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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Child's Play

I recently read the article Apartment Complex Bans Kids From Playing Outside about an apartment complex in California.  As a parent, I find this shocking.  I would understand this for "Adult Only" complexes, and definitely with playing in hallways and stairwells.  But, outside?

I have seen this also close to where I live in Florida.  My parents live in an apartment complex that has a lot of 2 and 3 bedroom units.  Recently, my mom told me that the kids were no longer allowed to play in the large courtyards when they visited.  I was shocked, especially since I was getting ready to move and was seriously considering the same complex.

My parents' complex was perfect for a young family.  Small "villa" style apartments.  Each group of apartments surrounding a courtyard.  Throughout the complex there are several of these groupings.  It is a beautifully maintained complex.  This was a complex that really was designed for families, but has evidently decided that they don't want them anymore.  Or rather, they don't want the young kids that need to get outdoors and play.



As a mother, I want my children to go outside and play.  I encourage it.  We have bikes and scooters, and other small outside toys to encourage getting out and being active.  I even have a little put-put golf set for them to play with outside.  We always pick up our outside toys after playing and put them away.

I understand no playing in hallways or blocking sidewalks.  I definitely understand teaching your children to be polite and courteous.  But, keep it real.  Children need to play.  That is, of course, unless we want to raise a generation of overweight children who don't know how to enjoy life without electronics.

Good parenting doesn't mean a perfect, quiet, neat child. One of the many things that comes with good parenting though is teaching our children respect and when they can and can't just cut loose.  It is important that children have a place that they can just be a kid.  Kids need to know that they can just let go and be a kid.  A great place for that is at home.






Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Our Flawed Body Image

A couple weeks ago, Emma looked at me and said "Momma, you need to lose some weight."  It was a statement, completely out of the blue.  It also threw me completely off balance.

Emma is only 7 years old.  Even at such a young age, society has had an impact on what a person should look like.  Emma is not a heavy girl.  In fact, she is very tall and slender.  Statements like this worry me.   Does she worry about getting "fat"?  I hope not.  I am more worried about her being a healthy weight for her height.

I am not heavy.  Actually, I'm pretty happy with my size and weight.  I'm 5 1/2 feet tall and wear a size 6/7.  Not bad for a mom of four children.  I do have a mommy pouch.  It's not something I will go around showing off in a bikini, but it is there.

Children today, even young children, are being bombarded with "image" pressure.  Everyone should have a flat belly and be thin with perfect proportions.  Their skin tone should be even and smooth.  Everything should be perfect.  And, if it isn't?  Then, they need to change it.  That is what are little girls are learning.  We need to teach our children that there really are lots of different body types and that our bodies change over time.  I am not just talking about puberty but the changes that also occur as we get older.

Little girls know that one day they will grow up and develop.  Our society, however, has this idea that women should always retain that late teen, early 20's shape.  In reality, very few women retain much of a semblance to that shape throughout their lives.

I want my girls to be healthy.  I also want them to be happy with who they are and their individual body shapes.  They may grow up to be slender, or they may be a little more solid in build, but if they are happy and healthy, that is really what counts.



Monday, May 19, 2014

Dealing with the "System"

I hate admitting it, but it's true.

My kids are on Medicaid.  I can't afford insurance and my employer doesn't offer any.  Once upon a time I had good insurance, but those days are long gone.

It took me forever to get them finally covered, months with knowing you can't take afford a doctor is devastating.  It makes you feel like you are a horrid parent.

Everyone says that there is all this help out there.  Well, I don't know where, because I've certainly run upon roadblock upon roadblock.

Today, once again I tried to make my youngest son an appointment with a pediatrician.  I need to take him to the doctor.  He's healthy right now.  I think.  I don't know.  You don't always know what's going on with autism.  For you "autie" parents out there, you understand what I am saying.  Now, imagine, my son hasn't seen a single doctor since January.  For a child with special needs that is too long.  The last time he was to the doctor was for chicken pox.  (Yes, he had been vaccinated, and still got a minor case of it.)

The only pediatrician's office I could find won't make an appointment because his previous pediatrician has yet to transfer the records.  This is after I waited over a month while trying to sort out the whole Medicaid business.  Medicaid was saying they had insurance, too bad they didn't.  So, I sit and wait again.  Knowing, wondering, is he okay?  I know he's been zoning out more lately.  I know he seems to have trouble hearing as well.  I really want these things looked at.  But, alas, I find myself facing that horrid truth.  I jumped through all their hoops so that my children would have the coverage, and I still can't get them in to see a pediatrician.

The system is broken.  I am a working mom.  I work hard.  I try my best to take care of my children.  But, I can't afford to do it all.  I wish I could.  I make just enough money that I personally get no coverage, and just enough that I will get fined for not having coverage, yet not enough to be able to afford any coverage for myself.

The thing is, I could "use" the system and take "advantage" of the system.  But, I refuse.  I will not lie.  I will not quit my job and live totally off of it.  I will not go out and find a lesser position with no future so that I can have coverage.

This economy and everything I have seen over the past number of years has taught me to swallow my pride.  So, I do.  But, the last piece of pride I refuse to give up is the pride in knowing I have tried.  I know I have tried to work a decent job so I can afford to take care of my children.  One day I hope to be back to where I don't need the help.  I dream of that day.  I know I will reach it, but for now I need a helping hand.  I used to think that the "system" was there for people who needed it, that it was supposed to be a way to help out in times of trouble.  Now, I know that too often, the only way you get the help is if you stop trying to better yourself and your family and accept that you are a "nobody", a "bottom feeder", and "not worth anything better".

Problem is, I can't accept that.  So, I will wonder, why?  Why is the system so broke that when someone needs the help that they can't get it?  Why do you have to stop trying to better yourself and pull yourself back up on your feet to get "help"?

It is only too true, that in some ways the "system" rewards people for not trying.  If I made just a little less money, I could qualify for food stamps for my family.  If I make less I could receive coverage too through the state and would be able to see a much needed doctor.  If I made less money, even if I didn't receive state coverage for me, I could afford a periodic doctor visit for myself, if only I made less money, took a lesser job than what I can do, and took advantage of the "system" as it stands.  Too bad that is not in my personality to do.  This is a challenge too many people face today.

We need to make changes to the system.  We need to make sure that this inbetween stage of not completely poverty, but not "middle class" is given assistance to bring themselves to a point where they can take care of their families.  It shouldn't be an all or nothing prospect.