Monday, June 26, 2017

What Do You Call an Obsession with All Things Medical?

We all have our little obsessions--in our family, I could name several: chocolate (Jason), Star Wars (Eric and Ben), Lego (Ben), acquiring items (Alaina), Paw Patrol (Eric), tractors (Jason) . . . and I'll even admit that I can't leave the library without picking up "just one or two more" books on the way out every time.

But Janae has an obsession with medical conditions and equipment that outshines all of these.

For as long as I can remember, Janae has loved to hear stories about people getting hurt or needing to go to the hospital--and even requests these when Jason or I tell her about our childhoods.  Now--as a tween (as she loves to call herself now that she's turned 10)--she can't get enough of reading Dear Canada books, especially the journals about girls with polio, the Spanish flu, or other scary conditions of days gone by. 

She has crutches for her Barbies, and asked Grandpa to find crutches for herself and Alaina so they could pretend they are injured (these, by the way, are very hot items whenever kids come over to play).

The number-one item on Janae's Christmas list was a wheelchair for her American Girl doll, and Janae has begged and pleaded for a wheelchair of her own . . . to the point that I offered her a special present if she promised to never ask for one again.  Fortunately for all of us, she accepted.  This has not, however, stopped the looks of longing at courtesy wheelchairs parked outside stores like Walmart, or even at the church.  She really cannot understand why I will not let her have one of her own!

But all of these obsessions seem quite charming compared to Janae's growing hypochondria.  Some might recall that when Janae was in kindergarten she was so into Bethany Hamilton that she would pull an arm inside her shirt so others would think it had been bitten off by a shark.  It is not really uncommon for people to imitate those they admire or with whom they want to identify.

Well, the Grade Four version of this has taken the form of gluten intolerance.  Two of Janae's good friends at school have actually been diagnosed with celiac disease, and cannot tolerate gluten. 

Janae now believes that she is also gluten intolerant--experiencing nausea, headaches and anxiety whenever she ingests certain forms of gluten (i.e., the ones I pack in her lunch for school).  She can certainly eat cinnamon rolls, cookies, spaghetti and pizza, but cannot tolerate whole grain bread or crackers. 

When a stress ball that a student was playing with burst at school, Janae felt so sick from the wheat it apparently contained that she had to sit outside with her two gluten-intolerant friends.  And when the class had s'mores, she could not have the graham crackers because of her sensitivity to gluten (although she gobbled up several at church when Grandma offered one to Eric).

It seems obvious that this intolerance is mainly a ploy to get attention or fit in with friends, BUT you would never believe that listening to the complaints.

Janae's susceptibility to suggestion when it comes to medical conditions was also apparent this past week when she visited a physiotherapist for the first time. 

Janae has developed a real condition where she constantly rolls her left ankle.  When I took her to the doctor, he recommend we buy a sturdier ankle brace than the one Janae was using, that we buy stabilizing running shoes, and that we visit the physiotherapist to learn some exercises to help Janae strengthen her impulse to prevent the ankle from rolling.

Janae's eyes lit up as we visited the medical equipment store, and she seemed satisfied to have a new, impossible-to-miss ankle brace with elaborate lace-up and Velcro closures.

When we saw the physiotherapist a few days later, he mentioned that many "tween" girls have similar conditions and--as proof--asked if we had noticed girls with knee or ankle braces playing soccer or other sports.  He suggested, though, that instead of wearing a brace we should get to the root of the problem and treat the underlying condition, which he helped us start to do.

Janae, though, latched onto the idea that she might need a knee brace.  And she wore braces on BOTH ankles the next day for sports day.

I'm not sure how far this obsession with medical conditions and equipment will go.  Yesterday I came across Janae using a pen that looked like a blood-filled syringe that she had borrowed from a friend (and then been allowed to keep), and then there are her "sensory issues" to foods she doesn't like or noises that she is not making (checked out and found not to be a serious issue by an occupational therapist years ago).

Notice the crutches in the background. . . .
Hopefully she can channel these strong interests in a positive way--maybe she will become a doctor or nurse, a physiotherapist or even a chiropractor. 

