Wednesday, August 27, 2008

She's an American Girl

I have to admit, I am a little nervous to write about this topic because I KNOW there will be those who strongly disagree, but I want to share with you my thoughts.

My 9 yr old daughter, Summer, is in 4th grade. Last Friday the teachers, administration, PTA, or someone in charge hosted a 4th grade dance. The money raised will go into a fund to help pay for costs of field trips that the 4th grade class will be taking later this year. I did not allow Summer to go. Thankfully, she and JD were scheduled to visit their dad in Tennessee anyway, but even if she had been home for the weekend, I would not have allowed her to participate.

I sat on Summer's bed and explained to her my reasons why she would not be allowed to attend the dance, or any other dance during the school year. While we were talking Summer was dressing and fixing the hair of her American Girl doll that my mom bought for her. The doll was a gift that she worked hard to earn by getting all A's on every report card during her 3rd grade year.

She talked about her American Girl for months, she looked at magazines and online for the exact one that she wanted. When she could not find a "dark complected" doll with freckles, she went as far as to add the freckles herself with a permanent marker. She did this within hours of receiving her doll, it just didn't feel right to her unless the doll had freckles like she does. With every report card that she received, Summer would say, "Mom, I'm one report card closer to my American Girl doll."

I would have no problem sending Summer to an ice cream social fundraiser, or maybe a craft project after school to raise money for the cause. How about a jump rope-a-thon where each jump is worth a nickle and supported by each students family, or a chili supper and auction hosted by the 4th grade students. They could serve the food and be responsible for the clean up afterwards-WOW, that's earning money and learning responsibility in one lump sum. How about putting on a play for another elementary school in our community and charging an admission fee of $.50 or $1.00. I would be willing to organize one of these fundraisers or volunteer my time to be present during the event, but I have to say I strongly object to boy/girl dances for 4th grade children. They are still children at this age, by the way. They are not teenagers or even preteens. Although those years are very close, they are not here yet. We need to be encouraging age appropriate activities for our children. I know that Summer would be more interested in attending an American Girl party than a school dance!

I know for a fact that the kids attending felt great pressure to "have a date to the dance" and wanted to look and smell their best for the event. Why are we encouraging this in these little children? They have their whole lives to worry about impressing the opposite sex. There will be years to come, decades even, when they will deal with the stresses and pressures of finding a mate and all of the little games that entails. All we, as adults, are doing is encouraging mini-marriages and mini-divorces at such young ages. These little ones are feeling defeat in relationships at the 4th grade level...because of a school sponsored dance! Think for just a moment of what a 9-10 yr old child must be thinking about in a situation like this, think about the psychology behind what is being encouraged by the adults that they trust the most...parents and teachers.

People, there is a season for courting and learning about the dynamics of relationships with the opposite sex and 4th grade is not the time for it. If I may, I would like to share with you some of the things that I encourage...

1. Church is a matter what else is going on, you will attend. (This will be the rule whether she is 9 or 19-as long as she lives in my house.)

2. Nurture family relationships above any friendship. Friends will come and go, family are people who will care for you and protect you all your life...take care of family first.

3. Education is top priority. You must not only go to school and get good grades, but you MUST go to college. You need to be able to support yourself, your family, and your lifestyle without struggle or debt. (I don't want my children to make the same mistakes I have made.)

4. Care about yourself. Wear clean, matching, modest clothes that fit correctly and are ironed. They may not be name brand, but that doesn't mean that you have to look like a rag-a-muffin! Most importantly, care about the way that you are treated by others and the way that you treat others also.

5. Always give your best effort. In sports, at school, at matter what it is. You don't have to BE the best, just DO your best.

6. Boyfriends will have to wait for now. You have to get your education first. Boys have a way of being a distraction from the ultimate goal. But let me know if their is ever someone that you are interested in and why and we will talk about it together.

7. You have responsibilities at home-do them without being asked. That is as important to me as your television privilege is to you.

Listen, I don't have it all together, and even when I know better I don't always do the right thing. But when it comes to my children I just want to protect them as long as I can. There will come a time when Summer will want to go to a school dance, and if she is old enough and mature enough then I will let her go...I just think 9 years old is not the time.

Now if you'll excuse me, there is an American Girl doll in the other room that needs her hair put in curlers and I am going to help while it's still "cool" to play with dolls.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

That's my baby's lunch your staring at... promised, my opinion. (See previous post if you are confused as to what I am talking about.)

Disclaimer: I am a co-sleeping, baby-wearing, breast-feeding, butt-spankin' momma. If you don't want to hear my VERY strong opinion, please exit to the upper right of your screen.

What kind of world do we live in that would plaster a woman's body all over the television, internet, magazines, newspapers, billboards, and anywhere else that could be visually enticing, but tells a mommy that she cannot nurse her child in a public area without a cover?

No one curls their nose in disgust when they see a mother dog nursing her puppies, or a momma horse feeding her baby. Why is it so repulsive to catch a glimpse of a human mother feeding her human baby the way that God intended? Could it be that YOU are the perverse one, you are the one with the problem, not I? Why would it be OK for me to walk into a restaurant in a blouse with a plummeting neck line and no "undergarment" on, but if you see me inconspicuously nursing my child, then you lose your appetite and want me tossed from the property.

