doesn’t have to worry because I’ll always be at attention and watching his back, and Alex’s.

But who watches my back, who has bothered to learn about him and is willing to accept and understand and really love him and understand what we are going through and have gone through over the past 6 years and how much more until I break completely?

I’m exhausted. I really feel like it’s just Alex and me in this world. It has been since the beginning. I am just exhausted.

Thanks for listening to my rambling…

xo
Bek

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