But in the mean time, please forward any gluten-free, cheese-free and scent-free recipes you might have on hand . . . and DO NOT let us know about any garage sales where medical equipment within Janae's price range might be sold.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Finding Timmy

One day last summer, we went for a walk through some woods in Harrison.  Among the other memorable events of that day, Eric found a snail that he named Timmy.
Unfortunately, it was clear to everyone but Eric that Timmy had--long before--passed away.
Not wanting to hurt our little guy's feelings, we didn't say a word about this.
Somehow Timmy got "lost," though, when we got home, and Eric felt really sad not to have him around.
Not long afterwards, we were picking blueberries in Grandma and Grandpa K's backyard (far from Harrison), and we saw another snail.
"TIMMY!!" Eric shouted.  And we just left it at that.
I encouraged Eric to let Timmy stay near the blueberry bushes, where he was happy--and Eric was more than willing to accommodate his little pet.
Since then, Eric has found Timmy in the most unexpected places--he's been at the park, the school, the church, various gardens . . . he's just everywhere, especially when it rains! 
During the winter, Eric often asked about Timmy, and I told him we'd see his pet snail again in the spring.
Sure enough, outside the library today, Eric found Timmy.
We had a disposable container in the car, so Timmy rode home with us--
but once again, Eric was happy to let him go free outside. 
He knows he'll turn up again.
Eric held up a little leaf umbrella to protect Timmy from the pouring rain.
And from a mom's point of view (a mom whose older kids had kept pet snails in containers on the porch or deck), I have to say this really is the ONLY way to keep pet snails. . . .

Monday, June 5, 2017

Year-End Recitals

Our year of piano and violin lessons ended with some beautiful music
 at our kids' concerts these past two weeks.
Ben's concert was first--he played "March of the Ents" from Lord of the Rings--a very dramatic piece. 
A couple of days before the concert, Ben had his last piano lesson with his teacher, who is retiring after many years of teaching.
She was planning to have a group class that evening, but Ben wouldn't be able to attend because he had an art class at the same time--so his teacher told him to just come for his regular lesson.
We didn't know Ben's teacher was planning to have a party with the group class . . . but not wanting to leave Ben out of the fun, she had a party separately with just Ben.  They ate chips and Rice Krispie treats, then had a water balloon fight outside--just the two of them.  I still laugh whenever I picture it!
Then last weekend the girls had their concert.  Alaina played "Chimes,"

and Janae played "Mouse in a Coal Bin" (both the same pieces they'd performed at the spring festival).

Janae was able to jazz up her teacher's otherwise all-piano recital this year by bringing in a friend from school and playing a duet--Janae on the piano accompanying Katie on the violin as they played "Go Tell Aunt Rhody."  They'd also performed this piece together at their school talent show in May.
After the piano, Janae had her violin recital.  She played "Long, Long Ago," accompanied by her teacher. 
Shortly after this, Eric made it clear he couldn't handle any more audience time--he ran up to the front of the small room, popping the air from his cheeks very loudly as another girl was performing.
Needless to say, I spent the rest of the afternoon killing time in the hallway.  That was a long concert!
But he still got his chocolate ice cream afterwards. . . . 
Yesterday, Janae performed "Yellow Submarine" with her violin class at the music school's "Tribute to the Beatles" year-end concert.
I love all the music--in our home all year long, as well as at these final performances, and am so proud of my developing musicians.
I will keep working with my developing audience member :)

Sunday, June 4, 2017

My First Teenager

 Yesterday my first baby . . .

became my first TEENAGER!
It's hard to believe that little blonde-haired boy is now this giant kid who makes me feel short . . .
and is almost as tall as Jason, too (they already have the same shoe size!).
He has a deep voice (that still squeaks now and then), cuts our grass (and is hired by other people to cut their grass),
plays songs that are too advanced for me on the piano,
looks after his younger siblings,
and has already finished Grade 7.
He celebrated yesterday by opening his new Lego set (he still loves Lego!) going to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2, coming home for his favorite dinner (still homemade macaroni and cheese!), and then blowing out the candles on a cake with his cousins and grandparents (he still loves Star Wars, too!).



They brought him 13 chocolate bars--he was pretty happy!

We also watched some home movies of Ben as a toddler and laughed about how funny it would be to re-create some of those scenes.
I am so grateful we had Ben first--he is the best big brother ever, the most thoughtful helper for me, and just a great guy to have around. 
Even if he has made me the mom of a teenager!
Really, though--it has happened so gradually that it actually feels okay :)