Trust me, there is nothing I would like better than to always be able to feed my child in a private, dimly lit, quiet room with my feet propped up and sitting in a comfortable chair. But the truth is that scenario hardly ever happens. Most of the time, I have to feed Sydney in the company of others-both male and female, family and strangers, young and old. I have become quite a pro at it, and anyone who has seen me do it will tell you I am able to nurse without showing any "skin". I try to cover Sydney with a blanket whenever she is agreeable, but normally she does not like to eat with a blanket on her head. Do you?

As discreet as I try to be, I am sure there are times when someone who was REALLY looking would be able to catch a less-than-1-second glimpse of my exposed breast. I will not apologize for it, I am not doing anything wrong, I am trying to feed my child. If you don't like it, I will let you borrow Sydney's blanket to put over YOUR head!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

I Make Milk...What's Your Superpower?

This is a two part series. Part I will give you tons of facts, and in part II, I shall climb onto my soap box and give you tons of opinion.

In case you want to read for yourself, all of the included information I got from and I have not learned how to do a direct link, nor do I have time to figure it out right now, sorry. Anywho...

The Crime:

Wisconsin, June 2006...A mother, shopping in a Victoria's Secret store with a friend, asks to use a dressing room to nurse her baby. She is told that dressing rooms are for customers only and is offered the employee bathroom. She declines to use the bathroom to breastfeed and says that she would rather sit in a chair in the back of the dressing room. The associate tells her that is not acceptable, she would rather her not nurse in the store in front of customers.

Lexington, KY, July 2007....A mother and her children are meeting family at Applebee's on Richmond Rd. for lunch. The mother strategicly asks for a corner booth in case she needs to feed her baby. At some point during lunch she begins nursing and the waitress asks if she would mind to cover with a blanket, another table could see her feeding her baby and had complained. She apoligized and explained that she did not carry blankets with her in the middle of summer, but offered to re-position herself so the table could not see her from the front. This was still unexceptable and the manager quickly came out to ask the lady to leave.

Berea, KY, August 2008....(World Breastfeeding Month...may I add) A young mother meets her parents at a local McDonald's. When her baby gets fussy, she places her oversized purse on the table in front of her to act as a visual shield while she nurses. The manager catches a glimps of what she is doing and demands that she stop and go to the bathroom. The young mother thankfully knew her rights and calls the police. By the time the police get to the location she is through nursing and is told that since the nursing "incident" was over there was nothing to be done. The manager asks the police to escort the young mother out of the restaurant.

The Law:

There is a Kentucky law that says a woman has a legal right to breastfeed her child, without harrassment or interference, in any location-public or private-that she has a right to otherwise be. The problem with this law is that there are NO consequences for businesses that break the law by harrassing the breastfeeding mother or asking her to leave the premises without good reason. The law further states that each Kentucky town can enforce a civil fine of up to $2,000, if they so choose, to any person/business-private or public-who breaks this law.

To make the issue even more sticky, the business owner can claim indecent exposure as a reason for calling the police, which there IS a fine for and possibly jail time. AND a person who is asked to leave a location in front of a police officer and is not agreeable, can be arrested and charged with tresspassing.

The Facts:

*Of the 50 states, Kentucky ranks 50th in both breastfeeding initiation and breastfeeding continuance, according to the Center for Disease Control

*The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that a baby be breastfed exclusively for 6 months, and that a mother should continue breastfeeding while introducing solids until the baby turns 1 yr. According to the AAP, breastfeeding after 1 yr of age can be continues if desired by either mother or baby.

*However, the World Health Organization suggests that every child should be breast fed until the age of 2yr for optimal physical and brain development and to further encourage bonding between mother and child.

*Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants, and a mother's milk is tailored specificly for her baby's needs. The amazing thing about breast milk is that it adjusts nutritionally as a baby grows. (The milk that my body makes for Sydney now is different that the milk that I made when she was a newborn. How cool is that!)

*Adults who were breastfed as infants, have less obesity problems.

*Breast milk is easier to digest than formula, so less spit-up, less stomach cramps for babies, less gas....which results in a more content (less fussy)baby.

*No slaps in the face intended but... in multiple studies, adults who were breast fed as babies, consistantly showed higher IQ results those who were formula fed.

*Breast feeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancer for both the mother and female nursing baby. Also, nursing lowers the risk of osteoporosis after menapause.

*Studies prove that babies who are soothed by offering skin-to-skin physical contact on a regular basis (which breastfeeding provides that type of contact) are more secure-feeling, content, and in general, show a stronger bond to their mothers.

*Breast milk boosts immunities and antibodies in babies, leading to fewer allergies, less sickness due to bacteria, and stronger immune systems.

*It makes life measuring, heating, or packing.

*Breastfeeding saves on health care costs since breastfed babies are typically healthier, there are fewer doctor visits, hospitalizations, and prescriptions.

*Breastfeeding mothers miss less work, as their children are sick less often. This statement has both truth and longevity. Adults, teens, and children who were breastfed as babies are healthier individuals and tend to miss work less or cause their parents to miss work less for illness related absenses.

*Breastfeeding is better for the environment because there is no trash or plastic produced by bottles or formula cans.

*The last fact that you should know is that I am a LACTIVIST, and proud of it. If you make me mad, I will yank my "bobos" out and squirt you in the face with breastmilk!