Growing Pains

 

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My ten year old son recently began limping and telling me he had a sore foot. He is extremely active so I put it down to a stone bruise or something innocuous. I finally decided to take it seriously when he was hobbling around like an old man when he first got up in the mornings. It was the end of the summer sports season and he was nearing the finals for all his sports. It also coincided with the start of training for his winter sports. Every day of the week he was exercising and it was at that point that he was diagnosed with ‘Severs Disease’.

The name conjures images of a contagious infection where the foot is severed from the body, but thankfully it’s not as disturbing as that! Put simply, it is when the growth plate in the heel grows faster than the achilles tendon can stretch and is very common in active kids after they have had a growth spurt. The only course of action was to rest and to do stretches to help the achilles lengthen. As he already wears orthotics in his shoes, these were raised slightly in the heel to relieve the tension in his tendon.

To my son’s horror, the diagnosis of severs required him to limit his activities. He had to give up rugby training, competing in his school cross country and sat out a game or two of basketball. After reducing his sport, which let’s be honest is like a cruel form of torture for an active ten year old, the pain subsided.

Severs is a condition that will flare up off and on as he grows and he just has to manage it with ice packs to reduce swelling and stretching exercises.

As a side note, the podiatrist mentioned to me that kids that get ‘Severs’ often then get another growth related disease called ‘Osgood-Schlatter Disease’ a few years later in life when the growth plates in their knees start to give them pain. He advised that my son should try to build up his quads to help support his knees before the pain sets in.

So if you have an active kid complaining of sore heels or knees there is a good chance that they are suffering from good old growing pains!

 

(Image courtesy of photo stock, freedigitalphotos.net)

End of an era

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Today my eldest daughter has started her last week of school. I feel a bit like I blinked and suddenly she is all grown up.

I still remember the little blonde haired girl who cried and clung to me as I dropped her off to preschool, the same little girl who a few years later bravely started school in her little uniform and wide brimmed hat that seemed so large that she resembled a little mushroom. Fast forward a few years and she moved schools. I think back to the bribe of a new outfit and dinner in a fancy restaurant as a reward for her bravery to start afresh at a new school where she didn’t know anyone.

I think of the countless sporting carnivals, music recitals and awards ceremonies we have attended, proud of the effort she was putting in to her education.

I recall the ups and downs of her being a tween who lived through the dramas of friendship changes and issues that at the time that seemed insurmountable, which today she would be hard pressed to remember in any detail.

I think back to the day she was inconsolable over missing out on a place on the exchange program at school, although she had gone above and beyond to do all she could do to qualify. The flip side was the amazing trip she went on to China and the friendship she formed with a Spanish girl that she met over there that led to them doing a small private exchange. In hindsight, I think she actually was better off the way things worked out.

And now she is going through the routine of school for just one last week. It is going to be a huge week with muck up day, leaver’s ceremony and then the formal dance to finish off the week. Within a few months all her exams will be done and then she can focus on the path she chooses to start her life.

Although I’ve looked forward to this time, I also can’t believe it is already here. My little shy girl has grown into a confident lady and I’m so proud of the woman she is becoming.

I’m not sure where the years have gone, but as they say, time flies when you’re having fun!

Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net

What age can I leave my child at home alone?

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I was having an interesting conversation the other day when the question was posed, ‘at what age can I leave my kids at home by themselves?’

It prompted me to review the law – which in my state of NSW Australia there is no set age although in Queensland it is age 12. It also varies around the world, some states in USA have a law that the minimum age is 8 years while in another state it is 14.

I guess the real question is how independent and responsible are your children? I will leave my youngest two (13 & 9) at home together for half an hour to go pick up my other kids but I wouldn’t leave them for a prolonged length of time without an older sibling or adult around to supervise. I also wouldn’t leave my 9 year old son at home alone yet – much to his disgust!

A key indicator that the child is ok to stay at home alone is the fact that the child feels safe and confident to be left alone. Obviously you wouldn’t leave a child at home under duress.

The maturity and willingness of a child of 10 to be home alone may be higher than a child of 14 – you need to assess each child to determine whether they can be trusted to be sensible if left alone. I assume that the discretion to know whether your child is mature enough to be home alone is the reason our state has no strict law on age eligibility.

In order to be left home alone some of the key skills children must have are:

  1. be able to follow instructions you have left
  2. be able to use a phone to call you if needed
  3. recall their address if they have to contact emergency services
  4. know when it is necessary to call for help
  5. know to not do any dangerous things (eg playing with fire) when home alone.

The other issue related to this whole grey area of whether a child is responsible enough to be home without adults is whether there are younger children to be supervised and whether the older child is capable of looking after those kids.

So in answer to the question I posed – there is no definitive answer, just the parent’s discretion to ensure their kids are safe.

(Photo courtesy of photostock, freedigitalphotos.net)

Kids birthday parties aren’t what they used to be!

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When I was a kid, birthday parties used to consist of a few friends coming to our house or a local park. We would play pass the parcel (the variety where there was only one winner) and maybe run a 3 legged race. We would eat fairy bread and have a homemade cake – and we loved it!

Fast forward to my kid’s generation and every party seems to be bigger than Ben Hur! Every party seems to have a theme and you almost need an event planner to pull it off! A few years ago our family went to a kid’s carnival themed party that had full size rides, bouncy castles and a disco at their house. My daughter went to a party last year that had approximately 100 kids as guests and had a DJ and a photo booth.

My daughter is turning thirteen this week and she is having an ‘international’ party where the guests are to come dressed in national dress of their choice of country. My daughter scanned a passport and made individual invitations for each guest with their photo and a description of the ‘itinerary of their trip (aka party)’. I’ve been receiving RSVPs addressing me as the ‘travel agent’.

We have purchased six foot tall cardboard decorations to reflect a number of countries and they will be spotted around our house with food from those nations available to eat at each country (eg. pastries in France, pizza in Italy, chocolate in Switzerland etc).

Thirteen is a funny age, as they want to be independent teenagers yet I still have to make lolly bags for the kids when they leave.

I have a rule in my house that the kids can’t have a birthday party at home between the ages of fourteen and eighteen as these are the years where you run the risk of underage drinking occurring. Over the past few years, my eldest daughters have celebrated their birthday by just going out to dinner with a few friends. Needless to say, my eldest is very excited at the prospect of having a birthday party at our place to celebrate her eighteenth in a few months. I have mixed emotions about it, as I enjoy a party as much as the next person, but I’m concerned over gate-crashers and young adults drinking too much when we are responsible for them. Anyway – I’ve still got a few months to come to terms with that. Right now I need to focus my attention on the international celebrations this weekend – if the kid’s can’t find me, I might be in ‘France’ drinking champagne 🙂

What is the most extravagant kid’s party you have attended?

(Image courtesy of digitalart, freedigitalphotos.net)

IN THE WAKE OF THE STORM

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Last week we were hit with a severe storm that saw major damage to people’s property through trees toppling over, water damage from driving rain and king tides and high winds literally tossing boats up onto the shore. Thousands of homes and businesses lost power as trees were uprooted and infrastructure was devastated.

We were in the lucky few that didn’t lose power, however the kid’s school was closed for two days. My kids were in seventh heaven! I guess it is akin to those in the northern hemisphere getting a ‘snow day’, although even more rare, because in my living history I don’t ever recall schools closing because of a storm.

Our home became a revolving door for people (those who weren’t trapped in their homes because of fallen trees) to shower, recharge electronics, refrigerate food and do washing. We averaged 16 for dinner each night and had multiple people bunking down to sleep. Whilst it was an anxious time with everyone on high alert as to what damage might next occur, my kids were largely oblivious to the carnage mother nature had caused and instead saw it as a mini-holiday with a house-full of guests.

Other people told me how it had brought them together as a family as they had to interact without electronics and play old-fashioned board games by candlelight due to the lack of power.

The local SES (State Emergency Service) workers and those working for the local power company worked tirelessly to clear fallen trees and reconnect power and services.

It was nice to see that when times were tough, our community pulled together to assist one another.

From my kid’s perspective however, they would have preferred if the school’s power could have been left disconnected for an extra few days!

(Photo courtesy of George Stojkovic, freedigitalphotos.net)

Pen Friend

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My daughter has just received her first hand written letter from a pen friend in England. This arrangement came about through a friend of a friend and both the girls on opposite sides of the world are excited at the opportunity to form a bond with each other.

The letter my daughter received was like a piece of artwork. It was beautifully laid out and the girl’s handwriting is so neat and orderly. I must admit, I think my daughter was a bit intimidated by how gorgeous the letter was, as my daughter doesn’t have the neatest handwriting as she has always been too focused on the content than the style of her writing. Also, she relies heavily on typing as she uses computers for all her assignments at school.

In an age where handwriting is becoming a bit of a lost art, I’m thrilled that my daughter will get the opportunity to express herself through writing, rather than through electronic media. Not only does a formal letter require proper handwriting, the language is also more formal – there won’t be any acronyms like IDK, BBS or LOL, nor any emoticons with winking eyes and tongues sticking out!

The lovely thing about the letter my daughter received is that the two girls seem well suited with their intelligence and interests. I’m looking forward to my daughter learning more about this girl’s life and how it contrasts to her life. Her pen friend is an only child, whilst my daughter has three siblings. The other girl lives in a quaint cottage in a village with only two roads whilst we live in a large two storey house on a busy road in a suburb just outside of a large metropolitan city. I’m sure their correspondence will be an educational experience for them both.

I just hope they continue to write and that these letters build the basis of a lifelong friendship. Wouldn’t it be lovely if one day they arrange to meet up either in Europe or in Australia to cement their friendship!

(Picture courtesy of ddpavumba, freedigitalphotos.net)

EASTER MIRACLES

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This year I witnessed several Easter miracles. The first happened when for the first time in history not even one of my kids woke in darkness to scope out the living room for hidden eggs.

The second miracle was that when my youngest woke first he (to my complete and utter surprise) patiently waited over an hour before asking if he could wake his sleeping sisters so they could do the Easter egg hunt.

The final miracle was that when doing the egg hunt, they all calmly collected eggs and then once they were sure they had found them all, decided of their own volition to pool the eggs before dividing them equally amongst themselves to ensure everyone got the same amount of eggs.

I was less surprised by the instant consumption of the chocolate eggs before breakfast – but as my kid’s seem to have inherited my chocoholic genes, I understand that they revel in the fact that there is one day a year where chocolate is the staple food supply for the day!

I hope you all had an enjoyable, choc-filled Easter with quality time spent with family and friends.

(Image courtesy of debspoons, freedigitalphotos.net)

BEST AGE  

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The other day I was pondering when are your kids at their ideal age? I know we love them dearly at all stages and every age is unique but I came to the conclusion the best age is when they are seven!

At seven they are finally able to be rid of those bulky, restrictive car seats that harbour a treasure trove of things from lego pieces, to Barbie shoes to enough crumbs to do a schnitzel dinner. Finally you’re free from the restriction of having to always ensure that if they travel with a friend that they have a spare car seat or alternatively go through the motions of undoing copious amounts of straps to pass over your kid’s seat to reveal a whole new array of items such as sultanas, stray fries and old happy meal toys, hiding underneath. I can’t tell you what a relief it is to not have to deal with car seats again!

Furthermore, by seven, kids are a little independent – they can shower themselves, dress themselves and are skilled in the art of turning on the television in the morning, leaving you to doze (as best you can with the TV blaring) until a reasonable hour. They can ride a bike, swing on a swing without needing to be pushed and can play independently with friends. Parenting just becomes that bit easier.

At seven, they are also not too independent, which means they are too young to let their social lives ruin yours. They just come along with the family to friend’s houses, can be taken to a restaurant and are equally as happy to have a family night in! Once they become teenagers, they develop their own social lives, which inhibits yours, as you are their taxi service.

Homework is also great when they are seven. It’s usually just one sheet they get at the start of the week that needs to be returned at the end of the week, as opposed to high school where homework is a nightly chore. You also don’t need to refresh your quadratic equation and trigonometry skills when they are seven (just a hint – you will by the time they are in high school, so you might want to start studying now!).

One final thing that is great when they are seven is that they are usually missing teeth which leaves them with goofy smiles and a cute lisp whenever they have to say their age (how ironic this stage of life happens when they are ssssix and sssseven).

It’s funny that when they are little you can’t wait for them to grow up and when they are older, you wish you could turn back the clock. I don’t think I truly appreciated my kids being seven at the time, but with hindsight I realise that seven is the golden age!

What age do you think was your kid’s best age?

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

SCHOOL WORK ETHIC

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I have watched all my kids address their homework and study needs in differing ways. One of my kids has always left her homework until the night before it is due, believing she works better under pressure, whilst another does her homework and assignments as soon as they are given. The job gets done either way, however when they reach more senior years of schooling, leaving things to the death knock brings about unnecessary stress and under preparedness.

I try to suggest (okay I nag) my kids to do revision of the work they have learnt that day so that the information sinks in. Then when exams rear their ugly heads, it’s not so daunting to have to revise months worth of work. Similarly, I recommend that they chip away at an assignment as soon as it is received, so the end result is more thorough and therefore scores higher.

Although the school and I try to drum into the kids this form of study work ethic, it seems to me that a child’s nature is the over-riding factor in the way they approach work. In my experience, the kids who have always been crammers remain to work that way and the methodical plodders continue that way too.

As a parent, how much should you interfere with your kid’s study? After all, the only one that is affected by their preparedness or lack thereof is your child. Should they be left to sink or swim? Having said that, as a parent you really want to see your child reach their highest potential, so I’m sure there wouldn’t be too many parents that don’t encourage their kids to study and work hard.

It’s a fine balance between being an inspiring and supportive parent versus creating conflict that may stress out an already frazzled kid.

As with everything in life, finding that balance is the key! What are your thoughts?

(Photo courtesy of stockimages, freedigitalphotos.net)

MERRY CHRISTMAS

As I sit watching Christmas carols on television, awaiting my munchkins to go to sleep (which takes much longer on Xmas eve than any other night due to the excitement of the imminent visit from Santa) I wanted to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their support this year and to wish you and your family all the best for a very happy Christmas.
I have just returned from a holiday with my extended family which is why I have been AWOL for the last two weeks. You really can’t put a price on the value of seeing kids interacting daily with their cousins and similarly grandparents with their grandkids. I will be absent again for a few weeks as I spend quality family time with my kids and husband over the Christmas break. I hope you also have the opportunity to enjoy fun times with your family over the coming week.
As bed time draws near I know it won’t be long before the visit from the jolly man in the red suit – I just hope our puppy has left carrots for the reindeers – she was enjoying snacking on them when the kids put them out earlier!
Merry Christmas and all the best for a happy New Year!

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